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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?