When you imagine hitting the beach, you probably think about frolicking among the waves and relaxing on the sand with a good book. However, for most of us, spending time at the beach means battling the crowds, fighting for space on the sand, and dodging others in the ocean. There is a better way! Head to these hidden beaches for the relaxation you’ve been craving.

Enjoy Makua Beach in Hawaii

Most Hawaiian beaches are overrun by tourists, but Makua Beach bucks the trend. Part of Ka’ena Point State Park, this beach remains hidden because most people driving around Oahu focus on getting to the more popular breaks.

Look out for a tiny sign on the main highway marked “Ka’ena Point.” Take it, and you’ll stumble across this serene coastal paradise with white sand, tidal pools, and sea caves. The snorkeling is excellent, perhaps because you’re not sharing the waters with other tourists who can scare the fish away! Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, who love playing in Makua Beach’s warm turquoise waters.

Relax at Playa del Amor in Mexico

Few beaches are hidden away quite as well as Playa del Amor in Mexico, which sits inside a cave on the Marieta Islands. You’ll need to take a 60-minute boat ride, then swim underwater through a short tunnel to access the sand, so it remains a real local secret. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with warm water filled with colorful coral reefs. The cave’s large open roof lets the sun shine in on the soft sand, encouraging sunbathing after a dip.

Travel to Tunnel Beach in New Zealand

Tunnel Beach, five miles southwest of the New Zealand town of Dunedin, is also pleasantly out of the way. Visitors should leave their car at the parking lot on Green Island Bush Road, then follow the fenced track across private farmland to get to the coast. There you’ll find the hand-carved tunnel that leads you to this picturesque beach.

Tunnel Beach is a majestic place, with striking sandstone cliffs and caves. It’s been called the most romantic place in Dunedin, so try to visit with someone special. Only strong swimmers should try getting in the water, though, as the current is very powerful.

Discover Piscine Naturelle in New Caledonia

New Caledonia in French Polynesia is famous for its many cruise ports, but if you want peace and quiet, you’ll need to get off the beaten track. Leave the creature comforts of Le Meridien in the Isle of Pines behind and take the 15-minute trek from the resort across the forest path. It leads to Piscine Naturelle, which is French for “natural swimming pool.”

The water at this hidden Oro Bay delight is every bit as flat as the resort’s pool but far less crowded! Piscine Naturelle is crystal clear, so it’s perfect for snorkeling among the local fish and coral. The island’s famous pine trees provide the ideal backdrop for this very special place.

For unspoiled sands and the kind of calm you’ve been searching for, visit one (or all!) of these hidden beaches.