Hang 10 with your finest friends in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which hosts surfing camps and lessons year-round in one of the best watersports destinations on the East Coast (and is a short drive from Wilmington). Combine mind, body and spirit at the Women’s Surf, SUP, & Yoga Retreat in August, where you’ll learn to surf and standup paddleboard, or just sign up for a lesson while you’re in town: they’re offered daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The waters off the laid-back village of Wrightsville Beach are also a great place to kayak or sail; fuel up for your next activity with coffee and acai bowls at the newly opened Sun Days Cafe; get an afternoon espresso and shop for gorgeous shark teeth jewelry at The Workshop, and then settle in for outrageously delicious, Panamanian-inspired cuisine (and cocktails) at Ceviche's.The perfect stay on Wrightsville Beach is the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, a classic 60s beach hotel redone in great boutique style (and the new culinary home of star chef Jessica Cabo).

Opened by former travel writer Uschi Wetzels, this two-story plantation-style hotel on Barbados’s windswept eastern coast has hammocks on the wide verandas and sweeping ocean panoramas. But it isn’t for everyone. There's no air-conditioning in the Main House (it is available in the 3-room Cottage, however) or television, guests share a single phone, and mosquito repellent can come in handy at sunset. Easygoing Americans and Europeans guests who seek out this place get to know each other over family-style meals.
It’s also perfectly possible to splash out in a trendy destination like Panama, and still come in within budget. Donald Trump’s curving skyscraper in Panama City should do the trick—with a deep-soak tub and high thread count included. Pair that urban beach experience with a stay along the Pacific coast beaches—fantastic for surfing—at the rustic-but-stylish El Sitio (from $99 per night).
With pristine, white-sand beaches and a heavy dose of Southern charm, Pensacola is your quintessential all-American beach escape. It’s also wildly affordable, thanks to the many direct flights from major cities and its wide range of budget-minded hotels and restaurants. We love the Margaretville Beach Hotel, a sprawling beach resort done up in coastal hues of whites and blues, and overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There are plenty of freebies—including WiFi and beer coupons—and the rooms are bright and breezy, with expansive balconies and sweeping ocean views. After you’ve hit the beach, stroll through the city’s historic downtown, where you’ll find restored Colonial-and Victorian-era buildings and an array of cool restaurants—like Al Fresco, a unique outdoor dining experience comprised of five food trucks serving everything from ice cold oysters to mahi mahi tacos.
Your perfect family getaway awaits you at Beaches all inclusive Resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. Play on pristine, white–sand beaches caressed by crystal-clear seas. Spend your family vacation in luxurious rooms and suites. Enjoy a whole array of incredibly exciting and fun activities for kids of every age. Truly, Beaches Luxury Included® vacations in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos promise unforgettable family fun beneath the Caribbean sun.
Often travelers don’t understand exactly what kind of a vacation they are booking and what best beach vacations mean to them. For example, during our stay at a secluded resort on Maui, many people complained that there was nothing to do. The hotel manager helped them arrange a vacation on the much busier West Side, but most resorts won’t be this accommodating, so be sure to research your destination before you book your stay. The actual resort may offer pools, beaches, golf, tennis and other activities, but if it is pretty isolated like in the case of East Maui, where the drive to the nearest nightclub or shopping takes several hours, that may not be for everyone.
Each of the four bungalows at Milarepa Hotel, on the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, is outfitted with teak furniture and antique four-poster beds with mosquito netting, imported from Indonesia. Surrounding the resort are miles of deserted pale-gold beaches and natural tide pools for swimming. For meals, on-site, open-air Soma restaurant serves a blend of southern French and Costa Rican cuisine.
In most beach towns, oceanfront digs will set you back hundreds—but not in Pismo Beach, a sandy playground on the Pacific Coast of central California. Stay at Cottage by the Sea, a newly-renovated hotel set against a backdrop of shimmering surf and golden bluffs, and you can fall asleep to the sounds of lapping waves for under $200 a night. The scenic property also offers complimentary continental breakfast, an oceanfront pool, and bucolic gardens abloom with poppies, sage, and evening primrose. Wine country is nearby should you want to sip the region's best cab sauv’s, as is the sprawling Hearst Castle, where the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst lived from the 1920s into the ‘40s. Prefer to stay closer to home? We’d recommend a guided kayak tour of the coastline through Central Coast Kayaks.
Some places just make you go ahhh, and these neighboring islands on the west coast of Florida are among them. Their endless white-sand beaches — many scattered with delicate sea shells — offer panoramic views of the clear, calm waters and golden sunsets of the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel has a distinctly casual charm with small traditional beachfront motels, while Captiva is golf-cart-friendly, with legendary eatery The Bubble Room and the large South Seas Island Resort offering activities of all kinds.
Channel your outdoorsy soul (or your inner hippie) by renting a restored VW Westfalia camper van for a Northwest road trip on Washington's spectacular Olympic Peninsula. Peace Vans Rentals will hook you up with a fully stocked and versatile ride that smartly converts into a pop-up camper sleeping four. Hit the road in Olympia, near the southern tip of Puget Sound, and start by exploring Tolmie State Park, which has 105 acres of hiking trails, campsites, and beaches where you can try clamming or oyster harvesting. The South Sound region has both wine and craft beer trails, and when you’re ready to really get back to nature turn your wheels onto Highway 101, the gateway to the Olympia Peninsula, where you can camp in Olympic National Park and spend days exploring the rugged coasts and primordial forests.
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This is one for people who really want to switch off. In fact, there isn’t even a paved road to Carova. You won’t find any hotels here, just quiet, comfortable vacation rentals where you’ve got the whole home to yourself, and probably most of the beaches too. Spend long lazy days on the sands feeling more like yourself every minute, interrupted only by wild horses enjoying the surroundings just as much as you are.
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