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Amazing Beach Vacations

Updated on January 11, 2015
Makena Beach, Maui
Makena Beach, Maui | Source

Maui

The name alone says it all. Maui, it just rolls off your tongue and brings forth thoughts of gorgeous beaches, scenic landscapes, and that feeling of escape to another world all while still not leaving the United States. From Kaanapali, to Makena, to Maui's north shore, the beaches on this tropical island will leave you breathless. The southern part of the island is divided into two main areas both which have their equal allure. In the area of Makena, Wailea and Hana town the island becomes a tropical rain forest stopping only for the picturesque black rock beaches. On the western side Kaanapali's white sandy shores look up to a much dryer landscape but their beauty is all its own. The town of La Haina sits just next to this strip of beaches and its most noticeable attraction is the Sheraton hotel at Black Rock where cliff divers perform daily a torch lighting ceremony in the great Hawaiin traditions passed down from the Polynesians who sailed there many centuries ago. Maui is filled with tourists year round and despite the rich Hawaiin culture, the island has been very Americanized due to the steady stream of tourism dollars that it brings in. Maui can be a very pricey holiday considering the added costs of plane tickets from the main land, not to mention the lodging which can go anywhere from 100 to thousands of dollars per night. The wind can also be an issue especially near Kaanapali where during certain times of year the trade winds can really blow through cooling off the swimming crowd. However for the overall feel and epic scenery all over the island, there is not really much that can compare to Maui.

Miami Beach

Miami

Miami Beach may quite possibly be the best beach destination in the continental United States. Crystal turquoise water that has the feel of a warm bath caresses white sandy beaches that stretch for miles next to the heart of Miami's epic night life. Miami can be quite pricey however, and the closer you stay to 1st and Ocean the more you pay for your lodging. The beach however scrawls more than 60 blocks north from Miami Beach's epicenter at 1st and Ocean and there are plenty of hotels with affordable rates up the coast. If you don't mind a cab ride or a pretty heady walk stay on the north end of town and just make your way down the beach as the night comes alive. The cuisine is a blend of Cuban and Caribbean which gives the town a foreign feel despite it still being part of Florida. If you are into an extraordinary club scene and a late night party that rivals Vegas, look no further than Miami Beach, as no other destination can really compare, especially if you have the cash to spend. There is obviously options for the kid friendly families in Miami, however I would have to recommend several other locations for families due to the wild night life and bar scene that makes up a good portion of the area. The weather is beautiful year round and as for the humidity, get over it! Humidity is a part of any beach vacation in the Caribbean, so move on and enjoy the warmth! Miami is probably best left without renting a car since anywhere you go you will not be able to find parking, and will most likely pay at least 20$ for valet parking. The one caveat to this however would be if you wanted to shoot down to Key West for a day then the car rental is totally worth it. Just a three hour drive south of Miami lies Key West where a much slower paced, yet equally beautiful beach location awaits. All in all Miami matches up with any of the best beaches in North America and it is closer than many of these destinations for most Americans. Just remember everything in Miami costs a fortune so the money you save on your flight you will no doubt spend on drinks alone! If money is not an issue and kids are out of the picture though, Miami should top your list of great beach vacations.

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Cost Rica
Cost Rica | Source

Costa Rica

Grab a 4x4 and prepare to explore a country with the most diverse landscape of any destination on our chart. From towering volcanoes to rich tropical rain forests sweeping down on breath taking beaches, Costa Rica has something for everyone. For the adventurous I highly recommend renting a 4 wheel drive vehicle and booking several locations to stay over a two to three week period. There is just so much to see and do in Costa Rica that one spot at a resort on a beach really won't give you the full perspective. A vast array of flora and fauna demands to be witnessed and while Costa Rica is a small country, it still takes at least 8-9 hours to travel the coast line. Grab a vacation rental on the north western coast line near Playa Portrero or the small coastal city Tamarindo and explore the volcanoes, or take a river safari to feed wild crocodiles and have monkeys take bananas right out of your hands. The beaches vary too from small inlet beaches with calm water and picturesque sunsets like Playa Flamingo or travel a few miles north to the roaring waves of Playa Grande. Take a day's trip south down near Manuel Antonio, the nation's largest wild life preserve or just a bit farther to the small surfing town of Dominical. Most of the vacation rentals near Dominical sit on the mountain side over looking the ocean and are just a short drive to the beach. In these mountains lie several rivers and pools in the thick rain forests perfect for cliff diving and swimming. Go on horseback to the legendary Nyauca Falls where you can join the tour guides in diving off of a 50 foot water fall. Manuel Antonio and several other places in CR offer zip lining which is an experience like no other in the rain forest. High above the canopy of the rain forests you can see luscious green for miles and miles as you slide down zip lines towards the beautiful ocean. As far as logistics go Costa Rica is very cost effective, drinks are cheap and so is the food for the most part. It's a third world country though so there can be sketchy elements but mostly that resides in the major inland cities. For those more inclined to show up at a resort and relax for a week, Costa Rica has plenty to offer in that regard its most popular destination is Jaco Beach where mainly tourists and surfers resort, but with the great beaches with great waves for surfing its easy to see why . In essence Costa Rica has something for everyone, however I would really only recommend it to those seeking a bit of adventure, for relaxing resort vacations I think there are much better cheaper options.

Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego | Source

San Diego

If you have young children, don't want to fly, or simply want to stay in an extremely comfortable American environment, but still want a beach vacation try San Diego. The beaches are very nice and while the water is a bit cold the weather is always gorgeous, so a cool dip can feel great. Mission Beach is alive with activities from the boardwalk to the surfers, and the night life is always a hit around the beach. San Diego features Sea World and it's famous zoo so the kids can be wildly entertained as well. There are plenty of cheap places to stay as well as very high class hotels on the water. Downtown San Diego offers its own set of attractions with its historic Gas Lamp District, or Petco Park which is a great place to catch a ball game. San Diego is a great beach destination because of the diversity of activities, and its cost effectiveness. While it doesn't measure up to our other locations in terms of exotic beauty, it really is a great place to visit especially with young children

Punta Cana
Punta Cana | Source

Dominican Republic

Amazing beaches may not be the first thing that you think of when you hear The Dominican Republic, but honestly the beaches are spectacular. The resorts are much like Mexico with the all inclusive theme but the Caribbean feel is much more present. Punta Cana is probably the most popular destination and its white sandy beaches are littered with resorts. The water is warm and the drinks are cold but The Dominican comes with its own set of third world problems. I wouldn't venture too far off of the resort in this extremely poor country where crime is rampant. We took a bus tour to a different beach and a boat trip to an island off the coast and while the country was beautiful it was evident that its residents were extremely poor. On the resorts be prepared to be bombarded by time share representatives at every turn and if you set foot in a store be ready for the storekeeper to follow you around or out of the store until you buy something. The Dominican is fairly cost effective however, and I have heard much better stories of better resort experiences than ours. I'm sure the more you spend the more you get on this vacation but for the same money, actually even less, save your self the hassle and just hit Playa Del Carmen.

Playa Del Carmen Mexico

Playa Del Carmen is one of the most beautiful beach destinations in the world and it attracts visitors from every walk of life accordingly. Rich warm turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and all inclusive resorts make this a destination not to be missed. Playa offers a bit of an upscale experience compared to other Mexican beach destinations. Avoid the riffraff and constant trinket sales in Playa as you will encounter more wealthy Europeans on holiday than you will Mexican locals. The resorts are expansive and the beauty of Mexico is the all inclusive aspect. All you can eat and drink with several different types of restaurants on each resort can be quite comforting while in a foreign country. Should you decide to venture off the resort Playa Del Carmen's main town is bustling with clubs, restaurants and various shops with a very lively atmosphere. For the adventurous, Mayan ruins are within an hour of the resorts as well as various booze cruises, snorkeling and scuba diving options. The world's second largest reef is located just off the coast and it attracts its own set of tourists who mainly lodge in Cozumel across the water from Playa. Mexico probably offers the most bang for your buck especially if the resort vacation is your style. Playa is ideal for weddings and family vacations with plenty of options for fun for the kids and your guests. All things considered price, flight time, activities, etc. Playa is probably at the top of my list. The beaches and ocean are ideal for swimming and the waves are small, so great for kids and drunk parents alike! With all of this to offer Playa Del Carmen really might be the number one beach destination in North America.

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