There’s nothing quite like a beach escape to help you forget the world for a while and recharge the batteries. For some, that means nothing more than powder-fine golden sand and a good book, while others are looking for a host of water sports and evening entertainment. Fortunately, we’ve selected the best of both worlds here.   

    Whether you looking to head to the Pacific or the Atlantic, we have some dream beach destinations in the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean for you to consider for your next escape. 

    1

    Cancun, Mexico

    An exotic vacation spot on the Yucatan Peninsula

    Cancun is a premier beach destination in Mexico, with miles of golden Caribbean coastline, excellent dining, and plenty of exciting day trips. As one of the largest cities on the Yucatan Peninsula, you can fly in and out of Cancun easily and enjoy relaxed vibes with the convenience of a fully-fledged resort town. Plus, you’ll find the most diverse selection of accommodation options suitable for all budgets and trip types.  

    Throughout the day, visit well preserved Mayan ruins at El Meco Archaeological Site, kayak around pristine lagoons, or simply find a hammock under swaying palms. Come nightfall, enjoy a meal in the tourist-friendly Zona Hotelera or enjoy some shopping and live entertainment at El Parque de las Palapas. Read more

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    2

    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Time moves slowly in this relaxed Mexican beach town

    Puerto Vallarta has transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a prominent beach destination in a few short decades. The town’s main beach, Playa Los Muertos is hugely popular, with lots of places to eat and drink and a variety of water sports available. The shoreline has a modern pier that’s shaped like a sail, where you get to enjoy views of boats dotted across Banderas Bay.

    Enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving at Los Arcos Marine Park, a protected area in Banderas Bay with a rich marine ecosystem to explore. If you’re looking to surf, Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach) is the best beach in Puerto Vallarta, especially in the mid-summer months (May–September) when the Pacific Ocean provides regular swells. Read more

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    3

    Miami, Florida

    Enjoy Art Deco architecture along Miami’s South Beach

    Miami combines modern city convenience with a diverse culture and stunning beaches. Miami South Beach is arguably the best place to stay. Here, you can enjoy a few hours sunbathing, burn some calories with a quick workout at Muscle Beach’s Lummus Park, or stroll Ocean Drive’s Art Deco Historic District. Photographers will love capturing the stunning, world-famous architecture decorated in pastel pinks and blues.  

    Take a trip across the causeway to Downtown Miami to explore interesting museums and family attractions lining Biscayne Bay. If you’re looking for a more secluded spot in Miami, head to Oleta River State Park and enjoy hiking through this 1,000-acre nature reserve. Read more

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    4

    San Diego, California

    Miles of beaches and rocky coastline to discover

    San Diego pretty much defines the SoCal spirit thanks to its 100s of miles of beaches, incredible waves, and friendly locals. The city has many ocean-facing neighborhoods close to sandy beaches that are great for surfing, sunbathing, and snorkeling. La Jolla Cove often steals the limelight thanks to its beauty, but don’t discount Sunset Cliffs National Park, which has a few ‘secret’ beaches to be discovered. Surfers should head to Cardiff State Beach and enjoy the 2 reef breaks.  

    Once you’ve worked on your tan, enjoy a whistle-stop tour through San Diego’s tumultuous history at Old Town State Historic Park or go shopping at Bazaar del Mundo. This Spanish-themed shopping village has 200 local artists selling their wares and wandering Mariachi bands entertaining you as you browse. Read more

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    5

    Oahu, Hawaii

    It’s more than than just Honolulu

    Oahu is the most visited Hawaiian destination for good reason. The capital city of Honolulu and its striking Waikiki Beach is considered a palm-fringed paradise to many, although the north shore has many more relaxed beach towns. Waimea Bay, in particular, is well worth the trip thanks to its hippy vibes and ripping waves.

    In fact, a road trip around the entire island of Oahu can be done in half a day, although you might want to make more time for exploring the secluded coves and dramatic headlands. For beach lovers, Waimanalo Beach on the southeast coast regularly ranks as one of the best beaches in the US. It boasts amazing snorkeling just off Oahu's coast. Read more

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    6

    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    Family fun from morning to night

    Myrtle Beach is pretty much guaranteed to deliver a fun vacation in the sun thanks to an epic amount of family attractions and a lively nightlife scene. And that’s not to mention the 100 miles of beaches to be found here! The Grand Stretch of Myrtle Beach is rightly famed up and down the Atlantic Coast, with powdery soft sand that stretches all the way to the horizon and beyond.

    Come nightfall, Myrtle Beach cranks it up a notch thanks to a host of restaurants, bars, and clubs lining the waterfront. Start your night at Broadway at the Beach entertainment plaza and choose a place that catches your eye. For family fun, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Ripley's Haunted Adventure, and Fun Plaza Arcade are excellent choices. Read more

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    7

    Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

    A romantic Caribbean escape awaits

    Punta Cana is a beach destination for couples looking for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Hugging the far eastern coast of the Dominican Republic, this beautiful beach town sits on a stretch of coast called La Costa del Coco (the Coconut Coast). There’s a host of high-end hotels to choose from, many of which are adults only.

    Days in Punta Cana are spent enjoying picture-perfect beaches like Saona Island and Macao Beach, enjoying leisurely meals with your feet in the sand, and generally taking the time to recharge. If you're looking for adventure, you can hike through the lush rainforest of Scape Park to Hoyo Azul, a hidden limestone swimming hole filled with turquoise water. Read more

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    8

    Key West, Florida

    It’s as far south as you can go in the US

    Key West sits on the very southern tip of the US and is packed with traditional Floridian charm and stunning beaches. A trip to Key West usually involves plenty of water sports and ocean adventures. Whether you’re swimming or windsurfing off the coast, water-based activities are a huge draw. Make a trip to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park to enjoy crystal clear water.

    Away from the sand, you will find a host of fun attractions around Mallory Square. To get better acquainted with the town’s rich history, visit the Hemingway House and Museum for its early 20th-century charm. If you’re looking for guaranteed blue skies and long sunny days without leaving the US, Key West is a great choice. Read more

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    9

    Los Cabos, Mexico

    Luxury living on the Pacific Ocean

    Los Cabos is well regarded as a luxury escape for celebs and CEOs, thanks to its stunning scenery, excellent dining, and beautiful beaches. Playa El Médano is the main hub in Cabo, but for jaw-dropping scenery head to Lover’s Beach – it’s a photographers’ playground due to the dramatic cliff faces and rolling waves. However, be warned that the rough Pacific waves can make swimming a challenge at certain times. A popular selfie spot Is El Arco (the Arch of Cabo San Lucas) at the southern tip of Lover’s Beach.  

    For dining and drinking, the area around the marina has a wide variety of restaurants and bars – from tacos to sushi to steak, you’ll find a memorable meal here. If you’re on a budget, consider planning your trip in spring, when you can enjoy all that Los Cabos has to offer for a fraction of the high season price.

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    10

    Aruba

    Dutch heritage and azure seas make this Caribbean island a top choice

    Aruba is one of the picturesque Lesser Antilles islands found just off the coast of Venezuela. If you’re looking for dazzling white-sand beaches, this tropical island is sure to deliver. Spend your days lazing on the beach and taking dips in the balmy Caribbean waters. Boca Prins is a remote bay on the northeast coast of Aruba, surrounded by high cliffs. It's one of the best strips of sand in Aruba and among the most breathtaking spots within Arikok National Park.  

    The port city of Oranjestad is also worth a visit, thanks to its lively streets and Dutch colonial architecture. You’ll find plenty of interesting shopping spots to keep you away from the beaches for at least a few hours. If you’re in search of more action, you’ll find plenty to enjoy, from discovering sunken ships on a diving trip to trying your luck in the casino. Read more

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveler

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