haveseen / Getty Images
haveseen / Getty Images

Fun in the Sun on Sandy Shores

Imagine sugar-white sands and shimmering turquoise waves lapping at your toes. Sound divine? Whether you choose to frolic in the brilliant green sea along Florida's Emerald Coast or prefer to unwind in an exotic island locale such as Thailand or the Philippines, read on for beach vacation inspiration.

Get Inspired

Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Honolulu’s most popular beach, Waikiki, was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Relax on the white sands or take a surfing lesson with the majestic Diamond Head Crater in the backdrop.  960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Ho’okipa Beach, Maui

Ho’okipa Beach, Maui

A mecca for ocean sports, Ho’okipa attracts windsurfers of all ages boasting some of the best windsurfing waves along the Maui coast. If you’re not as adventurous, there’s plenty of space to lay out your towel and lounge on the pristine sand.  960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

North Shore, Oahu

North Shore, Oahu

If you’re looking for some gnarly waves, look no further than North Shore.  The 7 mile beach hosts the Super Bowl of wave competitions and is also home to Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau, O’ahu’s oldest ancient religious site. The destination is also popular for spotting whales.  960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Punalu’u Beach, The Big Island

Punalu’u Beach, The Big Island

The picturesque beach is not only famous for its jet black sand but also its endangered green sea turtles. The beach is one of the few areas the turtles choose to lay their eggs.  Camp, picnic, relax, snorkel and take in all of the remarkable nature.  960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Lanikai, Oahu

Lanikai, Oahu

Lanikai is heaven on earth with pristine sands, turquoise water, calm waves and lush tropical plants -- no wonder it is ranked one of the best beaches in the world!  960 1280

Loco Moco Photos/ Moment/Getty Images  

Lahaina Beach, Maui

Lahaina Beach, Maui

This tranquil and tropical getaway is perfect for romance and a favorite for marriage ceremonies. Also don’t miss the Old Lahaina Luau with a traditional feast and hula dancing.  960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Luxury seekers should look no further than Kaanapali beach for the best selection of posh hotels, spas, and exclusive resorts. Try a lomi lomi massage to unwind or rent out a beach cabana.  960 1280

Eva Browning/ Getty Images  

Poipu Beach, Kauai

Poipu Beach, Kauai

Located on the southern tip of Kauai, this serene beach offers uniquely calm waters and shallow shores perfect for families and beginner swimmers.  960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Kauna ‘oa Beach, The Big Island

Kauna ‘oa Beach, The Big Island

The very private crescent-shaped Kauna ‘oa Beach is a serene tropical paradise perfect for escaping from the crowds. But with a limit to 25 people at any time, it’s best to arrive before 9 a.m.!  960 1280

French Peter/ Perspectives/ Getty Images  

Honaunau Beach, The Big Island

Honaunau Beach, The Big Island

Honauna Beach is home to the famed City of Refuge, an underwater paradise favorite among divers.  Years ago volcano eruptions poured lava into the ocean, eventually hardening into smooth formations that are now home to an expansive reef. Divers can swim with over 40% of Hawaii’s native fish, colorful coral and even the endangered green sea turtle.  960 1280

Mains Ray/ Perspectives/ Getty Images  

2011 North American Sandsculpting Championship is the signature event of the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival. In 2011, a huge tent almost as large as a football field housed 22 sculptures. 960 1280

Virginia Beach Neptune Festival  

At the Concours de Chateaux de Sable participants can register for Family, Adult-Competition, Free Style or Business Challenge, but the rules are the same: Castles must be built solely of sand and water. 960 1280

The Concours de Chateaux de Sable  

At the East Hampton SandCastle Contest not only can you see stunning sculptures but you also can support a good cause, the Clamshell Foundation. 960 1280

The Clamshell Foundation  

Spectators of the Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampton Beach are limited to day-time visits, the 300 tons of imported sand is lit up for night viewing each year. 960 1280

John Kane  

Professional sand sculptures vie for the Master's title at the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, but amateurs can get in on the fun with street festival and other weekend activities. 960 1280

Brett Alan Photography  

It's written in the sand ' but the AIA Sandcastle competition is actually in Houston, not Venice Beach. 960 1280

AIA Houston  

Nebraska Children's Home Society 960 1280

Nebraska Children's Home Society   

A detailed shot of some of the corporate sponsors at the Canada Open Sand Sculpting Competition. 960 1280

Phil Whitehouse through Flickr Creative Commons  

Each year the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition is held in Parksville, BC. 960 1280

Craig Carmichael  

Sand Castle Days is one of South Padre Island's signature events now in its 24th year. 960 1280

Convention and Visitors Bureau of South Padre  

East Hampton, NY
East Hampton, NY

East Hampton, NY

It’s easy to see why the picturesque town of East Hampton is a beloved vacation destination for New Yorkers. A-listers settle into sprawling mansions along Lily Pond Lane, but anyone seeking out white sands and scrumptious lobster rolls will find them on Main Beach (just beyond Main Street). Find out more about our recommendations for East Coast beaches to visit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Cape May, NJ

Cape May, NJ

Cape May, the crown jewel and southernmost point of the Jersey Shore, is dotted with gingerbread Victorian houses and colorful bed and breakfasts. Founded in 1620, this town -- the nation’s oldest seashore resort -- is one of few places where the sun both rises and sets over the water. 960 1280

iStock  

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket’s community of weathered grey-shingled houses, surrounded by wild roses, is postcard perfect. Thirty miles south of Cape Cod, the former whaling community grew rich in the 19th century and still attracts well-heeled vacationers from New York and Boston. 960 1280

istock  

Duck, NC

Duck, NC

Stretching for 130 miles along the Atlantic coast, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a skinny strip of barrier islands whose hallmark high, sandy dunes front frothy surf on one side and gentle sound on the other. Visitors looking for an old-school family vacation should check out Duck, an upscale residential rental community along the northern reaches of the Outer Banks. This town has no high-rise hotels, but it has rental homes. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach, SC

As the largest resort town along South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach’s silky white sands draw vacationers from up and down the East Coast. Its plethora of restaurants, live entertainment, amusement and water parks and over 90 golf courses make it a beacon for spring breakers, families and retirees alike. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Provincetown, MA

Provincetown, MA

Located on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is known for being the first landing place of the Mayflower Pilgrims in the New World. Since then it has become a distinguished art colony with a gay-friendly vibe and miles of galleries, shops and old mansions. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Southampton, NY

Southampton, NY

A charming village center, exclusive shops and exquisite dining have made Southhampton a perfect blend of sprawling beaches, private estates and just enough places to “be seen” to satisfy the upper crust. Visitors looking to escape to the Atlantic are drawn to its 7-plus miles of unspoiled shoreline, windswept dunes and waving grasses. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Martha's Vineyard, MA

Martha's Vineyard, MA

Crowds swarm Martha?s Vineyard during the summer months, but respite can be found in the Vineyard?s far eastern reaches ? up-island, as it?s known locally ? at Moshup Beach. Tucked beneath the infamous Gay Head Cliffs, Moshup Beach is accessible by a 10-minute walking trail, making it an isolated paradise (and unofficial clothing-optional destination). 960 1280

E+ / Getty Images  

Hyannis, MA

Hyannis, MA

Hyannis in Cape Cod is best known as home to the famous Kennedy family compound -- and more recently Taylor Swift. However, less-famous visitors are also drawn to Hyannis’ laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere and Kalmus Beach’s superior windsurfing. 960 1280

iStock  

Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Island, SC

Located just 15 miles south of Charleston, SC, Kiawah Island is a coastal island and golf resort loaded with 10 miles of pristine beaches, approximately 10,000 acres of natural woodlands and every amenity to meet the needs of the entire family. 960 1280

Bill Sutton