beaches

The Top 25 Beaches in the World to Visit

For many travelers, finding the perfect beach is the key to finding the perfect travel destination.  For these travelers, there is no interest in the hustle-and-bustle of sightseeing in a busy city or the sweat and breathlessness that goes with alpine hiking.  Instead, they would prefer to trade the subway pass or hiking boots for a beach towel and some sunscreen.  After all, soft sand, crystal blue waters, and lots of sunshine can really help recharge your batteries.

In this article, I am going to outline my choices for the Top 25 Beaches in the World to Visit.  I put a lot of thought into these rankings and the criteria that I used to put them together.  Factors such as the quality of the sand, clarity of the water, activities for visitors, the beauty of the coastline, and the chance of spotting wildlife were all considered when putting these rankings together.

Beach

Of course, chances are that some of you may not fully agree with my rankings or have certain beaches in mind that were left off my list altogether.  If so, I would definitely like to hear from you, and I am guessing other readers would as well.  Please let me know what your favorite beaches are in the comment section below and why.  These rankings can be so subjective and it is always interesting to hear what other travelers have to say.  Who knows, you may even convince me to update my future rankings.

With that said, let’s get on with my choices for the Top Beaches in the World to Visit!

25. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA

Hilton Head

With roughly 12 miles of amazing coastline, Hilton Head Island has some of the best beaches on the Atlantic Coast of North America.  Not only are the beaches large, but the rolling sand dunes behind the beaches are fun to hike on and explore.  If you are looking for some relaxation, the eight beaches on Hilton Head Island are great to lay on and soak up rays.  However, the beaches also have a wide variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy as well.  Swimming, surfing, and sailing are just some of the activities that visitors can enjoy.

Best Time to Visit:  April – May or September – October.  During these spring and autumn months, you will find fewer crowds and lower rates for hotels.

24.  La Concha Beach, San Sebastián, Spain

La Concha Beach, Spain

Located in the beautiful city of San Sebastián, in the Basque Country of Spain, “La Concha”, as it is affectionately known to locals, is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Spain. The beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, paddling, and a variety of other outdoor activities. Because of the warm temperatures year-round, the beaches of Spain have become favorite vacation destinations for Europeans and Playa de La Concha is no exception. The beach’s scenic setting in the bay of La Concha and the wide variety of resorts in San Sebastián ensure that the beach is busy year-round.

Best Time to Visit:  June – August.  During the summer months, the weather is great and there is a lot of sunshine to enjoy.

23.   Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Considered by many to be one of the nicest beaches in the Carribean, Eagle Beach is the widest beach in Aruba and is famous worldwide for its soft white sands and beautiful Fofoti trees. In addition to soaking up the sun on its soft sands, visitors to Eagle Beach also enjoy a variety of water sports, snorkeling, and viewing the four species of sea turtles that nest on the beach. If you visit during the right time of year, you could witness the hatching of the baby turtles.

Best Time to Visit:  April – August.  This is the slowest part of the year for tourism in Aruba and you can find some absolutely spectacular deals on hotels.

22. Varadero Beach, Cuba

Varadero Beach, Cuba

With the renewed US Travel Restrictions to Cuba, not many people in the United States are aware of just how beautiful Cuba’s beaches are. Out of all the country’s world-class beaches, Varadero is probably the prettiest. Located in the province of Matanzas, Varadero is one of the largest resort areas in the Carribean and its beach has become famous throughout the world. In addition to a variety of water activities, visitors to Varadero can also take horseback rides along the beach. With a growing number of world-class resorts and a stunning beach, it is easy to see why Varadero is such a popular tourist destination.

Best Time to Visit:  November – April.  During the months of late autumn thru early spring, the weather is the most stable and pleasant.

21.  Tulum Beach, Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, Mexico-388

Unlike many of the other beaches on this list, the beach in Tulum, Mexico has a rich history behind it. As one of the last cities built and inhabited by the ancient Mayan people, Tulum beach is one of the few beaches in the world, and the only beach on this list, to have historical ruins located near it. In fact, you can see some of the biggest ruins in the Tulum area right from the beach where you suntan. In addition to being able to tour the historic ruins, visitors to Tulum Beach are also able to participate in a wide variety of beach activities and snorkeling. The stunning rocky shoreline is also fun to explore on long walks, for those who are so inclined.

Best Time to Visit:  October – December.  Visiting after the hurricane season of late summer and early autumn is ideal because the temperatures are warm, but not oppressively hot.

20. Playa del Cable, Marbella, Spain

Playa del Cable - Marbella, Spain-1135

As home to some of the most stunning beaches in all of Europe, the Costa del Sol region of Southern Spain has become an infamous vacation spot for Europeans looking to escape the cold and relax in the sun. Of all the beaches in Costa del Sol, my favorite is undoubtedly Playa del Cable in the town of Marbella. Not only is this 400-meter long beach chock-full of fun activities to enjoy, but it is lined with restaurants, bars, and resorts that make any visit to the beach town of Marbella even more magical. If you are into golfing, the Marbella area also has some of the nicest golf courses in Europe, which makes it the perfect destination for an epic beach and golf getaway.

Best Time to Visit:  September – October.  The best time to visit Marbella, Spain is in early autumn when the summer crowds have left, but the temperatures are still warm.

19. Ko Olina Lagoon Beach, Hawaii, USA

Ko Olina Lagoon Beach, Oahu Hawaii

The tropical state of Hawaii in the United States is made up of multiple islands and those islands are famous worldwide for their stunning beaches.  Located on the Western side of the island of Oahu, which is the sunnier and drier side of the island, Ko Olina Lagoon is actually a collection of four man-made beach coves that are perfect swimming holes for visitors.   These swimming coves are shielded from large waves by rock barriers, making them great swimming areas for visitors of all ages and abilities. Visitors can enjoy a myriad of water activities or just sit back and enjoy one of the most beautiful coastal areas in Hawaiian waters.

Best Time to Visit:  April – June or September – December.  During these shoulder seasons, there are fewer crowds, more festivals to enjoy, and hotel rates are much cheaper.

18. Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

Thong Nai Pan Noi, Thailand

If you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to a beach vacation, you won’t be able to find more beauty to enjoy for less money than you’ll find when you visit Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand. With beautiful, yet extremely affordable, beach-side bungalows at very nice resorts, you can enjoy the best parts of a top-end beach vacation without having to break the bank. Located on the northeast side of Koh Phangan, Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach has all of the charms that the beaches of Southeast Asia is known for. Pure white sand beaches with crystal blue water that is so clear and so beautiful that you’ll need to pinch yourself to know that its real.

Best Time to Visit:  January – August.  During this time of the year, the temperatures aren’t unbearably hot and the weather is much drier.

17. Baia do Sancho Beach, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Baia do Sancho, Brazil

When asked to name the country in this world with the most amazing beaches, one of the countries that are mentioned most often is the South American country of Brazil.  Consistently ranked as one of the top beaches in the entire world, Baia do Sancho is located on the small island of Fernando de Noronha off of Brazil inside of Brazil’s first marine park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Because the beach is located within a national park, you will have to pay an entrance fee and environmental tax to get in, but believe me, it is a small price to pay for the amazing beauty you will see. In addition to being a great place to lay back and enjoy your surroundings, there is an abundance of sea life off the shores of the beach that is just waiting for you to explore via snorkel or diving. Once you’ve had your fill of sand and water, the park also has a wide array of hiking trails and incredible coastline to explore as well.

Best Time to Visit:  August – January.  The beach is incredible to visit year-round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season from August thru December.

16.  El Nido Beach, Palawan, Philippines

El Nido

Located in the northern part of Palawan, which is a remote island in the western Phillippines, El Nido is what most people think of when they think of pristine beaches with soft, white sand and crystal clear water. There are roughly twenty limestone islands scattered off the shores of the beach which are easy to explore in the area’s iconic double-outrigger “Banca” boats.  At the Secret Beach on the beautiful Matinloc Island, adventurous visitors can swim through a narrow crevice in the rocks to enjoy the secluded beauty of their own private beach. Just a short boat trip away is Vigan Island, where a twisting sandpit spills into the ocean at the delight of travelers who take a swim in the waters. In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, El Nido is a fantastic place to go snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking amongst the many caves, tunnels, and reefs throughout the islands.

Best Time to Visit:  February – March.  These are the first few months of the dry season, where the weather is drier but it is not yet incredibly hot.

15.  Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Manly Beach

Another country that many travelers automatically think of when the topic of beautiful beaches comes up is the country of Australia.  One of the main reasons why Australia is so synonymous with beautiful beaches is because of drop-dead gorgeous beaches like Manly Beach in Sydney.  Known throughout Australia and much of the world as one of Australia’s premier surfing beaches, the first world surfing championship was held at Manly Beach back in 1964.

Since those days, the beach’s fine, soft sand and reliable supply of waves have only increased the beach’s reputation for being among the best in the world.  In addition to surfing, visitors can enjoy a wide array of other water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.  If you aren’t up for getting in the water, the beach also has some fantastic walking paths and other activities to keep visitors entertained.

Best Time to Visit:  September – November or March – May.  During these shoulder seasons, you can still enjoy the nice weather but find much more reasonable hotel prices.

14. Matira Beach, Bora Bora

Matira Beach

As the largest public access beach in one of the world’s premier tropical beach destinations, Matira Beach in Bora Bora is frequently included among the world’s most popular beaches for travelers.  With soft, fluffy sand and crystal-clear blue water, it really isn’t that difficult to see why Bora Bora is such a popular tropical beach destination.  In addition to the ideal beach conditions, Matira Beach also has a splendid array of resorts, shopping, and restaurants nearby for visitors to choose from.  The shallow waters off the beach are also excellent for snorkeling and spotting sea life.  However, the most alluring quality of Matira Beach is that, despite its incredible popularity, the beach never appears crowded.

Best Time to Visit:  November and April.  During this autumn and spring month, the temperatures should be warm, but not too hot, and much drier than the rainy season that runs from May to October.

13. Elafonisi Lagoon Beach, Crete, Greece

Elafonísi

There can be no ranking of the best beaches in the world without at least one beach from the beautiful Mediterranean country of Greece on the list.  Located on the southwestern side of the island of Crete, Elafonisi Beach is a magical place where time seems to standstill.  With gorgeous white and pink sand beaches, shallow, crystal-blue waters, and the beautiful backdrop of the Cretan mountains, the beach often appears to be too beautiful to be real.  The mile-long beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or playing a variety of other beach activities.  For those who are more adventurous, the coastline also includes a number of small coves that you can hike to and explore.  Whatever your interests, Elafonisi Beach seems to have something for everyone to enjoy.

Best Time to Visit:  May-June or August-September.  The main tourist season in Crete is between April and October, but you can find more affordable accommodations and still enjoy great weather by visiting in early spring or late summer.

12. Seven Mile Beach, Caiman Islands

Seven Mile Beach

There are many spots in the Caribbean that are well-known for their fabulous beaches and the Cayman Islands are frequently listed among these destinations when travelers are polled.  One of the big reasons why the Cayman Islands have become such a premier beach destination is because of the beautiful Seven-Mile Beach.  Located on the western side of Grand Cayman, the sparkling blue waters and coral sands absolutely scream beauty.  The entire waterfront of the beach is open to the public, which means that visitors are free to walk the entire expanse of this seemingly never-ending beach.  Regardless of whether you just want to relax and work on your tan or pursue some of the popular activities in the area such as parasailing, snorkeling, or kayaking, Seven-Mile Beach is a great beach destination for any traveler looking to get away.

Best Time to Visit:  March – June.  While the weather in the Cayman Islands is nice year-round, during these months you will find much more reasonable rates on accommodations.

11. Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos

Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos

Considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Grace Bay Beach is widely regarded as one of the best beaches in the entire world.  The soft white sand, crystal-clear water, and beautiful barrier reef make this beach one of the world’s premier swimming and snorkeling sites for travelers.  As part of Princess Alexandra National Park, the beach is afforded extra protections that have helped keep this beach as pristine as possible.  While there are plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy at Grace Bay Beach, including some excellent parasailing opportunities, the area is most well-known for its snorkeling.  At both Grace Bay Beach and nearby Turtle Beach visitors have a great opportunity to snorkel with beautiful sea turtles.  From personal experience, I can tell you that this experience is absolutely amazing!

Best Time to Visit:  April – May.  While the weather in the Turks and Caicos Islands is nice year-round, visiting can be fairly expensive most of the year.  During these spring months, you should be able to find much more reasonable rates.

10. Kelingking Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Kelingking Beach, Bali

Translated into English to mean “pinkie”, in reference to the smallest of fingers on the human hand, Kelingking Beach is one of Asia’s most iconic beaches and is located in one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations.  Yet, as popular as Bali is for travelers and as stunningly beautiful as Kelingking Beach is, many times when you visit you will have the beach almost exclusively to yourself.  Located just a short moped ride away from Nusa Penida, the beach is hidden on the southwestern coast of the island.  Its towering, steep cliffs, beautiful blue waters, and unfathomably fine white sand are popular features of the beach, but its hidden seclusion is its most infamous quality.  If you are brave enough to make the 400m cliffside hike, protected only by bamboo rails, down to the beach, you will have your own little slice of paradise to enjoy.

Best Time to Visit:  April – October.  This is the dry season in Indonesia and undoubtedly the best time of the year to visit Bali.

9. Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro‎, Brazil

Ipanema Beach

If you ask travelers who have visited Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, most will agree that Ipanema Beach is one of the crown jewels in a city that is world-renown for its beaches.  Located in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Rio, the beach is surrounded by trendy boutiques to explore and amazing restaurants to enjoy in between sessions of sunbathing.  In terms of the beach itself, in addition to miles of beautiful sand to relax on there are numerous volleyball courts, soccer fields, and workout stations for visitors to enjoy.  It’s hard not to visit the beach when in Rio because it is such a big part of the culture and no visit to Rio’s beaches is complete without a stop at the beautiful Ipanema Beach.

Best Time to Visit:  December – March.  During this time of the year, the weather is nicest and you will maximize the amount of sun you will get to enjoy at the beach.  If you are interested in seeing Carnival, make sure you plan your trip for February.

8. Laguna Beach, California, USA

Laguna Beach, California

There are a lot of things that the state of California is known for, but its amazing beaches and trendy, glamorous neighborhoods have to be near the top of most people’s minds when asked to describe the state.  Few places in California blend the state’s beautiful beaches with the glamour and trendiness that the state is known for as well as Laguna Beach.  Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Laguna Beach is located along a stretch of coastline that is well-known for its tide pools, beautiful coves, amazing sea caves, breathtaking ocean-side bluffs, and of course its fine sand beaches.  Beyond the beach, there are miles-upon-miles of hiking and biking trails to enjoy, amazing vistas to take in, and a seemingly endless supply of tasty restaurants and interesting shopping to enjoy.  If you are interested in seeing the best of California’s beach life, Laguna Beach is the place to visit.

Best Time to Visit:  September – March.  While the weather is nice year-round, these are the best months to avoid the crowds and find the best rates for travel to California.

7. Falesia Beach, Olhos de Agua, Portugal

Falesia Beach, Portugal

Imagine sitting at the edge of a giant canyon only to see the soft white sand and crystal blue waters of a beach below.  If you think you can only see this best of both worlds situation in your dreams, you will be delighted to know that exactly such a place exists in real life.  Widely considered to be the best beach in Portugal, if not one of the best beaches in all of Europe, Praia da Falésia is one of the most unique and beautiful beaches in the entire world.  World renown for its red and orange-colored sandstone cliffs, with beautiful pine trees on top and breathtaking flower gardens at the bottom, there are few beaches in this world that will make as grand a first impression on visitors as Praia da Falésia will.

Best Time to Visit:  May – October.  During the months between late spring and early autumn, you will find the most pleasant temperatures and the most sunshine to enjoy at the beach.

6. Castiglione di Ravello Beach, Amalfi, Italy

Castiglione di Ravello Beach, Amalfi Italy-9169

If you have read my list of the Top 50 Travel Experiences to Have Before You Die, you will recognize the Amalfi Coast.  This beautiful region of Southern Italy is well-known for its breathtaking coastline, beautiful cities built on the ocean bluffs, and amazing seafood.  However, what many travelers don’t realize is that the Amalfi region of Italy is also home to some of Europe’s most incredible beaches.  They may not be as big, expansive, or visited as their counterparts in Spain, Portugal, or Greece, but they make up for that with an abundance of charm and beauty.  One of the best examples of this is Castiglione di Ravello Beach, which is located near the town of Ravello.  This beautifully picturesque beach is isolated and shaded by rocks, which gives it a very intimate feel. It is the perfect place to unwind after a busy morning shopping and dining in the nearby towns along the Amalfi Coast.

Best Time to Visit:  May and September.  During this spring and autumn month, you will find the best combination of great weather and affordable travel prices.

5.  Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia

Bells Beach, Australia-2595

Widely regarded as the birthplace of surfing, Bells Beach may be the most infamous surf beach in the entire world.  The beach consistently produces some of the most surfable waves of any beach in the world.  Not only that but the headlands that surround the beach form a natural amphitheater that makes it easy to watch the surfers in the water.  Because the beach attracts so many surfers and makes it so easy to watch them practice their craft, it is easy to see why the beach has become so iconic in surfing circles.  In fact, Bells Beach and the Torquay area of Victoria, Australia has such a strong surf history that two of the surfing industry’s most iconic brands can trace their history back to this area.  Both Quicksilver and Rip Curl surf brands got their start in the Bells Beach area.  So if you are interested in trying your hand at surfing or watching some of the best surfers in the world, then you cannot go wrong with Bells Beach in Australia.

Best Time to Visit:  September – November or March – May.  During these shoulder seasons, you can still enjoy the nice weather but find much more reasonable hotel prices.

4.  Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand

Sunset Beach, Thailand

In addition to its beautiful and pristine beaches, one of the other things that Southeast Asia is well known for is its incredibly beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Like its name suggests, Sunrise Beach in Thailand is certainly no exception.  Its pure white sands and pretty blue waters make it the ideal place for visitors to relax between activities.  Located on the island of Hoh Lipe, Sunrise Beach is world-renowned for its marine wildlife and amazing snorkeling and diving.  The island is part of the Tarutao Marine National Park, which consists of 51 islands that can be visited by small boat.  The area’s vibrant coral reefs attract a wide array of wildlife for snorkelers and divers to see.  Each year, visitors flock to Hoh Lipe to view the beauty of the island and the surrounding area and to swim in its waters and relax on its beaches.  Considering its beauty, it is very easy to see why.

Best Time to Visit:  October, March, and April.  These shoulder months are typically the least crowded and most affordable times to visit Hoh Lipe and Sunrise Beach.

3.  Waikiki, Hawaii, USA

Waikiki-1173

The United States has some absolutely fantastic beaches, but none really come close to being as iconic as Waikiki in the state of Hawaii.  Located in the heart of the capital city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Waikiki is a beach lover’s paradise.  While the beaches on the North Shore of the island may be the more iconic surf spots, Waikiki more than makes up for that with glamour, beauty, and atmosphere.  Located in one of the more vibrant neighborhoods of Honolulu, visitors can enjoy designer fashion stores, amazing restaurant options, and water-side cocktail bars when they aren’t playing in the beaches crystal clear waters or enjoying the sun on the beaches soft white sands.

For those who are extra adventurous, the Diamond Head Crater is only a short distance away and a hike to the top offers visitors some of the most breathtaking views of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. If you are in the area, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Best Time to Visit:  April – June or September – December.  During these shoulder seasons, you will avoid the big crowds and save a lot of money on travel expenses.

2. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana Beach

There are few beaches in this world that are so iconic and so epic that they have become the subject of hit songs known throughout the world.  It should be no surprise that a beach with that much notoriety and popularity should be found in the country of Brazil, which is known the world over for its beautiful beaches.  Surrounded by lavish restaurants, beautiful accommodations, and the luxurious Zona Sul neighborhood, Copacabana Beach is the masterpiece of Brazillian beaches.

In addition to a plethora of beach sports to enjoy, visitors can also walk along the beautiful Avenida Atlântica sidewalk, which is made of stunning mosaic tiles that cut thru the beaches fine white sands.  While the beach is always a frenzy of activity, many visitors are content to just sit back, enjoy the abundance of sunshine, and people watch until their heart is content.  Whatever your motivation for visiting one of this world’s most recognizable and iconic beaches, it is certainly an experience you will never forget.

Best Time to Visit:  December – March.  During this time of the year, the weather is nicest and you will maximize the amount of sun you will get to enjoy at the beach.  If you are interested in seeing Carnival, make sure you plan your trip for February.

1.  Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Bondi Beach-1853

The top beach on my list of the Best Beaches in the World to Visit is another iconic beach that is located in another of this world’s most popular beach destinations.  Outside of maybe Brazil, no other country in this world does beaches as well as Australians.  In these countries, beach life is woven into the fabric of the culture.  You can find that kind of devotion to the beach and surf in certain areas of the United States, Europe, and certainly the Carribean, but not at the level you see in Australia and Brazil.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to see Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia at the top of my list of the top beaches in the world.  Not only is Bondi Beach large and beautiful, with soft white sand and beautiful blue waters, but it is also a hive of activity throughout the year.  Surfers flock to the beach to catch a seemingly endless supply of waves, families congregate on the sands of the beach to enjoy the sunshine and beach activities, and visitors walk the beautiful path along the rocky coastline between Bondi and Coogee beaches.  After you have your fill of the beach, there are plenty of amazing restaurants and shops that line the beach area for you to explore with friends and family.

You really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on my list, but after visiting Bondi Beach in Australia it will always have a special place in my heart.

Best Time to Visit:  September – November or March – May.  During these shoulder seasons, you can still enjoy the nice weather but find much more reasonable hotel prices.

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10 replies »

  1. Another wonderful post, full of your usual beautiful images!

    If you’ve not been to either of these two beaches yet, I’ll add two to your list for consideration:

    High Rock Beach, towards the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island – and more specifically, Bishop’s Resort. As I understand it, they are attempting to rebuild the “resort” – which was basically just a roadside-style Motel with the most amazing cabana bar I’ve ever experienced – after it was destroyed in Hurricane Dorian. But the beach is 7 miles of endless white sand and calm waves, not too far from the hustle of Freeport.

    The other is Playa Tamarindo, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Unspoiled natural beauty and an uncrowded soft sand beach with warm and gentle Pacific water (it is near the equator, after all) that is teeming with fish and shells. Easily in my top five of best beach experiences I’ve ever had – but I’ve also never been to most of the beaches on this list! haha

    Keep it up!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words Scott!!! And for adding two more incredibly beaches for reference. I am not as familiar with those two, but guarantee you I will be reading up on them! Thanks!!! 👍

  2. Thanks Josh. Now I’m craving a beach vacation! I haven’t had one in several years!! These all seem lovely and I’m not surprised to see an Aussie beach as your #1. It is clear you were/are very taken with Australia and New Zealand. Nice post!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words!! You are right in that Australia and New Zealand captured my heart. Such lovely countries! 😀

  3. What a tough list to make! I’ve been to many of these beaches and they are indeed beautiful. Have you been to Malta? It’s also full of beautiful beaches.

  4. I’d probably have Copacabana as my personal number 1 but can understand why you’ve put Bondi ahead of it. Suddenly craving a beach trip somewhere! Great list!

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