A small part of me has come to believe that no vacation is worthy unless it includes a sojourn on a beach somewhere nearby. Superficial, I know. But I find lazy days on a beach, baking in the sun (with my 50-plus sunblock on) to be the height of relaxation–even more than a trip to the spa.
And the world’s beaches offer such variety! From rocky beaches, nude beaches, pet-friendly beaches to party beaches, secluded beaches, and sandy beaches, no two beaches are the same! Let’s see… I’ve been to beaches in Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, St. Croix, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, and of course, the USA! IMHO, the following eight beaches have offered me the richest, most diverse experiences so far, in descending order.
8. Miami, Florida
The party beach capital of the USA, Miami beach has a bar every 15 feet, topless men and women with sculpted bods, blaring hip-hop and Latin beats playing, and an unspoken age limit of 25! Don’t remove your top unless you’re okay with a cameo in the next Girls Gone Wild video. But do get a Call a Cab (it’s a very strong drink) from Wet Willie’s–I had the pleasure of having one before I stopped drinking and it most certainly contributed to the reason I stopped drinking!
7. Puerto Plata and Sosua, Dominican Republic
There’s beds on the beach! Need I say more? Our Puerto Plata hotel, The Crown Villas at Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, had them. These beds are comfortable with pillows, curtains if you want shade or privacy, people will come massage you there and serve you drinks or food–it’s the ultimate relaxation experience. For a more down-to-earth experience, Sosua, offers a much nicer beach with local interaction. If you happen to get a taste for grilled lobster–don’t get up. Someone appeared out of no where to take my order and brought my extravagant meal, along with a table and chairs, right to me on the beach!
6. Oyster Pond, St. Martin
First let me say that my father’s side of the family is from Dutch St. Maarten (full disclosure). But I much prefer the French beaches on the island to the popular Dutch beach where planes seem about to land on your head. The beaches near Oyster Pond were secluded–allowing unrestricted access to my pooch Belladonna, as well as horse-back riding, and sunbathing. The beach was pristine and the water perfectly clear. Definitely an A-1 experience.
5. Cape May, New Jersey
This is the cutest beach town! The homes are historic and gorgeous–built in the late Victorian style. The beach is clean, but not stuffy–like some other New Jersey beaches I won’t mention that you pay to enter–so food and music is allowed. But the experience is not ghetto in the slightest. The water is actually clean, considering the beach is in the Northeast. It’s a great place–we stayed at the Akwaaba at Buttonwood Manor B&B–to get together with friends, as I did recently with my Literally Speaking book club girls.
4. Cinque Terre, Italy
This string of five towns on the Italian Riviera is like a tapestry of beaches:
Monterosso al Mare is what you might expect of the Italian Riviera–neat rows of sun umbrellas and chairs with sunbathers puffing cigarettes and sipping S.Pellegrino on a pristine beach.
Meanwhile, Vernazza only has a tiny patch of sand to accommodate sun-thirty visitors, so they spill over onto the large flat rocks nearby.
The absence of an actual beach in Manrola doesn’t stop people from finding a free spot on the cement to lie down their towels.
Between Corniglia and Manarola, a steep descend down a mountain wall brings you to a rock lover’s paradise. The beach is made up of perfectly rounded stones of all colors (they look black when wet, but dry into tones of yellow, red, and gray). Bold tanners strip completely naked and lay across the rocks. It’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds–if you’ve ever had a hot stone massage then you can imagine it. But water shoes are a must!
Lastly, in Riomaggiore climbers are content finding a high perch on the rock formations that jut out of the sea. The more bold among them dive in!
3. Nassau, Bahamas
I’ve been to Nassau more times then I can count on two hands, so it’s on this list mostly for sentimental value. Bahamians will gladly tell you the beaches in Nassau are shit compared to others on the many beautiful Bahamian islands, but I find that they have raw beauty–the beach at Atlantis not included. That beach has been pruned and plucked just for the tourists. I’ve spent many days alone on a secluded beach littered with seaweed and starfish. Alternatively, every measure of fun you can think of exists on the beach at Atlantis.
2. Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
My family rented a villa with a private beach one year in Providenciales and it was an amazing experience. The beach and the sea was ours alone–complete peace with nature. The snorkeling was amazing–fish, stingrays, and other sea life are in abundance especially around the huge rock formations.
1. Formentera, Spain
The beach here, was hands down, my favorite! Not because I was invited on a yacht by some über-rich Israeli with an entourage or because yachts are parked off the shore and hired boats bring people to shore–but because the beach was the cleanest, and the water was the clearest and the warmest I’ve yet to experience. That, and you will surely be in the company of some of the richest people in the world it seems.