For many, the ultimate vacation involves a beach—someplace to enjoy sun, sand, and surf while gazing at gorgeous water views. From Florida to Fiji, beach vacations make for ideal getaways for families, friends, and couples seeking relaxation and outdoor adventure.
Whether you’re on a spring break trip, school vacation with the kids, or want to spend the holidays among palms instead of pine trees, a beach vacation can be just the answer. Who doesn’t love sugar-white sand between their toes or floating in warm crystal water?
But beach trips can take many shapes. Sure, tropical visions come to mind, but so do the rocky beaches of Maine, the ocean-side dunes of Cape Cod, or the seaside glam of French Riviera. For many, the smell of salt air alone is worth a trek to the ocean.
Be it at family beach resorts in the Caribbean, a thatched roof hideaway in Mexico, or a cabin near Big Sur, a great beach getaway can be the perfect tonic for the modern day traveler in need of an escape.
World’s Best Beach Hotels
Feeling an ocean breeze is lovely. Enjoying it while also listening to live music and nibbling on a bowl of warm chips—that might be paradise.
Kelley Kitley used to live a few blocks from Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, and admits she often played tourist at the beachfront hotel. “They make the best mojitos and serve LET’S FIX THE “WARM CHIPS” REP. warm chips on the cocktail tables while a piano plays and a fire roars year round,” says the psychotherapist. “The entire hotel is airy and light, with great people-watching, and it’s just steps away from the beach. It’s perfect.”
Travel+Leisure readers concurred, placing the L.A. hotel in the top 10 among the world’s best beachy hotels. As part of the annual readers’ survey, the World’s Best Awards, readers ranked hotels, islands, cities, and even airports on their charms—including service, dining, and aesthetics. Within the hotel category, we looked at the properties around the globe that ranked the highest for their locations—and then focused on the winners that sit right near the ocean—or the sea, or even on a bustling city waterfront.
Indeed, not every great coastal hotel sits right on the sand. Some of the top 20 winners are perched on cliffs above the surf, or spread out against a harbor. But they all share the visceral joys of being in the path of those sea breezes, and many winners, not surprisingly, also ranked highly for their fresh-caught cuisine and their intangible romantic appeal.
Pris Phillips, a travel agent from Columbia, S.C., feels WHAT WAY? that way about another top 20 winner, the Pan Pacific in Vancouver. “Don’t we all love a nice hotel that overlooks the water?” she says. “Whatever body of water it faces, there’s no mistaking the soothing effect that it has—it’s truly a feast for the senses.”
Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts
The kids want to go ziplining—for the third time in two days. But you don’t need to think twice. When you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, nearly everything is included, so the pressure is off to constantly tally the cost of your vacation.
The all-inclusive concept has gotten a recent makeover—better food, spruced-up décor, more varied activities—and many are perfect for families. Activities are on-site, so there’s no need to wake up early and usher the troops out the door only to wait in traffic or long lines. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa offers four themed villages, 19 restaurants, a 45,000-square-foot water park, a Scratch DJ Academy, a surfing simulator, an Xbox Play Lounge, and Sesame Street characters.
The best all-inclusive family resorts also have programs that give grown-ups a little space. Vermont’s Tyler Place Family Resort runs nine camps tailored to specific ages, each with its own facilities; parents meet up with their brood for lunch and activities, but can enjoy dinner in the adults-only restaurant.
At Kenya’s Lewa Safari Camp, families can customize the experience, say, with earlier mealtimes. Before each morning’s game drive, hot chocolate is delivered to the door. Now that should keep the whole family happy.
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