15 of the World's Most Popular Beaches as Seen From Above

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Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock via Getty Images

Planning your next great beach vacation? See what the world's most popular spots for sun and sand look like from the sky.

1. South Beach // Miami Beach, Florida

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Miami Beach, Florida’s South Beach is a major entertainment area, attracting tourists from all over the world to enjoy the city's unique nightlife, shopping, and restaurants.

2. Bondi Beach // Sydney, Australia

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With its breathtaking views and vibrant beach culture, it's no wonder that Bondi Beach is one of Australia's most iconic destinations.

3. Tulum, Mexico

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Tulum, Mexico's crystalline beaches are just one part of what makes this seaside town the third most visited site in Mexico.

4. Surin Beach // Phuket, Thailand

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Acting more like a coastal village than a beach resort, Thailand’s Surin Seach is also known as "Millionaire's Row" because it's lined with luxury resorts that are filled with A-list celebrities.

5. Waikiki Beach // Honolulu, Hawaii

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Located in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach—which is 2 miles long—accounts for about 42 percent of the state’s annual tourist industry revenue.

6. Deauville Beach // Normandy, France

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Deauville Beach in Normandy, France is often referred to as the "queen of the Norman beaches." In addition to being surrounded by a ton of history, it's one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in all of France.

7. Navagio Beach // Zakynthos, Greece

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Located in the Ioanian Islands of Greece, Navagio Beach, a.k.a. Shipwreck Beach, is a secluded cove and is often cited as the most beautiful beach in Greece (which is pretty high praise when you consider the competition).

8. Trunk Bay // St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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St. John’s most famous beach, Trunk Bay, has a snorkeling trail for its visitors that includes information about coral formations and sea life.

9. Maya Bay // Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

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Danny Boyle's 2000 film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, may have been a box office dud—but it made a star out of its filming location in Thailand. So much so that the beach became a sort of victim of its own success; because of the amount of tourists it attracted (it was regularly called "the most famous beach in Thailand"), it closed to tourists in 2018. Earlier this year, officials announced a tentative reopening in the summer of 2021.

10. Anse Source d’Argent // Seychelles

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Located in the Seychelles, an archipelago off the cost of East Africa, Anse Source d'Argent—with its pink sands and rows of beaches—is a great place to both relax and explore.

11. Isola Bella // Taormina, Sicily

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Isola Bella, one of Sicily’s most beautiful beaches, is located in Taormina, a small hilltop town that is also home to Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient theater that's still in use today.

12. Newport Beach, California

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Whether it’s hiking or water activities, Newport Beach has plenty to do for both sunbathers and adventure-seekers.

13. Railay Beach // Thailand

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Getting to Thailand’s Railay Beach is part of the adventure: It's a small peninsula that is only accessible by boat.

14. Surfer’s Paradise // Queensland, Australia

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This seaside resort in Eastern Australia offers great views and majestic waves, making it truly live up to its name.

15. Kamari Beach // Santorini, Greece

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Kamari Beach resides on one of Greece’s most popular islands, Santorini, and is notable for its unique black sand.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

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Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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What Did the Hubble Telescope See on Your Birthday? This NASA Website Will Show You

A 2010 Hubble-captured image of a pillar of gas and dust in a stellar nursery called Carina Nebula.
A 2010 Hubble-captured image of a pillar of gas and dust in a stellar nursery called Carina Nebula.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit on April 24, 1990, and it has spent the last three decades enriching our understanding of the cosmos more than we ever could’ve imagined. This year, NASA is celebrating the telescope's 30th birthday with another launch: a website that shows you a photo of what the Hubble saw on your birthday.

Because the telescope is exploring space every hour of every day, the images it has captured over the years are both fascinating and varied. You could see a globular star cluster, a dust storm on Mars, or something else entirely. You only need to enter the date and month of your birthday on the site, so the image you get won’t necessarily be from the year you were born—and, if you were born before 1990, it definitely won’t be—but it’s pretty fun to juxtapose how you were spending that particular birthday with how the Hubble was spending it. While your parents were snapping a shot of you blowing out the candles at your eighth birthday party, for example, the Hubble might’ve been snapping a shot of the beautiful auroras around Jupiter’s north pole.

The telescope was first conceived all the way back in 1946 by Yale University astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer, Jr., who published a paper about the possible advantages of having what he called a “large space telescope” in orbit to help astronomers study the galaxies. The project finally got off the ground in the 1970s, and the telescope was designed so that astronauts could periodically upgrade it while still in orbit. Since it first broke through the atmosphere in 1990, the Hubble—named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, who proved the existence of other galaxies beyond the Milky Way—has taught us that the universe is 14 billion years old, that its expansion is speeding up, and so much more.

Unlock your birthday image on the Hubble website here, and check out more stellar photos taken by the Hubble here.