The Next Great Beach Destinations
We all love Tulum, but when our 'gramming feeds reveal that our boss, grandmother and doctor are all there right now...well, we'd rather go someplace less, ahem, crowded. Here, contributor Emily Saladino explores the world’s next great beach destinations.
Ile de Re, France
Dubbed the Hamptons of France, this chic island in the Atlantic has 10 eye-catching, white-washed villages and 60 miles of cycling trails to explore. Grab your handlebars and keep les yeaux peeled for vineyards, poppy fields, oyster farms and salt flats along the routes. A longtime favorite among plugged-in Parisians, Ile de Re is increasingly accessible thanks to a new toll bridge from La Rochelle, France, plus direct airfare from busy ports like Brussels, London and Oslo. Set up camp at L'Hotel de Toiras, a harbor-facing boutique hotel in a 17th-century merchant's townhouse in Saint-Martin-de-Re and don't skimp at the hotel's stellar farm-to-table restaurant.
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Cannon Beach, OR
Less than 10 miles south of popular Seaside, OR, this funky North Coast town has breathtaking Pacific beaches, indie art galleries and stylish seafood joints serving locally sourced clam and salmon chowder and prime Pacific Northwestern wines (our go-to is The Wayfarer). The area also has an eponymous distillery, known for its award-winning artisanal rum, seasonal gins and non-tequila agave spirits. If you'd rather skip the booze, go for a dip in the waterfalls and tide pools at Hug Point, rife with marine life, or picnic at Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall monolithic formation rising from the surf. (Film fans of a certain age will recognize it from The Goonies and Point Break.)
Todos Santos, Mexico
An hour north of hard-partying Cabo San Lucas, bohemian Todos Santos has historically been a day-trip destination for those interested in perusing art galleries or surfing Pacific swells. But this summer's extended-stay beachgoers should check into Hotel San Cristobal, a 32-room beachfront property from Austin, TX arbiter of cool, Bunkhouse Group. (Additional credits include Hotel San Jose in Austin and Marfa's Hotel Cosmico.) The boutique hotel is anticipating an April open and is part of the Tres Santos "mindful living" development which encompasses restaurants, boutiques, residential villas and a farm, all connected to downtown Todos Santos by a 3.5-mile hiking and biking path. Que padre!
Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Japan’s southernmost stretch shares latitudinal coordinates and a tropical climate with the Bahamas, but outside of Japanese nationals, has remained something of a local secret. Get in on the action at Aharen Beach, a pristine stretch of Tokashiki Island renowned for swimming and snorkeling, and spot humpback whales on the Kerama Islands every January through March. Luxury digs come courtesy of the 97-key Ritz-Carlton Okinawa, an oceanfront golf and spa resort, or the Okinawa Kariyushi Beach Resort, a 28,000-square-foot behemoth overlooking the East China Sea. JS Tip: Getting to Naha Airport from the United States requires a connection, but direct flights are less than three hours from major airports such as Tokyo (3 hours), Taipei (1 hour 25 minutes) and Hong Kong (2 hours 25 minutes).
Guadeloupe & Martinique, Caribbean
These French-Caribbean isles have powdery beaches, azure waters and standout out Gallic cuisine, without the helipad traffic of haute St. Barths. They're also easier to get to than ever, thanks to Norwegian Air. Flights from the continental United States used to require a connection; but, last December, the airline launched direct routes from Baltimore, New York and Boston. Transportation logistics aside, those looking to work some culture into their stay shouldn't miss Memorial ACTe, a breathtaking sugar factory turned cultural institution in Guadeloupe. Part of UNESCO's Slave Route Project, the architectural stunner contains a permanent installation dedicated to the history of the slave trade, as well as diasporic contemporary art and photography exhibitions. Nearby Martinique produces the world's only AOC rums, and the island has plenty of natural phenomenon to check out, including Josephine's Bathtub, a tranquil lagoon with exceptional snorkeling and Robinson Crusoe-esque islets.
Spanning three islands and two languages (one being English), Malta balances affordability and accessibility without sacrificing an ounce of Mediterranean glamour. The capital – Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage city dotted with 16th century Baroque and limestone buildings – marks its 450th anniversary this year. To celebrate, architect Renzo Piano refurbished the city's open-air opera house, and built a new parliament building and city gate. Isle-hop to neighboring Gozo for a cinematic coastline that's popular with the scuba and celebrity set (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently filmed By the Sea here), or to calm, car-free Comino for an ultimate off-the-grid escape. Virtually uninhabited, its azure Blue Lagoon is (justly) popular with daytripping Maltese throughout the summer months.
Benguerra Island, Mozambique
Ideally situated for post-safari beachcombers, this tropical outpost is part of the Bazaruto Archipelago, snuggled between Madagascar and Mozambique's east coast. Last year, luxury operator Cox & Kings launched a three-night Benguerra itinerary, centered on swimming, snorkeling and de-stressing, but not to be outdone, Intrepid Travel recently debuted a three-night safari add-on to their trip. The area's choicest place to stay is andBeyond's Benguerra Island location, an intimate collection of casinhas and cabanas, with private pools, deep sea fishing expeditions and traditional dhow cruises that just underwent a cool $5.5 million revamp.
Block Island, RI
Nearly equidistant from New York and Boston, this quaint isle off of Rhode Island is notably less sceney than Nantucket or the Vineyard — and therein lies the appeal. The 17 miles of powdery sand are all free—including parking. Skip town beach and head to the quieter Mansion Beach on the northern part of the island, where calm waves and pristine powder make it the perfect stretch for families. Once you’ve had enough sun, make your way to the Oar restaurant to watch the sunset while sipping rum punches and mudslides. As for where to stay, the island has no shortage of cute inns and B & Bs. But don't expect flat screen TVS and 1000-thread-count sheets; the Block, as locals call it, is heavy on Victorian-style décor and old-school diversions (croquet, anyone?)--and that's just why we love it.