The South Seas Island Resort occupies the northern end of Florida’s Captiva Island; originally built as a fishing camp in the 1920, the hotel sits amid a 330-acre nature preserve with 2.5 miles of beaches, 20 miles of bike paths, and ample opportunities to meet representatives of the island’s abundant resident wildlife, including sea turtles, ospreys, manatees, and 230 species of birds. Searching for seashells is a major pastime here (shown here), and ecotourism cruises around the island can take you to secret shelling beaches or on a naturalist-led dolphin watching trip. The family-friendly Gulf Coast resort has a wide range of accommodations from hotel rooms to luxury villas, including some with private docks. Book it here: South Seas Island Resort. 
Eager to move on after a protracted civil war, Sri Lanka has hit that intriguing sweet spot—when a place is stirring with change but not yet overrun. Bentota, on the beach-lined southwestern coast, is one center of activity. Noted architect Geoffrey Bawa designed this building, which was renovated and renamed Avani in late 2011. The 75 rooms are large and contemporary, with rain showers and private patios. Some face the palm-ringed pool, with the shimmering Indian Ocean beyond.  
Each summer, this string of charming villages located on the southeast coast of Long Island plays host to New York's A-list — from Wall Street bigwigs to music moguls — who escape the city to weekend at beachfront estates worthy of an Architectural Digest cover. But if you plan ahead, more modest house rentals are also available in Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton, Amagansett and Wainscott. Besides sunning and socializing, the Hamptons are known for farm stands offering fresh local produce, restaurants specializing in Long Island seafood and farm-to-table cuisine and vineyards ideal for lazy afternoons sipping wine.
Total Cost: The cost of your trip will depend on the room rate, airfare, train tickets, or gas, if you are driving. Some top beach vacation destinations will be more expensive and others will be cheaper also based on the availability of food. If the only place to get dinner is the resort restaurant, you can expect to spend more than if you can go to a local café. Be sure to factor in the cost of activities and spa treatments because they can add to 100s of dollars per day. Look for all inclusive packages in major resort destinations like the Caribbean, Thailand, Bali, Maldives and other beach trip ideas.

Budget for the trip: TAP is doing its part to pump up Portuguese tourism, and round-trip flights to Lisbon are regularly $600 or less from the East Coast. For about $50, two trains take you from Lisbon to Algarve. Once you’re there, the famous cheap food, wine, and beer of Portugal are at your disposal, and your costs will be minimal. Hotels aren’t bad, either -- as little as $40 a night.
Since the economy began seriously struggling in Greece, many of the epic beach destinations became more affordable for getaways. Corfu is a Greek island that is a little less well-known than some of the other beach spots in Greece and not as pricy as those ones either. Travelers can find affordable hotels here and often inexpensive flights through small, regional airlines. If you’re traveling on a limited budget, you may need to adjust your expectations and settle for simple rooms that don’t include all the luxurious amenities.
Historic lighthouses, wild horses and scenic flights in open-cockpit biplanes above the spot where the Wright Brothers first flew — a vacation in the Outer Banks can include all this, and more. With a large inventory of beach house rentals (and quite a few resorts and inns, too) towns such as Duck, Corolla, Hatteras, Nags Head and Kitty Hawk are scattered along this series of sand-dune-studded barrier islands, making it a top spot for leisurely getaways with friends and multi-generational family vacations. Fresh seafood is plentiful and activities include hang gliding, bike riding and deep-sea fishing.
If boardwalk fishing or putt-putt golf comes to mind when you picture a traditional beach vacation, mix things up with a trip to this decidedly unique spot on the Big Island. Spot tropical fish as you snorkel at the Kapoho Tide Pools, take a dip in the hot springs at Ahalanui Park or visit Lava Tree State Park (which is just as intriguing as it sounds). All fired up? Try a Hot Lava Hike over crackling terrain and into the jungle.
Though technically this border city sits in France, it’s more accurately described as Basque Country, home to that unique enclave on the Spanish-French border. Hendaye Beach sits wedged between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic, and while an afternoon enjoying the sun is great, the old city at the top of the hill is definitely worth a visit. It’s an old Basque city with fascinating architecture and sweeping views out over the Bay of Chingoudy. A short drive or bus ride gets you to San Sebastian, one of the smallest foodie capitals on the planet.

Maui is nicknamed "The Magic Isle," and with good reason. In addition to its famous beaches (Kaanapali, Wailea and Makena to name a few), this Hawaiian island is home to Haleakala (a surreal volcanic crater that's 10,023 feet above sea level), Molokini (a crescent-shaped offshore lava formation offering superb snorkeling, Upcountry (a lush area with historic cowboy towns and lavender farms) and Hana (a remote spot perched on black-lava landscape and accessible solely via the twisting, turning Hana Highway). Add in humpback whales (from November to March), spinner dolphins and a half dozen golf courses and Maui has something for everyone.
Husband-and-wife sheep farmers converted this windswept curve of the Norwegian coast into an architectural landmark. Domes light underground bunkers carved into the landscape, each decorated with modern and vintage pieces, hand-painted murals, and art installations. Floor-to-ceiling glass entrances look out on Hosnasand Beach and the distant Halten lighthouse. And most days end with a soak in the barrel-like, wood-heated hot tubs.

The French couple William and Muriel Demy fell in love with St. Martin on their first visit and eventually bought a beachfront villa, opening it as the Love Hotel in 2008. The seven-room property has light-filled rooms with no pretensions and simple dark wood furniture built by William. For lunch, order from the hotel café’s chalkboard menu that touts everything from Carib beer ($4) to Ruinart champagne ($100).
The Crystal Coast of North Carolina has over 85 miles of coastline, including Pine Knoll Shores, a serene beach town with maritime forests. Pine Knoll Shores hosts a range of affordable accommodations to suit different budgets, such as condominiums, houses, and several hotels. Travelers can save by purchasing group deals and other travel packages available online. The region has no shortage of things to do, with activities like boating, fishing, and hiking. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores offers aquatic adventures for the entire family with exhibits featuring sharks, river otters, and a rare white sea turtle. Photo: Pine Knoll Shores

Further afield, you, too, can find your bliss among the beaches of Goa, India, which have welcomed bohemian types since the ’60s. Amarya Shamiyana, a collection of four Moghul-inspired tents in a palm-shaded oasis—just down the beach from Jade Jagger’s boutique—channels that carefree, chic spirit. The hotel bursts with color, from playful hand-painted damask murals to metallic beanbag chairs, and puts you within walking distance of the beautiful party people (from $110 per night). 
Pine Knoll Shores, located on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, is home to fewer than 1,500 people. But don’t be deceived by its size: this gem of a town is a treasured family vacation spot. You’ll be dazzled by the beaches, not to mention the nature reserves—including the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, which features a trail that winds through fragrant pine trees and ends with a stunning view of the sound.

Maui is nicknamed "The Magic Isle," and with good reason. In addition to its famous beaches (Kaanapali, Wailea and Makena to name a few), this Hawaiian island is home to Haleakala (a surreal volcanic crater that's 10,023 feet above sea level), Molokini (a crescent-shaped offshore lava formation offering superb snorkeling, Upcountry (a lush area with historic cowboy towns and lavender farms) and Hana (a remote spot perched on black-lava landscape and accessible solely via the twisting, turning Hana Highway). Add in humpback whales (from November to March), spinner dolphins and a half dozen golf courses and Maui has something for everyone.


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There are more than 700 islands in the Bahamas, but the vast majority of travelers never get beyond the mega resorts of New Providence (home to Nassau), Paradise, and Grand Bahama islands. That means there are plenty of lightly trafficked “Out Islands” to choose from for off-the-beaten-path beach vacations. For glassy, gem-colored water, condo-free beaches, affordable accommodations, and some the best sailing grounds in the world, head to Staniel Cay, a two-square-mile island within the Exuma Cays.
Particularly popular with surfers and fitness fans, Dana Point is simply charming. Join a tour to watch whales and dolphins or choose calm Salt Creek Beach, with its sands, grassy recreation areas, and picnic tables pointed right at those fantastic North Pacific views. Head up to higher ground for an even better look at this gorgeous stretch of California.
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