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The Evolution of Beach Culture

Hotel Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Photo: Courtesy of Amanresorts


With Hawaii Calls, a weekly live radio show, millions of American listeners welcome into their homes the sound of rolling waves and steel guitars. In 1936, commercial air travel to the islands is born with the seven-passenger Hawaii Clipper, which travels from San Francisco to Honolulu for $360 (and in a mere 22 hours!).


French engineer Louis Réard unveils the modern version of the two-piece swimsuit—30 square inches of fabric connected by a string—at a Paris swimming pool. Knowing the two-piece would make an “atomic” impact, he named it after nuclear-weapon test site Bikini Atoll.


Nightclub impresario Teddy Stauffer strikes gold in Acapulco, Mexico, with his club La Perla (miradoracapulco.com; dinner for two $50) on the rocky cliffs of La Quebrada, where cliff diving will soon become an iconic pastime. It's not long before JFK and Jackie arrive for their honeymoon and Liz Taylor weds husband no. 3 here.


Sun-worshippers bare all as the first nudist resort debuts on Montalivet Beach, on France's west coast. Two decades later the adults-only Hedonism II (hedonismresorts.com; doubles from $330) resort will arrive in Negril, Jamaica. The property has two sides: one for nudes and one for prudes.


Surfin’ Safari by the Beach Boys becomes the sound track for the emerging southern California boarding culture. Paradise Cove, in Malibu, is the backdrop for beach-bunny prototype Gidget, along with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon of Beach Blanket Bingo.


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