Best Beach Awards 2015 Slideshow

From Best Family Beach to Best Exotic Beach and everything in between, see the fourth annual Beach Award winners, hand-picked by our experts.

Photos

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo is ground zero for snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding enthusiasts. Several snorkel and kayak tours launch here because of the calm, clear waters, which are home to sea turtles and schools of tropical fish. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach

Before it was named one of the world’s best beaches, Flamenco Beach was a naval munitions training ground. This Sherman tank is a remnant of that past. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Culebrita Tide Pools

Culebrita Tide Pools

Culebrita is one of the smaller islands in Culebra’s archipelago of 23 islands. Explore its tide pools, which are teeming with tiny fish. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Culebrita Lighthouse

Culebrita Lighthouse

Dating back to 1886, the Culebrita lighthouse helped guide seafarers between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Today, it’s a popular site for Culebra day-trippers, thanks to its great views of the Caribbean. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Casa Robinson: Guesthouse With a View

Casa Robinson: Guesthouse With a View

Many visitors to Culebra choose to stay in rentals or guesthouses. Some have a front-row seat to stunning scenes, such as the one at Casa Robinson. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

The Road to Zoni Beach

The Road to Zoni Beach

Pass by Culebra’s prime real estate and the homes of Puerto Rico’s rich and famous on the way to Zoni Beach, an active sea turtle breeding ground. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Dinghy Dock

Dinghy Dock

When the sun sets, visitors and locals head to Dinghy Dock. Order a fruity drink, grab a bite and maybe linger for live music. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Fulladoza Bay

Fulladoza Bay

Boats touring the Caribbean from all over the world drop anchor here and in Ensenada Honda. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Punta Soldado

Punta Soldado

You’ll find the locals at Punta Soldado, at the southern tip of Culebra. The rock-strewn beach is known for its sunsets. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Club Seabourne

Club Seabourne

If you are staying at Club Seabourne, relax in a hammock on the beautifully manicured lawn or gaze out at Fulladoza Bay from your private balcony. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Dewey

Dewey

Pretty murals decorate the streets of Dewey, Culebra’s only town, where the ferry from mainland Puerto Rico arrives several times daily. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Arte Fango

Arte Fango

Get a taste of Culebra’s Calypso roots and culture at Arte Fango, which sells art featuring local heroes and symbols of island life. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach

Just 5 minutes from San Diego, this family-friendly beach boasts wide stretches of sand, mostly calm surf and ideal whale watching (January through March). The lifeguards on staff, nearby public facilities and free parking along Ocean Boulevard add to its convenience -- and popularity. Couples can take a romantic walk to the luxury beachfront Hotel del Coronado and sip cocktails on its patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Tashka/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, founded by the Chumash Indian Tribe, is located in central California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Whichever direction you travel from, there’s plenty of activities to keep you here: fishing on the 1,200-foot-long pier, strolling through the Monarch Butterfly Grove, horseback riding along private trails, and exploring tide pools and caves, to name just a few. 960 1280

Mimi Ditchie Photography / Getty Images  

La Jolla

La Jolla

You’ll have to leave the surfboards and boogie boards behind, but trust us it will be worth it. La Jolla Cove is the most desired area for swimming, snorkeling and diving; it is ecologically protected, making it a safe home for the bright orange Garibaldi fish (among others species) in the crescent-shaped cove. Called “the jewel” of San Diego, this beach is small, but you’ll find more room to stretch out on the mile-long La Jolla Shores to the north. 960 1280

John Hoffman/ iStock/ Thinkstock   

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast State Beach comprises 13 miles of coastline, stretching from Blind Beach to Bodega Head. It’s dotted with nothing save hidden beaches tucked between the rocky coves and tall bluffs. Follow the Sonoma Coast Trail to visit these secret beaches and take postcard-worthy pictures, #nofilter necessary. 960 1280

Jairo Leiva/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

For most beachgoers in Santa Cruz, Main Beach is where the action is -- complete with restaurants, shops, surfing spots, beach volleyball courts and, of course, a scenic boardwalk and bandstand. If you ask us, it’s just the right amount of Americana. 960 1280

Mitch Diamond/ Photodisc/ Getty Images  

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Pier

With a location at the end of Main Street and a nickname like “Surf City, USA,” Huntington Beach evokes a time gone by. The pier (one of the longest on the West Coast), the year-round surf (thanks to ocean swells around Catalina Island) and Ruby’s Diner (the milkshakes are a must) will continue to draw crowds here for years to come. 
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Christopher Riddler/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Our resident beach expert, Marianela Pereyra, can attest to its weirdness, but there’s a reason Venice Beach is world famous. It may bring to mind visions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muscle Beach of the ’70s, but let us assure you that the 1 1/2-mile-long boardwalk is still the perfect storm for people watching, street performers and souvenir shopping. 960 1280

Christian Kober/ AWL Images/ Getty Images  

Baker Beach

Baker Beach

To the west of the Golden Gate Bridge lies the rocky serpentine shoreline of Baker Beach. Rip currents make swimming unsafe, but you’re here for the panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge … and maybe to picnic. Just don’t venture too far north unless you’re looking for another kind of scene: the northernmost end of Baker Beach, which attracts clothing-optional sunbathers. 960 1280

Jamairani/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Formerly known as Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon State Beach’s famous right point breaks have made it the most-surfed spot in Los Angeles since the ’60s. Arrive early to find a parking spot and pick a point -- some of the perfect swells due to Surfrider Beach will give you a ride all the way to the pier (a couple hundred feet away). And for non-surfers, the historic wooden Malibu Pier offers excellent saltwater fishing, bird-watching and picnicking. 960 1280

Ryan McVay/ Digital Vision/ Thinkstock  

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach

Located just west of the LAX runway, Dockweiler Beach is where people come to relax and party. That’s because the 3-mile-long shoreline is the only Los Angeles beach that has an RV park and allows bonfires. S’mores, anyone? 960 1280

Jose Gil/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Positano on the Amalfi Coast has been a welcome beach retreat since the days of Roman nobility and the ancient Greeks.
960 1280

Karl Blackwell/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Puglia

Puglia

Most tourists don't make it all the way down the spur and heel of this boot-shaped country, but they're missing out. Southern Italy's Puglia region has not only over 400 miles of stunning coastline, but seafood specialities that alone are worth a trip.  960 1280

Peter Adams/AWL Images/Getty Images  

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Visitors flock to Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera for great hiking, pretty beaches and romantic cliffside villages.
960 1280

Poike/iStock/Getty Images  

Capri

Capri

Located off the Sorrento peninsula, Capri is a rocky, mountainous island beloved by starlets and jet-setters.
960 1280

David Soanes Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images  

Sardinia

Sardinia

Sunbathers and fancy yachts compete with the beach's natural beauty along Sardinia's Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast.
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iStockphoto.com/Matteo_Parma  

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany is known for its rolling hills, great wine and superb scuba diving in Monte Argentario's coves and bays. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Romaoslo  

Sicily

Sicily

Sicily's many beaches include sandy white shores and exotic black sands, making for a unique island getaway.
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Federico Scotto/Moment/Getty Images  

Lido

Lido

The best beaches in Venice are found on Lido, a 7-mile long sandbar sitting in the Venice Lagoon and Adriatic Sea.
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Holger Leue/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

The Tremiti Islands

The Tremiti Islands

The Tremiti Islands, often called the pearls of the Adriatic Sea, are a string of islands including San Domino, San Nicola and Caprara. San Domino is the largest and most developed of the 3 and is known as the "green pearl" with its lush vegetation. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Simone  

Viareggio

Viareggio

Tuscany's largest beach town, Viareggio is one of the farthest points south on the Italian Riviera. Viareggio is a classic resort town with art nouveau buildings, bustling nightlife and endless food, but it's best known for its wild Carnival festival, a tradition since 1873. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Wjarek  

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