Beach Vacations Bucket List

  • Beach Vacations Bucket List: Santorini

    Photo: Jessica Sample

    1 of 17

    We've dug up beautiful beaches for whatever your paradise requires: waves for surfing, cabanas for massage, or an outdoor bar for fabulous people-watching.

    From November 2012 By ,

    No beach is quite like another; each is defined as much by natural beauty—windswept dunes; colorful sands; sheer cliff sides—as by the travelers it attracts. After all, how do you compare the pink sands of Harbour Island, Bahamas, with the glitterati lounging along the red sands of Santorini? Considering Earth counts some 370,000 miles of coastline, how does one crown that perfect beach getaway?

    Luckily, there’s no need to pick just one, and you’ve got a lifetime of beaches to sample. Start with T+L’s bucket list of recommendations from our editors, contributors, and notable globe-trotters, such as fashion designer Rachel Roy. She favors Shell Beach on the see-and-be-seen island of St. Bart’s, which she describes as “equal parts shopping and paradise.” You’ll find equally fantastic people-watching at Sydney’s celebrated Bondi Beach, which welcomes all comers (Sydneysiders; wave riders; foreign tourists). Its rushing tides and ideal surf make donning a wet suit the order of the day.

    Of course, a secluded beach has its own undeniable appeal. If you can manage the 11-mile hike along Hawaii’s Kalalau Trail, in northwestern Kauai, you’ll be duly rewarded with the Na Pali Coast beaches—patches of sand in valleys hewn in ragged rock faces, following millions of years of being battered by crashing tides.

    If the hidden beaches of Kauai promise scenic isolation, the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, delivers a light show courtesy of bioluminescent microscopic organisms that make their home in the reef-protected waters of Mosquito Bay. They emit a resplendent blue glow when disturbed by passing boats and curious swimmers. Come nightfall, nothing appears so ethereal, unless, perhaps, you find yourself on Seychelles, an island nation east of Kenya. It’s the site of what is rumored to be the world’s most-photographed beach—L’Anse Source d’Argent—and white crescents of sand studded by sky-high palm trees make a persuasive case. A bit of exploring uncovers coves, pink granite rock formations, and a shallow, near-stagnant shore that keeps the ocean impossibly turquoise.

    Whatever the specific allure, beaches collectively remain one of our last true escapes and as close to paradise as we’re likely to get on earth. See which beaches made our list, and share your favorites in the comments below. — Lindsey Olander

    See T+L’s Complete Bucket List


  • Bucket List: St. Bart's

    Photo: Chris A Crumley / Alamy

    2 of 17

    St. Bart’s

    “St. Bart’s is equal parts shopping and paradise. My go-to spots: Shell Beach—there are so many shells you can hardly see the sand—and Lolita Jaca, for beautiful day dresses and beach cover-ups.” —Rachel Roy, fashion designer

  • Bucket List: Anse Source d'Argent

    Photo: Art Kowalsky / Alamy

    3 of 17

    Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles

    Massive boulders jut out of the soft sand, and a reef protects the shallow Indian Ocean water.

  • Bucket List: Vieques

    Photo: John MacIlwinen / Alamy

    4 of 17

    Vieques, Puerto Rico

    Float in the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, where photo-sensitive plankton illuminate swimmers like stars. viequesadventures.com.

    See T+L’s Bucket List

  • Bucket List: Red Beach

    Photo: Jessica Sample

    5 of 17

    Red Beach, Santorini, Greece

    Crowded? Yes, but it’s worth braving the rocky footpath for the dramatic, crimson-hued setting at the base of a cliff.

    Vote in T+L’s Beaches Survey and enter for a chance to win a $25,000 dream trip.

  • Bucket List: Bondi Beach

    Photo: Troy House

    6 of 17

    Bondi Beach, Sydney

    Sydney’s convivial waterfront culture reaches its pinnacle on this half-mile-long strand. For the best people-watching, head to the terrace at the venerable Icebergs swimming club. How many taut, tanned, Speedo-clad beach bums can you spot?

  • Bucket List: British Virgin Islands

    Photo: Sunpix Travel / Alamy

    7 of 17

    British Virgin Islands

    Hop the beach bars in a chartered sailboat. Soggy Dollar, on Jost Van Dyke, and Pirates Bight, on Norman Island, are popular with yachties.

  • Bucket List: Pink Sand Beach

    Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

    8 of 17

    Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas

    Three miles long, ostentatiously wide, and nearly empty, even during high season. And it really is pink.

  • Bucket List: Koh Samui

    Photo: Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy

    9 of 17

    Koh Samui, Thailand

    The beach is blissful, and so is the energizing Thai stretching at Kamalaya ($$), a holistic wellness retreat.

  • Bucket List: Na Pali Coast

    Photo: John Elk III / Alamy

    10 of 17

    Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

    Hike the green folded cliffs and the secret beaches of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail.

  • Bucket List: Turks & Caicos

    Photo: Courtesy of Parrot Cay & COMO Shambhala Retreat

    11 of 17

    Turks & Caicos

    The beachfront spa cottages at tranquil Parrot Cay ($$$), a private island resort, offer unforgettable ayurveda-inspired treatments.

    See T+L’s Complete Bucket List


  • Bucket List: Bali

    Photo: Courtesy of Amanresorts

    12 of 17

    Bali, Indonesia

    Treat yourself to an unforgettable lulur scrub with white turmeric and honey at Amanusa ($$$). The resort's beach club has complimentary use of snorkel gear and boogie boards and 10 bales (bamboo pavilions) on one of the island’s most beautiful stretches of sand.

    Vote in T+L’s Beaches Survey and enter for a chance to win a $25,000 dream trip.

  • Bucket List: Fiji

    Photo: Courtesy of Laucala Island

    13 of 17

    Fiji

    A 3,000-acre island with just 25 villas, Laucala combines a barefoot castaway vibe with unstinting pampering: arrival is via the resort’s private plane and each residence has its own pool ($$$$$).

  • Bucket List: Big Island

    Photo: Don Riddle / Courtesy of Four Seasons

    14 of 17

    Big Island, HI

    A restorative lomilomi massage under a thatched cabana at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai ($$$) will work wonders post-flight. The property borders the dramatic volcanic rock coast, and there's a saltwater snorkeling lagoon. 

  • Bucket List: Peloponnese

    Photo: Courtesy of Amanzoe

    15 of 17

    Peloponnese, Greece

    Check in to Amanzoe ($$$$$), overlooking the Aegean Sea—the newest outpost of the hotel group that redefined luxury as Zen simplicity and restraint.

  • Bucket List: Sumba Island

    Photo: Courtesy of Nihiwatu

    16 of 17

    Sumba Island, Indonesia

    Nihiwatu ($$$) is essentially a surf camp built by an eco-minded American couple. The staff is made up of mostly locals, and they’ll take guests on village tours. Hikes, bike rides, and diving are all on the menu. Did I mention the surfing wave is perfect?” —Yves Béhar, industrial designer

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    17 of 17

  • Beach Vacations Bucket List: Santorini

    No beach is quite like another; each is defined as much by natural beauty—windswept dunes; colorful sands; sheer cliff sides—as by the travelers it attracts. After all, how do you compare the pink sands of Harbour Island, Bahamas, with the glitterati lounging along the red sands of Santorini? Considering Earth counts some 370,000 miles of coastline, how does one crown that perfect beach getaway?

    Luckily, there’s no need to pick just one, and you’ve got a lifetime of beaches to sample. Start with T+L’s bucket list of recommendations from our editors, contributors, and notable globe-trotters, such as fashion designer Rachel Roy. She favors Shell Beach on the see-and-be-seen island of St. Bart’s, which she describes as “equal parts shopping and paradise.” You’ll find equally fantastic people-watching at Sydney’s celebrated Bondi Beach, which welcomes all comers (Sydneysiders; wave riders; foreign tourists). Its rushing tides and ideal surf make donning a wet suit the order of the day.

    Of course, a secluded beach has its own undeniable appeal. If you can manage the 11-mile hike along Hawaii’s Kalalau Trail, in northwestern Kauai, you’ll be duly rewarded with the Na Pali Coast beaches—patches of sand in valleys hewn in ragged rock faces, following millions of years of being battered by crashing tides.

    If the hidden beaches of Kauai promise scenic isolation, the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, delivers a light show courtesy of bioluminescent microscopic organisms that make their home in the reef-protected waters of Mosquito Bay. They emit a resplendent blue glow when disturbed by passing boats and curious swimmers. Come nightfall, nothing appears so ethereal, unless, perhaps, you find yourself on Seychelles, an island nation east of Kenya. It’s the site of what is rumored to be the world’s most-photographed beach—L’Anse Source d’Argent—and white crescents of sand studded by sky-high palm trees make a persuasive case. A bit of exploring uncovers coves, pink granite rock formations, and a shallow, near-stagnant shore that keeps the ocean impossibly turquoise.

    Whatever the specific allure, beaches collectively remain one of our last true escapes and as close to paradise as we’re likely to get on earth. See which beaches made our list, and share your favorites in the comments below. — Lindsey Olander

    See T+L’s Complete Bucket List


  • Bucket List: St. Bart's

    St. Bart’s

    “St. Bart’s is equal parts shopping and paradise. My go-to spots: Shell Beach—there are so many shells you can hardly see the sand—and Lolita Jaca, for beautiful day dresses and beach cover-ups.” —Rachel Roy, fashion designer

  • Bucket List: Anse Source d'Argent

    Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles

    Massive boulders jut out of the soft sand, and a reef protects the shallow Indian Ocean water.

  • Bucket List: Vieques

    Vieques, Puerto Rico

    Float in the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, where photo-sensitive plankton illuminate swimmers like stars. viequesadventures.com.

    See T+L’s Bucket List

  • Bucket List: Red Beach

    Red Beach, Santorini, Greece

    Crowded? Yes, but it’s worth braving the rocky footpath for the dramatic, crimson-hued setting at the base of a cliff.

    Vote in T+L’s Beaches Survey and enter for a chance to win a $25,000 dream trip.

  • Bucket List: Bondi Beach

    Bondi Beach, Sydney

    Sydney’s convivial waterfront culture reaches its pinnacle on this half-mile-long strand. For the best people-watching, head to the terrace at the venerable Icebergs swimming club. How many taut, tanned, Speedo-clad beach bums can you spot?

  • Bucket List: British Virgin Islands

    British Virgin Islands

    Hop the beach bars in a chartered sailboat. Soggy Dollar, on Jost Van Dyke, and Pirates Bight, on Norman Island, are popular with yachties.

  • Bucket List: Pink Sand Beach

    Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas

    Three miles long, ostentatiously wide, and nearly empty, even during high season. And it really is pink.

  • Bucket List: Koh Samui

    Koh Samui, Thailand

    The beach is blissful, and so is the energizing Thai stretching at Kamalaya ($$), a holistic wellness retreat.

  • Bucket List: Na Pali Coast

    Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

    Hike the green folded cliffs and the secret beaches of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail.

  • Bucket List: Turks & Caicos

    Turks & Caicos

    The beachfront spa cottages at tranquil Parrot Cay ($$$), a private island resort, offer unforgettable ayurveda-inspired treatments.

    See T+L’s Complete Bucket List


  • Bucket List: Bali

    Bali, Indonesia

    Treat yourself to an unforgettable lulur scrub with white turmeric and honey at Amanusa ($$$). The resort's beach club has complimentary use of snorkel gear and boogie boards and 10 bales (bamboo pavilions) on one of the island’s most beautiful stretches of sand.

    Vote in T+L’s Beaches Survey and enter for a chance to win a $25,000 dream trip.

  • Bucket List: Fiji

    Fiji

    A 3,000-acre island with just 25 villas, Laucala combines a barefoot castaway vibe with unstinting pampering: arrival is via the resort’s private plane and each residence has its own pool ($$$$$).

  • Bucket List: Big Island

    Big Island, HI

    A restorative lomilomi massage under a thatched cabana at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai ($$$) will work wonders post-flight. The property borders the dramatic volcanic rock coast, and there's a saltwater snorkeling lagoon. 

  • Bucket List: Peloponnese

    Peloponnese, Greece

    Check in to Amanzoe ($$$$$), overlooking the Aegean Sea—the newest outpost of the hotel group that redefined luxury as Zen simplicity and restraint.

  • Bucket List: Sumba Island

    Sumba Island, Indonesia

    Nihiwatu ($$$) is essentially a surf camp built by an eco-minded American couple. The staff is made up of mostly locals, and they’ll take guests on village tours. Hikes, bike rides, and diving are all on the menu. Did I mention the surfing wave is perfect?” —Yves Béhar, industrial designer

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