With over 220,000 miles of coastline in the world, there are thousands of beaches to choose from to get your fill of surf and sunshine (eh, see what I did there?). Everyone knows the ones that make every top 10 list ever produced, but sadly those same beautiful beaches also tend to be the most crowded. Let’s take a detour from the trendy touristy beach vacation this year and head somewhere that your neighbor or best friend hasn’t heard of. So I’ve teamed up with Expedia.com to highlight some of my favorite best kept secret beach destinations where uncrowded shorelines stretch as far as the eye can see and the only thing you have to decide is which bathing suit to wear today and what cocktail to sip on next.
St. Kitts and Nevis
These sister islands in the West Indies are covered in white sand beaches that slip into the turquoise waves of the Caribbean. Christopher Columbus saw the islands in 1493, but it wasn’t until the 1620s that the British colonized these two islands separated by a mere 2 miles. Today, it is well known for its beautiful beach getaways but there are also mountain ranges that climb skyward and rainforests that speckle the land with their mysterious depths. Visitors can explore the variety of scenery and hike dormant volcanoes that rest for eternity on the island or visit Timothy Hill for a breathtaking view of where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic. A richly diverse history can also be seen in the many ruins including the Brimstone Hill Fortress which was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. While there is plenty to do and see, these islands are less developed than other vacation spots offering a truly serene getaway.
Where to stay: St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino
Located on a small peninsula in the northwest corner of Guanacaste (your cell carrier will tell you you’re in Nicaragua), this beautiful cove is one of the most secluded beach destinations in Costa Rica. With outstanding wind and kitesurfing available near by on Bahia Salinas for the more adventurous travelers, the beautiful gold speckled sand and calm waters of the bay on El Jobo Beach make it perfect for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding with the fevers of wild sting rays who also call it home. Guanacaste has miles of coastline and a variety of protected wildlife areas offer visitors a variety of activities. Venture away from Playa El Jobo and you’ll find mountain ranges with dry forests along with tropical forests create variety that is often hard to find in one destination. Visit Santa Rosa National Park to do a little hiking and view some of the 250 bird species that call it home. Within the park you can also do some surfing or just soak up the sun on the white sand beaches. Wander over to Rincon de la Vieja National Park that has over 34,000 acres which feature active volcanoes, waterfalls, and a trail that leads you up the side of Santa Maria Volcano which is one of the nine craters within the park.
Where to stay: Dreams Las Mareas
Remote and the definition of seclusion with miles of undisturbed sandy beaches, be prepared to enjoy walks and swims without seeing another person for hours. Known as two of the more remote islands, Acklins & Crooked Island are almost as natural as they were when The Bahamas was first discovered. Separated by a 500-square-mile lagoon known as the Bight of Acklins, both islands are a haven for bonefishing, snorkeling and diving. The ultimate destination for truly disconnecting from the world, you’ll have plenty of time to reconnect with yourself and loved ones while enjoying some true Bahamian vibes.
Where to stay: Chester Bonefish Lodge
This city located in the northeastern region of the Dominican Republic, and to the locals it is known as Santa Barbara de Samana. There is only a small population of 15,000 that reside in the city making it a quiet getaway unlike many of the other resort areas, but it is nothing short of stunning. In fact in 2009, the Bay of Samana was voted “One of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World.” In this bay you can see thousands of humpback whales enjoying the refreshing waters in January through March. You can also experience a variety of wildlife at Los Haitises National Park. This enormous park offers incredible hiking and secluded landscapes for the ultimate serenity. There are also many secret beaches that are only accessible by hiking or boat. Sneak away to a private cove and enjoy the quiet. When you are looking for a night out, visit Las Terrenas where you can find accommodations for your entire trip as well as information about available activities.
Where to stay: The Bannister Hotel
This northwest island in Caicos, often referred to as Provo, covers 38 miles, and it is the most developed of the islands. Even though Grace Bay has received countless “Best Beach in the World” awards, strangely enough the island still receives plenty of “where’s that?” when I mention it as my favorite family beach destination. As such, this bit of heaven on earth remains unspoiled by crowds and perfect for pretending that you’re stranded on the most perfect deserted island in the world. With beautiful warm turquoise waters that remain shallow across the shoreline, there is a never ending variety of water activities to indulge in, including diving/snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, SUP paddle boarding or just plain drifting along on your floaty with a good book. Chalk Sound National Park also has a spectacular lagoon and limestone islands. As your plane arrives on the island, it will hover over the National Park leaving you speechless by its radiant beauty. Beyond the white sand beaches, the island has luxury resorts and spas as well as high end shopping. There are bars and cafes and even a golf course. Hike Blue Mountain to take in views of the north shore and the barrier reef. If you want to explore neighboring islands you can hop on a ferry, charter boat, or even a plane and do some more exploring.
Where to stay: The Somerset on Grace Bay
Perched along the Pacific coast, Sayulita is a small, family-friendly surf village perfect for spending a week like a local. Well known by southern California surfers, this quaint little town is also a great low key getaway for those with kids in tow. Luckily if you get bored of the laid back attitudes and never-ending sunshine and waves, even more adventure, culture, and beauty in Puerto Vallarta is just a short 25 miles away. This destination is the place to experience a great nightlife and indulge in the amazing local cuisine. Enjoy a variety of recreational water activities like snorkeling or kayaking and deep sea fishing. Watch the massive whales splash through the waters enjoying their natural habitat or peruse one of the many art galleries or the outdoor sculptures along the Malecon and learn about the history of the city. If you are into a little more adventure, try zip-lining or go sky diving over the aquamarine depths of the Pacific. There are also ATV rentals for treks through the jungle. After a day of enjoying the great outdoors, take a trip over to one of the many nightclubs and dance the night away. Great food, fruity drinks, and plenty of dance floors make it perfect for a couple’s getaway.
Where to stay: Playa Escondida