Posts Tagged With: beaches

Top 10 Things to do in Scandanavia

These are the top 10 things to do in Scandinavia according to about.com/travel

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1) Watch the Northern Lights in Norway

The Northern Lights are definitely one of Scandinavia’s best attractions. Tromso in Norway is the best place in Scandinavia to watch the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. This display of light in the sky can be seen only in polar regions. The effect is caused by particles from the solar wind getting trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. The lights “turn on” when particles crash with the atmosphere, which results in a showing of colored flames.

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2) Find Denmark’s Greatest Castles

Finding the best castles in Denmark can be hard for first-time visitors, but this guide will quickly lead you to the biggest and greatest. Explore the castles and learn more about Scandinavian kings and queens in Royalty in Scandinavia

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3) Relax in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Scandinavia’s top attractions also includes the geysers, especially the Blue Lagoon near Iceland‘s capital Reykjavik. Visit one of the many hot thermal pools which are always pleasantly warm, whatever the weather. Reykjaviks thermal pools are open from early morning until late in the evening. If you like this experience, you simply have to visit the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, so take a look at The Blue Lagoon in Iceland!

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4) Take a unique guided tour in Stockholm

Sweden’s capital Stockholm is one of Scandinavia’s top attractions by itself. This city offers so many interesting sights and history that travelers often find the best way to explore this city is a guided tour, with many photo opportunities. Stockholm offers all kinds of guided tours, but the most interesting and wonderfully unique can be found in Top Guided Tours in Stockholm!

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5) Visit the Danish Royal Gardens near Copenhagen (Denmark)

These wonderful gardens in Denmark offer peace and quiet for everyone and let you get away from the busy city life for a while. During the Baroque period, French design had a strong influence on Danish castle gardens and gives them their special flair. These quiet retreats should definitely be a part of your trip if you are planning to visit the Copenhagen area.

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6) Go Skiing in Norway

Winter attractions in Scandinavia? Yes, right here. For your winter vacation, this is a must. Famous from the 1994 Winter Olympics, Norway’s Lillehammer area is known for the spectacular local ski terrain and the many local winter sports activities. Find out about the 6 major ski resorts in Norway. Learn more about Norway’s top ski resorts or, go cross-country skiing in Scandinavia!

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7) Explore Sandy Beaches in Scandinavia

If you’re visiting in the summer, explore the beautiful sandy beaches in Scandinavia! With the weather in Scandinavia, the best time for a summer visit to Scandinavian beaches is late June through late August. Here’s how you can find a great beach area near your destination.

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8) Go Whale Watching in Norway & Iceland

In Scandinavia, whale watching is very popular among tourists, and many travelers choose to go whale watching on a whale safari during their vacation in Norway or Iceland. Adventurous travelers can even sign up for special whale safaris offering to let you swim with the whales – find out more about Whale Watching in Scandinavia!

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9) Do the Walking Tour: Stockholm’s Djurgarden

Djurgarden is one of Scandinavia’s top attractions for many travelers. Take a stroll across Djurgarden, which is Stockholms popular island with parks, events, and activities. Djurgarden is the number one recreational area in Stockholm, especially for travelers, and has over 10 million visitors each year! This walking tour offers great views and sights of Stockholm.

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10) Visit Legoland in Billund, Denmark

The famous Danish theme park Legoland in Billund is great fun! 340 billion pieces of Lego and many rides can provide entertainment for days! Every building, boat, train and car is constructed from millions of Lego blocks in amazing detail. Outdoor and indoor activities!

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Hawaii Revisted

Here are the top things to do in Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kauai in Hawaii according to tripadvisor.com

Oahu

1) Chief’s Luau at Sea Life Park

From Sea Life Park’s private Makapu’u Meadows and its breathtaking panoramic backdrop, experience a lu’au like none other with Chief Sielu and his tribe of dynamic Polynesian drummers, dancers and entertainers. Your evening culminates with World Champion Fire Knife Dancer Chief Sielu and his tribe filling the night sky with FIRE! Chief Sielu is widely regarded as the best & funniest Polynesian entertainer in the South Pacific.

2) USS Arizona Memorial/WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

The USS Arizona Memorial is the most recognized icon of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service. Access is gained through the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Upon entering the visitor center, you head to the NPS Tickets & Information desk to obtain a free ticket for the timed USS Arizona Memorial program. Walk-in tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s smart your tickets in advance online to ensure you get tickets for the day and time you prefer. While waiting for their tours to begin, visitors may rent an audio tour headset to begin a fully narrated tour, explore the bookstore, exhibit galleries, wayside exhibits, or simply relax and enjoy the setting of Pearl Harbor.

3) Dolphin Excursions Snorkel Adventure

Get up close to bottle nose dolphins and even swim with them! You can see up to 80-100 dolphins during your adventure.

4) Happy Trails Hawaii

Horseback riding on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawaiithrough the natural beauty of a tropical rainforest. Happy Trails horse rides are escorted by experienced and professional wranglers. As you ride our well-trained horses, you’ll pass through sun-filtered forests, fern filled valleys and organic tropical fruit orchards. Enjoy a “taste of Hawaii” by sampling our seasonal island grown varietals of bananas, guava, star and passion fruit.Capture panoramic ocean and mountain views at scenic vistas along your trail ride. Come, share in our spirit of Aloha and the pleasure of horseback riding with Happy Trails Hawaii.

5) Waimea Bay

Here you can snorkel with sea turtles, go wave crashing, or cliff jumping, which is one of the more famous things to do here at Waimea Bay.

The Big Island

1) Big Island Eco Adventures II Zipline Canopy Tour

The experience of a lifetime awaits you among some of the world’s most spectacular scenery – Zip with BIEA II through the unspoiled and breathtaking mountains and gulches of historic North Kohala… On your roughly three-hour guided adventure tour with Big Island Eco Adventures II, you’ll be soaring high above our lush North Kohala gulches on eight exhilarating runs crisscrossing tropical ravines. Summon your courage across our two-hundred foot suspension bridge hovering over a beautiful fern grotto. At our charming natural Mango Hut, enjoy locally made light snacks and beverages before zipping right off our Hut platform! Finish the tour with unparalleled views of the Waianaia Gulch and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll learn about Hawaii’s natural and cultural history throughout your voyage, enriching your experience every step of the way with BIEA II.

2) Kilauea Iki Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A moderate 4 mile hike into a an old volcanic crater.

3) Mauna Kea Summit

At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
 
 
4) Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
 
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a 501(c)(3) Scientific and Educational non-profit, whose mission is to serve as a nature preserve and sanctuary, a living seed bank, and a study center for trees and plants of the tropical world. The Garden is dedicated to the collection and display of the world’s tropical plants,and to the education of both children and adults about the plight of the world’s rainforests. At a time when rainforest plants are disappearing at an alarming rate, the Garden is working to preserve as many species as possible for the benefit of future generations
 
 
5) City of Refuge

Puuhonua O Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii is the most famous and best preserved of Hawaii’s ancient places of refuge. Designated a national historical park in 1961, this 182-acre site includes the puuhonua and a complex of archeological sites, including temple platforms, royal fish ponds, sledding tracks and some coastal village sites. Join more than 375,000 visitors each year and immerse yourself in the rich history of the area and discover intriguing facts about the early Hawaiians’ way of life.

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1) Maui Stables

Maui Stables offers one tour daily, originating at our new and spacious stable facility where morning refreshments are served up with an orientation and equipment familiarization.

All tours are accompanied by an “Alaka’i”, or trained tour leader, and a “Kako’o” (apprentice), who begin each tour with traditional “pule” prayer and “oli”, or call to our “aumakua” (ancestors).

2) Waimoku Falls Trail

A truly fantastic hike! The pipiwai trail hike is located in the Haleakala National Park at Oheo Gulch. It is a 4 mile round trip hike up a valley to a 400′ water fall with many great sites along the way. It is well marked and has board walks and steps to make this moderate trail easier.

3) Warren and Annabelle’s Magic

The dinner and magic show was great for the whole family. No foul language like most comedy shows. Plan ahead and make reservations at least a week in advance to make sure you get in!

4) Haleakala Crater

 Try to arrive early to avoid fighting the crowds, and give yourself time to enjoy the incredible landscape even after the sun has come up.  It can be very cold at the summit (approximately 10,000′ above sea level) compared to the rest of the island so dress appropriately.  In addition to the cooler temperatures, the elevation can be a problem for a lot of people.  Don’t over exert yourself, and if you feel faint take a long break before doing anything.  The drive can be long, the road somewhat treacherous, but the view at sunrise is unforgettable.

5) Maui Zipline Company

Maui Zipline Company operates within the Maui Tropical Plantation. The platforms and lines run across the plantation, so you get an aerial view while flying from one platform to the next.

Kauai

1) Na Pali Coast

There are three ways to see the coast by air, boat, or hogging it. If you can only do one, do the boat tour because looking up at the awesome cliffs and seeing the sea tunnels and beaches is a great experience.

2) Waimea Canyon

Great for hiking or just sight-seeing, it is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific

3) Polihale State Park

Endless beach with hard packed sand perfect for walking or jogging, and best accessed with a four-wheel drive vehicle.

4) Kalalau Trail

Hiking the Kalalau Trail is one of life’s most spiritual adventures, full of wonder and awe at nature’s beauty, but also can be hazardous to your health if you are not prepared for it.

5) Princeville Ranch Adventures

There are nine ziplines progressing from 400 feet to 1,200 feet, over some spectacular valleys, and there is also a swimming hole to relax in.

 

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Hawaii for first-timers: How to choose an Island

Planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands but not sure where to start? Torn between picking a single island or doing some island hopping?

Wherever you travel around the Hawaiian Islands, fantastical beaches, friendly faces and ono grinds (good eats) are practically guaranteed, but every island has a unique flavor. Get swept up by the kinetic energy of the capital island, O’ahu. Hang loose on Maui, which offers a little something for everyone, but especially for beach bums. Gaze at the towering sea cliffs on ancient Kaua’i. Wonder at new land being birthed by volcanoes on the Big Island, Hawaii’s youngest isle. Escape to total resort luxury on Lana’i or learn to live life off the land on rural Moloka’i, where native Hawaiian traditions run strong. Whatever you’re seeking in paradise, the Aloha State has it – all you have to do is open your eyes.

Islands at a glance

1. O’ahu

Best for: Beaches, Food, Museums

Multicultural modernism – Explore O’ahu if you want to take the measure of multiracial Hawaii, which confounds the categories of census-takers. Here, East and West merge as ancient Hawaii greets the 21st century.

Big city, small island – Three-quarters of state residents call ‘The Gathering Place’ home, and everyone rubs elbows – on the beach and the bus, on city sidewalks and country lanes. Still sprawling, even empty beaches are just a short drive from downtown Honolulu’s art galleries, museums and monuments.

An endless feast – If you do nothing else on O’ahu, eat. Japanese izakaya (gastropubs), island-style food trucks, high-wire fusion menus by Hawaii’s top chefs – it’s all here, waiting to be tasted.

2. Hawai’i – The Big Island

Best for: Hiking, Culture, Wildlife

Hiking – Kilauea, the most active volcano on Earth, conjures up a dreamscape for hikers: emerald amphitheater valleys and icy waterfall pools, lava flows both active and ancient crashing against rain forest and some of the loftiest summits your boots will ever struggle to top.

Hawaiian culture – On the Big Island, culture is participatory – absorbed, rather than simply observed. Here you’re invited to create a lei, dance a hula, beware the night marchers and watch as fish are caught the old Hawaiian way.

Wildlife – Spinner dolphins leap in the air, sea turtles glide up to a seaweed buffet, and endangered nene cross the road regularly here. In winter, humpback whales are the show-stoppers.

3. Maui

Best for: Beaches, Hiking, Food

Sun and surf – Justifiably famed for its glorious strands, Maui’s got a beach for every mood – wind-whipped kiteboarding meccas, calm snorkeling coves, hidden gems and some of the biggest surfable waves on the planet. Or just plop down on the sand and scan the horizon for wintering whales.

Trails galore – Maui’s trails go to the most amazing places: towering ridge-tops, cascading waterfalls, bamboo forests, and a cindery volcanic national park. Choose from easy strolls to hardy backcountry treks.

Locavore heaven – Grass-fed beef from Upcountry pastures, dayboat fish and bountiful organic gardens ensure Maui’s chef-driven restaurants have the raw ingredients to whip up their famed Hawai’ian regional creations.

4. Lana’i

Best for: Remoteness, History, Beaches

Isolation – Ignoring the great views of other islands, Lana’i feels like an isolated bit of subtropical pleasure far from the rest of the world (as opposed to the 25-minute plane ride from Honolulu). There aren’t many people, the landscape is stark and you can go on adventures exploring its unvisited corners.

Pineapples – Nearly the entire island supplied the world with pineapples for much of the 20th century. The crops are gone but the vintage plantation town of Lana’i City still beguiles.

Hulupo’e Beach – Lana’i’s one main beach is a beaut. A long crescent of sand on a bay good for snorkeling and backed by a tidy, uncrowded park.

5. Moloka’i

Best for: Culture, Adventure, History

Most Hawaiian – More than 50% of Moloka’i’s people have indigenous heritage. Locals consistently favor preservation of the land and culture over schemes that would promote tourism. Yet there is aloha spirit everywhere and visitors find a genuine rather than a paid-for welcome.

Saint Damien – A young priest who traveled to the island’s remote Kalaupapa Peninsula in 1873 to care for leprosy patients is America’s first saint. Today the spectacular peninsula is a national park and a visit is one of Hawaii’s top adventures.

Wild adventure – The world’s tallest sea cliffs, misty rain forests, hidden waterfalls and deserted beaches are just some of the features that beckon.

6. Kaua’i

Best for: Beaches, Hiking, Food

The Northern bubble

With the closest traffic light 20 miles away, the North Shore is home to many who came to check in and stayed to tune out. Surfing, hiking, and a contagious (if not invasive) laid-back vibe perpetuate the North Shore life.

Sunny Po’ipu – The most consistently sunny area on the island, Po’ipu is like a tropical version of sleep-away camp. Smiles abound on the South Shore as most days offer activities galore.

Canyons and cliffs – The rugged terrain on the Garden Island ranges from gaping chasms to sheer coastal cliffs, balanced out by copious verdant flora and topped by the wettest spot on Earth shrouded in cloud. As dramatic as any landscape on the planet, it is exemplary of Mother Earth’s highest potential for land creation.

Island hopping itineraries

Island hopping is a great way to get more of a taste of the islands, but make sure you budget enough time to relax between your flights. Here are two recommended multi-island itineraries:

1. Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i (2 weeks)

You’ve got time, you’ve got money and you want culture, outdoor adventure and peaceful relaxation in equal measure. Combine Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i – half the time, you won’t even need to drive. This trip is for lovers, culture vultures and anyone happy to spend a little more for plush lodgings and gourmet eats. But you’ve also got to be willing to rough it once in a while, when the rewards – hidden waterfalls, epic sea cliffs – make it worthwhile.

First, spend five to six days in Maui. Make it easy on yourself: get a hotel room or a condo for the duration at Ka’anapali or Kapalua. Immerse yourself in Lahaina’s whaling history and browse Kaʻanapali’s Whalers Village Museum, enjoy some old-school aloha at the Old Lahaina Luau, take a whale-watching cruise, and for a thrill, try ziplining. As for beach time, some of Hawaii’s most seductive strands await nearby, like Kapalua Beach or Honolua Bay. Take one full day to hike Haleakalā National Park’s summit moonscapes and another to lazily drive down the Road to Hana, stopping off for waterfall hikes and to buy fresh coconuts.

Next, hop over to Lana’i and take your pick of world-class resorts located in Lana’i City and at Manele Bay, staying three or four nights. Things have been a little hectic so far, so play a round of golf, snorkel at Hulopoʻe Beach or take in the vistas from the Munro Trail. To really get away from it all, rent a 4WD and head for the Garden of the Gods and Shipwreck Beach.

Finally, spend four or five days on Moloka’i. Stay in a condo or B&B near small-town Kaunakakai. Day one: explore East Moloka’i, checking out Halawa Valley and perhaps a waterfall or two. Day two: trek to the Kalaupapa Peninsula and munch macadamia nuts at Purdy’s farm. Day three: head out to the remote beaches of the island’s West End or penetrate the dense forests of the Kamakou Preserve.

2. O’ahu, Big Island and Kaua’i (3-4 weeks)

If you want to live in the scenery (not just admire it), consider combining O’ahu, the Big Island and Kaua’i, all of which together offer the hiking and backcountry adventures of a lifetime plus plenty of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian culture, not to mention tasty treats for your tummy. Don’t have 3-4 weeks? Consider doing just two of the islands.

Start on the capital island of O’ahu, basing yourself in Waikiki or Kailua for a week. Among the major cultural sights around Honolulu, don’t miss the Bishop Museum, ‘Iolani Palace, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and Pearl Harbor. Along with time spent on Waikiki’s beaches, snorkel at Hanauma Bay and hike to Manoa Falls after visiting the Lyon Arboretum. End each day exploring Honolulu’s cuisine scene and enjoying heavenly Hawaiian music and hula with sunset cocktails by the ocean. Drive up the Windward Coast to the North Shore for surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and windy walks out to Ka’ena Point.

Mosey over to the Big Island and book a B&B in South Kona for a few nights. For ocean adventures, hike to secluded Makalawena Beach, kayak and snorkel at Kealakekua Bay and snorkel or dive at night with manta rays around Kailua-Kona. In Ka’u, go caving at Kula Kai Caverns, hike to Green Sands Beach, and follow the rugged Road to the Sea. Next, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park offers spectacular hiking and, if you’re lucky, a chance to watch live lava flow into the sea. Afterward, bed down in a rainforest cottage in Volcano. Spend a night or two in Hilo, taking time to day-hike on Mauna Kea or to drive partway up the mountain for stargazing after dark. Last, explore Waipi’o Valley; if you’ve got the time, consider backpacking to Waimanu Valley.

With another week or more on Kaua’i, spend a couple of nights camping and hiking at Koke’e State Park and Waimea Canyon State Park, then boogie up to the North Shore, mixing some camping at ‘Anini Beach or Ha’ena Beach with lodgings in Hanalei. Swim, snorkel and surf, but don’t leave without tackling the Na Pali Coast’s amazing Kalalau Trail.

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Best Beach Vacations (Asia, South Pacific, Mexico, & Caribbean)

These are the best beach vacations according to tripadvisor.com

ASIA:

1) Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is Thailand’s most popular island destination, and one reason is that its coastline is divided into bays that form intimate beaches. You can get a soothing massage right on the beach, the scuba diving is spectacular and the locals greet you with smiles.
 
2) Koh Samui, Surat Thani Province, Thailand
 
 
Koh Samui’s myriad beaches present everything you could ever dream of in a tropical beach. Picture-perfect sands, coconut trees and palm fronds adorn each one, but there the similarities end. Choose from busy beaches, teeming with vendors and cafes, or secluded strips with not another person in sight.
 
3) Bali, Indonesia
 
 
With some of the best waves in the world and reliably great weather, Bali is a surfing paradise. Beach lovers can take their pick from a wide array of choices from crowded to deserted, with white sand or black.
 
4) Boracay, Visayas, Philippines
 
 
During dry season, there are few better beaches to be found in this part of the world than the famed White Beach, a sparkling stretch of pristine, powder-white sands on the west of the island. Cafes and restaurants nestle demurely behind palms, providing tasty delights for hungry beach-goers.
 
5) Maldives
 
 
More than two dozens Indian Ocean atolls and thousands of islets comprise the Maldives. Idyllic beaches, such as South Ari Atoll on Nalaguraidhoo, the Sun Island, are a dream come true for sand lovers. Swim out to the barrier reef – or from some parts of the island, admire the reef right from the gorgeous white beach.
 
South Pacific:
 
1) Sydney, Australia
 
 
With dozens of stunning ocean beaches within half an hour of downtown, there are few better urban beach destinations than Sydney. Famed Bondi Beach sees up to 40,000 on busy weekends. If quieter beaches appeal, take the coastal walk past smaller strands all the way to Coogee’s calmer sands.
 
2) Bora Bora, French Polynesia
 
 
Although a fairly small island, Bora Bora offers visitors a multitude of activities. Go on a 4×4 safari, sunbathe and swim on white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat.
 
3) Moorea, French Polynesia
 
 
The world’s largest coral reef eco-system actually consists of 3000 separate reefs. Come face to face with the wonderful diversity of life that exists within it by snorkeling and scuba diving from pontoons or watch the parade of astounding creatures stream beneath your feet from a glass-bottomed boat.
 
4) Byron Bay, Australia
 
 
Byron’s legendary, lighthouse-dotted, white sand beaches are some of Australia’s best. Situated where the Coral Sea meets the Tasman Sea, these clean, unpolluted, laid-back beaches remain relatively undeveloped and are great places to spot bottlenose dolphins, rays, whales and sea turtles.
 
5) Great Barrier Reef, Australia
 
 
For a beach vacation, Costa Rica is hard to beat. Some of the world’s best sands sit on its coastline where water remains a delicious temperature year-round. Don’t miss Manuel Antonio’s picture-perfect crescent of sand, with its azure waters and jungle at its back or, for surfing, Playa Dominical.
 
6) Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia
 
 
A perfect little beach town of 18,500 on Australia’s east coast, 48 miles from Brisbane, Surfer’s Paradise sits amid seemingly endless stretches of pristine sand. Nature has conspired to create amazing conditions and the crashing waves teem with swimmers as well as novice and more advanced surfers.
 
7) Viti Levu, Fiji
 
 
Fiji’s largest island, home to capital Suva, offers some wonderful beaches. Palm-fringed Natadola Beach, reputed to be one of the best beaches in the world, is a picture perfect crescent of powdery sand leading to dramatic cliffs. Coconuts hang overhead and the striking azure lagoon entices swimmers.
 
8) Perth, Australia
 
Perth’s active beach scene is dominated by two main stretches: Civilized Cottesloe, just south of town, is the choice for families, swimmers and snorkelers. More lively Scarborough, just north of town, is by day popular with surfers (via water, wind and kite), and by night is a spirited beachside club scene.
 
MEXICO:
 
1) Cancun, Mexico
 
 
Cancun calls with its stunning aqua-blue waters and white-sand beaches. Despite its reputation as a spring-break paradise, anyone will find plenty to do here, too. Explore ancient Mayan ruins, the Xel-Ha waterpark and the thrilling Interactive Aquarium, or just enjoy beautiful beaches.
 
2) Playa del Carmen, Mexico
 
 
Bring your sunglasses and cool clothes to Playa del Carmen, where the hot sun lights up the white-sand beaches. This is heaven for beach-loving kids and those who enjoy swimming or just lounging under the sun.
 
3) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
 
On the second-largest natural bay on the continent, Puerto Vallarta has miles and miles of world-class beaches. The coastline is dotted with quiet coves and spectacular islands, and the water caters to all sorts of beach activities, from sunbathing to snorkeling to windsurfing.
 
4) Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
 
 
Cabo’s beaches are not just beautiful, they’re also incredibly diverse. On the Pacific Ocean, the waves are delightful to watch, but often too dangerous for swimming. On the Sea of Cortez, the waters are sheltered and calm and the sand is white and warm.
 
5) Cozumel, Mexico
 
Going to the seashore at Cozumel is fascinating because of the island’s diverse beach offerings. Although it has its fair share of typically beautiful white-sand beaches, it also boasts a number of rocky beaches that are not great for sunbathing or swimming but are ideal for snorkeling.
 
CARIBBEAN:
 
1) Dominican Republic
 
 
Distinguished by long stretches of glowing white sand and gorgeous blue water, Dominican beaches rank among the best in the world. From Puerto Plata to Punta Cana to Barahona, these beaches cater to bar lovers, sunbathers, jet skiers and scuba divers.
 
2) U.S. Virgin Islands
 
 
Swaths of powdery sand separate green hills from the crystal-clear Caribbean waters surrounding the U.S. Virgin Islands. Beach aficionados should beeline for idyllic St. John, home of windsurfer-friendly Cinnamon Bay, the beachside cafes of Cruz Bay, and less-frequented Francis Bay beach.
 
3) Jamaica
 
 
Blessed with miles of stunning natural coastline, Jamaica is a paradise for beach-lovers. Among the island’s best offerings are Negril’s Seven Mile Beach–rife with great snorkeling and diving, Treasure Beach on the South Coast and Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, which has sand that looks like sugar.
 
4) Aruba
 
 
Spectacular for water sports or just sitting on the sand and admiring the tides, Aruba’s beaches are truly special. Swimmers and sunbathers will enjoy the calm waters and white sand at Palm Beach, while water-skiers and surfers love the surf at Eagle Beach.
 
5) St. Martin
 
 
There is no shortage of beautiful shoreline on St. Martin, which boasts some 37 beaches. What sets these apart from other Caribbean beaches is their breathtaking environs–visitors will not only be stunned by the white sand and gorgeous water but also by caves, cliffs, palm trees and rock formations.
 
6) Barbados
 
 
Turquoise waters, fine and soft sands and picturesque rows of palm trees make the beaches of Barbados a true pleasure. Stick to the south and southwest coasts for calm waters and good swimming; for a surfing thrill, don’t miss the massive, competition-caliber waves off the south and east coasts.
 
7) St. Lucia
 
 
Most St. Lucian hotels are right on the island’s best attraction–its beautiful beaches. Visitors will find sands that vary from white to gold in color, waters that range from calm and placid to rough and dangerous and locales that can be crowded and lively or peaceful and romantic.
 
8) Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
 
 
Grand Cayman is known as a scuba diving paradise with more than 130 dive sites surrounding the island, including its most famous one, Stingray City. Deep-sea fishermen enjoy the island’s “national sport,” and the coral reefs can be explored in many ways. The island also contains one of the Caribbean’s best strands of sand, 7 Mile Beach.
 
9) St. Kitts and Nevis
 
 
Scuba divers delight in exploring hundreds of wrecks surrounding St. Kitts, some of which date back to the 1700s. This relatively undeveloped island features quiet beaches with volcanic black sand on the northern half and white sand on the southern half.
 
10) Bahamas
 
 
Whatever you look for in a beach, the Bahamas has it. With sands that range from pink to white to sugary, waters that are blue or crystal clear, waves that cater to water sports or swimming and sunsets that are always romantic, the Bahamian shores are brilliant and unforgettable.
 
11) Curacao
 
 
Thirty-eight small, gorgeous beaches frame the turquoise waters around Curacao, and each one offers a distinct experience, from secluded to surrounded by cliffs. Scuba divers and snorkelers will find this a world-class destination, as will windsurfers and boaters of all kinds.
 
12. Bermuda
 
 
Most famous for their pink sands, Bermuda’s beaches are so good for swimming and water sports that most visitors will find that the Bermudan waters match the brilliance of its shores. Take a dip in the tranquil waters at Elbow Beach or try snorkeling at Warwick Long Bay.
 
13. Antigua and Barbuda
 
 
With as many beaches as there are days in the year, Antigua and Barbuda make quite a splash. The northwest coast jostles with beach resorts, while harder to find, secluded spots dot the south and southwest coasts. Amazing pink and white sand beaches confetti the family-popular southeast coast.
 
14. British Virgin Islands
 
 
Tranquility is the watchword in the pristine and engaging British Virgin Islands. You can sunbathe, swim, snorkel or sail along the isolated coves and coastline. The ocean teems with exotic marine life, and the uncrowded beaches invite you to enjoy their natural beauty, sandy shores and clear waters.
 
15. Puerto Rico
 
 
Blessed with crystal-clear waters and gorgeous white or golden sands, Puerto Rican beaches have a lot to offer. Swimming is great at Luquillo Beach and Playa de Ponce, Playa Higuero is perfect for windsurfing and the breathtaking scenery and vegetation is everywhere.
 
16. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
 
 
Black and white sand beaches cling to the shores of St. Vincent, the largest island in this more than 30-isle chain. Its leeward coast is ideal for swimming and snorkeling, while the windward side has boogie-board worthy waves. Lovely, remote beaches populate the tiny isles of the Grenadines.
 
17. Turks and Caicos
 
 
Known for its amazing coral reefs and fascinating wildlife, Turks and Caicos is the ideal destination for the avid scuba diver or birdwatcher. The island’s crystal-clear waters will also not disappoint those who enjoy snorkeling, surfing and swimming, and visitors will find plenty to do ashore, from sunbathing to shopping.
 
18. Anguilla
 
Surrounded by turquoise waters, Anguilla offer a tranquil retreat of more than 30 beaches, seven marine parks and numerous diving sites where you can explore shipwrecks, caves and marine life. The atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, the beaches warm and the water dazzling at this Caribbean getaway.
 
 
 
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