Whether you’re in the mood for an international romance among the sand and surf or a vacation with the family stateside, we’ve got you covered. Look to these gorgeous destinations around the globe and say hello to your next fabulous escape!
If you’re on the hunt for a trip to take with your friends that you’ll be reminiscing about for years, Bazaruto Island is the destination for you. Located off the southeast coast of Mozambique, this haven offers an alluring mix of adventure and relaxation. Grab a board and go sand surfing down the numerous dunes surrounding the island’s beaches or put on a pair of flippers and snorkel through the famed Two Mile Reef. If all this sounds a little too exhausting, then the overwater hammocks might be more to your liking. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Don’t forget to… Visit the Gorongosa National Park! Yes, we know it’s not exactly close to Bazaruto Island, but Gorongosa is a stellar site in Africa to see the continent’s iconic animals.
LOCATION: GOLETA, CALIFORNIA
What do you call a beach that’s located directly in front of a world-class spa? The perfect venue for a relaxing ladies-only affair. Lie in the sun and savor a picnic with your crew.
Don’t forget to… Spend the night! Who says you’re too old for a slumber party? Make the most of your vacay together hanging out on your own patio in one of the resort’s villas.
LOCATION: GOLETA, CALIFORNIA
Head to Bacara Resort & Spa and sample the bevy of beauty and massage treatments. Go as a group to the rooftop mud bar, where you can apply mineral-rich mud while taking in ocean views, or get in a little me time with an outstanding facial created to meet your skin’s needs. When you’re finished, check out the eucalyptus steam room.
COPACABANA BEACH AND IPANEMA BEACH
LOCATION: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Searching for handsome suitors on two of Brazil’s most famous beaches is like searching for water in the ocean: You will find them. “Brazilians are typically warm and their culture is welcoming. Their energy and disposition is infectious, which makes beachgoers from around the world happy and open to talking,” says Teri Johnson, a travel and lifestyle expert.
Don’t forget to… Get suited in Rio! Forget that bland go-to swimwear. Oneika Raymond, a travel journalist and blogger at Oneika the Traveller (and a big fan of Copacabana Beach), highly recommends hitting up any one of the many swimsuit boutiques in Rio and buying an authentic Brazilian bikini so you can stunt just like the locals do.
LOCATION: BARCELONA, SPAIN
One of Barcelona’s oldest and most popular beaches, Barceloneta is definitely the spot to connect with your bae for the day, your vacation boyfriend or even your media naranja, as the Spaniards say. With a fun and festive vibe, the beach attracts tourists and locals alike, which means you’ll have your pick of charming admirers. “It’s one of the perfect places to meet eligible bachelors because many people go there with friends to relax and have a good time,” says Sienna Brown, founder of Las Morenas de España, which is an online resource for Black women living in Spain. “If you’re into sports, or like watching attractive men play sports, you can head to one of the beach volleyball locations that they have on site,” she adds.
Don’t forget to… Bring your stamina! “There have been more than a few nights where I’ve either watched the sun go down or come up along this shoreline,” says Evita Turquoise Robinson, the creator of the travel group Nomadness Travel Tribe. With all the restaurants and dance clubs just steps from the beach, the two of you will certainly want to keep the party going until the next day.
Beaches aren’t only fun in the daytime. On the shoreline and in the waters of Vaadhoo Island, an amazing spectacle takes place after dark when millions of minute bioluminescent organisms gather to emit a mesmerizing blue glow that makes it look as if the ocean is trying to create its own version of a starry night. Although this phenomenon happens all over the Maldives, many say Vaadhoo is an ideal site to view this dazzling display.
Don’t forget to… Check the phases of the moon! To get the full effect of this natural light show, it’s best if the moon is not competing with the glowing creature
LOCATION: VATNAJÖKULL NATIONAL PARK, ICELAND
This time you’ll be leaving your bathing suit for another reason and grabbing your coat and boots, because this retreat isn’t your typical sun-drenched oasis. Situated in southeastern Iceland, Diamond Beach gets its name from the sparkling pieces of glacier that dot its black sands. Ranging in color from crystal clear to ice blue to even black-and-white, the ice can be as small as a baseball or as big as a multistory building. “Shine bright like a diamond” will definitely take on a new meaning once you visit this stunning destination.
Don’t forget to… Book a boat tour around the neighboring Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon! Get up close to even bigger pieces of the glacier floating in the water and see the seals that call this beautiful lagoon home.
LOCATION: RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO
Sayulita Beach offers the family-friendly experience of your dreams. At this popular locale for experienced surfers, your little ones can get in on the fun with surfing lessons in the calmer waters. Watch them hang ten—or just plain try to hang on to their board—from the shore while you take advantage of the varied and numerous dining options. Kids can also take stand-up paddle boarding lessons. In addition to water sports, there’s horseback riding, ATV tours and bird-watching in the nearby tropical forest.
Don’t forget to… Treat yourself! Why should the youngsters have all the fun? Sure there are a lot of activities for them, but there are also yoga and fitness classes for adults taught right on the beach. When mama’s happy, everyone wins.
LOCATION: BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA
One of the reasons Pompano Beach, which Johnson recommends, is so great for families is that everything there has been designed to make visits less stressful and more fun. Thanks to the newly built beach parking garage, which has room for more than 600 vehicles, you won’t have to waste time driving around jam-packed streets. There are many choices for fun and games: a shaded playground (no more burned bums from hot slides!), a splash pad for kiddies too young for the waves and grassy areas for running. And once shoreside, you’ll notice that this Blue Wave Beach winner (an award given by the Clean Beaches Coalition for excellence in cleanliness and environmental management) has very much earned that designation.
Don’t forget to… Visit the historic Hillsboro Lighthouse! Opt for a guided tour (which includes a boat ride), and learn all about the structure. Commemorate the occasion by taking a family photo in front of the landmark.
LOCATION: MINAS DE MATAHAMBRE, CUBA
Get away from the hustle and bustle of Havana and spend some time in this peaceful hideaway that’s on the western end of Cuba. “I know everyone and their mom is hitting Cuba these days, but you need to book a trip with bae asap and go to Cayo Jutías,” suggests Ashleigh Reddyof stayreddy Photography. “It’s relatively quiet—so you can chill out all day without a care in the world—and you can definitely get some gorgeous #Baecation photos here,” the travel photographer says.
Don’t forget to… Discover the starfish! On the far end of the beach near the peninsula, you will find tons of large, orange starfish in the shallows.
LOCATION: PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES
The beaches of El Nido could be considered heaven on earth. You and your partner will delight in exploring this paradise with its powder-fine sand, breathtaking waterfalls and seemingly never-ending expanses of calm turquoise seas anchored by enormous limestone formations. Go scuba diving and marvel at the coral, whale sharks and sea turtles that call El Nido’s waters home, or rent a kayak and scout out the nearby lagoons.
Don’t forget to… Cozy up on a sunset boat ride! Set sail with your loved one and watch the sun sink below the horizon. Then disembark on any of the smaller nearby islands for a romantic dinner right on the beach.
LOCATION: NERJA, SPAIN
For the woman who wants to get far from the madding crowd—all by herself—Playa Calahonda is an excellent choice. It’s located in a former fishing town that still has a few of the old-school fisherman’s huts scattered about, and after spending only a few moments there, you’ll appreciate how low-key this village is. “The town feels really quaint. If you’re looking for a real escape, not necessarily to drink and party, but more to get a sense of “authentic Spain” and enjoy the sun and calm sea while doing so, it’s an amazing destination,” says Brown. This Blue Flag Beach (which is the European equivalent of a Blue Wave Beach) also has two adjacent bays.
Don’t forget to… Revel in the views from the top of Balcón de Europa! This former ninth-century watchtower has been transformed into an amazing promenade and observatory deck, so feast your eyes on the sea and the coastline.
LOCATION: UPOLU, SAMOA
One of the reasons traveling alone can be such a valuable experience is because it gives you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself and enjoy your own company. Although going to a beach may not at first seem like the best excursion for such an endeavor, Lalomanu Beach (once devastated by the 2009 tsunami but since restored almost to its original splendor), with its pristine sands, provides a wonderful setting for some quiet introspection. “It’s the perfect backdrop for meditation, self-reflection and getting back to basics,” says Robinson. Go for a swim in water full of numerous species of tropical fish or take a nature tour. At night, stay in one of the traditional Samoan, thatched-roof beach dwellings, or fales, and fall asleep to the sound of the waves breaking against the shore right below your hut.
Don’t forget to… Make friends with the turtles! Head a little farther north to Namua Island, where a dip in the water could mean a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with endangered turtles.