This summer, instead of treating every beach as an interchangeable patch of sand near a random large body of water (ok, still fun), what if you chose your beach vacation with an eye toward who you are and what sorts of activities you’re actually into? Fun times twenty! We’ve done the research to come up with a little something for everyone. Enjoy!
Best Beach for Couples
Motus, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
An island where you can swim and frolic and dine al fresco with your honey all afternoon with nary another person in sight? On Bora Bora, this experience can be yours. Bora Bora’s coast is dotted with these private “motus” (islets), and local fisherman will run you out to one of your own so you can relax in complete seclusion. We can’t think of anything more romantic, can you?
Best Beach for Families
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Coligny Beach is the place for the your wee ones. The waters on Coligny are shallow and placid, with tidal pools where you can wander through and collect sand dollars at low tide. The Coligny Plaza shopping center across the street from the beach has open-air family entertainment all summer long, as well as a fab movie theater showing first run movies for the whole gang. Another popular family activity to partake in is renting the giant tricycles and tooling around the boardwalk. Get your whole brood to Hilton Head and let the family fun begin!
Best Beach for Party People
Goa has been India’s nightlife capital since the 1960’s, and the town of Anjuna is at the center of this reputation. On the western coast of India, Anjuna attracts visitors with its laid-back beach town vibes during the day and top-notch party scene at night. Anjuna is most known for its psychedelic trance parties along the beach, where people can be found raving until sunrise.
Best Beach for Foodies
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bondi has been Australia’s best-known beach for many years, but its secret weapon is the eclectic and cosmopolitan food scene. North Bondi is best for swimming, but insiders know to schedule their beach activities around the many culinary delights in walking distance of the waves. Breakfast at Brown Sugar, brunch at Icebergs, lunch on Hall Street at Bondi Hardware, and wrap things up for dinner at The Bucket List. Done and done!
Best Beach for the Eco-Conscious
Maho Bay, U.S. Virgin Islands
If your idea of a relaxing beach vacation is going off the grid, unplugging from technology and leaving a miniscule footprint, have we got an eco-lodge for you! The Concordia Eco-Lodge on Maho Bay was first imagined by a Bronx-born engineer in 1976 and originally outfitted by canvas army tents high on cliffs overlooking some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Today, your tents are high tech structures, with solar showers, translucent walls, composting toilets and heat repellent roofs. Oh – did we mention every tent has a view to die for?
Best Beach for Adventurous Adrenaline Junkies
Santa Cruz, California
Here’s the thing. A beach vacation is a tough sell to a more adventurous sort. But Santa Cruz is the perfect spot for the beach and lounge-phobic. First of all, Santa Cruz does have some of the most challenging surfing breaks on the California coast. So you can test your limits there or head inland a bit to do some mountain biking in the Santa Cruz mountains. But for the true fanatic, nothing beats a jump out of an airplane with ocean views. Skydive Surfcity will let you freefall for 10,000 feet. Located at the Watsonville Airport, it’s a must-do for beach-going daredevils.
Best Beach for City Slickers
If the very idea of a beach holiday offends your culture-loving, urban-dwelling constitution, Barceloneta beach might be the best place for you to test the beachy waters. It’s just a 20-minute walk from La Rambla (in the city center) and you’re never far from the action. Delicious tapas make their way all the way out to the beaches in Barcelona, and Barceloneta has some of the best. People watching is top-notch and the waters are warm from late May to October.
Best Beach for LGBTQ Travelers
Elia Beach, Mykonos, Greece
Super Paradise is better known in Mykonos, but we like the more laid back Elia Beach for the less crowded scene. The beach itself is tucked in a little cove and lined with trees. Add in super-casual and delicious restaurants that turn into open-air dance clubs after the sun goes down – we call that a recipe for success!
Best for Seniors and/or Multi-Generational Family Vacations
Whether you’re grandpa and grandma looking for a week away, or you’re bringing the grandkids and kids along for the ride, Maui is a perennial favorite for a reason. It’s so easy. And beautiful. And laid back, Plus, did you know the weather is perfect pretty much year round? Dining options are varied and tailored to a multitude of tastes. There are low-energy activities like whale watching/dinner cruises and luaus to experience, and more high-energy activities like zip lining, surfing and cycling to try. Did we mention the scenery is stunning?
Best Beach for Beach Lovers
Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
If you pride yourself on knowing the best of the best in beach vacations, you might want to get yourself down to Sayulita Beach, which is helping to turn the 200-mile coast of the Riviera Nayarit into Mexico’s next big thing. There are great waves, cozy and hip hotels, loads of bohemian flair and some of the best fish tacos in the region.