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New Site Scopes out the Best Hotels for Surfers

Cabo Surf Hotel

Breaking news for surfing enthusiasts: The new website Wavecation.com—think of it as a HomeAway or VRBO tailored to the surfing community—lists hotels, private homes, and other rental options close to ride-worthy waves all over the globe. The most important criteria? The property has to be oceanfront (or front-row, in cases when a jungle or other natural barrier blocks coastal views) to the water and surf spots. “These places are the equivalent of ski-in, ski-out properties on a snow mountain,” says founder Matt Thomson, who has turned down a number of interested homeowners to maintain his super specific standards. The Austin-based resident is surf-obsessed himself. He started riding when he was 12 and has traveled the world—from the coasts of Nicaragua and Mexico to Hawaii and California—in search of the best breaks.

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Guess Where? Dreamy Beach

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You can't deny it: It's cold outside. Even though the temperature is barely above freezing here in New York, I'm thinking of this dreamy beach. Can you guess where this is?

Log in and leave your guesses below and check back on Monday for the answer!

UPDATE 1/9/12: Carmenbalsa guessed right! This is Balos Beach on Crete.

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of T+L's Photo Contest

TODAY Show: Warm Weather Getaways

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As temps start to dip, it's time to start thinking about sunny spots to escape to this winter. But why wait? T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares the best warm weather deals right now.

Last-Minute Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach

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To celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 1-4) inaugurates new collaborations with the Bass Museum of Art and the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, which promise to transform the cultural land- and soundscape of South Beach – extending beyond the Miami Beach Convention Center (ABMB’s venue), where more than 260 top galleries from across the globe showcase 2,000 modern and contemporary artists.  There’s an admission charge for the fair (not to mention the price of the art), but plenty outdoors is free. Here's our what-not-to miss guide, plus recommendations for last-minute hotel booking.

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Guess Where? Quiet Beach

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It's too late in the year to sunbathe at this beach, but it's still a beautiful place to explore in the wintry haze. Can you guess where this is?

Log in and leave your guesses below and check back on Monday for the answer.

UPDATE 11/14/11: We stumped you again! This lonesome beach is in Oxnard, California.

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of T+L's Photo Contest

3-Day Club Med Sale From $129 Per Person!

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Club Med, that French hippy grandma of all-inclusive beach resorts, is running a weekend sale that could get you and yours a place in the sun for prices that start at $129 per adult and kids from 50% of that!

The Club Med Go Sale covers 3- to 7-night stays at its properties in Cancun, Ixtapa, Punta Cana, Sandpiper Bay in Florida, Turkoise in Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Martinique.

The sale runs from midnight on Friday through midnight on Sunday, with available travel dates between October 17 and February 17, depending on the property.  The resorts have higher (but not crazy high) rates over holidays.  Prices include all meals, snacks and beverages (non-alcoholic as well as premium alcoholic drinks), lots of sports and activities, kids’ clubs, and all varieties of room configurations for all varieties of travelers.

For more information or to book, please visit Club Med, or call (800) 258- 2633.

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Club Med, Punta Cana

The Luxe Life on Koh Samui

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As we report in our current issue, high-end resorts are booming on Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island—and three in particular now rank among the finest Southeast Asia has to offer.

But not everything is up in Samui’s rising tide. While the luxury market expands at a rapid clip, last year the island actually lost 1,800 hotel rooms, or 11% of its total supply—most of them at the budget level.

“As Samui becomes more sophisticated, the lower-end tourist trade has been pushed out to other islands like Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao,” says Bill Barnett, a Thailand-based hotel consultant, who penned a provocative white paper on the island’s future chances.

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Just Back: Chasing Summer on New York's Fire Island

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Its either unchecked hedonism or outright denial that led me to New Yorks Fire Island the weekend after summers unofficial demise. While most vacationers packed up their share-houses and kissed farewell to the spit of sand off Long Islands south coast over Labor Day, I was still dreaming of bike rides, summer ales, and one last coat of sun. It doesnt hurt that hotel prices fall off a cliff once beachgoers pack up their white (I paid $225 per night at Clegg's Hotel, while rates during summers apex can be double that). So I found myself at the Island Mermaid pulling on a straw filled with its signature Rocket Fuel (a dark rum piña colada with a Cruzan 151 sinker at the bottom and a pond of Amaretto floating on top) and stretching summer out as long as possible before the looming cold throws its death grip around New York City. I wasnt ready for fall, not yet.

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Photographing Oahu's Surfing Scene

Oahu's North Shore

Photographer Brown W. Cannon III talks to T+L's Christine Ajudua:

“Most days when you’re riding around Waimea Bay, it’s open and calm and really beautiful. It’s right in the middle of Oahu’s North Shore, this five-mile stretch that’s known to be one of the world’s greatest surfing destinations. Waimea doesn’t break often—not until the waves are twenty feet or bigger—but when it does, it is a monumental experience. The day I took this photo, the swells were reaching fifty feet—the kind that roll in only every few years. I’ve been going to the islands since I was born, and have seen this maybe two or three times. There are plenty of guys who will hop planes from all over the globe to surf sets like these, but what amazes me most is that so many people will travel there just to witness them. In Hawaii, there’s a real sense of respect for the ocean—the locals talk about having a spiritual connection to it—so there’s something poignant about seeing all these tan bodies converge on the sand, captivated by the Pacific.”

Photo by Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos

5 New East Coast Beach Hotels

The Tides Beach Club in Kennebunkport, Maine

From Maine to New York, these new East Coast properties are making a splash.

Kennebunkport, Maine: Housed in a charming Victorian mansion on secluded Goose Rocks Beach, the 21-room Tides Beach Club (doubles from $325) recently opened with several brighly accented suites decorated by Jonathan Adler.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Provincetown’s Harbor Hotel (doubles from $179) has 129 mostly turquoise-and-lime rooms, plus art exhibits by local painters.

The Hamptons, New York: With a Cynthia Rowley boutique, a Nobu restaurant, and a poolside Bathing Club, the super-stylish Capri (doubles from $295) is a Southampton standout. For a haute-summer-camp vibe in Montauk, there’s Ruschmeyer’s (doubles from $475), complete with 19 cabins (dubbed “crash pads”) and an on-site beer garden.

Shelter Island, New York: Between the patisserie and the pétanque court, not to mention the Côté Bastide toiletries in the eight airy suites, Francophiles will love La Maison Blanche (doubles from $295), just a short walk from the shore.

Photo by Rick Lew

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