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

marianela and paul
marianela and paul

marianela and paul

Marianela explores the park with Paul Reps of Point Lobos State Reserve. 960 1280

  

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

This Monterey Cypress growing from a cliff offers a dramatic view. 960 1280

  

marianela poses

marianela poses

Marianela poses in front of the enchanting 350-year-old Monterey Cypress. 960 1280

  

spectacular coast

spectacular coast

Marianela and Paul observe the coast’s spectacular beauty. 960 1280

  

picture perfect

picture perfect

She can’t get over the picture-perfect view. 960 1280

  

nature's masterpiece

nature's masterpiece

Marianela calls the reserves “nature’s masterpiece.” 960 1280

  

crown jewel

crown jewel

Visitors are reminded to protect the “crown jewel” of the state park system. 960 1280

  

artists inspriation

artists inspriation

It’s easy to see why artists come here for inspiration. 960 1280

  

nature's guests

nature's guests

Marianela has never seen anything like it. “We are nature’s guests,” she says. 960 1280

  

california coast

california coast

Marianela snaps a photo of the stunning California coast. 960 1280

  

california ground squirrel

california ground squirrel

They make a new friend -- the California Ground Squirrel. 960 1280

  

close and personal with nature

close and personal with nature

Marianela gets up close and personal with nature, getting a better look at the wildlife. 960 1280

  

birds gliding

birds gliding

Two birds glide overhead. The Reserve protects over 250 species of animals. 960 1280

  

nettles

nettles

They check out these unique-looking nettles. 960 1280

  

sea lion point

sea lion point

Sea lions sunbathe on the rocks at Sea Lion Point. 960 1280

  

Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia
Sydney

Sydney

Sydney has 6 gay-friendly beaches that have become popular LGBT destinations, including North Bondi Beach, Bronte Beach and Tamarama Beach. Obelisk Beach and Lady Jane Beach are popular, secluded spots for nude sunbathers. Water taxis are provided as transportation to Obelisk Beach, and during the summer, expect frequent visits from one of the famous Sydney Harbor Ice Cream Boats to help keep things cool. 960 1280

Andrew Watson/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Cancun

Cancun

Cancun is a hot beach destination for spring breakers, but it’s also the location of a popular gay beach, Playa Delfines. The water is generally treacherous to swim in, but the white sand is perfect for sunning, and the view is incredible. This beach is also popular for surfing and a great place to take surfing lessons. Gay couples and singles enjoy Playa Delfines, and it has become known unofficially as the gay beach in Cancun. 960 1280

Veronica Garbutt/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Maui

Maui

We’d be remiss if we didn’t have at least 1 Hawaiian beach on our list. Gay and lesbians converge on “Little Beach” in Makena State Park, located about 1 mile past the Maui Prince Hotel. This beach is so secluded that you have to hike up and over a lava-flow trail to get to it, but it won’t be hard to miss. Your first clue will be spotting the gays free-balling in the Hawaiian sun. 960 1280

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Fire Island, New York

Fire Island, New York

Head to Fire Island’s Pines Beach if you’re looking for a fun party beach with gay-friendly shopping, hotels, vacation rentals and a vibrant nightlife. The island, adjacent to the south shore of Long Island, is packed with eye candy. Nudity is allowed on the shore, but most guys enjoy sporting their fabulous new Speedos. The island plays host to several LGBT events, including the multicultural Fire Island Black Out in Cherry Grove. 960 1280

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Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv is famous for its never-ending beach line. Nearly 9 miles of blue sea, open horizon, sun and lots of people make it the perfect beach destination. The city has a few gay-friendly beaches, including Ga’ash nude beach, a popular gay beach outside Tel Aviv. Visit Hilton Beach if nude sunbathing isn’t your thing. It’s a little strip beach located near the Hilton Hotel. This beach is the perfect place to get both a tan and a hot, tanned guy. Just try not to get burned. 960 1280

Niv Singer, Flickr   

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Known as the “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale is where the boys are. Sebastian Street Gay Beach, located near most of the gay resorts, is one of the most popular beach destinations for gay tourists. Along with dozens of gay-friendly shops along the beach, the city also thrives with fun gay bars and restaurants, such as Hamburger Mary’s, a great place to start or end the night. 960 1280

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Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver has a couple beaches that attract a LGBT crowd. English Bay Beach (pictured) is located on the city’s West End, close to the Davie Street Gay Village. Sunset Beach and Wreck Beach are 2 alternate beach options. However, a little hike is required to reach secluded Wreck Beach, where nudity is permitted. Take the path marked Trail No. 7 to get there. The gays converge on the area south of the North Arm Breakwater. 960 1280

Kenny Louie, Flickr   

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Eco-friendly Costa Rica has long been a vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts, but it also has a popular gay beach, Manuel Antonio’s Playita Beach. La Playita, aka Playa Dulce Vida, is a semiprivate beach, accessible by climbing over large rocks north of Playa Espadilla. Just don’t get trapped during high tide. And just so you know, there’s no nude sunbathing in Costa Rica. After having some fun in the sun, grab a drink at Bar Tutu or the Liquid Lounge. By the way, there are gay-friendly vacation rentals and hotels available in the area. 960 1280

Guiziou Franck/hemis.fr/Getty Images  

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

South Beach, or SoBe, conjures up images of sunny days at the beach, a continuous flow of sexy men and women, high-end shopping on Lincoln Road, fine dining on Ocean Drive and nonstop nights of partying at popular gay bars and clubs, including Twist, Score, Palace and Mova. Every year, SoBe plays host to the world-renowned White Party in November and, in March, the Winter Party, the biggest gay beach party in North America. Check out Miami’s Haulover Beach if you’re looking for a nude beach. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Anna Bryukhanova  

Brighton, East Sussex, England

Brighton, East Sussex, England

Brighton is the UK’s gay capital. The town’s seafront has bars, restaurants, nightclubs and amusement arcades between the piers. Brighton Beach has a nudist area, south of the easterly part of Kemptown, aka the “gay village.” West Beach, Telscombe Cliffs, Duke’s Mound and Shoreham are a few hot beach spots. Visit Brighton and find out why the bohemian atmosphere of this beach town has led to the largest LGBT crowds in the UK. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/DagDurrichPhotography  

Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza, Spain

Straight or gay, everyone knows about the small island of Ibiza’s reputation as a party haven, but it’s also known for its beaches, each with its own distinctive beauty. Figueretes, the town beach, is for sunbathers who enjoy a low-key crowd and calm sea. Es Cavallet, located on the southern side of the island, is the main gay beach, where nudity is welcomed. Visit Cala Conta for stunning sunset views. Port Des Torrent is perfect for gay couples, and Ses Salinas is known for its diverse crowd and great beach bars. 960 1280

Getty  

Provincetown, MA

Provincetown, MA

Provincetown, a gay and lesbian resort community at the tip of Cape Cod, ranks among the world’s great seaside vacation destinations. Along with hosting its annual Gay Pride celebration, P’town continues to improve with more upscale inns, fine art galleries and superb restaurants. Peak season for the New England town is usually July through August. Stay in the town’s West End, go for a fun bike ride and go sunbathing on Herring Cove Beach or Race Point Beach. 960 1280

Harvey Barrison, Flickr  

Sitges, Spain

Sitges, Spain

Sitges’ Playa de la Bassa Rodona is increasingly becoming a straight beach, but it is packed with gay men during the peak season. It’s not difficult to miss the bronzed bodies, skintight Speedos and designer glasses. This beach is located below the Picnic Restaurant and across from Hotel Calipolis. Nude sunbathers looking for more privacy should head to Playa del Muerto or Playa de las Balmins. Visit Barcelona's Barcelonetta Beach if you're looking for a quick day trip. Barcelona is only a 45-minute train ride away from Sitges. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/MarcPo  

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Most people know about Cape Town's turbulent history, but few people know about Clifton, the small, affluent suburb located outside the city. There are 4 beaches, but the Clifton Third Beach has become the popular spot for gay sunbathers, primarily men. This paradise is a great spot to watch the sun set in the summer, but be mindful of the no-public-drinking policy. It's strictly monitored, so don't say you weren't warned. 960 1280

Doberman Collection/Universal Images Group/Getty Images  

San Diego

San Diego

San Diego is a beach city, and Black’s Beach is the popular beach hangout for gay travelers. This is one of the oldest nude beaches in the US. The expansive beach has room for everyone, and even the dolphins and seals make an appearance offshore. San Diegans are friendly and seem to all know one another, stopping for naked chats on the beach. The muscled surfers don’t seem to mind lying out nude either. Just a word of caution: The climb from the beach back up the cliffs is a tough hike. 960 1280

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Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos has become a well-known spot for beach lovers and partygoers. The Greek island’s Elia Beach is probably one of the queerest stretches of sand in the Mediterranean. It’s a United Nations of gays from all over the world, basking in lounge chairs while sipping cocktails and gazing at the electric-blue waters. Just a word of caution: It may be wise to plan ahead. Taxis may be hard to come by, and buses and ferries stop at relatively early hours. 960 1280

Ingolf Pompe/LOOK/Getty Images  

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio is the hot spot for some the sexiest sunbathers in the world. We know all about the popularity of Copacabana Beach, but Ipanema Beach (pictured) is what’s really hot! Ipanema’s gay spot, Farme Gay Beach, is a little to the east of Rua Farme de Amoedo. It’s the best place to make friends with the locals outside of the bar and club scene. Party promoters often distribute fliers with discounts to gay parties and clubs. After the beach, head to the popular hangout Cafeína e Tô nem Aí for a beer or a snack. 960 1280

Mike Vondran, Flickr  

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta is already a hot spot for thousands of sunbathers, but the hot spot for the LGBT crowd is on the south end of Playa Los Muertos Beach. The flirty interplay between the mostly Mexican locals and gay visitors from around the globe is always fun to watch. 960 1280

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Nice, France

Nice, France

This is not the typical gay destination in Europe, but it is slowly becoming a popular spot. Nice is now the second-most-visited city in France for gay tourists, after Paris, and with more than 35 gay outlets, we're sure there’s something for everyone. In addition the vibrant gay and lesbian club scene, this beach town has several museums, high-end shops and a famous flower market, and it plays host to the annual Pink Parade. Nice has a gay and gay-friendly beach, Coco Beach and Castel Plage, respectively. For adventurous sunbathers, there are 2 more gay beaches located outside the small French town. 960 1280

Pascal Blachier, Flickr  

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth is the quintessential beach town, with dozens of small shops, restaurants that serve up fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, and a boardwalk with a few amusement thrills and arcades. Poodle Beach is the gay section on Rehoboth Beach, fittingly located near Queen Street. It can get crowded here during the peak season, but there is an energetic social scene. Lesbians prefer North Shores Beach. And after the beach, most gay men grab a few beers or cocktails at the Aqua Grill or Blue Moon, 2 of the town’s popular gay hangouts. 960 1280

Linda D. Epstein/McClatchy-Tribune/Getty Images  

Wingaersheek Beach, MA, has generally calm and warm water, creating perfect swimming conditions for the little ones. 960 1280

Photo by Calliope through Flickr Creative Commons  

Kure Beach is at the tip of North Carolina's Pleasure Island'a strip of barrier beaches that front the Atlantic. 960 1280

Photo by Anodoin through Flickr Creative Commons  

Kure Beach is often fairly empty, which is good news for vacationing families. 960 1280

Photo by Anodoin through Flickr Creative Commons  

Bean Hollow is a quiet pocket beach along the San Mateo County Coast south of San Francisco. 960 1280

Photo by Mimpei through Flickr Creative Commons  

A trail winds atop the bluffs at Bean Hollow, offering great views of passing grey whales during winter and spring. 960 1280

Photo by dbaron through Flickr Creative Commons  

Bookended by lush green bluffs, Bean Hollow has natural nooks and crannies perfect for family picnics and volleyball. 960 1280

Photo by dbaron through Flickr Creative Commons  

Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve in Washington State features a rocky shoreline with great views. 960 1280

Photo by HJwest through Flickr Creative Commons  

Toward the eastern end of New York's Robert Moses State Park, is the 1891 black-and-white ringed Fire Island Lighthouse. 960 1280

Photo by JeffPearce through Flickr Creative Commons  

Kids love wake-boarding and wave-jumping at Robert Moses State Park on New York's Fire Island National Seashore. 960 1280

Photo by thegirlsny through Flickr Creative Commons