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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.

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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  

Palau
Palau

Palau

While the Republic of Palau is picturesque, it’s what’s underwater that makes this island so special. This group of Micronesian islands, also known as “The Black Islands,” has crystal-clear water and diverse marine life, making it one of the best scuba-diving spots in the world.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Niue

Niue

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand, the "Rock of Polynesia" is an adventure lover’s paradise. While there aren’t any sandy beaches to lounge on, there are plenty of caves to explore on land and in the water. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Skopelos, Greece

Skopelos, Greece

Want to escape the touristy Greek isles of Santorini and Mykonos? Head east of mainland Greece to the island of Skopelos. Often referred to as the greenest island in the Aegean Sea, this lush Mediterranean oasis is less commercialized than some of the more popular Greek isles. It also served as a filming location of Mamma Mia. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Favignana, Italy

Favignana, Italy

This butterfly-shaped island off the west coast of Sicily is home to a rocky coastline and crystal-clear water. Those who’ve discovered the island’s charms often enjoy tuna fishing, snorkeling and diving, as well as the chance to feast on the island’s traditional seafood dishes. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

This little-known island has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil. With warm, clear water and abundant marine life, diving here is an outdoor lover’s dream. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

XXXX Island

XXXX Island

The ultimate mancation destination? XXXX Island. Once known as Pumpkin Island, this 15-acre patch of land off the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef has been temporarily renamed by the popular Aussie brewer, which leased the island in 2012 for the next 3 years. Marketed as a "bloke’s island,"  the XXXX has been turned into one big man cave – with, what else, unlimited beer. 960 1280

XXXX Island  

Lofoten Island, Norway

Lofoten Island, Norway

Majestic fjords make this archipelago off Norway a Scandinavian gem. This group of islands, home to charming fishing villages, lies above the Artic Circle (on the same latitude as northern Siberia and northern Alaska), but has a much milder climate due to Gulf Stream currents. Head here between May to early August for 24 hours of daylight. 960 1280

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Aran Islands, Ireland

Aran Islands, Ireland

When you think of Ireland, island hopping probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But off the western coast of Galway lie these beautiful rocky islands where you’ll find traditional customs still intact and the islanders still speaking Irish. 960 1280

Bertrand Rieger  

Socotra Island, Yemen

Socotra Island, Yemen

Roughly 250 miles off the coast of Yemen, this magical group of islands has an other-planet vibe with bizarre-looking, rare plant species. Intrepid travelers who make it here will be rewarded with pristine beaches alongside landscapes of sandstone and limestone. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Vis, Croatia

Vis, Croatia

A small island in the Adriatic Sea, Vis is an unspoiled paradise located off Croatia’s coast. Until 1989, it was still part of Yugoslavia and closed to tourists. Now it’s a dream destination for those seeking a remote romantic getaway or an off-the-beaten path adventure. 960 1280

Jadvinia, Wikimedia Commons  

Monhegan Island, Maine

Monhegan Island, Maine

This small, rocky patch of land off the coast of Maine totals a mere 1 square mile of unspoiled natural beauty. Monhegan is mostly known for its artist colony that sprung up here in the mid-1800s. The island is only accessible by boat, and there are no cars or paved roads here.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Where’s the most famous deserted island in the world? Four hundred miles off the coast of Chile sits the real-life island that inspired the story of the shipwrecked sailor Robinson Crusoe. Now the isle’s population is about 500 and mostly clustered in the island's only village, San Juan Bautista. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Koh Surin Nua, Thailand

Koh Surin Nua, Thailand

Looking for an island getaway in Thailand -- that’s not trampled by tourists? Consider this pristine island in Thailand's Mu Koh Surin National Park. You won't find high-end hotels or crowds here -- just small bungalows and camping under the stars. 960 1280

Darlene is evil, flickr  

Andaman Islands, India

Andaman Islands, India

This group of more than 200 islands in the Bay of Bengal belongs to India but is geographically closer to Thailand and Myanmar. Powder-white, uncrowded beaches, lush forests and exotic marine life make travel to these remote islands worth the trip. 960 1280

Olivier Blaise  

Rabbit Island, Cambodia

Rabbit Island, Cambodia

A 30-minute boat trip will take you from Cambodia's coastal city Kep to Rabbit Island. Just a little over 1 square mile in area, this tiny gem in the Gulf of Thailand has 2 unspoiled beaches ideal for swimming and getting away from the chaos of mainland Cambodia. 960 1280

Peter Merrett, Wikimedia Commons  

Flatey, Iceland

Flatey, Iceland

In the Westfjords of Iceland, dubbed “the most famous unknown place in Iceland,” lies this mostly uninhabited island. With charming houses dating back to the 19th century, this island is brimming with history. Visit in the summer for a quiet spot to experience Iceland’s midnight sun. 960 1280

Kolbrún Ragna, Wikimedia Commons  

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