There’s something about warm weather getaways that beckons this time of year. As the frost begins to thaw and we see the first signs of spring, inevitably we begin to plan summer vacations. Which is why VIRTUOSO LIFE dedicated an entire issue to the subject, beginning with the cover story on New Zealand.
You’ll also find warm weather inspiration in the article on 25 top beaches. The following are a few examples located in the U.S., but our complete list of 25 encompasses the world.
Hanalei Bay Beach
The Vibe: Hawaii unplugged
Read: Tangled Lies by Anne Stuart (set on Kauai)
Eat: Teriyaki burger and banana milk shake at Bubba’s (Kuhio Highway; 808/826-7839)
Stay: The new 252-room St. Regis Princeville Resort scales a jungle-covered bluff overlooking Hanalei Bay.
Nestled near the eastern end of Kauai’s dramatic Na Pali Coast, this eclectic beach curls around a crescent-shaped bay of the same name. The cove attracts more locals than tourists, and the calm, shallow waters lend themselves to surfing, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and windsurfing. Scenes from South Pacific (1958) were shot in and around bayside Hanalei town, renowned for its one-lane bridge and taro farms.
Venice/Santa Monica Beach
The Vibe: California eclectic
Read: North of Montana by April Smith, a murder mystery set in Santa Monica
Eat: Huevos rancheros with a Bloody Mary at the Sidewalk Café (1401 Ocean Front Walk; 310/399-5547)
Stay: Situated in Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach is one of the few LA-area hotels whose backyard really is the beach. Its 198 residential-style rooms were recently renovated.
“Carnival by the sea” best describes the shore shared by the Venice and Santa Monica areas of Los Angeles. The spacious sands and copious waves nearly take a backseat to the frenetic action along the boardwalk: chalk artists and street musicians, craft stalls and outdoor cafés, bikini-clad Roller-bladers, and bare-chested weight lifters, even a pleasure pier with thrill rides. The beach is long enough that you can take a lone stroll along the much less populated northern sands.
South Beach, Miami
The Vibe: Are you cool enough?
Listen: Sound track from Miami Vice
Eat: Rainbow ceviche and rum-vanilla-cured smoked marlin at Ola (1745 James Avenue; 305/695-9125)
Stay: The Tides South Beach, where all of the 45 rooms are suites with beach views.
Star of television, film, and steamy novels, South Beach is more like a living, breathing celebrity than a static stretch of sand. This is beachfront eye candy gone wild – fancy cars and beautiful people. Art deco facades and faces you’ve seen on a million magazine covers. Endless sunshine and all-night dance parties. Everything you love (and loathe) about southern Florida comes together in one place. Yet it’s not just a pretty face: South Beach also lures with superb sand and hardcore beach volleyball, especially the courts at 8th and Ocean.
The Vibe: Gone With the Wind goes to the beach
Read: Palindrome by Stuart Woods (set on Cumberland)
Listen: Gullah – Songs of Hope, Faith and Freedom by Marlena Smalls and the Hallelujah Singers
Stay: The 444-room Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island sprawls across an enticing beachfront locale eight miles from Cumberland Island.
Once a private getaway for the Carnegies, Georgia’s largest barrier island boasts 18 miles of pristine beach protected as a national seashore. Backed by low dunes, the strand is nearly 1,000 feet wide. Beachcombing is superb, and keep a lookout for dolphins, wild horses, and more than 300 bird species. Visit Dungeness (the ruined Carnegie mansion) near the south end of the beach and the tiny Baptist church where JFK Junior married Carolyn Bessette in 1996.
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