11 Hot Beach Escapes
Summer is officially here, people! Time to kick back, sink your toes in the sand and crack a cold one. At these 11 places, the heat index is so high you'll never want to leave.
World class wine, farm-fresh food and that laid-back surfer vibe — the coastal town of Santa Barbara combines the best of California. Plop down a towel on the white-sand Leadbetter Beach to watch the windsurfers before sipping your way through downtown’s Urban Wine Trail, a network of 26 tasting rooms that will have you thinking "Napa who?" A playground in the 1920s for Hollywood legends, the Belmond El Encanto is the hottest hotel in town, with Craftsman-style bungalows and a light-filled restaurant that showcases ingredients picked in the hotel's organic garden.
Naples may not have the glam factor of its Atlantic Coast counterpart, Miami, but the Gulf Coast has seriously come into its own. The oceanfront Ritz-Carlton Naples emerged from a redo in 2013 more stylish than ever, with a beachy palette and a sleek lounge serving top-notch sushi. You could spend days — and your entire vacation budget — exploring Third Street and Fifth Avenue, home to antiques shops, high-end boutiques and fine jewelry stores. Don't miss Four Winds Gallery, which carries hand-crafted American Indian jewelry and art. For dinner, local institution USS Nemo has to-die-for lobster tacos and an unforgettable crispy calamari salad.
Bridgehampton, Long Island
We know the Hamptons have long been the summertime stomping ground of New York City’s elite. Spend a weekend in Bridgehampton and it’s easy to see why. Where else can you go wine-tasting (check out the Channing Daughters winery), pick up fresh peach pie at a farm stand and see a Dan Flavin neon light installation inside a former church and firehouse, all within a four-mile radius? Set in an 1842 Greek Revival mansion, the 22-room Topping Rose House is the newest (well, only) luxury hotel in town, with a farm-to-table restaurant from Tom Colicchio and free bikes you can ride to the beach.
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La Jolla, California
This palm tree-filled neighborhood is the Beverly Hills of San Diego — only closer to the beach. The recently revamped Hotel La Jolla is all wood and leather, with complimentary wine happy hours and bikes for trips to nearby Torrey Pines State Beach, with its towering sandstone cliffs. Locals flock to Galaxy Taco, a no-frills joint run by San Diego's own Trey Foshee; it’s the perfect spot for filling up before exploring San Diego proper. And Little Italy has gone through a restaurant boom, welcoming a host of celebrated restaurants including the Baja-Mediterranean Bracero from Mexican chef Javier Plascencia.
Hayman Island, Australia
Imagine having an island all to yourself. The only resort on Hayman Island (the northernmost of the Whitsunday Islands) reemerged two years ago as a One&Only, with 160 airy guestrooms that fulfill every beach getaway fantasy. Take a seaplane ride over the Great Barrier Reef, dive among the coral, hike to Dolphin Point, or just relax by the oceanside infinity pool, passion fruit daiquiri in hand. We won’t judge.
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Maui is having a real moment. There are the bohemian-chic artist communities, the colorful market stands, the luxe, eco-friendly resorts. And, of course, the 52-mile Road to Hana. For the ultimate luau, head to Feast at Lele in Lahaina, where music and hip shaking are paired with a four-course tasting menu. The Andaz Maui at Wailea continues to make waves, thanks to a gorgeous open-air lobby, guestrooms by design guru David Rockwell, and the on-site Ka'ana restaurant – the best place in town for elevated farm-to-table fare. (Ahi tataki with passion fruit, anyone?)
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Don’t think of Vieques as a side trip from San Juan. This is a destination all its own. Just a 25-minute flight from the Puerto Rican capital, the island is the perfect blend of beach action and toes-in-the-sand ease, with enough outdoor adventures to keep you busy for a week. The Patricia Urquiola–designed W Retreat & Spa can help arrange a variety of activities, from sunset snorkeling or kayaking in the bioluminescent bay to hiking and horseback riding along the beach. Leave time for at least one meal at the new El Blok hotel, where chef Jose Enrique turns out modern-day interpretations of Puerto Rican cuisine.
Ibiza may be the place to party in the Balearic Islands, but if you’re looking for a quieter, cultural and more sophisticated getaway, go to Mallorca. Just outside Palma, Hotel Hospes Maricel & Spa has a gorgeous pool overlooking the water, and if it’s beach time you crave, the nearby Calo des Macs is perfect for whiling away an afternoon. Those looking for a contemporary art fix won't want to miss the recently expanded gallery Horrach Moya. From there, it’s a short walk to Forn de Sant Joan, in central Palma, where tapas with a Japanese twist are served in a cool, cavernous dining room.
D.H. Lawrence was so taken with the island of Sardinia he wrote an entire book about his brief foray there in 1921. The beaches are postcard-perfect, the water crystal blue and the rhythm low-key. Stay at the Pullman Timi Ama Sardegna, which is set within a stunning marine reserve near the village of Villasimius. The diving in this area is unmatched — sign up for an excursion with Subaqua — and the sand is so white it’s almost blinding (don’t forget to pack your Warby Parker shades). And what’s a summer in Italy without gelato? You may find yourself visiting Chiccheria at least once a day for its all-natural (and gluten-free!) flavors, like Sicilian lemon and salted chocolate caramel.
In southwestern Turkey, the resort town of Bodrum is the ultimate Mediterranean hideaway. Take the location: fronting the calm, azure sea but within easy reach of Lycian, Roman and Ottoman ruins. Then there are the glittering waterfront hotels and restaurants, which have some of the freshest seafood you'll ever taste. (The lively Mimoza is a must for heaping platters of grilled octopus.) And, of course, the renowned nightlife is unparalleled, with bars and clubs open until dawn almost every day of the week. Convinced yet?
Boracay is hands down the dictionary definition of a dreamy beach escape. The tiny island destination has exploded in recent years (it was only a matter of time), but the hotspot still harbors plenty of secluded bays and beaches (not to mention some of the best happy hours we've ever come across). For absolute pampering, our go-to stay is the sheltered Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa with its private white sand beaches, glittering infinity pools, and sleek style that weaves together luxe, contemporary interiors and traditional Filipino flourishes (think: thatched roofs and colorful local fabrics). Make time for the hot Dinu-Ot muscle relief treatment at on-site CHI spa – we're talking a deep tissue massage aided by a healing balm crafted from indigenous flora – it's our treat of choice after a long flight and sea transfer to Boracay.