7 amazing beaches you can visit on an expedition cruise

Destination Reviews

A beautiful, powder-white sandy beach is perhaps not the image that comes to mind when you think 'expedition cruise'. But, did you know there are some truly incredible - often remote and untouched - beaches that you can visit on an expedition cruise? Here are 7 of our favourites.

1. Champagne Beach, Vanuatu

Champagne Beach is a stunning stretch of perfect white sand on the east coast of Espiritu Santo, the largest of Vanuatu's islands in the Pacific Ocean. The beach is named after a bizarre natural phenomenon, in which gas escaping from volcanic rocks on the sea floor causes the water to bubble and fizz at low tide.

Many Pacific Island expedition cruises call here on fascinating routes between Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia such as Seabourn on their new expedition ships Seabourn Venture and Pursuit, with longer itineraries to really explore the region proper, while Silversea Expeditions also offer interesting voyages that begin or end in Australia.


2. Nosy Be, Hara, Tanikely and Komba, Madagascar

Madagascar's beaches are undiscovered gems; the protected marine reserve of Nosy Tanikely and the small, turtle-shaped island of Nosy Komba, just off the northeast coast of Nosy Be in Madagascar, are filled with some lovely beaches and calm waters, sheltered by the volcanic rocks. Nosy Tanikely is a fantastic spot for snorkelling, with amazingly clear waters and colourful marine life including parrot fish, angelfish, rays, dolphins and sea turtles. You can also hike up to the lighthouse at the island's summit for wonderful sea views.

The incredible white-sand beaches on Nosy Be are the main attraction for most visitors, with one of the most beautiful being Andilana in the north, famous for its crystal-clear waters framing white sands, beautiful sunsets and fabulous snorkelling. The island is also known for its colourful chameleons and tiny frogs hiding in the Lokobe wildlife reserve. Ponant offer all-encompassing Madagascar expeditions on board their Ponant Explorers.


3. Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Boa Vista is a popular calling point for most Cape Verde expedition cruises, off the coast of West Africa. The stunning island's beaches provide nesting sites for loggerhead turtles, while the main town, Sal Rei, is characterised by charming cobbled streets and colonial architecture.

Praia da Chave and Chaves Beach are two of the prettiest shores, with stunning views, gin-clear waters and beautiful sunsets. Discover this beautiful island on an adventure cruise with Hurtigruten or Ponant that also call in at other volcanic islands in the area and the lesser-explored Guinea-Bissau.


4. Tsuki-ga-hama Beach, Okinawa Islands, Japan

Japan's entire subtropical archipelago is more reminiscent of the Maldives than Japan, with jungle-clad islands, white sands and spectacular coral reefs. Tsuki-ga-hama is one of the best beaches on Iriomote-jima, part of the Yaeyama archipelago, known for its fantastic coral reefs for diving and snorkelling, while Kumejima, situated 60 miles to the west of Okinawa's main island, is blessed with beautiful beaches and varied landscapes including the four-mile-long Hatenohama beach.

Further afield, wild and remote Yonaguni is all plunging cliffs, white-sand beaches and verdant meadows, while Ishigaki island is an idyllic tropical archipelago that's actually located closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan. The offshore coral reefs make this a popular spot for diving and snorkelling, while the jungle interior offers some great hiking opportunities. Visit on Japan expeditions with Scenic and Ponant between March and June to avoid typhoon season, with the latter offering specific cruises that explore all of Japan's subtropical islands.


5. Tortuga and Gardner Bay, Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos islands are brimming with white-sand islands framed by volcanic rocks that teem with friendly wildlife such as marine iguanas and sea lions, with Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz and Gardner Bay on Espanola Island being two of the most impressive. Almost all of them are perfect for swimming, an included activity on most expedition cruises - just don't be surprised when you're joined by a turtle or two!

Both of these beaches are popular stopping off points on Galapagos cruises where you can swim and snorkel to your heart's content as well as take photos - it's not uncommon to find hundreds of sea lions on display across the sandy shores! Visit these islands on board Celebrity Flora or our favourite, Silversea Expeditions' Silver Origin, on cruises between September and May.

6. Cable Beach, Broome, Kimberley, Australia

The spectacular red sands of Broome are the iconic postcard image of Australia, and you can visit on most Kimberley expedition itineraries that start or end here. While this may be the gateway to the extraordinary Kimberley region, it's also the pearling capital of Australia and boasts fantastic powdery-white beaches, beautiful red-sand shores and memorable sunsets, with the 22km-long Cable Beach the perfect setting for sunset camel rides. Try to visit between March and October - when the full moon coincides with low tide among the red sands of Roebuck Bay, the spectacular illusion known as the Staircase to the Moon occurs.

Visit on Kimberley cruises that start or end in Broome/Darwin with Scenic, Ponant, Silversea Expeditions and Seabourn who all offer excellent showcases of the region, or for a truly authentic Australian experience, True North, based in Broome, is one of the best small ship cruises to the region, purpose-built to sail among the heart of the Kimberley's wilderness, carrying just 22 guests.

6. San Blas Islands, Panama

Situated just off the coast of Panama, the idyllic San Blas islands are home to some of the world's most untouched reefs - the San Blas Gulf is the third-largest coral reef in the world - and known for their gorgeous, remote beaches with waters filled with marine life, framed by a jungle-carpeted landscape. They are also home to the Kuna Indians, who enjoy political autonomy from the mainland and have an unusual degree of control over tourism to their homeland. Visiting these simple island communities is a privilege, and an insight into an indigenous way of life unsullied by mass tourism.

Nearby, the Pearl Islands archipelago is also well worth a visit, made up of more than 200 islands and islets off Panama's Pacific coast, most of which are uninhabited and rich in bird and marine life. It's a great place to go snorkelling or scuba diving, and whale watching tours operate between July and October. Visit with Scenic or Ponant who also mix in calls to Colombia and Costa Rica for an unforgettable expedition exploring the region.

7. Haukland Beach, Leknes, Lofoten Islands, Norway

The northern reaches of Norway may not come to mind when you think of sandy beaches, but the craggy peaks of the Lofoten islands provide some of the most stunning scenery in all of Norway - with powder-white shores that wouldn't look out of place in the Caribbean. Haukland Beach, a 10-minute drive from Leknes, is one of the most spectacular, home to pure, powder-white sands and far-reaching views.

You may not stay here for sunbathing, but sailing through the archipelago is a wonderful experience among the picturesque wooden villages dotted along the coast, framed by mountainous peaks and bright blue fjords. Most expedition cruises visit in the summer months to enjoy the long days under the Midnight Sun, calling in to Svolvær - the largest town in the Lofoten Islands - home to a picturesque harbour that's the gateway to the stunning beaches and countryside, where dramatic mountains tower above rustic little fishing villages. Hapag-Lloyd, Hurtigruten, Ponant and Seabourn all offer cruises of varying lengths to Norway that also explore the fjords of the south, with some beginning in Scotland.

Meet the author

Claire is Marketing Manager at Mundy Adventures, having worked with the company for nearly a year and in travel for over 8 years. Her most recent adventure was a cruise on Seabourn Venture and she has also sailed with Ponant. Her favourite adventure destination is Sweden however she's also enjoyed adventures in South America, the Galapagos, Australia, Northern Europe, Southern Africa, and the Far East. When she’s not travelling she loves walking, skiing, camping and weekends away in the countryside.

More about Claire

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