From Vietnam's Ha Long Bay to Les Saintes Bay in Guadeloupe and Ireland's Keem Bay, these inspiring inlets and bays show some of the world's most beautiful scenery...
World's most spectacular bays
Ten of the world's most beautiful bays
The winding Bay of Kotor on the Adriatic Sea is one of Montenegro's most popular tourist attractions and has some well-preserved medieval towns. It is one of Europe's most beautiful bays and is often mistaken for a fjord. Lined with the picturesque towns of Risan, Kotor and Perast and numerous beaches, the Bay of Kotor is a lovely spot for a holiday.
Part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, the island of Mont Saint-Michel and its magnificent surrounding bay in Normandy are named 'The Wonder of the Western World' and considered must-sees due to the low tides and high tides that constantly vary between a few centimetres and a few metres. Head to the top of Mont Saint-Michel's abbey for the best views of the bay and see the wonderful spectacle of the tide invading the bay twice a day.
Located on the Californian coast, San Francisco Bay contains many islands, such as Alcatraz, which served as a prison until 1963, plus the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge which opens the bay to the Pacific Ocean. At times it is covered in fog and the bay is a popular spot for sailors, windsurfers and kitesurfers thanks to its consistently strong winds and protection from large open ocean swells.
With thousands of islands in various shapes topped with lush vegetation and forming a stunning seascape of jagged limestone pillars jutting out from the water, Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam's most picturesque attractions. There are two legends about its origin - the first says a dragon stomped on the earth making the mountains crumble and form large valleys that were soon filled with water where only the peaks remained above the surface; the second tells of a dragon's large tail tearing up the earth creating valleys that became flooded when it jumped in the nearby water.
Consistently voted one of the most beautiful bays in the world, St John Island's Trunk Bay is famous for its underwater trail attracting snorkelers to explore the coral reef with underwater signs guiding them. The bay is home to an idyllic white sand beach lined with lush tropical vegetation and featuring a snack bar, showers and toilets.
Surrounded by tropical forests, beaches and unusually-shaped rocks, Guanabara Bay in Brazil is one the world's most breathtaking bays with Rio de Janeiro on its southwest shore and Niteroi on its southeast. Guanabara Bay was discovered around 1502 and was originally named Rio de Janeiro Bay. It has several islands, such as Governador, Cobras and Villegagnon.
Achill Island's Keem Bay is a perfect horseshoe bay with a popular Blue Flag beach between the cliffs of Benmore and Croaghaun Mountain. It was traditionally used by fishermen and is the location of artist Paul Henry's famous painting Launching the Currach. During the 1950s and 1960s, the waters of Keem Bay were home to the basking shark, which was hunted for its liver oil and exported to provide fine grade lubricant for the aerospace industry. As one of Ireland's most picturesque bays, it has a beautiful fine sand beach and breathtaking walks. It is also virtually uninhabited, providing a wonderful retreat.
The stunning Les Saintes Bay of Terre-de-Haut Island, part of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, is a sought after anchoring spot and renowned throughout the West Indies. The bay once welcomed pirates and it is characterised by the charming village of red-roofed houses situated along its curves and the gorgeous white sand beaches. Stop at a quaint cafe or restaurant serving freshly-caught seafood and browse the small boutiques of the island.
New Zealand's popular Bay of Islands contains 144 islands with many secluded bays and sandy beaches. The bay is home to an abundance of marine life including penguins, whales, dolphins and big marlin, and it’s a well-known gathering spot for sailing yachts and fishermen. In 2006, a study found that the Bay of Islands has the second bluest sky in the world after Rio de Janeiro.
Beautiful Porthcurno Bay in Cornwall boasts magnificent cliffs and the protected South West Coastal Footpath enjoyed by walkers. The beach is known for its crushed, white sea shells and it's a great spot for privacy and isolation. To the west is the Minack Theatre cut into the cliffs, where you can watch open-air performances with coastal views and the Logan Rock headland is known for the 80-ton granite rocking stone perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the ocean.