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.
From white sandy shorelines to first-class wineries, Pismo Beach has lots to offer vacationers. This classic beach town in California’s central coast sits right along the Pacific Highway, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Pismo Beach has no shortage of outdoor activities as visitors have their pick of golfing, horseback riding, surfing, body boarding, and fishing. Suntanned shoppers can grab great deals at Pismo Beach Premium Outlets. Meanwhile, the award-winning boardwalk gives guests a chance to soak in the sun while satisfying their stomachs at the many restaurants and food stands.
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.
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.
When you dream of an island getaway — the kind that comes complete with glittering hotels along a white-sand beach — you've got Honolulu in mind. Oahu's largest city and the state capital, Honolulu is home to many top attractions: sample a great dim-sum lunch in vibrant Chinatown or check out Aloha Tower, the city's landmark harbor-side clocktower surrounded by a marketplace brimming with shops and popular restaurants. Honolulu is also home to famed Waikiki Beach, located between the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Diamond Head. Just as you've seen in countless postcards, Waikiki's Beach's white sand runs along a 2-mile stretch of coast, flanked by dozens of high-rise hotels. The area is popular for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, body-boarding, picnicking, and outrigger canoeing. At the end of the beach is Diamond Head, one of the world's most famous volcanic rings. Although no diamonds were ever found here, the calcite crystals in the lava rock sparkle in the bright Hawaiian sunshine.
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.
Pristine Hatteras Island Beaches & Seashores Seventy-two miles of wide, unspoiled and uncluttered ocean beaches beckon you to Hatteras Island. Our crystal white sand and warm blue water are among the best in the world. You can visit a life guarded beach or even at the peak of the season, search out and find your own isolated spot in the sandy dunes. Hatteras Island beaches are within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the nation's first recreational seashore park. Created by Congress in 1935, the park has evolved into the premiere destination for nearly every recreational pursuit under the sun. Blessed by the proximity to the Gulf Stream, a great warm water oceanic current rising from the Yucatan Channel and flowing north where it touches the American mainland at Cape Hatteras, the island enjoys the most temperate year 'round climate north of Florida. Our water temperatures can be as much as 10 degrees higher that those areas immediately to the north such as Nags Head and Duck. Dunes caressed in golden sea oats and the dogleg shape of Hatteras Island provides a sheltered and safe beach from any wind direction except southeast to due east. All of Hatteras Realty's Outer Banks oceanfront homes border the National Park Service beach line and the ocean is only a short walk away. From the topside decks of most of our oceanfront homes, you should be able to see the ocean and the beach clearly. Come to Hatteras Island and enjoy our wonderful beach. From swimming to shell collecting, sun bathing to surf fishing, and from bird watching to relaxing and windsurfing to world-class seafood dining, Hatteras Island invites you to experience your best vacation ever. Check out our Visitor's Guide for a list of Beach Equipment Rentals. Click here for the local tide charts. < Back to Things to Do on Hatteras Island
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.
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?
The island’s Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos, which encompasses rainforest, beaches, and coral reefs, is an essential stop for all visitors. Most people come to snorkel the coral gardens and Cayos Zapatillas, two little shoe-shaped islets off the main island. On land, guides can take you on hikes through the forest to see animals like white-faced capuchin monkeys and poison dart frogs. For the best beaches, go to the northern part of the island. Big waves and strong currents make the beaches unfriendly to swimmers, but the sight of the waves and the lack of bathers make for postcard-worthy strolls.
Iron Springs Resort can put you in touch with the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest whether your heart is drawn toward the deep woods or the sea. Clifftop cabins look out onto the wide sands of Copalis Beach, Washington, where you can fish, dig for razor clams (shown here), or walk for miles. Hop in a canoe or kayak for a paddle up the Copalis River to see a haunting “ghost forest” created by earthquakes, hike the 100-acre oceanfront resort’s groomed trails, or get a little wild and venture into the peaceful, ancient Hoh Rain Forest within nearby Olympic National Park.
The most famous beach in the DR is also the cheapest in the Caribbean; once you get there, you can coast on $20 a day. The beaches here are all the bright white sand and turquoise waters of your Caribbean fantasies, and only a few hours flight from most US cities. It’s also home to some of the best golf courses in the islands, and a marine park where you can swim with dolphins or play with manatees.
Nassau, Bahamas: Nassau is exactly as you might imagine a city on a tropical paradise island to look like, featuring miles of fine sandy beaches, endless calm ocean, cloudless blue sky, lush tropical vegetation, colorful quaint architecture and smiling locals. Soak up some sun on the city’s magnificent sandy beach and splash in the shallow clear waters. When the sun gets to be too much, put your hat on and stroll through the historic Old Town where everything is brightly colored, from the flamingo-pink colonial-style government’s House of Assembly on the Parliament Square to the purple Pirates of Nassau Museum.
With its sprawling miles of beautiful sandy beaches and seemingly limitless options for dining, shopping, and entertainment, Myrtle Beach has proven to be a premier family destination for decades. A vacation along the Grand Strand typically guarantees hot, sunny days in the Summer and mild temperatures in the Winter, but no matter what time of year you choose to visit, a lifetime of memories is sure to be made. That's what keeps families coming back to Myrtle Beach year-after-year: the joy and excitement of an invigorating family vacation.
They don’t call this “The World’s Most Famous Beach” for nothing, but it’s so much more than the ultimate spring break destination. Clean, compact sand, trained lifeguards and areas designated for “on-the-beach” parking—no need to haul your gear all the way from the car—make this beach a great spot for families. The boardwalk and small theme park are both kid-approved attractions.
On the quieter northern end of Phuket’s Patong party beach, this hotel is the bottle-service-club alternative to area hotels with a more frat-like atmosphere. At night, the angular slate-gray exterior glows; the windows of 123 guest rooms are illuminated in jewel tones like yellow, purple, and blue. Interiors have low-slung beds and Eames chairs. Most first-floor rooms offer direct access to the pool, while upstairs suites overlook the Andaman Sea.
Australia: Kewarra near Cairns offers a beautiful sandy bay, a garden filled with exotic birds and pristine rainforest surroundings. Thala Beach Lodge, also near Cairns, is a unique getaway with two pools, waterfalls, spas and grottos. Lizard Island has 24 secluded beaches, a freshwater swimming pool, snorkeling and scuba diving on its own coral reefs. Ask for a room right next to the ocean.
Taking the family to the beach can create lifelong memories, as long as every member of the family is satisfied. To help you choose your next family beach vacation, U.S. News considered factors like safe waters, kid-friendly attractions, dining options, spacious accommodations and multigenerational appeal to determine the list below. Weigh in by voting below, then use this list to plan your upcoming travels.
Tamarindo Beach is along the green, mountainous northwest coast of Costa Rica. Not only does it offer the remote, relaxing views of the Pacific the country is known for, it’s also a hub for sea turtles, and several companies offer tours to watch the nightly ritual of turtle nesting. It’s also bordered by the largest mangrove estuary in Central America at Estero de Tamarindo.
Big Sur is California’s most beautiful and unspoiled stretch of coastline, with the legendary Highway One running between the central coast’s dramatic cliffs and the vast, protected swath of Los Padres National Forest. The 59-room Ventana Big Sur resort blends effortlessly into the rolling coastal hills, bluffs, and redwood groves, channeling New Age spirituality with luxury amenities like outdoor Japanese hot baths, daily guided walks of the 243-acre property, and programs that focus on HoloSync, Quartz Bowl, and Drum Circle music therapy. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, diving, and windsurfing are among the many options when you’re ready to explore. Book it here: Ventana Big Sur.
Looking for a nearby escape that feels far-flung? Puerto Rico is just the ticket—especially if you’re budget-conscious. Though the island was hit by back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September, vacationers are now starting to trickle back in as hotels and restaurants have reopened their doors. Flights from the mainland are inexpensive (compared with those to nearby islands like Turks and Caicos and the BVI), and there are plenty of wallet-friendly stays offering style, comfort, and top-notch service. Our fave? El Blok, a 22-room eco-hotel with a rooftop plunge pool, Caribbean Sea views, and a curvilinear concrete façade that’s inspired by the coral reefs on the island. Hit the beach, or embark on a two-hour $30 snorkeling tour through mangrove forests and bioluminescent bays via Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio-Bay Tours. Then, watch the sunset and chow down on burgers and frozen rum drinks at Bananas Guesthouse, a divey beach bar with killer happy hour deals.
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.
Even as more vacationers have discovered the appeal of the Gulf Coast, the beach communities here have retained their sincere hospitality and Southern charm. --> The Alabama Gulf Coast is a beach lover’s dream with 32 miles of sandy beaches spanning from Orange Beach to Fort Morgan. Visitors can find fantastic restaurants, eclectic shopping experiences and plentiful watersports providers sure to create a family fun vacation like never before. Boating fans will feel at peace walking around the well-appointed marinas, while golfers can find sanctuary in the world-class courses adorning the coast.
There’s a reason San Diego consistently ranks as one of the most family-friendly beach destinations in the States: it’s beautiful, it’s affordable, and you’ll never run out of things to do—especially if you bed down at the funky Hotel La Jolla. The high-rise hotel sports a retro coastal design (think: wood paneling, '70s beach photography, and mid-century furniture), and features an outdoor pool, spa services, a poolside bar, and a bike and hula hoop-borrowing program. A popular place to start the weekend is The Cottage—a sunny eatery known for its lively atmosphere and mouth-watering lemon ricotta pancakes. Grab your camera and continue on to La Jolla Cove to watch sea lions bathe on sandstone rock formations, or check out the latest exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
TravelBird put together what it calls the Beach Price Index, an attempt to compare the cost of a day at the beach in 310 places around the world, accounting for water, food, sunscreen, snacks, and local currency. Some of those spots are in hard-to-reach locales, others offer beaches a bit more on the rugged side than powdery sand and swaying palms. But of the places you can reasonably fly to from the States -- and some even within the USA -- we’ve picked out 15 exceptional yet dirt cheap beach jaunts you can take this year.
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.
While it's hard to argue with the universal appeal of simply basking in the sun on beautiful white sand beaches (with maybe a frosty drink in hand), there's just so much to do on an island vacation. Active explorers can survey coves and ruins, take jeep tours, parasailing lessons, or set out on day cruises. For water enthusiasts, there are scuba diving, snorkeling, diving, and sea kayaking opportunities galore in most any island vacation spot. And if you're in search of dynamic nightlife, island travel is just the ticket: a beach vacation just wouldn't be complete without nights of feasting on fresh seafood, dancing the night away in after-hours clubs, or just chilling poolside at the cocktail bar at sunset. Soak up the serenity of unspoiled landscapes and enjoy the variety of activities that come with a beach vacation.
Travelers looking for an authentic Maine experience need look no further than Bar Harbor, Maine. A town that was once a retreat for the elite now offers affordable accommodations and activities at every price point. The free Island Explorer shuttle provides seasonal service to all three of the area’s public beaches. Tours and equipment rentals are available for a wide variety of watersports, including kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Abundant hiking and biking trails lead visitors along miles of scenic coastline. The perfect end to a perfect day is a lobster dinner at one of Bar Harbor’s many restaurants.
Secluded Beach Vacations for Couples: The best secluded beaches are found on islands, some remote and some just a short boat ride away, such as the private islands in Florida. Honeymooners love quiet spots where they can have picnics, swim, surf, snorkel and scuba dive while enjoy plenty of privacy. Travel to the tropics is most popular in November, December, January, February, March and April. In September and October, you can usually find great deals to secluded beaches in Maui, Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.
Where to stay: To see the rainforest and its many colorful bird species, stay in an eco-lodge or go on a day tour with a local guide. The Cuffie River Nature Retreat, a reasonably priced eco-lodge located on the edge of the rainforest, offers a variety of nature tours including birding walks and visits to secluded waterfalls and natural pools. If you’d prefer to stay near the beach, try the intimate Hummingbird Hotel.
At party-hardy Myrtle Beach, you won’t get the peace and serenity of more under-the-radar beach escapes. What you will find? Plenty of budget-friendly accommodations, family-friendly attractions (think: mini golf courses and amusement parks), outlet shopping, and 60 miles of sandy shoreline. And if you make the Marina Inn Dunes your home base, you’ll have access to a more secluded stretch of sand—plus, free umbrellas, chairs and towels, and water sport equipment. There are more than 1,700 restaurants in the area, but you don’t want to miss the mouthwatering shrimp and grits at Mr. Fish, or the tropical drinks at 8th Avenue Tiki Bar & Grill, whose motto is “Good vibes. Good food. Good music. Good times.”
Located just several miles up the coast from Ormond, Flagler Beach boasts excellent fishing and equally beautiful views of the Atlantic. It’s the perfect place to send a kite soaring or take an early-morning bike ride at low tide. Trek through beautiful natural terrain at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, where you might spot some wildlife as you kayak through the mangroves.
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.
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.
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.
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The National Park Service typically posts lifeguards here from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with chair and umbrella rentals (you’ll find a restroom and cold-water showers too). The ferry has a snack bar, but most folks bring a small cooler (you must pack out what you bring in). On the island’s west end, explore Fort Massachusetts, which dates to 1866.
Lately cruise ship passengers have crowded parts of this outpost of Caribbean scenery. All you have to do, though, is head a little further up from the big resorts to find yourself on one of the most underrated beaches in the region. Thick groves of palm trees lead up to shiny white sand. Venture off the beach and you’ll find funky-cute bars to enjoy a beer for only a couple of dollars.
An unpaved maze of roads leads the way to Le Rêve, an intimate, 25-suite boutique property with more romance and charm than its neighboring mega-resorts combined. Couples hang out in private hammocks by the garden suites, accented with colorful, locally sourced Mexican tiles. Bungalows come with private plunge pools overlooking a generous stretch of ocean. Snorkeling gear is on the house.