5 of the World's Most Crowded Beach Destinations—and Where to Go Instead

China’s jam-packed Dalian beaches are extreme examples of the world’s most crowded beaches. On peak days, these sandy stretches are so full of umbrellas, towels, and sun-seeking vacationers that the sand below appears nonexistent. But though they’re among the worst offenders for crowdedness, they’re hardly alone; there are numerous popular beaches around the globe that become so densely packed on hot summer days that visitors are hard-pressed to find a vacant parcel of sand on which to lay out.

1. Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mike Vondran/Flickr

Because Ipanema is known for its stylish, trendsetting swimmers and sunbathers, the Brazilian beach is a prime people-watching destination -- you could be entertained for hours. However, this famous beach also has a reputation for being incredibly crowded during peak season, which runs from November to February (remember, it's the southern hemisphere's summer). For a more relaxing beach day, consider a visit to other local beaches, like Grumari or Prainha beach. Just be aware that not all beaches are fit for swimming, as the waters can be polluted.

An Upscale Hotel Pick Near Prainha: 

2. Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Liz Lawley/Flickr

A favorite destination of tourists and locals alike, Australia's famous Bondi Beach welcomes well over two million swimmers and sunbathers each year, split between domestic and international travelers. On the busiest days, some 40,000 people might be at the beach at any given time. For a more tranquil seaside spot, venture off the beaten path to more remote Sydney beaches, including Jibbon Beach and Shelly Beach, both of which are located in Royal National Park.

A Luxury Hotel Pick (less than an hour drive from Jibbon and Shelly):

3. Coney Island, New York, USA

Shinya Suzuki/Flickr

Each summer, vacationers and locals seeking a dose of both adventure and nostalgia head, en masse, to the iconic Coney Island beach, boardwalk, and amusement park. One of the most crowded weekends is the Fourth of July, when thousands make the trek out to witness the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Those less concerned with a lively ambience and more interested in privacy and relaxation should try their luck at other NYC beaches (yes, there are a few!), such as Jacob Riis in Queens or Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

A Value Hotel Near Jacob Riis (a 10-minute drive):

4. Brighton Beach, England


For centuries, Londoners have trekked out to Brighton Beach for walks on its pebbly shores and swims in its chilly saltwater waves. There's also the massive pier filled with attractions. Though this popular beach has certainly retained some of its historic charm, it also amasses throngs of eager beachgoers on sunny days. A less-crowded beach to consider would be nearby Rottingdean.

A Mid-Range Hotel Pick (less than a five-minute drive from Rottingdean):

5. South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA

Robert Pittman/Flickr

With its local Art Deco gems, abundance of open air, seaside dining options and proximity to world-class shopping, it's no wonder that Miami Beach draws in major crowds for most of the year, particularly in South Beach. Vacationers headed to Miami that want to be near all the action, but still removed from it, should consider North Beach, about a 20-minute drive north the heart of the Art Deco district.

A Luxury Hotel Pick in North Beach:

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