The Moray Firth is among the top 20 most beautiful coastal areas in the world, coming just three points behind Hawaii's Na Pali Coast, according to National Geographic magazine.
A worldwide "destinations rating" survey, voted for by experts and readers, placed the coast between Inverness and Peterhead among 99 other iconic coasts, and rated it better than the Skeleton Coast in Namibia and New Zealand's Great Barrier Island.
The outstanding cliff scenery of the "undiscovered gem" and strong community feeling was praised by contributors.
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The survey is based on opinions from a panel of 340 experts in sustainable tourism, alongside the views of readers on the locations of the most scenic coastal regions on the planet.
Seasonal and year-round residents appear to live in relative harmony it states, and tourism keeps "pretty coastal villages" economically afloat as Scotland's fishing industry declines.