Best Beach Vacation Destinations for 2011
Best Beach Vacations: Leblon Beach, Rio de Janeiro
If the impending World Cup and Olympic excitement are any clue, Rio is set to take the world by storm. For the chic side of this notoriously sexy city, pass on by the more popular Rio de Janeiro beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema, for Leblon beach. This inlet is stocked with the same beautiful people, stunning views and breezy waves as the other Rio beaches, but surrounded by high-end shopping boutiques and trendy restaurants. On weekends, enjoy a stroll through the pop-up markets that collect in Leblon's parks; an all-around perfect beach vacation.
Best Beach Vacations: St. Croix, USVI
Adventure seekers will dive head-first in love with St. Croix and the 30+ fantastic scuba diving spots around the island. Divers come face-to-face with natural wildlife, amazing coral reef and even sunken ships. Other water sports abound, too: take a jet ski across the crystal waters or go snorkeling in the shallow reefs. Landlubbers can take in a beachside yoga class or spa treatment to soothe their sunburned skin in this relaxing beach destination.
Best Beach Vacations: Paseo Maritmo, Spain
With all the comforts of a traditional North American boardwalk and the exotic flair of the Mediterranean, Paseo Maritimo is one of Spain's best beach vacation spots. Just 25 minutes outside of the infamous culture of Valencia, and following along both Las Arenas and La Malvarrosa beaches, there's great people watching to be done in this rejuvenated port area: roller skaters, traveling kiosks and unique fashions abound on the trendy promenade. When you've tired of blue skies and blue waters, shack up at discounted boutiques in this up-and-coming nabe.
Best Beach Vacations: Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Most visitors to Egypt spend weeks exploring Cairo's majestic historical sites and miss one of the country's best resources, its beautiful beaches. Take a beach vacation where pebbled beaches of the Red Sea meet total urban sophistication -- Sharm el Sheikh, affectionately nicknamed 'The City of Peace'. Five-star hotels like the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton overlook the coast while traditional Bedouin stands line the beach and offer meals and unique souvenirs of perfume bottles, jewelry and linens.
Best Beach Vacations: Caye Caulker, Belize
Caye Caulker is the very definition of laid-back island life. Often thought of as a last uncharted frontier of Belize, this island is available by water taxi from other areas of the country, but tends to be overlooked for more popular resort-style beaches. Because of the peaceful seclusion, this white coral sand beach in its intimate setting has attracted musicians and artists from across the globe. Caye Caulker is for those who prefer Belize's boutique hotels to resorts, and fresh seafood over gourmet tasting menus.
Photo by U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism.