Do you want to fill your free time as a TEFL teacher abroad with ample beach time? Are you planning to pack your sunglasses, sunscreen, and favorite beach gear (that adorable hat and your favorite novel) alongside your extra pencils, markers, and activity worksheets in your suitcase? Do you dream of lesson planning amidst the background noise of crashing waves and the caw-ca-caws of seabirds?
Life’s a beach in these eight incredible countries to teach abroad—when the school bell rings to signal the end of the day or the work week, it’s time to hit the sands. ✌️
1. Tianya Haijiao, China
Have you heard of Hainan island, the Hawaii of Asia? It earned its nickname honestly. This gorgeous tropical paradise just off the south coast of Yunnan and Guangzhou provinces is a world all its own. After a week full of wrangling kids or grading multipage papers, you’ll love the respite granted beneath the palm trees on white sandy beaches.
With multiple beaches to bounce between around the island, you’ll never tire on a mini-vaca to this underrated vacation spot. In fact, you’ll likely feel rejuvenated and ready to return to your teaching placement with renewed vigor towards changing lives while teaching English. All that from an island getaway? You bet!
2. Concón, Chile
With miles and miles (and miles and miles) of epic coastline, it’s no surprise that Chile makes our list of top TEFL destinations if you love the beach. Our favorite secret spot is Concón, made up of three separate beaches—Playa Negra, Amarilla, and Boca—just 10 KM north of Viña del Mar. This spot is leafy and not too crowded with tourists, but has enough visitors to justify nearby ice cream joints and shops to rent beach equipment like paddle boards.
As the locals say, “bueno, bonito, barato!” (good, pretty, and cheap!). Swim amongst the seals and Chilean dolphins as you unwind from another fabulous week of teaching abroad. Who knew your life in Chile would be this good?!
3. Spain… All of it.
Of COURSE gorgeous, sunny Spain is an epic destination for ESL teachers abroad who love to sunbathe, too. We can’t even pick a favorite spot—there are simply too many to choose from! Between Playas de Gerra, the beaches of Cantabria, Barcelona’s famous Barceloneta, or a dip in the Straits of Gibraltar, you’ve no excuse to not work on your tan in multiple locations during your TEFL internship in Spain.
Pair your seaside relaxation with a little Sangria to really get a taste for a true Spanish experience. Don’t worry if you decide never to leave—retirement in Spain is supposed to be awesome.
4. Ngoc Vung Beach, Vietnam
The coast of Vietnam will make you feel like you’re at the end of the world, with a horizon that perfectly blends with the water as it reaches far out to sea. If you love to pair your beach vacations with a little more action than simply lazing under an umbrella all day, you’ll love the adventures that await you at this beach near Vietnam’s famous Halong Bay.
Grab a kayak and meander through gorgeous karst mountains and other traditional basket boats; you’ll never tire of paddling around the landscape and seeing whatever there is to be discovered just around that bend. Working up a sweat and your appetite from epic beach activities just means more room for pho later, right…? Right!
5. Koh Kradan Beach, Thailand
Thailand, Thailand, Thailand. Rare is the person who can think of Thailand and not immediately also think of idyllic beaches brushing up along water in the shade of “poop your pants blue.” Yes, a blue that pure is a sight to behold, and rare do ESL teachers in Thailand ever get enough of it. That’s why multiple beach vacations are the norm for many TEFLers in Bangkok and the South, where the warm Andaman Sea gently beckons.
You’ll love what the locals call “ice-land” hopping as you take a traditional longtail boat from cove to cove. Grab your snorkel gear and float idly, observing the fascinating and colorful world below the surface. What stresses? What worries? What verb structures?
6. Playas de Palomino, Colombia
If you thought teaching in Colombia was all jungle and no beach time, think again. Pour yourself a strong cup of coffee then head north to explore the Caribbean shores—replete with wildlife, a truly unique culture, and blue waters as far as the eye can see. The Caribbean feels a little different from all the way down here instead of the Florida coast, eh?
The colorful drinks and colorful dress are the icing on top of this sea salty cake. You’ll be 100% ready to tackle future lesson planning and classroom time after your darling weekend getaway to the coast.
7. Dawan, Taiwan
Did you know that the island of Taiwan is 52% jungle, nature, and national parks? Righteous! Taiwan’s small size and gorgeous natural areas means you’ll have an incredibly easy time making your way to the beach—maybe even as weekend day trips or in the evening after a hard day’s work (#sunsetselfies, anyone?).
The smell of fresh ocean air and kelp will be a nice break from the relative stench of the cities. (Don’t get us wrong — We love the smell of noodle soup and street food as much as the next guy, but few things are sweeter than inhaling and exhaling pure nature along the sea). Want a beach trip served up a lil differently? Head to nearby Fulong to see GIANT sand sculptures!
8. Palolem Beach, India
India might not be the first locale that comes to mind when you’re envisioning your perfect beach vacation, but we’re here to show you that it really could (and maybe should!) be. Few are disappointed when they Goa to India’s premier beach city: Goa! Nothing refreshes ESL teachers from the muggy classrooms and busy streets quite like lounging in a chair as freshwater laps noisily nearby. Top off this day with a frozen coconut treat and you’ll be left planning your return trip before you even leave.
A few more tips for hitting the beach while teaching abroad
- Pack an appropriate swimsuit. Not all cultures are super cool with topless men or women in scantily clad bikinis. We know it can be frustrating, but it’s imperative that you consider the local culture and remain sensitive to their preferences (you ARE the visitor after all). Don’t fall into the trap of being a selfish foreigner and pretending like this doesn’t matter. It DOES.
- Bring sunscreen from home. Sunscreen can be a little difficult to find at local shops depending on where your teaching placement is, and even if you do find it, it can sometimes have an enormous price tag. We recommend bringing a supply from home (and maybe a little extra—you’re bound to make friends with a fellow teacher who forgot theirs!) to keep your skin happy, healthy, and just the right amount of sun-kissed.
- Opt for adventure sandals instead of flip-flops. Flip flops don’t do you much good when it comes to spur-of-the-moment beachside adventures like hiking down a jungle trail to a secret watering hole or going wakeboarding with that new cutie. Bring more sturdy, water-friendly shoes, like Chacos or Tevas, so you can always say “YES” to unexpected adventures!
- Use the buddy system. Many of these beaches are on big bodies of water, where undertows and currents are likely present. Always swim with a buddy when you can, or let a friend know when you’re heading out and when you expect to be back, in order to stay safe. Some of these locations might not have a lifeguard on duty, so stay alert and aware of your swimming capabilities before you head out to the deep end.
Let’s get this beach party started!
The sun, the sea, the sand. (Uh, did you just come up with an alliteration lesson on the fly!!? You bet you did!!). Find all of your teaching inspiration on the beach and fall (even more) in love with life abroad.