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

Beaches Negril Resort & Spa
The Beaches beachfront, located in Negril, Jamaica, is perhaps the most family-friendly, with room to spare for walkers, sunbathers, and water-sports enthusiasts without feeling crowded.
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Couples Swept Away Negril
On Negril's Seven-Mile Beach, Couples Swept Away resort -- for adults- and couples-only -- has guest rooms, restaurants and bars that line the beach. Vendors and musicians stroll down the beach with guitars and bamboo scrapers, playing reggae music requests for small tips.
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Couples Swept Away Negril
Ample non-motorized water sports are available on the beach, free of charge.
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Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa
The Dreams Punta Cana's cerulean blue waters, misty waves, and clean, soft, sandy shore are about as picturesque as it gets in the Caribbean. The steep drop-off and somewhat vigorous waves make it less than ideal for swimming.
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Zoetry Agua Punta Cana
The soft, wet sandbars make for perfect walking conditions.
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Beaches Sandy Bay
In Negril, Jamaica, Beaches has 2 large swimming areas surrounded by buoys, which are meant to protect guests from the occasional Jet Ski or motorboat. The water is shallow, calm, and excellent for young children to swim. Like anywhere on Seven-Mile Beach, there are people in the water at all hours, but the beach itself never feels crowded.
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Breezes Runaway Bay Resort
In Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Breezes Resort not only has enough space for lounge chairs, but it also has enough space for multiple trapeze sets and volleyball nets, but all this fun is exclusive to adults and teens. All guests of Breezes must be over the age of 14.
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Breezes Runaway Bay Resort
The beach here is extraordinarily active, and the hotel's entertainment staff tries to encourage guests to join in the games. You can still sip a cocktail in the nearby pools overlooking the ocean if you're looking for a more relaxing beach experience.
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Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica
The Gran Bahia, located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, has 3 beaches -- a main swimming beach, a nude beach, and a snorkeling beach (pictured here).
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Iberostar Rose Hall Ranch
Montego Bay's closed, private beaches aren't as picturesque as Negril's, but the well-groomed sands at the Iberostar are better than at most beaches nearby. Low-lying palm shades create the exotic environment, and there's full drink service by the water.
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Riu Paradise Island - All Inclusive
The Riu Paradise Island has a prime location on Cabbage Beach in the Bahamas. The water is so clear, you can spy schools of fish swimming around your ankles, and the big waves make for great body surfing. This is one of the best beaches in the vicinity of Nassau, but hoards of cruise ship passengers head here as soon as their ships dock.
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Secrets Sanctuary Cap
The Sanctuary is in an indisputably beautiful location with a beautiful white-sand beach. It's located in on top of a cliff and in the middle of acres and acres of soon-to-be-developed land in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
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Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach
There are no local peddlers or vendors on the Wyndham's beach in La Romana, Dominican Republic. They're sticklers about this rule. It's a huge plus compared to many other beaches where guests are bombarded by people hawking cheap wares.
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point arena lighthouse
point arena lighthouse

point arena lighthouse

Marianela gets the 411 on the historic Point Arena Lighthouse from expert William Brown. 960 1280

  

Mendocino County

Mendocino County

Point Arena Lighthouse is located in Mendocino County, CA, 2 miles north of Point Arena. 960 1280

  

fresnel lens

fresnel lens

Marianela checks out the first-order Fresnel lens, worth over 3.5 million and made from over 600 hand-ground glass prisms. 960 1280

  

lighthouse musuem

lighthouse musuem

Some items in the museum have been kept since the lighthouse’s reconstruction in the 1906. 960 1280

  

original lighthouse

original lighthouse

The original lighthouse, constructed in 1870, was destroyed when a devastating earthquake struck the Light Station. 960 1280

  

lighthouse top

lighthouse top

Marianela can’t wait to reach the top of the lighthouse. 960 1280

  

musuem gift shop

musuem gift shop

These unique handmade mirrors are available for sale in the museum gift shop. 960 1280

  

100 stairs

100 stairs

Only 100 more stairs to the top! 960 1280

  

postcard

postcard

Point Area Light looks like it appeared straight out of a postcard. 960 1280

  

california coast

california coast

Marianela and William check out the spectacular view of the California coast. 960 1280

  

symbol of hope

symbol of hope

Many view the majestic lighthouse as a symbol of hope. 960 1280

  

lighthouse keepers

lighthouse keepers

“These (lighthouse) Keepers must’ve really been in shape,” says Marianela. 960 1280

  

tallest lighthouse

tallest lighthouse

The Point Arena Lighthouse is one of the tallest lighthouses on the West Coast. 960 1280

  

rocky coast

rocky coast

The lighthouse was built to help ships navigate their way through the rocky coast. 960 1280

  

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