It’s worth experiencing both Tobago’s beaches and its wild interior. Tobago was purportedly the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, and even though the deserted beaches described in the novel were based on observations made almost 300 years ago, you can still find such beaches on the island today. Try going to Pirate’s Bay, which was used in the 1954 film version of the novel.
There are lots of beach resort towns in Mexico, but one of the most budget friendly ones is Manzanillo. This is a port city that has a couple five-mile bays with beaches. Here you’ll find some great seafood restaurants and a laid-back atmosphere. Plan to rent an apartment or small home with an ocean view if you’re traveling with a few people and planning to stay for a while. Smaller budget-friendly hotels can also be found in Manzanillo, and many of them are conveniently located downtown and near the bus station.
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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.
For many families, Ocean Isle Beach is the best of both worlds: it’s less crowded, with gentler waves and warmer water than other popular North Carolina beaches like the Outer Banks, but it’s only a 45-minute drive from bustling cities like Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. The Museum of Coastal Carolina hosts a wide range of daily events tailored to small children, including story time, planetarium shows and “Touch Tank Feeding,” a chance to help staff members feed the museum’s marine animals.
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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.
If you’ve always dreamed of carving up the surf like a pro, Surf City’s family-friendly beach—where the summertime waves are small and gentle—is the ideal spot to take a lesson or two. Pack up your beach gear before sunset to catch the vivid clouds from stroller-friendly Surf City Pier. And don’t forget to pop into the souvenir shop for some hand-dipped ice cream.
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.
Known for its family-friendly attractions, its proximity to Baja Mexico and its gorgeous coastlines, San Diego makes a perfect Southern California escape. The oldest port on the West Coast, San Diego is home to such famous attractions as the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. In the heart of the city is Balboa Park, one of the finest urban parks in the country, home to numerous museums, gardens, galleries and theaters. Take advantage of this vacation spot's perpetually idyllic climate and stay outside: you can swim, surf, kayak, bicycle, in-line skate, golf, and more in California's second largest city. But it's not just about the endless beaches or Shamu the whale: San Diego also boasts a vibrant art scene and hopping nightlife. Go to the historic Gaslamp Quarter (so-called because of the gas lamps that lined the streets) to check out both the well-preserved Victorian architecture of many modern storefronts and an array of fashionable restaurants and bars. Since San Diego is just 16 miles from Mexico, be sure to sample some tasty Mexican fare while you're there.
The beautiful island of Molokai is where you’ll find an authentic Hawaiian welcome without the crowds or modern interruptions you get on some of the more popular neighboring islands. This is a place where you’ll have certain beaches to yourself and where the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. Seek out the black sands of Awahua Beach (you may need a guide to help you find it). The water’s a bit choppy so be careful swimming, but the peace and quiet is unbeatable. You could explore the Pali coast on a leisurely sea kayaking trip or head up, up and away, sweeping over the area in a helicopter. With beachfront bungalows or tropical rainforest cabins for rent, Molokai is truly one of the best beach vacations to explore your inner zen.