From the plastic palm treeâ€“lined beaches of the Jersey Shore to the powdery white sands of Belize, beach vacations never go out of style.
â€œBeach destinations remain incredibly popular with travelers right now,â€ says Travel + Leisure A-List travel agent Kimberly Wilson Wetty; theyâ€™re â€œgreat for the time-starved couple who needs a mini-escape and perfect for families with kids.â€ Best of all, that perfect beach getaway â€” whether itâ€™s an exotic island hideout or a nearby home away from home â€” doesnâ€™t have to cost a fortune.
Whether youâ€™re looking for something on the pebbled strands of a quaint French fishing town or near the azure waters of Aruba, read on: Your perfect beach vacation awaits.
On a cliff a half-mile from Amalfi, the whitewashed Villa Scarpariello could be your wealthy Italian friendâ€™s private retreat. All five rooms are filled with family heirlooms and artisan handiwork â€” antique writing desks, pink-and-turquoise Vietri tiles â€”
and have wooden shutters that open onto the Mediterranean. If youâ€™re looking for a stretch of powdery sand, head to Baia di Castiglione, a 10-minute walk away, though the villaâ€™s pool and waterfront deck are just as inviting.
Judging by the multimillion dollar yachts moored in English Harbour, you wouldnâ€™t expect to find an affordable hotel for miles. But thatâ€™s not the case: the intimate Ocean Inn, whose wooden walkways connect 12 bright rooms, is a steal. Try No. 3, which goes for the same price as a standard room but has a balcony thrown in for free, or one of the two suites in the master cottage, perfect for privacy seekers.
The Furama Resort is located on China Beach, the famous 18-mile stretch of coastline in central Vietnam. A combination of colonial-era and traditional Asian design defines this 198-room beachfront property. The resort offers everything from tai chi classes on the beach and tours of the four nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites to serene night dives with sea turtles in the South China Sea.
Set on Cap Ferrat, between Nice and Monte Carlo, HÃ´tel lâ€™Oursin is a petite, 14-room charmer with ProvenÃ§al flair (embroidered toile bedspreads; carved walnut headboards). Two of the largest rooms face the harbor, with its bobbing sailboats. Walk along the sunny waterfront promenade and stop at one of the numerous outdoor cafÃ©s for bouillabaisse, or stroll through the village down to the pebbled Mediterranean beaches.
Kaâ€™awa Loa Plantation & Guesthouse
Each of the five stylish rooms at Kaâ€™awa Loa Plantation & Guesthouse â€” a tiny B&B run by gregarious owners Michael Martinage and Gregory Nunn â€” comes with panoramic views of Kealakekua Bay. A breakfast of eggs, fresh star fruit, and coffee grown on site is served on the 2,000-square-foot wraparound porch. The nearby lava-rock beaches, Kealakekua and Puuhonua O Honaunau, are known for the best snorkeling on the Big Island.
Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa
The Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa â€” a spiffed-up former Best Western on the western coast of the island â€” has 71 simple rooms, most of which open right onto one of the Caribbeanâ€™s most beautiful stretches of sand. If youâ€™re in search of palapas, azure water, and a cocktail, what more could you need? Maybe a shiatsu massage at the beachfront spa, set in a tropical garden.
The diminutive Calibishie Cove â€” on the mountainous islandâ€™s beach-studded northeastern corner â€” is a colonial-style hotel with just four rooms, each with platform beds, large shutters, and a private patio overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Snorkel with sea horses and turtles in the warm waters off the near-empty Hodges Beach; or arrange for a picnic lunch of spiny lobster, borrow one of the hotelâ€™s kayaks, and head to Treasure Island, an uninhabited islet 10 minutes away.
Temple Tree at Bon Ton Resort
Chinese tin miners, Arab goldsmiths, and durian farmers once lived in the 100-year-old villas at Temple Tree at Bon Ton Resort, on Malaysiaâ€™s Langkawi Island. Each one is named after an indigenous flower â€” white frangipani; yellow orchid â€” and most are appointed with Turkish rugs and deep wooden tubs. The golden beaches of Pantai Cenang are a 10-minute walk away; take a small boat out to Daya Bunting, one of the 99 uninhabited islands nearby.
Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Dubrovnik
The Hotel Banana Azul, a 14-room retreat on a black-sand strand of beach in Dubrovnik, embodies the areaâ€™s laid-back feeling. Bright wood-paneled rooms feature such tropical touches as dangling bromeliad plants and locally made easy chairs. (For $139 a night, upgrade to the Howler Suite, an airy corner room with an outdoor soaking tub and ocean views.) Hammocks are strung under coconut palms â€” an ideal spot for piÃ±a coladas.
Hotel Banana Azul
Costa Rica, $69
The Hotel Banana Azul, a 14-room retreat on a black-sand strand, embodies the areaâ€™s laid-back feeling. Bright wood-paneled rooms feature such tropical touches as dangling bromeliad plants and locally made easy chairs. (For $139 a night, upgrade to the Howler Suite, an airy corner room with an outdoor soaking tub and ocean views.) Hammocks are strung under coconut palms â€” an ideal spot for piÃ±a coladas.