Ah, yes, the beach.

It may be a stretch to take the catchphrase "life is a beach" literally, but it's no exaggeration to say that life is a whole lot better on a great beach.

Whether it's wiggling your toes in the sand and sipping Mai Tais in Hawaii, windsurfing Mediterranean waves in Sardinia, plucking 185-million-year-old fossils from a pebbly strand in England or observing nano-beachwear in Rio, you really can't go wrong on the beach.

With this in mind, we have shortlisted 10 great beaches from all over the world. The picks are, of course, passionately subjective and happily eclectic. Whether they are city beaches with shopping, clubbing and dining choices galore, or idyllic, edge-of-the-known-world sand beaches with nothing but you, the water and the palms, it's worth the time and trouble to find these world-class beaches:

Anse Source d'Argent, the Seychelles

OK, it's not right next door. In fact, it's a flyspeck in the Indian Ocean, several hours by air from the east coast of Africa. But this is the very definition of a paradisiacal tropical beach. Situated on the granite-ribbed island of La Digue, it has the azure sky, turquoise water, white sands, green palm fronds and baking sun that beach-lovers cherish. Nearby, coral reefs, nature preserves and marine national parks with sea tortoises and seabirds complete the picture. October to March, when the trade winds blow, is the best time to visit.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

This lively strand in suburban Sydney is ground zero in Australia's signature beach culture and the place where the beach volleyball competition was held during the 2000 Summer Olympics. Usually crowded but always fun, Bondi is home to water-loving Aussies in Speedos, and is also a popular draw for foreign tourists, especially on a summery Christmas day. Buzzy cafes, pubs and shops border the beach and fill the area around the Hotel Bondi and Campbell Parade.