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.
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, our brains instinctually begin to daydream about the beach. Summer vacation planning might mean returning to a seashore that's been a family tradition for years or heading to a new beach you've always wanted to visit. If you're still undecided about where to head this summer, here's a look at the 10 best beach vacation destinations in the U.S.
Oahu: When planning a vacation in Hawaii, the first step is to decide where to go. Each island is different, offering a choice of accommodation, activities and scenery. The most famous destination in Hawaii is Waikiki on the island of Oahu. It's home to numerous hotels and resorts, some right on the sandy shore and others a just a few blocks from it. Travelers come here for their honeymoon, on a family trip and to learn how to surf. The Royal Hawaiian is decorated all in pink. Because of its historic ambiance and romantic atmosphere, the hotel is especially popular with honeymooners. Next to the Royal Hawaiian is the 1,695-room Sheraton Waikiki which offers many rooms overlooking the ocean. If you are looking for a more secluded getaway, reserve a cottage at Turtle Bay on the north end of the island. The resort has two golf courses, a spa and a kid's club.
Best Beach Vacations - Total Travel Time and Distance: How far do you want to go? Reaching an amazing beach resort destination in the South Pacific will take several airline flights, a time change (which means jetlag for a few days) and it will be expensive. But once you get there, you can expect an experience of a lifetime. If you are looking for dream beach vacations, that's the way to go.
Kauai: The island of Kauai in Hawaii offers several great options. The St. Regis Princeville has a sandy shore and luxury accommodations. The Resort Butler service at The St. Regis includes guest welcome upon arrival, personalization of the guest suite, unpacking and dining reservations. Sheraton Kauai Resort offers snorkeling, landscaped gardens and a choice of rooms and suites.
If you’re a fisherman, birdwatcher or stargazer at heart, Chincoteague should be at the top of your vacation bucket list. This barrier island off the coast of Virginia doesn’t have the bars, restaurants or commercial development that many coastal destinations attract, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be bored. Take advantage of the area’s hidden fishing spots, winding bike paths and sunrise kayak tours to immerse yourself in an untouched piece of natural paradise.
Girls who grew up loving horses will be in heaven in Del Mar, California, a San Diego suburb that’s home to the exquisitely beautiful Del Mar Race Track, the Del Mar Horse Park (a mecca for riding events), and the Fairmont Grand Del Mar resort, which has its own equestrian center and stable of horses reserved for guests. Racing and riding stays can be built around golf outings, spa treatments, surf lessons, dining at the hotel’s Relais & Chateaux Addison restaurant, and late-night dancing at Club M. The Del Mar racing season only runs a few precious weeks each year, but visit anytime to enjoy miles of riding and hiking in the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, located just outside the windows of your luxury Fairmont suite. Book it here: Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
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.
There are about 221,208 miles of coastline on the planet, and where ever there’s a shore, there’s the potential for a beach getaway. While you may not be packing up your bikini for a trip to Antarctica’s Southern Ocean anytime soon, there’s a whole world’s worth of tremendous beaches out there to explore. Swim through a tunnel to the hidden beach in Mexico’s Marieta Islands, or take a boat to Thailand’s Maya Bay beach (made famous by the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach). Venture out to Australia’s Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, to admire the colors of Rainbow Beach, an effect caused by the mineral-rich sand. Take a picture in front of the iconic granite boulders surrounding Anse Source d’Argent beach in the African archipelago of Seychelles, deep in the Indian Ocean. Or try a city-side beach in one of Barcelona’s hippest quarters, Barceloneta, whose fame stretches back centuries—it was even mentioned in Don Quixote. Who says beach culture and high culture can’t mix?
Jamaica is a top destination for couples celebrating their honeymoons and anniversaries, but it has beaches well-suited to travelers regardless of whether you’re celebrating something or not. You can find direct flights to Montego Bay from many cities, and Ocho Rios tends to be even more affordable than Montego Bay. You’ll find plenty of all-inclusive resorts here, but also small hotels that are near local restaurants and bars that offer cheap eats and drinks. While in the Ocho Rios area, you can spend lots of time on the sandy beaches and go hiking and swimming by waterfalls.
For summer R&R that includes gallery hopping, wine sipping and spa going, this upscale beach community located about 90 minutes north of San Diego is ideal. Several large resorts — Montage Laguna Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and Surf & Sand Resort among them — are set along the area's picturesque cliffs and are perfect for a romantic couple's escape or a girlfriends' getaway. The town is a longtime art colony (with more than 100 galleries), so it's easy to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir, while the region's focus on healthy California cuisine means you'll eat well, too.
During your stay in Myrtle Beach, you are sure to never be bored. In fact, there are so many things to do along the Grand Strand that you might find yourself having to plan another trip in the near future! With the idyllic scenery of the Atlantic Ocean at your doorstep, relaxation and serenity await you every day. For the golf enthusiasts in your group, there is no finer place than the Golf Capital of the World to spend a day (or two!) on the greens. There are more than 80 local golf courses to choose from during your stay. When it comes to shopping, Myrtle Beach has you covered for epic retail adventures with two Tanger Outlet shopping centers, as well as hundreds of boutique stores scattered throughout locations including Market Common and Broadway at the Beach. If you're looking for live entertainment during your vacation, the toughest decision will be selecting the ones you have time to see. From dinner shows like Pirates Voyage and Medieval Times to musical performances at the Carolina Opry and House of Blues, there truly is something for everyone in your group. The Grand Strand also plays host to a number of exciting amusement and water parks including Family Kingdom and Myrtle Waves. All of these experiences can become irreplaceable memories with your next vacation with Beach Vacations!
Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City U.S.A. is a mecca for surfers of all ages and abilities. Lessons and equipment rental are available for individuals and groups at the Banzai Surf School, an accredited member of the National Surf Schools & Instructors Association. Beachgoers who would rather catch some rays than catch a wave can stretch out on a beach towel along 10 miles of award-winning sandy shoreline. Beach volleyball is a popular waterfront sport and tournaments are held throughout the year. For bicycle rentals and burger baskets, tourists can hit one of the concession stands along the beach. Things to Do in Huntington Beach
A Beaches Vacation includes more of everything for everyone, from every land and water sport under the sun, to anytime gourmet dining at up to 21 restaurants and luxurious family-friendly suites. Kids of all ages love our Kids Camps, while teens have their own scene with Xbox Play Lounge, and Liquid nightclub. Beaches offers more inclusions, more choices, and more ways to enjoy time together.
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).
The reefs surrounding the islands are among the most biodiverse in the Caribbean, including dozens of species of coral and hundreds of types of fish. Above water, the islands shelter numerous bird species (such as red-footed boobies and pink flamingos) and also host nesting sea turtles. Los Roques’ reliable trade winds also make it a good spot for sailing and kitesurfing. As for deserted-island dreams, many posadas can arrange for a day trip or picnic lunch to one of Los Roques’ uninhabited islands.
One-size-fits-all isn’t usually a winning strategy for planning an multigenerational getaway, so the Lodge at Kukui’ula on Kauai has transformed the typical resort tour desk into a personal island concierge to customize activities that meet the needs of every family. Start by booking one of the resort’s cottages, bungalows or villas, all standalone accommodations where you can have your whole group under one roof. Resort highlights include a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, a spa, and farm-to-table dining; when you’re ready to explore the Garden Island of Hawaii your built-to-order tour options range from hiking to hidden waterfalls and on the Kalalau Trail, to sailing a traditional Hawaiian canoe.
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The value along the northern part of America’s Gulf Coast (don’t you dare call it the Redneck Riviera!) is easily the best in the country. The cheapest beach destination in the US, according to TravelBird, is Gulf Shores, where the beaches rock all the white sand and calm Gulf water of places further south in Florida, for a fraction the price. The quiet, funky beach town filled with pastel houses and legit-good food doesn’t gouge tourists, and is also home to a surprisingly diverse zoo. On Sunday, head a piece down the road to the (in)famous Flora-Bama bar.
Ormond Beach’s clean, uncrowded oceanfront features white sand, well-trained lifeguards and regular dolphin sightings. Family-friendly amenities like ample public restrooms and easy parking makes this stretch of shoreline the perfect spot to plant your beach umbrella. The area is full of gems like Peach Valley Café, a beloved local breakfast spot, where the apple fritters come highly recommended. Plan a day trip to Orlando (major attractions like Disney World are just an hour away!), or play a round at one of the area’s reasonably priced golf clubs.
You can ride horses on this beach―Three Oaks Carriage Company, run out of the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, leads treks across Driftwood Beach. Vanderbilts and Rockefellers once summered at the club and on these beaches, taking pleasure in the same thing that draws visitors today―a peace interrupted only by terns skittering along the water’s edge or an occasional ship humming in and out of port. jekyllisland.com