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What makes a great beach? Sure, crystal clear aqua water and blinding white sand helps, but what makes some - like Sydney's Bondi Beach and Rio de Janeiro's Ipanema Beach - so iconic? While there are thousands of stunning pieces of coastline to be enjoyed - cocktail in hand - all over the world (many here in our own backyard), not all beaches can lay claim to having songs written about them (Ipanema) or movies that set them up as the utopian ideal (The Beach's Phi Phi Island in Thailand). While some beaches are just gobsmackingly beautiful, others, like California's Venice Beach are just as famous for the action that happens offshore and their specific brand of surf culture than anything else.

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So, in the interests of your next holiday, we present the 26 most iconic beaches of them all. From über-luxe resort (and honeymoon) havens in Bora Bora and The Maldives, to popular island getaways like Ibiza, Bali and Santorini - consider this the perfect incentive to keep those annual leave days banked up for your next vacay. Happy dreaming.     

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