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When you need a getaway, your mind likely wanders to an image of yourself sitting on a tropical beach somewhere exotic, like Fiji or Bora Bora, sipping a drink and gazing at the deep blue sea. This scenario doesn't have to be just a fantasy, you can make it happen! And the best part? You don't have to travel halfway round the world to find these natural beauties, some are right in our own backyard (Florida, anyone?). Here are some of the best beaches to book a vacation to right now.
Lanikai Beach, on Oahu's northeastern shore, has been named one of Hawaii's best beaches by Hawaii Magazine. Due to the offshore coral reef, the water is super calm throughout the year, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling, as well as sailing and windsurfing.
Located on Florida's Siesta Key, near downtown Sarasota, this stunning strand regularly tops "best of" lists due to its soft white-quartz sand (which stays cool even when the temps soar). Siesta also has lifeguard stands and a shaded picnic area.
Widely considered one of the best beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Trunk Bay is the pride of St. John, one of the top Caribbean islands, according to Travel & Leisure. Located in Virgin Islands National Park, this spectacular strand is known for its azure waters, soft white sands, and 225-yard-long underwater snorkeling trail — keep an eye out for parrotfish and sea turtles.
One of Aruba's most breathtaking beaches, Eagle Beach is known for having wide beaches with sugar-soft white sand. When you feel like being active, you can go kayaking or try stand up paddle boarding. After your workout, take a refreshing dip.
The island of Bora Bora is famous for its jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches like Matira, which has calm azure waters and shallow lagoons. One of the best ways to experience the lagoons is to stay in a resort that offers fabulous over-the-water bungalows.
Nassau's beaches are spectacular, but the real draw of this Bahamian island is the scuba diving, where visibility can reach up to 100 feet. Top spots for exploring include Trinity Cave and the Blue Hole, a deep natural hole with huge schools of fish.
Get a tan during the day on Miami's beaches, party at night, then sweat out your sins under the sun the next day. South Beach's clubs attract world-renowned DJs, and the beaches are full of attractive people, making this a hub for nightlifers and beach-lovers.
For a family-friendly vacation consider San Diego's Mission Beach. It has miles of lifeguard-patrolled beaches, and the waters are calm, so they're perfect for beginner swimmers. On cloudy days, there are tons of other attractions nearby, such as the San Diego Zoo.
The little-known island of Nevis has been getting some attention lately as it was where founding father Alexander Hamilton was born, but those who've visited know that it also has gorgeous strands. The best beach is 4-mile-long Pinney's, with just a sprinkling of businesses, including Sunshine's beach bar.
Turks and Caicos is known for its world-class fishing. The waters surrounding the island chain are filled with blue marlins, making this a great year-round fishing spot. Long Bay can have rough surf at times, but this also makes it a great place for kiteboarding.
Hawaii has some of the world's best beaches, especially when it comes to surfing. In fact, some of the best surfers in the world are from Kauai, and Hanalei Bay has some of the best conditions — the surf is consistent, and there are waves for all levels.
Choosing a beach in Florida may seem like a task, but Pensacola is one of the more affordable towns in the state, and award-winning Pensacola Beach is a quick 20-minute jaunt from the city center. There are also local hangouts to grab lunch nearby, too.
This hidden gem of a beach on the island of Barbados is the perfect place for a secluded day of rest and relaxation. To get to it, you must descend a flight of stone steps that have been carved into a cliff overlooking the sea. Once you arrive, you'll enjoy pure seclusion.
Crescent-shaped Carmel Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of California's most beautiful beaches. Dogs are allowed off-leash, there's beach volleyball, and there are even wood-burning fire pits where you can have cheese and wine as you settle in to watch the sunset.
Located off the coast of Key West is Dry Tortugas National Park, a small island that's home to miles of untouched beaches (the island is only accessible by boat or water plane). At this remote spot, you'll find some of South Florida's best snorkeling.
Rio de Janeiro has several popular beaches, including Ipanema Beach, but the most famous of all is Copacabana Beach. Catch some rays, play a few games of beach volleyball, check out the sand sculptures, and sip a chopp (draft beer) at one of the many beach bars.
Seminyak is one of the top beaches on the island of Bali, named as one of U.S. News & World Report's best places to visit in 2018. More relaxed than Kuta, Seminyak has beach clubs like Hot Potato and Ku De Ta, where you can rent a chair, sip a few Bintang beers, swim in the Indian Ocean, and enjoy amazing sunsets.
Makena Beach, also known as Big Beach, is just that — a wide (500 feet in some areas), mile-long stretch of golden sand, between two black lava outcroppings on Maui's southwestern shore. Spend the day snorkeling, taking a stroll, or just catching some rays. Plus, there are no businesses to detract from the beach's natural beauty, making it one of the most popular beaches in Hawaii.
Santa Monica Beach is one of Los Angeles County's most beautiful strands, and its iconic pier is known throughout the state. In addition to an amusement park (a ride on the Ferris wheel is a must), you'll also find an aquarium, a historic carousel, and snack stands.
Located on Grand Cayman's western shore, Seven Mile Beach is one of the Caribbean's most celebrated strands. It goes on forever (yes, it's 7 miles), and, while you'll find luxury resorts and seafood restaurants, there are also plenty of quiet stretches for peaceful strolls.
Thailand's Krabi province has long been on beach lovers' radars, especially Railay Beach. This photo-worthy strand, reached via long-tail boat from Ao Nang, is framed by stunning limestone cliffs, and it has many secret coves you can explore by kayak.
Located on the Dominican Republic's east coast in the exclusive Cap Cana resort area is this tranquil beach, known for its white sand, towering palms, and shallow water. The beach isn't built up, but there's a small eatery, Little John, where you can lunch on mahi-mahi sandwiches and rum punches.
Where to Stay: Sanctuary Cap Cana
Located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor is a super scenic beach within Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. This lake beach is known for its crystal-clear water (good for swimming) and unique rock formations. Nearby are picnic sites equipped with barbecues.
Where to Stay: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
Cape Cod has plenty of beautiful beaches. Two of the top ones are within the Cape Cod National Seashore, stretching 40 miles along the Atlantic, include Wellfleet's Marconi Beach (the site where the first wireless signal was sent across the Atlantic in 1903) and Provincetown's Race Point Beach, known for its spectacular sunsets.
The Hamptons, the fabled string of charming towns along Long Island's South Fork, has stellar beaches. A few can't-miss strands include Southampton's Coopers Beach, East Hampton's Main Beach, and Montauk's Ditch Plains Beach (a popular spot for surfers).
This famous Australian beach is just a 20-minute drive from Sydney, making it the perfect day trip. The wide, crescent-shaped strand is known for its surf, which attracts big-time surfers. You'll want to linger over a long lunch in one of Bondi's waterfront restaurants.
Some of the best beaches on the East Coast can be found in the Outer Banks, a 130-mile-long barrier island chain off the coast of North Carolina. You'll find pristine strands in the towns of Duck, Nags Head, and Kill Devil Hills, which is where the Wright Brothers took their first flight over the area's sand dunes, but only Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach made Dr. Beach's Top 10 Beaches 2018 list.
It's a fact: Maine's beaches are cold, but that doesn't take away from their beauty. One of the state's top strands is Sand Beach, located within Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. This golden-sand beach is the perfect spot to unwind after a hike.
Located on the island of Elba, Spiaggia di Sansone, or Sansone Beach, is a stunner of a strand framed by sheer white cliffs and translucent blueish-green waters. It's a great spot for swimming and snorkeling. Fun fact: Napoleon was exiled to this Tuscan island in 1814.
Located near the village of Vik, Reynisfjara Beach is one of the most popular strands in Iceland. This stunning black-pebble beach is known for a pyramid-like rock formation of basalt columns, as well as jagged rocks jutting out from the sea — little wonder it was recently named as one of the top black-sand beaches in the world.
One of the most famous beaches in California is Huntington Beach, also known as "Surf City USA." Watch surfers glide across the Pacific Ocean's waves from the shore or from the the town's iconic pier (be sure to have lunch at the old-school diner Ruby's), then cool off by taking a dip.
While Puerto Rico has plenty of secluded strands, one of the island's best is also its most popular. Condado Beach is a buzzing coastal resort in San Juan lined with high-rise hotels, waterfront restaurants, and cocktail bars. Plus, historic Old San Juan, with its craft shops and historic fort, is just 10 minutes away by taxi.
Jekyll Island, off the Georgian coast, is a favorite of nature lovers, who appreciate the island's 10 miles of unspoiled shoreline. For many, the prettiest beach is Driftwood, which is lined with ancient tree trunks and large pieces of driftwood — keep the camera ready!
Cannon Beach is not only one of the best beaches in Oregon, but one of the best in the entire Pacific Northwest (it's less than two hours from Portland). The beach has numerous tide pools, and photographers have a field day taking snaps of Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall rock formation where puffins often congregate.
Fans of the BBC series Broadchurch know that the stunner of a beach featured in the show is in the village of West Bay in Dorset. Known for its massive sandstone cliffs and rust-colored sand, Harbour Cliff Beach, along the so-called Jurassic Coast in southeastern England, is quite the sight.
One of Costa Rica's most photographed beaches is Playa Manuel Antonio, a gorgeous beach within a national park of the same name. Spend the morning hiking through the park's rainforest (keep an eye out for capuchin monkeys), then take a dip in the warm Pacific Ocean waters of this crescent-shaped beauty.
Considered one of the most beautiful beaches along the Olympic coastline, Washington's Ruby Beach is a wild and rugged stretch located within Olympia National Park. This rocky beach is known for its large rock islands, called sea stacks, and oversized pieces of driftwood lining the shore.
This black-sand beauty is one of the finest beaches on Santorini. Located on the island's south coast, Perissa is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, and it's lined with hotels and tavernas. You can easily spend the day here swimming in the Aegean and lunching on fresh grilled fish and a feta salad.
For a shore vacation everyone can enjoy, there's Myrtle Beach, with its famous 60-mile stretch of beach called the Grand Strand. It also has numerous golf courses and Broadway at the Beach, offering everything from zip lines and amusement park rides to seafood restaurants and live music.
Anakena is the best beach on Easter Island, the mysterious Chilean outpost that's home to moai, the ancient large-headed figures carved by the indigenous Rapa Nui people. Anakena not only has a beautiful crescent-shaped beach with fine coral sand and calm waters, but two moai as well.
Big Sur's Pfeiffer Beach, reached via unpaved road off Highway 1, is lauded for its purple-hued sand (due to manganese garnet deposits) and the Pfeiffer keyhole rock, where the sun's rays filter through a natural archway, creating a tunnel of light. It's as mesmerizing as it sounds!