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9 Secluded Beaches to Visit This Summer
From undiscovered surf towns to far-flung corners of Europe, these sandy spots beckon.
Escape to crowd-free, secluded stretches of surf, sea and sand the world over.
Cobblestone streets, Spanish-moss draped trees and white-sand beaches draw visitors to this remote isle. "It's almost like if you took Savannah [Georgia] and put it seaside," explains Clara Sedlak, executive editor at travel site Jetsetter.com. Hikers, golfers and fishermen all head here, while swimmers, windsurfers and sun-seekers venture to East Beach to enjoy its calm, shallow waters. After a relaxing day outdoors, stroll past the storied St. Simons Lighthouse. For even more seclusion, venture farther afield to the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, a private isle perched on a 10,000-acre nature reserve that boasts spacious rooms and cottages well-suited for families and couples alike.
When people think of beaches along the East Coast, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard come to mind, Sedlak says. But Block Island offers a beautiful, laid-back alternative, she explains. The main selling points: an unpretentious island attitude coupled with serene sands. Sedlak highlights Crescent Beach, a 3-mile stretch that extends from the Old Harbor to Mansion Beach, as an idyllic spot for surfing, sunbathing, solitude and dramatic sea views. For more activity, take in the staggering 200-foot-high bluffs along the Mohegan Trail, which affords far-reaching views of Montauk Point, the easternmost tip of New York's Long Island. At the end of the day, slip away to Victorian-infused accommodations like the National Hotel.
Long Bay Beach
Instead of retreating to resort-heavy Grace Bay on Providenciales, venture to Long Bay Beach, an equally enticing and quieter alternative along the southeastern coast, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo.com. The coconut tree-fringed beach offers beautiful tropical scenery and a surf well-suited for water sports including kitesurfing and horseback riding. "To save a buck, rent a house just off the beach. It's only a five- to 10-minute walk to the beach, so you get the best of both worlds," Saglie says. If you want to stay in the lap of luxury, snag a room at The Shore Club, which boasts four pools and a spa.
The Barrier Islands
For an under-the-radar beach getaway, head to the Barrier Islands, suggests Rebecca Warren, managing editor at Lonely Planet. "These little-known barrier islands off the coast of Biloxi [Mississippi] offer miles of unspoiled beaches and ecologically rich environments for nature lovers," she explains. Beyond the beach, the isles provide an ideal setting for wilderness camping, she adds. "You can take a chartered boat out for a day exploring one of the islands, or for the more adventurous, you can take a kayak and paddle out from the mainland for an extended stay on the islands," she advises. Plus, swimmers can enjoy calm, shallow waters.
Santorini, Mykonos and Crete are the most-commonly cited picture-perfect Greek isles, but Skopelos is just an hour's ferry ride from neighboring Greek island Skiathos and is filled with equally enchanting natural surroundings, blue-domed buildings and cliffside vistas of the Aegean Sea, Sedlak says. A well-kept secret, Skopelos brims with authentic tavernas and even served as the stunning backdrop for the 2008 film "Mamma Mia!" Milia Beach is lined with aromatic pine trees, powdery sands and calm waters. You can also enjoy fishing, hiking through lush forests, admiring ornate Byzantine churches and relaxing at a romantic villa or hotel like Adrina Beach Hotel, which offers reasonable nightly rates and spectacular sea views.
When you picture Maui's captivating coastline, the legendary Road to Hana likely conjures images of breathtaking lookouts and hair-raising turns. But beyond this tourist-heavy route, "you come across this famous, red-sand beach," Saglie says. "Not many people make it that far down the island, and it's a bit off the beaten path, making the unique experience more intimate than your typical Maui beach," he says. After all, the area's crimson-hued sands offer a stark contrast to the surrounding turquoise waves and craggy lava rocks. Just keep in mind, navigating the cliff trail to access the beach can be challenging, so bring a sturdy pair of walking shoes and exercise caution.
With its rugged beauty and isolated location, far from the crowds of popular Phuket, Koh Lanta draws visitors craving pristine, untouched coastlines. Bamboo Beach, with its clear, shallow waters, fine sands and unique sea critters (think: red lionfish, groupers and chestnut-headed bee-eaters), stands apart from Thailand's spectacular beaches. Enjoy snorkeling and fishing before soaking in gorgeous sunsets and unwinding at one of the isle's many lively beach bars. Time for Lime, an outdoor restaurant that offers cooking lessons, is a cost-effective and crowd-pleasing local haunt. As for accommodations, spring for a stay at the Pimalai Resort & Spa, which offers an indulgent escape amid tucked-away coves, lush mountains and sparkling sands.
Brazil has no shortage of magnificent beaches, but Ilha Grande appeals to serenity-seekers with its little-known sands, azure waters and sense of seclusion. Warren points to Dois Rios as especially alluring, thanks to its untouched areas that provide peace and solitude. Another beach spot nearby is Lopes Mendes, which boasts a dramatic mountainous backdrop, and serves as an ideal place for sunbathing, swimming and hiking. After soaking up the sun, unwind in Vila do Abraão, a lively village with plenty of eateries, shops and places to stay, including Asalem, a rustic-chic seaside hideaway with bay views and unique tropical species such as monkeys and blue butterflies.
Santa Teresa Beach
For a low-key surfer's retreat with an eco-tourism focus and laid-back vibes, make your way to Santa Teresa Beach, Sedlak says. Despite Costa Rica's rising popularity, you won't find soaring skyscrapers or overdeveloped properties in this lesser-known beach town set along the southern edge of the island's Nicoya Peninsula. Plus, you can enjoy Pilates, yoga and scenic hikes in addition to riding the constant swells. The area is hard to reach, but that's part of its appeal. Hardcore surfers flock here to catch the area's large waves, while seclusion-seekers are drawn to the wellness-centered spas, eco-lodges and opportunities to get off the grid, unwind and recharge.
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