Foreign Legion

A snapshot of some of the best off-the-beaten-path beaches in Dubai, France, New Zealand and Australia

Al Mamzar Beach Park, Al Hamriya, Dubai
Unless you want to spend the day seeing and being seen by hordes of tourists, ignore what the guidebooks say and skip the famous waterfront spots of Jumeirah Beach Park, Kite Beach, Open Beach and Umm Suqeim Beach. Instead, soak up some sun at the impressive Al Mamzar Beach Park, located in Dubai's mostly residential area of Al Hamriya. There's something for everyone at Al Mamzar, which actually encompasses four beaches, complete with picnic areas and children's facilities. Keep in mind that Wednesdays are for women and children only.

Dames Beach, Ile de Noirmoutier, France
Bien sur, the beaches of the South of France are some of the most beautiful in the world, but to follow a road less traveled, leave the French Riviera behind and travel to the Western Loire region, where just off the coast perches Ile de Noirmoutier. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, as well as by a pedestrian walkway that can only be crossed at low tide, the island has a Mediterranean feel and offers a number of unspoiled but accessible beaches, like la Plage des Dames, or Dames Beach.

Muriwai Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand has a vibrant surf culture that is proudly displayed at many of the country's beaches. But instead of hitting up the tourist traps, head west of Auckland City to lovely Muriwai Beach. In addition to surfing, myriad other outdoor activities are available on Muriwai, where the dazzling shoreline of black sand dunes attracts impressive colonies of birds -- including gannets with their distinctive yellow heads, but fewer out-of-towners than, say, Piha Beach, arguably the most famous Kiwi surf destination.

Palm Cove, Queensland, Australia
Our summer is Australia's winter, making this the perfect time to visit Palm Cove, home to one of the continent's most stunningly beautiful white-sand beaches. Located on the northeastern coast of Queensland, Palm Cove enjoys gentle weather in the off-peak season, and the water is warm all year long. What's more, literally steps from the shore are some of Australia's finest spas, restaurants and resorts, and the exchange rates work in our favor, with the Australian dollar valued at about 75 cents.
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