Best Mayan Riviera Beaches

Grab your sunscreen and head south of the border to lounge on some of the world's finest beaches.

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Clearwater, FL
Clearwater, FL

Clearwater, FL

Blessed with tranquil Gulf breezes and true-to-its-name crystal-clear waters, Clearwater's status as one of America's best shorelines has lured vacationers to the year-round beach town for over a century. Families and couples tend to avoid the heavily developed and at-times-raucous neighbor St. Pete's Beach (if not the traffic) by crossing the soaring bridge to the slim barrier island of Clearwater Beach. 960 1280

  

South Beach, Miami

South Beach, Miami

The American Riviera, SoBe or the Art Deco District — whatever you call it, Miami's South Beach is hot year-round. After all, these time-tested nicknames were rightfully earned by its notorious party scene (drinks flowing, filled with celebrities — when they're not aboard their super-yachts, of course), its part-American, part-Cuban cultural heritage, and its eccentric, candy-colored architecture along palm-lined streets. 960 1280

  

Ocracoke, NC

Ocracoke, NC

Visitors on the East Coast and beyond looking for a peaceful escape will find 16 miles of enchanting, untouched beaches and a charming, close-knit village (about 1 square mile) on Ocracoke Island. In place of high-rise hotels or a business district, you'll find quaint rental cottages, elaborate gardens tucked behind picket fences and commercial fishermen’s yards — marked by their nets and crab pots. 960 1280

  

South Padre Island, TX

South Padre Island, TX

Every year the sunny shores of South Padre Island beckon to rowdy spring breakers to cross over the 2.5-mile Queen Isabella Causeway from the Texas mainland in mid- to late March. The rest of the year, however, it appeals to budget-conscious families and honeymooners looking for access to water sports, restaurants, bars and shops — without a big price tag. 960 1280

South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau  

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, OR

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain Range, Cannon Beach is named for a cannon that washed ashore in 1846. Its forested headlands, towering monoliths, charming art town and 3.5 miles of serene beaches make it one of the most beautiful places in the US.  960 1280

  

Honaunau Bay, HI

Honaunau Bay, HI

Honaunau Bay is one of a series of tranquil, turquoise bays tucked into the Big Island's South Kona coast. The adjacent Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park is nicknamed "City of Refuge," with 238 acres of land and plenty of seaside picnic tables and barbecues. For snorkeling, head to nearby 2-Step Beach (named for it's easy-in, easy-out, 2-step entry into the water), which is also known for dolphin encounters. 960 1280

  

Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head, SC

Just 45 minutes from Savannah and Beaufort, SC, this boat-shaped island — one of the largest on the East Coast — is perfect for both families and individuals who are looking for a large resort area with more to do than just relax by the shore (although this isn't a bad place to do that, too). Hilton Head is home to countless trails for biking and running, more than 30 golf courses and 300 tennis courts.  960 1280

  

Little Palm Island, FL

Little Palm Island, FL

The resort at Little Palm Island, FL, is one of the best in the country, with one of the best beaches in the entire stretch of the Keys. Just a scenic 30-minute drive from Key West, you'll find a marina, exquisite accommodations (with ocean views from each suite), gourmet meals and a full-service spa. 960 1280

  

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

As the largest beach along South Carolina's 60-mile Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is the East Coast's ultimate vacation hub. While travelers come first and foremost for the extensive white-sand beach, Myrtle Beach also boasts amusement and water parks, restaurants (1,700 of them!), live entertainment, nature preserves, outlet shopping and more than 100 golf courses (most open to the public). 960 1280

  

Poipu Beach, HI

Poipu Beach, HI

Poipu Beach is a series of 3 white crescents curving beside turquoise waters along Kauai's south coast. Poipu Beach is a near-perfect destination for multigenerational vacations, where older kids and active adults can head closer to the rockier coastline to catch some surf, while younger waders can stick to the crescents' middle beaches, where the water tends to be calmer. Or make a day of it at Poipu Beach Park, where you'll find picnic tables, restrooms, showers and a lifeguard on duty for your convenience. 960 1280

  

Anguilla
Anguilla

Anguilla

Once a secret hideaway, Shoal Bay, Anguilla, has become a Caribbean hot spot for Hollywood starlets and honeymooners. 960 1280

  

Aruba

Aruba

Lovers of surf and sun appreciate the sugar-white sands and tranquil waters of Eagle Beach, Aruba. 960 1280

  

St. John

St. John

Trunk Bay's beach and coral reefs remain among St. John's most breathtaking and well-preserved attractions. 960 1280

SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus  

Barbados

Barbados

One of Barbados' most lovely beaches is the palm-tree-lined Crane Beach, also home to a natural coral reef. 960 1280

  

Palominos Island

Palominos Island

Find a respite from Puerto Rico's palpable energy on the beaches of Palominos Island. 960 1280

  

St. Maarten

St. Maarten

Visitors to Philipsburg, St Maarten, can't miss the beauty and bustle of the town's beach and harbor. 960 1280

  

Bahamas

Bahamas

Accessibility and affordability have made Nassau, Bahamas, a popular retreat for families. 960 1280

  

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands

The Baths, famous for its volcanic rocks, in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. 960 1280

  

Barbados

Barbados

Palm trees line Harrismith Beach and cove in Barbados, an island noted for natural beauty and fun-loving culture. 960 1280

  

Bermuda

Bermuda

With its famous pink-sand beaches, Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda is one of the loveliest seaside retreats in the world. 960 1280