2014 Travel Awards: Best Beach

Clouds South Water Caye island caye beach shore South Beach tropical tropics green turquoise horizon sand coastal reef water ocean sea seascape sandbar serene tranquil isolated surface vacation holiday sand landscape nature summer calm sun tree oasis

South Water Caye with large clouds building above, Belize.     Photo: Tony Rath

Winner: South Water Caye, Belize

There are hundreds of beautiful cayes along Belize’s Caribbean coast. Our pick is South ­Water Caye, east of Dangriga—a 15-acre island inside the country’s largest marine reserve. You can paddle the shoreline, snorkel at night, and, if you’re lucky, dive with whale sharks off a nearby atoll. The Pelican Beach Resort is one of just three on the island and has eight sandy cottages, four ­kayaks, and a sister property on the mainland—which makes transfers easy (from $369; pelicanbeachbelize.com).

Runner-Up: Tikehau Atoll, Tahiti

Sometimes called the Pink Sand Island because of the color of its shores, Tikehau isn’t a beach so much as a ring of them—a Tahitian atoll in the Tuamotu Islands with a 180-square-mile lagoon twinkling in the middle. The choicest views are from the 24-suite, 13-bungalow Pearl Beach Resort on the southern end of the atoll (from $626 per night; spmhotels.com/resort/tikehau). Fly directly from Tahiti’s Fa’a’a airport, then rent an overwater bungalow with a glass floor panel and watch angelfish swim past.

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