The 15 Best Luxury Beach Resorts in the World

The world’s best beach resorts put cultural and environmental preservation front and center.

An overwater villa at Six Senses Laamu

The overwater villas at Six Senses Laamu were built using sustainable local timber.

Courtesy of Six Senses Laamu

There’s nothing quite like sinking your toes in the sand while listening to the sound of waves crashing on a beach. Ocean retreats are sanctuaries for many travelers, who often come home inspired to protect the marine settings that brought them so much joy and tranquility.

The best luxury beach resorts in the world don’t just deliver ocean views, picturesque beaches, standout design, and activities on the water. They’re also working every day to become better custodians of the ocean through their environmental and cultural stewardship. Learn more about this trend, and read on for the 15 best beach resorts around the world—in no particular order—that are going the extra mile to protect the marine habitats that inspire us all.

Resort pool at the Four Seasons Hualalai reflecting surrounding palm trees.

The resort pools at Four Seasons Hualalai use eco-friendly salt technology rather than chlorine.

Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai

1. Four Seasons Hualalai

  • Location: Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawai‘i
  • Book now

Set on close to 900 sandy coastal acres on the western coast of the Island of Hawai‘i, the Four Seasons Hualalai pulls out all the stops on luxury. The 243 spacious guest rooms and suites are clad in dark wood, with open plans that face the ocean. For multigenerational groups, the villas—with their wide verandas, multibedroom setups, and direct beach access—feel like private residences. The spa’s lengthy menu of treatments showcase Hawaiian ingredients, such as local volcanic mud.

The resort is going to great lengths to embrace sustainability. More than 75 percent of all food served in the on-site restaurants, including the seasonally inspired ‘Ulu Ocean Grill, comes from local purveyors, and food waste gets diverted from landfills to farmers for pig feed. There’s a bottling and purification plant on site for the resort’s water needs, for everything from pools to laundry. The resort also monitors the biodiversity of the marine reserve it sits next to in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. Eco-conscious guests can book one of the resort’s carbon-neutral villas, which offset emissions through a tree-planting program in partnership with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, and participate in a beach cleanup.

A suite at Turtle Bay Resort with an ocean view

All guest rooms and suites at Turtle Bay Resort have ocean views.

Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort

2. Turtle Bay Resort

On the North Shore of O‘ahu, Turtle Bay Resort is the only hotel of its caliber on this less developed part of the island. Set on a 1,300-acre property—half of which has been set aside permanently for conservation—the 408 rooms and suites all have ocean views and a neutral/blue palette inspired by the surrounding area. The resort’s commitment to environmental sustainability is palpable: Meals are prepared with leafy greens, beets, and other crops from the resort’s own Kuilima Farm, a plot of land five minutes from the hotel with a farm stand and “you-pick” self-harvesting days for locals. Meanwhile, the 18-hole golf course is maintained with gray water treated by the resort’s own plant.

The resort doubles as a wildlife sanctuary. A birding experience via electric golf cart led by Captain Scott Sundby, who runs Shaka Kayaks and has lived on the North Shore for 20 years, offers a glimpse at some of the wild residents. They include the ‘alae ‘ula, or Hawaiian common gallinule, which according to Hawaiian legend got its fiery red forehead from the gods, and Hawaiian monk seals, one of the world’s most endangered seal species. The coastline here is set within the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, extending more than 1,200 nautical square miles; in the winter, it’s the site of humpback breeding, calving, and nursing.

A tree house at the resort Playa Viva in Mexico raised six feet off the ground and surrounded by palm trees.

Some of Playa Viva’s tree houses resemble the manta rays in the ocean in front of Playa Viva.

Courtesy of Playa Viva

3. Playa Viva

With 19 rooms and tree houses inspired by manta rays, cooled by sea breezes just south of Zihuatanejo, this 200-acre coastal resort has its own long stretch of sand and surf—plus swimming pool, restaurant, and bar. Playa Viva earned B-Corp certification in early 2023; its many standout sustainable efforts include a watershed regeneration project, a 20-acre permaculture farm, and reforestation work. The retreat operates 100 percent off grid thanks to solar power. Guests can go out late and patrol the beach with the local volunteers of La Tortuga Viva in search of sea turtles laying their eggs and then help move the nest to a safe sanctuary in the dunes.

One&Only Mandarina is tucked within a coastal rainforest.

One&Only Mandarina is tucked within a coastal rainforest.

Courtesy of One&Only Mandarina

4. One&Only Mandarina

  • Location: Rivera Nayarit, Mexico
  • Book now

This resort on the Pacific-side Nayarit coast inside the exclusive Mandarina residential community consists of 105 massive villas made from clay, wood, metal, and stone—all indigenous regional materials. In the 40 lofty tree houses built using native Cumaru wood, guests can take in the leafy jungle canopy while lounging on their private outdoor decks, swimming in their infinity pool, or soaking in their open-air bathroom’s tub.

During construction, One&Only consulted a botanist to help preserve as much of the existing foliage as possible, while an archaeologist advised on protecting the rock carvings by local Cora and Huichol cultures that are found throughout the property. The beach is a highlight (and might be hosting a turtle release if your timing is right), but set aside enough time for the open-air spa surrounded by jungle, which includes an adults-only pool, a temezcal dome for Mayan rituals, an outdoor mud bath area, and saunas and steam rooms. If you have kids, drop them at the rain forest wonderland kids club, designed by Oscar-winning art director Brigitte Broch (Moulin Rouge; Romeo & Juliet).

A view of the ocean and rainforest from a wooden deck in the treetop Matapalo Suite at Lapa Rios Lodge in Costa Rica.

Keep an eye out for toucans and whales while lounging at the treetop Matapalo Suite at Lapa Rios Lodge.

Courtesy of Lapa Rios Lodge

5. Lapa Rios Lodge

  • Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Book now

Since its inception in 1991, Lapa Rios Lodge has operated as an eco-lodge with sustainability and community development at its core. It’s set within a 1,000-acre swath of tropical lowland forest next to Costa Rica‘s Corcovado National Park, which holds more than 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Alongside the retreat are a string of quiet, picturesque beaches on the Golfo Dulce that guests can visit for surf lessons and swimming.

About 80 percent of the property is primary forest filled with tapirs, three-toed sloths, and more than 300 species of birds, including green macaws. The 17 ocean-facing suites and villas have hardwood floors and wraparound decks, and they’re stocked with biodegradable shampoos and soaps. They get 100 percent of their energy from solar panels and nano-hydro turbines, whose excess energy can also be stored in batteries or in auxiliary water heaters. Each guest pays a $25 fee that supports the lodge’s sustainability and community programs, among them support of two local schools and reforestation programs in secondary growth areas of the rain forest.

A Water Pool Villa at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, which is sitting on an outcrop of white rocks overlooking the ocean and has a private swimming pool that's right next to the water.

A Water Pool Villa at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam.

Courtesy of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

6. Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Midway down Vietnam’s long coast in the region of Nha Trang, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay can only be reached by boat, a 20-minute ride along a tree-lined coast that offers a chance to spot the bright blue faces of endangered black shanked doc langur monkeys. The resort’s 62 pool villas are scattered along the beachfront and on a hillside; all feel like a high-end Robinson Crusoe fantasy with their timber and bamboo walls and wooden soaking tubs. The organic garden provides thousands of pounds of produce for the restaurants each year. The resort has its own water plant, chicken coop, tree-planting project, and reef restoration program, and it is powered by Vietnam’s first solar complex.

The exterior of the Mamole Treehouse at NIHI Sumba, which is surrounded by trees and includes a private plunge pool.

The Mamole Treehouse at NIHI Sumba consists of three separate conjoined villas.

Courtesy of NIHI Sumba

7. NIHI Sumba

  • Location: Sumba Island, Indonesia
  • Book now

On the southern coast of the less-visited island of Sumba, east of Bali, NIHI Sumba sets a high standard for responsible community engagement. The resort employs hundreds of Sumbanese people on its 667 acres of lightly developed grounds. Inside the 27 thatched-roof villas, which range from one to five bedrooms, local craft traditions like carving and weaving appear everywhere; each villa also has its own swimming pool. When not dining and drinking in one of the three standout restaurants or swimming with horses and surfing the world-class private wave, guests are invited to connect with the Sumba Foundation and its projects. The resort’s founder launched the NGO in 2001, and social impact projects range from malaria prevention and treatment to clean water access and education.

The exterior of a room at the Brando with a pool, lounge chairs, white umbrellas, and palm trees.

The Brando was the world’s first resort to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

Courtesy of the Brando

8. The Brando

  • Location: Tetiaroa Atoll, French Polynesia
  • Book now

Encompassing 35 private villas on the Motu Onetahi coast of Marlon Brando’s very own French Polynesian island, Tetiaroa, the Brando is one of the most luxurious places to stay in the South Pacific. It also has some serious sustainability cred: The LEED Platinum-certified resort—the world’s first—is carbon neutral, thanks to such efforts as an air-conditioning system that draws from cool ocean water, on-site composting, and a desalination plant that produces fresh water for the resort.

A partnership with nonprofit group Tetiaroa Society connects guests to naturalists and researchers who lead snorkeling and scuba outings and guided nature walks. Travelers with an interest in Polynesian culture may also want to test the resort’s traditional outrigger canoe on a trip out to one of the surrounding private islets that share an atoll with the Brando. All villas at this all-inclusive resort have their own private pools and direct beach access; the spa offers a range of healing modalities, including a traditional Polynesian taurumi massage.

The exterior of hillside suite at Coulibri Ridge with an infinity pool and a cloudless blue sky.

The 14 hillside suites of Dominica’s Coulibri Ridge run on solar power.

Courtesy of Coulibri Ridge

9. Coulibri Ridge

Coulibri Ridge sets a new sustainability standard for the less-visited Caribbean isle of Dominica. The 14-suite off-the-grid hotel, on the southern tip of the island, uses solar panels and wind turbines for electricity, and pure rainwater is harvested and filtered on site. (Visitors can learn more on a tour around the property.) Nearby Martinique is visible from the rooms, which include full kitchens, terraces, and recyclable or renewable materials in their decor, such as hand-chiseled stone on the walls and recycled teakwood light fixtures. The 285-acre resort offers endless ways to commune with nature, whether by stargazing from chlorine-free infinity pools or enjoying yoga in the open-air pavilion surrounded by tropical plants.

Interior of guest room at Potato Head Studios in Bali Indonesia, with dark wood walls, a cream-colored blanket, and a TV.

Potato Head Studios was built with local sustainable materials.

Courtesy of Potato Head Studios

10. Potato Head Studios

In the busy coastal town of Seminyak, one of Bali’s most sustainable beach resorts delivers panoramic sea views from 24 of its 168 minimalist yet warm-toned studio accommodations. The design by the Rem Koolhaas–led OMA firm uses locally woven recycled plastic ceilings and terrazzo from broken bricks and waste concrete. The suites are green down to their recyclable amenity packaging and fully biodegradable slippers. Reclaimed materials are also used in large-scale sculptures by acclaimed international and local talent.

Potato Head Studios shares a handful of restaurants and bars with sister sites Potato Head Suites and Potato Head Beach Club. They include a zero-waste seafood concept and a seed-to-stem plant-based restaurant. Guests are welcome to join daily back-of-house “Follow the Waste” tours to track the meticulous on-site recycling and reuse programs that end in Sweet Potato Lab, an R&D hub for creating stylish new products like jewelry from scraps of trash.

The interior of a Water Villa at Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives, with a thatched roof, bed with a mosquito net, and a view of the turquoise waters surrounding the room.

A Water Villa at Six Senses Laamu

Courtesy of Six Senses Laamu

11. Six Senses Laamu

Along the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Maldives’ Laamu atoll, Six Senses Laamu is the ultimate castaway fantasy. The 96 thatched-roof villas, set either over the water or on the beach, were built with sustainably sourced local timber and have floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize views of the atoll’s blue hues.

The resort takes its destination stewardship seriously: A team of nine people under the banner Maldives Underwater Initiative are responsible for the resort’s coral restoration program, whose work and advocacy since 2012 have helped to inspire the creation of more marine protected areas in the Laamu atoll. Six Senses has also provided tens of thousands of local community members with safe drinking water by donating close to 100 water purification systems.

Interior of a two-bedroom suite at the InterContinental at Hayman Island in Australia, with a patio that has two chairs and a table overlooking ocean and a few palm trees.

A two-bedroom suite at the InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

Courtesy of InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

12. InterContinental Hayman Island

  • Location: Hayman Island, Australia
  • Book now

In the Whitsunday archipelago of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, this luxurious private island resort has changed hands over the past few decades. Today, as the InterContinental Hayman Island, the resort’s operations are more environmentally sensitive than ever before. The 176 neutral-hued, wood-floored rooms and adults-only Beachfront Pavilions are plush but feature state-of-the-art thermal technology that dramatically reduces energy usage.

Outside in breezy public spaces, there are five dining outlets, a spa and gym, and a gargantuan swimming pool, along with many filtered water stations where guests can refill their complimentary aluminum water bottles before hiking or snorkeling. The resort has a strict zero single-use plastic policy that extends to its boutique, which stocks Earth-friendly, ethically made products and reef-safe sunscreen.

An overhead view of Chumbe Island resort, which includes bright blue water and a forest.

Chumbe Island’s residents include the endangered coconut crab.

Courtesy of Chumbe Island

13. Chumbe Island

When it was established in 1991 off the coast of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island Coral Park became the world’s first privately managed marine protected area. It was also the first of its kind to operate entirely on ecotourism financing. Today, the reef sanctuary here is one of the region’s healthiest reefs, home to more than 500 fish species and 59 hard coral genera. The park also educates local schoolchildren on marine forest ecology through snorkeling experiences—often their first time in the water.

With a limit of only 18 visitors at a time, the island feels perpetually secluded, even at maximum capacity. The seven bungalows, with their thatched roofs, exposed beams, mosquito net–covered beds, and open-air layouts, were built using local materials. Photovoltaics provide energy, while rainwater catchment and filtration supplies water. Guests spend their days snorkeling, taking beach walks to check out rocky tidal pools, or wandering in the forest to spot baobabs, mangroves, and marine fossils dating back thousands of years.

Cushions and low tables set up on beach on Mnembe Island in Zanzibar, Tanzania, overlooking a slightly cloudy sky at sunset.

andBeyond Mnemba Island sits off Zanzibar’s northeastern coast.

Courtesy of andBeyond Mnemba Island

14. andBeyond Mnemba Island

Just off the northeastern coast of Zanzibar, andBeyond Mnemba Island is less than a mile in circumference and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Connecting with nature is what it’s all about: There are no doors in the 12 spacious, thatched-roof indoor-outdoor bungalows—yet it still feels private—and there’s plenty of outdoor seating and open-air showers. Adding to the exclusivity, each bungalow has its own stretch of beach, with loungers and umbrella included.

The clear turquoise waters offer snorkeling on the coral reefs and sunset cruises on a dhow, a traditional Swahili-style sailboat, where guests can spot dolphins and sea turtles. The island is host to both the suni and Ader’s duiker antelope species; the latter is critically endangered and being bred and protected on the island. Beginning in 2005, andBeyond worked with the Zanzibar Department of Fisheries and members of local Zanzibari fishing communities to form the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area (MIMCA). MIMCA helps with officially demarcated areas for snorkeling, diving, and fishing and charges a daily recreational fee; the revenue funds local community projects and benefits local fishermen.

The ocean-facing master bedroom of a private villa at Miavana at Nosy Ankao, Madagascar, which includes a canopied bed, blue and white curtains, and several chairs for lounging.

The ocean-facing master bedroom of a private villa at Miavana

Courtesy of Miavana

15. Miavana by Time + Tide

  • Location: Nosy Ankao, Madagascar
  • Book now

Off the northeast coast of mainland Madagascar, the 2,500-acre island of Nosy Ankao is a private resort of 14 stand-alone beach villas with pools and an oceanfront Indian restaurant. It’s also a safe haven for a small, protected population of crowned lemurs. The full-time environmental team is part of the warm staff who make stays in the expansive turquoise-toned lodging—cooly modern but with a breezy island vibe—feel truly one of a kind.

There are plenty of opportunities to dive deeply into culture and conservation efforts happening here, from an on-site museum of Malagasy curiosities to meeting local communities. Visitors can also get a firsthand glimpse at the work of the resort’s philanthropic arm, Time + Tide Foundation, in protecting species, including sea turtle and crowned lemur conservation.

Kathryn Romeyn is a Bali-based journalist and devoted explorer of culture, nature and design, especially throughout Asia and Africa—always with her toddler in tow.
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