Outside Magazine's Top 10 Beach Getaways

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Where to Stay: Outer Beaches Realty (252-995-4447, www.outerbeaches.com) offers excellent deals on vacation rental homes ranging from two-bedroom beach boxes to 10-bedrooom/10-bathrooom beachfront mega-homes. They have the right accommodation for any size family and budget to make the most of your time at the beach. The Frisco and Cape Point campgrounds on Cape Hatteras are suitable for tents or RVs and are just minutes from the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and the kiteboarding action ($20 per day; www.nps.gov/caha/pphtml/camping.html).

3. Hawaii: Poipu, Kauai, Snorkeling

This is possibly the only resort area on the planet that consistently offers close-encounters with angels -- or at least angelfish -- within steps of your hotel room. The hot spots include Nukumoi Point, a reef thick with angelfish, striped damsels, moorish idols, black tangs and schools of canary-colored butterfly fish. Just be sure not to swim too close to Spouting Horn, a lava tube that spews saltwater 50 feet.

Kauai Snorkeling Tours offers three-hour tours of Kukuiulu Harbor in Poipu near Spouting Horn; three-hour private snorkeling charters, during which you might spot a humpback heading out into the Pacific; or a six-hour private tour of the precipitous Napali Coast (www.hawaiiwebdesign.com/kauai_snorkelingtours.htm).

Get the aerial layout of the island with Air Kauai Helicopters, an FAA-approved outfitter offering daily helicopter flights to places like Waimea Canyon, dubbed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" by Mark Twain (808-246-4666, www.airkauai.com). 

Where to Eat: Grab a frank--Hawaiian style--at Puka Dog, touted as a wiener haven, where the tropical relishes (choose from pineapple, coconut, mango, banana, or star fruit) will redeem every cent of airfare. (www.pukadog.com, 808-742-6044) 

Where to Stay: Whaler's Cove offers oceanfront luxury with its glass, marble, and private-terrace condos. Added bonus: Each unit comes with a hot tub and full kitchens (Doubles range from $370, 800-225-2683; www.whalers-cove.com).The 60-unit Poipu Kapili resort offers packages that include zip-line adventure, jungle kayak trips and waterfall excursions (Ocean-view two-bedrooms, from $320; kauai.aloha-hawaii.com/hawaii/poipu+kapili/).

4. New Jersey: Cape May/Birding

Billed simultaneously as the "Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort," "The Restaurant Capital of New Jersey," and the nations' third-most popular wedding destination, Cape May on Delaware Bay offers ample opportunity for overeating. On the flipside, it's also a beloved birding destination, with a year-round revolving door of exciting species. The summer favorites are the laughing gull, herring gull, sanderling, and  ruddy turnstone, among others. Bird watching activities are run by the Cape May Bird Observatory ( www.capemaybeach.com), which has locations at Cape May Point and in Goshen. Aqua Trails Kayak Nature Tours and Sales (www.aquatrails.com/wildlife.html) offers salt marsh tours, where you can check out all sorts of cool marine life.

For whale watching, hop aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher, which offers dolphin sighting trips in the morning and evening, and whale watching in the afternoon ($35, kids under 7 are free; 800-786-5445, www.capemaywhalewatcher.com).

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