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Life’s a Beach: Five Fabulous Beaches

santorini beach

Red Beach, Santorini

You know who has a truly enviable job? Dr. Beach, that’s who. According to his website, he’s America’s Foremost Beach Expert. For 20 years, he’s been ranking U.S. beaches. Well, my name might not be Dr. Beach (and neither is his, by the way, it’s Stephen Leatherman), but I still consider myself something of an expert because, well, I love beaches and I’ve been to some pretty spectacular ones.

So here is my completely unscientific list of what I consider to be the five best beaches. The sea and the sand is the great equalizer when it comes to vacations — the beach doesn’t care if its sun worshipers arrived via cheap package holidays or private jets. And neither does the sun, so don’t forget your sunscreen!

1. Red Beach, Santorini

Santorini isn’t known for its beaches the way other Greek Islands are, because it’s a rocky, cliff-y kind of place. Indeed you climb over a bunch of rocks to get to this beach — red rocks. Yet Red Beach (pictured above) isn’t all rugged; there are beach umbrellas and lounge chairs to rent. It’s a genuinely unique beach experience, as even the most jaded beachgoer will see.

2. Siesta Key, Florida

siesta key sunset

Siesta Key, FL

Dr. Beach likes this one, too, consistently rating it as the number two beach in the US. So I figured, hey, I’ll put this as my number two beach also. With its white sand, calm water and unbeatable sunsets, it looks like it belongs in the Caribbean. But it’s not— it’s on the Gulf Coast, yet it was unaffected by the BP Oil Spill. That’s because Siesta Key is situated on Florida’s Central Coast, which was far away enough from the environmental disaster. But many people stayed away last year from all Gulf Coast beaches because they didn’t realize this, which hurt the economy.

3. Grand Anse, Grenada

Grenada Beach

Grand Anse, Grenada

The Caribbean is full of beautiful beaches, so what makes this one special? Aside from the quiet turquoise water, long stretch of uninterrupted shoreline and fine sand, that is… Well, Grenada’s lush landscape makes Grand Anse beach picture-perfect —  truly a grand tropical paradise.

4. Pfeiffer Beach, California

big sur beach

Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, CA

This gorgeous Big Sur beach is hard to find, but it’s well worth a stop when you’re doing that famous Highway 1 drive. Here are my directions on how to find Pfeiffer Beach (hint: if you think you’re lost, you’re almost there).

5. Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

manuel antonio

White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys at Playa Blanca in Manuel Antonio Park, Costa Rica

Who is at the beach can make or break your beach experience. Well, Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica has some of my favorite beach-goers: White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys. They’re so fun to watch you almost forget to go for a swim. There are also plenty of iguanas and hermit crabs hanging around too.

What are your favorite beaches?

10 Responses to Life’s a Beach: Five Fabulous Beaches

  1. Danee Gilmartin
    Twitter: museumchick
    March 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    I could really use a beach right now! When I was in Santorini, I never made it to the red beach- too steep of a climb but kind-of wish I did now!
    Danee Gilmartin recently posted..Art Word of the Day- Lino-cut

  2. Natalie
    Twitter: turkishtravel
    April 3, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    I love beaches but I love the pictures of the monkeys even more!! I just want to cuddle them!
    Natalie recently posted..Turkish Women – Meet A Mother Called Hatica

  3. Raymond
    Twitter: manonthelam1
    April 10, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Monkeys on a beach! Sounds like a movie title…:)
    Raymond recently posted..Travel Photo of the Week — Hijacking Hotspot

  4. Sophie
    Twitter: SophieR
    April 11, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    In Sardinia, just take any of the numerous narrow little, white roads and you’ll find your own secluded little beach.
    Sophie recently posted..Things to do in Skopje

  5. Laura
    Twitter: gomexicoguide
    April 12, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    Great list! I love beaches in general, but the fact that there are monkeys hanging out on the beach with you in Costa Rica makes it extra special! 😉
    Laura recently posted..Friday Foto- Cruz Azul vs Monterrey

  6. Jason
    Twitter: alpaca_suitcase
    April 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Nice list. I’ve been to Pfeiffer and Red Beach thus far…now have to check out the others.
    Jason recently posted..Miguel Angels Choice

  7. sofia - as we travel May 1, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    Nice beaches, can I add Khlong Nin on Koh Lanta in Thailand? It’s an incredible beach!

  8. The GypsyNesters May 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Have to say Buck Island right off of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Protected as a national park so it is pristine and it is usually not crowded.

  9. RumShopRyan May 5, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Great list of beaches. I live just down the road from Siesta Key and you’re right, that beach is beyond beautiful. It has a special type of quartz sand that is powder soft.

    Cheers!

  10. Chrissy Travels May 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    My favorite beaches to date:
    Meades Bay, Anguilla (Viceroy resort); Agios Sostis, Mykonos, Greece; I agree with Buck Island, St Croix; Platja de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain; Sardinia, Italy

    I have so many more to see!!!
    Chrissy Travels recently posted..Chrissy Travels Voted one of Top 50 Travel Blogs by Maptia

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