There's no question that all those whitewashed Spanish haciendas in the sierras and vineyard-fringed Tuscan farms have their charms. It's just that there's something truly special about ocean villas that face the waves, spill onto pristine sands, and pop up amid the dunes. For some travelers, there's simply nothing better than a beach villa that lets you wake to the sound of the tides and the salt-filled trade winds. This guide can help you pinpoint the perfect ones in the perfect destination…

Bucket-list destinations to get your ocean villa in the USA

Don't think you have to jet off long haul to get a great ocean villa. From the East Coast to the Hawaiian Islands, there stacks of rentals that fit the bill in your very own backyard. The pointers below offer just a taster…

Panama City Beach for a bout of Florida sun

To discover the joys of Panama City Beach with the whole family in tow, a beach villa could be the way to go. You're much more likely to find them straddling the less-developed corners of the city, down by the wetlands of St. Andrews State Park, perhaps, or along the cotton-tinted sands of Sunnyside. Most have big decks with views of the Gulf of Mexico, which means evenings of BBQ grilling as the turquoise waves roll in

Beach villas in Maine, New England

You'll rise to visions of shell-speckled Atlantic beaches and the outline of boardwalks in buzzing towns like Old Orchard Beach if you choose an ocean villa in Maine. They tend to be a world apart from the sun-splashed homes of the south. That means wood-paneled walls and nautical color schemes – a true New England escape.

An ocean villa in Hawaii

With a shake of the hula skirt and a bloom of hibiscus, the Aloha State opens its arms to lovers of sun, sand, sea, awesome surf, and good-vibe tropical living. You can snag ocean villas on the east coast of Maui to be in the midst of turquoise lagoons, towering volcanos, and manicured golf courses. Others cling to the old sugarcane groves of Oahu's North Shore – a mecca for wave riders that's got gnarly point breaks and barrels.

Sleek ocean villas in California

SoCal feelings, unforgettable surf days, and happening boulevards laced with lanky palm trees are what beckon so many folks to California's ocean villas, at least around LA and San Diego. Further north, the villas channel a hearty Pacific Northwest feel, topping bluffs above untamed beaches and redwood forests.

Go exotic to find beach villas all around the globe

Feeling adventurous? Why not hop across to sands you've never left footprints in before? With Thailand's lush coasts, the resplendent Maldives, and surf-washed Bali, the pointers below should have plenty to tickle the wanderlust…

Deluxe beach villas in the Maldives

Glistening seas of azure blue, cloudless skies, and beaches so white you'd think they were powder are the name of the game in the Maldives. And while all that's helped this string of cays and atolls in the Indian Ocean become a real honeymoon favorite, the ocean villas also play their part. The country's a doozy for finding overwater bungalows with coral reefs and swimming lagoons literally beneath your bed.

Beach villas in Thailand

The fabled Land of Smiles can infuse any beach-lazing trip with a hint of the exotic. Between dragon-filigreed temples and incense-scented Buddhist shrines, you'll catch pads poking over the karst cliffs of the Andaman Sea and the Thai Gulf alike. Loads are uber-modern, with hidden swimming pools and palm-shaded sundecks. And plenty have walking access to the famous beaches of isles like Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao.

Surf-side ocean villas in Bali

Balinese villas have a distinct style of their own. There are spots where mysterious Hindu carvings and totems pop up in the orchid-rich gardens, and dark-tiled pools hide under palm trees with views over cascading rice paddies. To have the ocean on the doorstep – and all the roaring surf breaks that make the Indonesian island so famous – towns like Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu are good picks.

The amazing ocean villas of Mauritius

Prepare yourself for tangy curries packed with spice, indigo-tinted ocean waters, and plumeria-fringed sands – that's just the sort of tropical wonderland that Mauritius is. Beach villas here can be exclusive, but they also promise something unique and opulent. Flights can get pricy closer to departure, however, so be sure to book as early as you can.

Beach villas in Aruba and the rest of the Caribbean

Aruba is just one example of the sort of sun-splashed island where beach villas are steeped in laid-back Caribbean vibes. It's a fine one, though – it's a member of the ABC chain, which means sunny days are common even throughout the hurricane season of late summer and fall. If you're not thinking of a trip in September or October, there are also uber-romantic villas rising by pink-tinged sands in the Bahamas, or volcano-shrouded homes for coastal adventures in St Lucia.