Portugal's Praia do Carvalho, an old smuggler's cove, can be difficult to find, but that's a good thing! Once you climb down the rocky steps and pass through a tunnel and onto the sand of this sheltered beach, you'll quickly realize it was worth the effort.
Thanks to strict entry regulation by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Whitehaven Beach – what would be one of Australia's most crowded – remains largely free of crowds and development. The island is only accessible by boat or seaplane, and you must register with the park and go through a tour operator to enjoy this stretch of powdery white sand.
The beaches of Washington's Olympic National Park might not be ideal for swimming or sunbathing, but if you're looking to commune with nature in peace to the sounds of waves crashing on shore, Rialto Beach might just fit the bill.
On the "drowned island" of Anegada – an island that barely breaks the surface of the azure Caribbean waters – in the British Virgin Islands, you'll find empty white sand beaches ringing the entire island. These beaches are so secluded, you might not see a single other soul during your stay.
If you're looking for serenity on the beach in Hawaii, skip the popular beaches of Oahu and Maui and head to the small island of Molokai instead. This Hawaiian island is so sparsely populated that there isn't even a traffic light to be seen, and that means the beaches remain unspoilt.
While the tourist hordes take over the beaches of Antigua, you'll find peace and quiet on nearby Barbuda. You'll find few people, next to no facilities and some of the most magnificent stretches of sand in the Caribbean, perfect for a Robinson Crusoe-style vacation.
You can't really pick a bad beach in the Maldives, but the blindingly white sands of Cocoa Island form some of the most beautiful in the archipelago. The waters just off shore are teeming with life, making them a favorite with divers, but the warm equatorial waters make the perfect natural swimming pool as well.
A tiny airport and 10-hour drive from Caracas have kept the beautiful Playa Medina well off the beaten path. While you won't find any glitzy resorts or upscale restaurants here, you will find chill beach-side bungalows and local restaurants that won't break your beach vacation budget.
Pretty much every resort in the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora enjoys its own postcard-perfect beach, but if you're really in the mood for seclusion, you can charter a boat to one of hundreds of deserted islets to stake out your own personal beach for the day.
There's a reason why celebrities and royalty choose to vacation in the Seychelles: finding a secluded beach is practically effortless. One of the best is Anse Georgette on Praslin Island, a beach with powdery white sand that can only be reached by purchasing a day pass from a private resort.