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.

Most of the action on Staniel Cay centers around the friendly Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where yachters and landlubbers alike stay, dine, and congregate. Here you can rent 13- and 17-foot boats that will allow you to cruise to some of the uninhabited islets nearby, see marine life like nurse sharks, and visit with the famous swimming pigs of Big Major Cay, which paddle out to sea in hopes of getting a handout from sailors. You can also rent snorkel gear to use at Thunderball Grotto, a natural fishbowl featured in the James Bond film Thunderball. Diving, kayaking, and fishing are other options.


The area of South County, Rhode Island, consists of more than just picturesque beaches where swimmers and sports enthusiasts can enjoy over 100 miles of coastline: The county also has tons of cultural offerings. With art showings, antique stores, and musical events in the works all year round, South County offers visitors cultural experiences paired with a breathtaking landscape. The area also isn’t short on great libations, and local breweries and wineries can be found on almost every corner. For visitors who want to experience the outdoors, sporting activities like biking, boating, golfing, and surfing are a great way to enjoy the county’s lovely scenery.

Budget for the trip: If you’re a diver, trips are a pretty good value with a full day of three dives and a long boat ride for about $250. Flights to Belize City are about $350 from US hubs, though San Pedro is the nearest city. There, nicer hotels set you back about $90 a night, but you can find decent ones for $50. Your daily cost aside from diving is under $30.
Named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC's Good Morning America by 100,000 public votes, Sleeping Bear Lakeshore is an outdoor-lover’s dream. During a visit to Sleeping Bear, vacationers can explore the area’s natural wonders, including sandy beaches, deep forests, shimmering lake views, and bluffs jutting 450 feet over Lake Michigan. Sleeping Bear makes the perfect camping destination while also offering a choice of charming inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and hotels at affordable rates. Other attractions include an island lighthouse, hiking on the Manitou Islands, or exploring the historical maritime village.
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). 
At only seven square miles, the island is easily explored by dune buggy. Pack some snorkel gear and head to beaches like Baia do Sancho and Baia dos Porcos, where you’ll see stingrays, sea turtles, and a wide variety of colorful fish just feet from the shore. Without a doubt, the water surrounding the island—a national marine park—is Fernando de Noronha’s top attraction. Take a snorkeling or diving tour to experience it first-hand. In the evenings, head to Vila dos Remedios, the island’s historic heart, where you’ll dance the night away to traditional Brazilian music at the popular and cheap Bar do Cachorro.

Most of the action on Staniel Cay centers around the friendly Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where yachters and landlubbers alike stay, dine, and congregate. Here you can rent 13- and 17-foot boats that will allow you to cruise to some of the uninhabited islets nearby, see marine life like nurse sharks, and visit with the famous swimming pigs of Big Major Cay, which paddle out to sea in hopes of getting a handout from sailors. You can also rent snorkel gear to use at Thunderball Grotto, a natural fishbowl featured in the James Bond film Thunderball. Diving, kayaking, and fishing are other options.
For a consummate grown-up summer beach getaway near New York City, Cape May, New Jersey, is a fabled resort town known for its magnificent Victorian architecture and time-warp fabulousness. A 2½-hour drive from Manhattan, Cape May is the ideal destination for design lovers who enjoy exhilarating but non-strenuous outdoor activities, plus cocktailing and watching the colorful non-stop action on gingko-lined Jackson Street. Tuck in at The Virginia Hotel, which strikes the ideal balance between old-school, clublike charms and of-the-moment perks like private beach cabanas, and park on the veranda (shown here) for drinks. Spend a lazy afternoon beneath the striped awnings of The Virginia's stylish beach cabanas and a day riding buttercup yellow cruiser bicycles around town. Reenergize with classic American comfort food at Congress Hall's The Blue Pig Tavern, get your farm-to-table fix at hip café Louisa's, grab an old-school dog at Hot Dog Tommy's, and drink the night away at The Rusty Nail. Book it here: The Virginia Hotel.
Sail (metaphorically or literally) into beautiful Newport, Rhode Island, for a summer girlfriend getaway at the timeless Hotel Viking, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a makeover that has brightened up the lobby and restaurant but keeps intact the history and charm that makes this a great Newport address. The hotel’s central location at the head of Bellevue Avenue is convenient to the shops and restaurants there and Thames Street, as well as the city’s fabled mansions and Cliff Walk (shown here). Packages include discounts at the hotel’s SpaFjor, and the rooftop Top of Newport Bar is the best place in town for sunset cocktails with friends. Book it here: Hotel Viking.

There’s a gentle elegance to Akaryn Samui’s villas. Four-poster beds with 400-thread-count linens rest beneath whirring vintage-style fans. Sea breezes drift off of Hanuman Bay to your private garden and plunge pool. If you can rouse yourself from your outdoor daybed, there are sunrise and sunset yoga classes, a holistic spa, a boutique, and a tea salon.
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).
Visiting the rustic beach towns in Brazil’s northeastern state of Alagoas feels like uncovering a fantastic secret (most tourists still head south to Bahia). Around São Miguel dos Milagres, the white-sand beaches are dotted with crystalline tide pools. The nearby light-filled Pousada Patacho beckons with five intimate, whitewashed rooms amid coconut palms and vine-draped terraces.
There is no better place to tap into the boho exoticism of Goa than at Amarya Shamiyana, a collection of four Moghul-inspired tents in a palm-shaded oasis just down the beach from Jade Jagger’s boutique. The hotel is a riot of color, from playful hand-painted damask murals to metallic beanbag chairs and Pucci-esque pillows—many available for sale in the Nana Ki tented on-site boutique.
Phuket, Thailand is an exotic beach destination for summer, and it's notoriously cheap year-round. Recently, tickets to capital city Bangkok have been going for $400 in various US cities, and they're still a cheap $545 for summer (from Los Angeles), according to Kayak Explore Tool. From Bangkok, you can hop on a quick, one-hour flight to Phuket from several airlines, like Nok Air or Thai AirAsia, as low as $15 one-way.

Asbury Park has been experiencing a renaissance, now with a hip hotel, modern restaurants and cool attractions (like Asbury Lanes bowling alley and concert venue, which opened in May) and more crowds, thanks to a revitalized waterfront. Ranked No. 1 as Budget Travel's coolest small town in America last year, it's the former stomping ground of iconic American musician Bruce Springsteen, who's first studio album is entitled "Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J."
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.
With no cars allowed on the island (minus a few beach trucks with benches in the back), a vacation on Little St. Simons Island, a private island resort off the Georgia coast, is an escape that Mark Twain himself might have invented. Life here revolves around biking and beachcombing, hiking and fishing, boating and kayaking—guided by a khaki-clad team of naturalists. At day's end, the resort's 32 (maximum) guests gather at dinner served family-style in a rustic, circa-1917 lodge to compare adventures and indulge in the garden's fresh vegetables and fruit, then head off to sleep in blissfully tech-free cottages among the palms. Nightly rates include lodging; boat transfers to and from the island; three full meals daily; beverages including soft drinks, beer, and wine; and all island activities including use of recreation gear (and easy access to plenty of bug spray), naturalist-led expeditions and talks, plus a fantastic curation of books, historic photographs, and beachcombed collections in the cozy lodge.
Families should look for family-friendly resorts which offer facilities such as kids’ clubs, protected beaches with calm water, pools, kid-friendly restaurants and connecting rooms. During the summer holiday season (May, June, July and August), many resorts offer extra activities for family travelers which are typically not available during other times of the year. If you plan your family getaway on the fringe of the busy and off-season, you can find great packages and deals.
On the far reaches of Florida’s westernmost coast sits Pensacola, an ideal place for travelers looking to avoid the megaresort and theme park atmosphere found in other parts of the state. This seaport city makes a great vacation destination for relaxing by the beach. Visitors can explore art galleries, dine on delicious food, and learn a bit about history in its colonial downtown district dating back to the 16th century. As the home of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola has fantastic fishing and boating. Inland watersports include canoeing along the Blackwater River. The city also boasts a proud military heritage, as showcased in its National Museum of Naval Aviation and Pensacola Naval Air Station. Things to Do in Pensacola
They say ’twas a bold man that first ate an oyster, but you don’t have to be an adventurer to enjoy a drive along the Virginia Oyster Trail. Virginia produces more farm-raised oysters than any other U.S. East Coast state, and the Oyster Trail combines a lovely drive on the Eastern Shore with an opportunity to meet local oystermen like those at Topping, Virginia's Rappahannock Oyster Co., who will show you how they bring these magnificent mollusks from water to table (don't miss the company's Merroir Tasting Room, shown here). For oysters fresh off the reef, the Dog and Oyster Vineyard in Irvington is a great choice—after all, this is Virginia wine country, too. After a day of shucking and slurping, the Tides Inn in Irvington keeps you close to the water: the resort is set on a peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers—in other words, oyster central. (In the fall, Tides Inn offers a cool oystering experience package worth returning for.)
Flagler Beach prides itself on its laidback retro vibe. Casual beachfront restaurants and coffee shops set the tone for a relaxing vacation in this Atlantic Coast town. Even the local winery is on the beach. Residents and visitors have free access to the municipal fishing pier and more than 6 miles of sandy shoreline. Nature lovers can hike the Coastal Strand Trail to get an up-close look at the local ecosystem. Visiting the local art galleries and gift shops are a great way to while away an afternoon before heading back to the beach for an evening cocktail and live entertainment. Things to Do in Flagler Beach

There’s a gentle elegance to Akaryn Samui’s villas. Four-poster beds with 400-thread-count linens rest beneath whirring vintage-style fans. Sea breezes drift off of Hanuman Bay to your private garden and plunge pool. If you can rouse yourself from your outdoor daybed, there are sunrise and sunset yoga classes, a holistic spa, a boutique, and a tea salon.
If you’re an active traveler who wants the sun and sand but not the sedentary lifestyle, put Virginia Beach on your radar. The city is renowned for its water sports (surfing, fishing, kitesurfing), its three-mile-long boardwalk—which features a separate bike path for rollerblading, biking or surrey rentals—and its sugary 100-yard-wide beach. More of an environmentalist than a beach bum? Venture out to First Landing State Park, where there are nine walking trails totaling 19 miles, and a bike path that winds around lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. Or simply stick around your hotel, The Founders Inn and Spa, to indulge in a pampering treatment in the spa and to treat yourself to a reasonably priced prix-fixe dinner with wine pairings at the Swan Terrace restaurant.

Mendocino is a fun and funky destination for a drive north of San Francisco that takes in the majesty of the redwoods and the magic of the Pacific Coast Highway. Perched on scenic headlands overlooking the ocean and the Big River, this laid-back town is full of quirky shops and surrounded by parkland where you can hike, bike, and camp in splendid settings from old-growth forests to driftwood-covered beaches. The exclusive, 48-room Heritage House Resort sits on 37 acres of unspoiled Mendocino coastline, offering couples the option of unwinding on a private beach, cuddling on Duxiana beds in oceanview rooms, or drifting away at the resort’s soon-to-open spa. Book it here: Heritage House Resort.
The beach holiday is the platonic ideal of vacations: what nearly every traveler, whether active or armchair, dreams of. Soft sand, shady palms, a cold drink, a warm surf—what more could you want? It’s no wonder so many ad campaigns hang their hook (and their products) on this seaside ideal: brands of beer, lines of clothes, models of cars. Travel + Leisure writers and editors are no strangers to the allure of the shore, and so search the world for the best beach vacations it can offer.
This charming beach town is super accessible, particularly for Houstonians who only have to drive 45 minutes to get there. And once you arrive, you can get just about anywhere by foot, so there's no need for pricey cabs or rental cars. Learn about the historic island city, one of the country’s leading ports in the 19th century, at Moody Mansion, the former home of one of Galveston’s founding families, or at the East End Historical District, where you’ll find a dazzling string of restored Victorian landmarks. From there, tuck into a diet-busting feast of hush puppies, corn on the cob, and three-pound platters of steamed crawdads at Benno’s on the Beach, a casual waterfront hang with an outdoor patio and wallet-friendly prices. Your Victorian-inspired digs at the Tremont House are the perfect place to kick back and relax after a long day of exploring.
Myrtle Beach has been a favorite beach destination on Atlantic Coast for decades. This is a wonderful place to visit for families, and there are lots of golf courses and nightlife options for adults too. Flight prices are often reasonable here to drive the tourism industry, and it’s also an easy drive from many cities in the South and Mid-Atlantic coast. There are lots of hotels here, but also look into condo-style vacation rental options if you’re traveling with a few other people.
Daytona Beach is an hour drive from Orlando, Florida; travelers are known to add the beach town to their Walt Disney World vacations, either as a full day trip or overnight. Doubles at beachfront resorts are as low as $80 per night. Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach recently opened, and the introductory rates are still a steal for summer with doubles at $149 per night, which includes complimentary use of guitars and on-demand yoga via entertainment system.
Budget for the trip: If you’re a diver, trips are a pretty good value with a full day of three dives and a long boat ride for about $250. Flights to Belize City are about $350 from US hubs, though San Pedro is the nearest city. There, nicer hotels set you back about $90 a night, but you can find decent ones for $50. Your daily cost aside from diving is under $30.
The city of Newport in Oregon has lots to offer at a reasonable price. The rugged seacoast provides the perfect place for exploring tide pools, hunting for fossils, or spotting a grey whale. Guests can drop by the city’s two lighthouses, one of which is the largest in the state. The Oregon Coast Aquarium houses all sorts of sea creatures, from sharks to sea otters. The museum’s Secrets of Shipwrecks exhibit dives into the mysteries of the deep with lots of activities for children. The nearby Hatfield Marine Science Center continues the educational afternoon, letting visitors examine local marine life in touch tanks or gaze at a giant Pacific octopus.
Explore the rich history and architectural treasures of proud Charleston when you vacation on one of her nearby resort islands on Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island or Isle of Palms. Stroll a three-mile boardwalk, complete with bandstand and carousel, and take advantage of tax-free shopping at the "Quiet Resorts" of Bethany Beach, Delaware. Play 18 holes on world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, or improve your tennis game with a lesson from the professionally certified instructors at Destin's TOPS'L® Beach & Racquet Resort.
Located in the heart of Cape Cod, Dennis Port is the perfect spot to enjoy the wind and waves while catching up on a little culture in between. Take a break from the surf with a scenic afternoon drive along Route 6A, a highway dotted with renowned art galleries, or cap off a sunny beach day with a theatrical performance at the Cape Playhouse. Watch for “Free Fun Fridays” at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, a summer event offering complimentary activities for kids including face-painting and pottery-making.
Located in the Big Island’s Puna region, Pahoa has become Hawaii’s unofficial hippie capital, attracting scads of new agers and bohemians to its shores. Pahoa provides an alternative to Hawaii’s typically pricey beach vacations while still having lots to offer. Scuba divers will enjoy abundant dive opportunities, and snorkelers can explore the sea life at the Kapoho tidepool. A lush rainforest once grew in the nearby Lava Tree State Park, but the volcano has left behind burned-out stone imprints of the trees and is an excellent place to explore. In addition, the concentration of historical buildings and false-front stores gives the Pahoa boardwalk a “Wild West” vibe.

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