Editors' Picks: Favorite Beaches
Where are our favorite beaches in the world? From Nantucket, MA, to Koh Tao, Thailand, see where our editors like to bask in the sun when they're not working.
Koh Tao, Thailand"Less famous than beautiful Phi Phi Islands and less touristy than nearby Koh Samui, Koh Tao won me over. This tiny island (less than 10 square miles) is easily navigated on motorbike or by foot. Despite its lack of high-rise resorts (for the time being), there's no shortage of scenic restaurants or a late-night bar scene. It's where I caught the diving bug, and nearly everyone has it here with more than 50 dive shops catering to those souls who long to be submerged in the clear turquoise waters for a glimpse of a stingray or sea turtle (or in my case, an unfortunately close call with the aggressive trigger fish)." -- Sara Gilliam, Senior Interactive Producer 960 1280
Positano, Italy“My favorite beach is Marina Grande in Positano, Italy on the Amalfi Coast. Nestled at the bottom of Positano's rocky village, Marina Grande is lively in the height of the summer months with locals and tourists sunbathing, dining at local restaurants – right off the beach – and visiting nearby boutique shops. And the views are immaculate!” – Rani Robinson-Kiganda, Managing Producer 960 1280
Goa, India“The western Indian state of Goa is heralded for its beaches and for good reason. The former Portuguese colony boasts more than 6o miles of coastline, home to everything from secluded beach towns like Mandrem to lively hot spots like Baga, where beach parties and endless nightlife mix with wind-surfing fun and dolphin cruises.” – Lisa Singh, Interactive Producer 960 1280
The North Shore, Oahu“It’s only an hour’s drive from Honolulu, but Oahu’s North Shore is a world away from the developed and crowded Waikiki Beach. North Shore’s Pipeline Beach is known as a surf capital of the world, but there is so much more here than monster waves. The little surf town Haleiwa is dotted with cute surf shops, healthy-minded restaurants and cozy art galleries. During the summer when the waves are smaller, go for a swim or a snorkel in the clear blue Waimea Bay. ” – Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Capri, Italy“Warm your body and your soul on the small rocky beach of Marina Piccola on the island of Capri, Italy off the Gulf of Napoli. Surrounded by bronzed Italian locals, you'll feel like you've found paradise on earth as you gaze out into the aquamarine waters and monumental Faraglioni rock stacks. After drenching yourself in sun, take 2 steps and refuel at Da Gioia Restaurant right on the beach. What to have for lunch? Their tuna fish salad. It was so fresh and delicious I had it everyday I was there!” – Elizabeth Fraser, Photo Editor 960 1280
Praia Mole, Brazil“Florianopolis, a small island off the southern coast of Brazil, is a popular beach destination for tourists and Brazilians alike. Praia Mole (Mole Beach) is by far one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever visited. Aside from its white sand and world-class waves, this beach attracts surfers, para-gliders and backpackers. I’d recommend taking a hike north of the beach to experience the best spot for nude sunbathing. Don’t miss happy hour at one of the nearby beach restaurants or bars like LGBT-favorite Bar do Deca, where you can grab a bite to eat, sip on a caipirinha and mingle with friendly locals and tourists.” -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280
Bald Head Island, NC“Take the ferry from Southport, NC, and hop aboard a golf cart to explore the live oak-lined, winding roads of Bald Head Island. After catching some rays on any one of the island's 14 miles of beaches, climb to the top of Old Baldy, the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. If golf is your game, look no further than the Bald Head Island Club's world-class golf course -- just watch out for the occasional gator that may cross your path. Finally, drop by the Club's Pelicatessen to cool off with one of North Carolina's own Nye's Cream Sandwiches.” – Amanda DiGiondomenico, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Nantucket, MA“Grab a sandwich at Something Natural (be advised: their “half” is your typical “whole”) and head to the beach on the beautiful and ever-so-quaint island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts. My favorite sandy spots? Steps beach for a beautiful view and calm waters, and Madequecham, Ladies or Fisherman’s for heavier surf but more privacy than some of the better-known beaches. When you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, a trip to Cisco Brewery is a must. “ Allee Sangiolo, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Huntington Beach, CA“If I'm looking for the best beach culture in the United States, the first place that comes to mind is definitely Huntington Beach, CA, a.k.a "Surf City USA." From a vibrant art community to a lively shopping district with tasty eats on every corner -- including Ruby’s Diner -- Huntington Beach offers a variety of fun activities for everyone. And humans aren't the only ones hangin' 10 at this beach. Don't miss out on the always-entertaining dog surfing competitions throughout the summer, culminating with the 6th annual Surf City Surf Dog in September.” -- Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280
From the air, the Hana Highway looks like a zigzag line drawn by a three year old. It twists and turns for 52 miles and takes anywhere from two to four hours to traverse depending on how many cars you meet on the one-way bridges. In fact, there are 54 bridges and 600 curves to make sure you're paying attention. And please do, because in addition to the traffic, the flowing waterfalls, plunging pools, scenic rainforests and the town of Hana are well worth the drive. 960 1280
There are rewards in life that are all the sweeter because of the effort it took to get there. Hana is such a place. Separated from the rest of Maui, you'll feel as if you stumbled upon the land that time forgot. Spend a few nights in Hana and soon you'll have trouble remembering where you came from and wondering why you'd ever go back. 960 1280
Every evening on the northernmost cliffs of Maui's Kaanapali Beach, a cliff diver lights the torches then dives off Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. This dramatic show is a reenactment of a feat performed by Maui's revered King Kahekili. Surrounded by restaurants, the ceremony also takes on a modern twist, signaling the end of the day and the start of your own private celebration. 960 1280
Maui has always been a magnet for those who love the sea, from Hawaiian voyagers to whaling ships and modern-day catamarans that glide upon the water. Complete your Maui vacation with a few hours offshore, tacking up and down the coastline with the West Maui Mountains in your view. Add a splash of champagne or a frosty mai tai and there's nothing else like it. 960 1280
It doesn't matter how old you are'when you walk 'through an ocean,' the little kid in you comes out to play. Fantasy mixes with reality as you come nose to nose with wide-eyed tuna and white-tip reef sharks. Yellow butterfly fishes flutter like leaves around coral, while slick stingrays glide by without a care in the world.
Molokini is a small, crescent moon-shaped atoll off the coast of Maui. It's in a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District, which means fishing is prohibited, so it's teeming with life. Take a snorkel or scuba tour and you'll be treated to a kaleidoscope of over 250 colorful varieties of tropical fish. Tours are available out of Maalaea Harbor and Lahaina. Insider tip: Early morning is best because the water is clear.
Maui might be for lovers, but it's also for golfers. And if you love golf, that's even better still. There are 14 courses on Maui, with several ranked at or near the top of the 'world's best' list. The PGA TOUR's Hyundai's Tournament of Champions is held here each year, so you never know who you might see on the course.