Unplugging from the daily grind is so much easier when you do it from the shade of a palm tree with sand in your toes. Book a beach vacation for your next long weekend or summer break, and you’ll return refreshed and ready to go. Whether you like your beaches busy or remote, you'll find the right beach for you, with plenty of space for sunbathing, sightseeing, water sports, and more. And in addition to the many beautiful options right here in the USA, you can also opt to head overseas to really put the exotic in your vacation.
Top beach destinations in the USA
Sure, we have amber waves of grain and majestic purple mountains, but the USA is also blessed with thousands of miles of gorgeous beaches. From the west coast to the east, there’s a beach location for every surfer, nature lover and party animal out there. Look for your next beach vacation rental in one of these spectacular destinations, each of which promises hours of fun, relaxation and escape—no passport necessary.
Family fun on the Grand Strand
For an ideal beach vacation in the land of southern hospitality, head to the 60-mile stretch of beaches and seaside resort towns that is the Grand Strand of South Carolina. Budget condos can be accommodate large groups with pull-out sofas and extra rooms, while luxe mansion rentals in gated communities boast multiple primary bedrooms and kids’ rooms with bunkbeds. As well as swimming, boating, and fishing, visitors to Grand Strand beaches can take advantage of the many local attractions, from golf courses and museums to bird-watching at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and retro rides at the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade.
Glam up your beach vacay in the OC
If you want to vacation where the beautiful people do, the 42 miles of oceanfront Orange County may be your best bet for a beach vacation destination, with cute condos and cozy cottage rentals right on the beach. Avid surfers may be drawn to the surfing mecca of Huntington Beach, but there’s no shortage of other activities. Take the kids—or be a kid again yourself—when you visit Disneyland in Anaheim or Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park. Newbies and expert boogie boarders will enjoy the waves at Dana Point’s Salt Creek Beach, and to close things out in a quintessentially Californian way, snag a fire ring at the Corona Del Mar State Beach and watch the stars come out beside the warmth of a bonfire.
Make the Space Coast your beach vacation location
When you choose a beach vacation in the Space Coast of Florida, you’re picking a location from which you can touch the past and the future. Historic small towns like Titusville and Cocoa Village tell the story of the role the area played in the fishing and citrus industries, while a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will give you a glimpse of space-age technology. Port Canaveral is one of the largest cruise ports in the world. But you may also find a condo overlooking miles of sand dunes and sea turtle and manatee habitats—the perfect place to enjoy a quiet sunrise.
Best Beach destinations abroad
Sometimes, you just feel this urge to get away—far away—to some place that requires a stamp on your passport and a different language in your ears. Choosing an overseas beach destination for your next vacation in the sand can seem challenging because of the plethora of spots that pop in “best of” lists, but here are a couple of tried-and-true destinations that are reliably entertaining and diverse enough to accommodate every kind of visitor.
Caribbean beach vacations
Whether you think of pirates and shipwrecks, yachts and hot stone massages, or hikes to scenic waterfalls, there’s an island in the Caribbean that's perfect for your itinerary. For Dutch in your ears, pastel waterfront towns and some of the world’s best diving resorts, check out the laid-back Netherlands Antilles islands of Bonaire. In the British Virgin Islands, dock your boat and swim over to the Soggy Dollar Bar to try their world-famous Painkillers—a concoction of rum, coconut, orange and pineapple juices, and nutmeg. And in Jamaica, hike through Dunn’s River Falls and see if you have what it takes to cliff dive from the iconic Rick’s Cafe. You can find a rental right on the beach, or perhaps atop a hill overlooking tropical forests with the sea beyond.
Beach destinations in Mexico
Because it’s surrounded by 3 bodies of water—the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico--our southern neighbor has options galore for beach vacations. In large resort cities like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, you’ll find nightclubs, hip restaurants, and a plethora of day tours to surrounding attractions, such as the Mayan ruins of Tulum. In the quieter Baja city of Loreto, you can see dolphins, whales, and pelicans at the Bahia de Loreto National Park, explore a 17th-century church, or view prehistoric cave paintings. Beach rentals here are plentiful and span a wide range, from sprawling villas to beachfront condos, which usually come with hotel-like amenities of pools and beach cabanas.