What makes a great beach vacation? Is it the swimming? Endless lazy laps through the cool water under the hot sun, waves cresting beneath us as we lounge like sea otters in the surf?
Is it rubbing fruity stripes of sunblock along our arms and legs and dozing on a blanket for a sunbaked beach nap while the rest of the world clacks at keyboards in bland grey cubicles because it is, in fact, 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon?
That’s pretty good.
But what about nighttime? Is it eating conch fritters and slurping sugar and alcohol with just the tiniest hint of fruit through a straw, dancing with our eyes closed to a Calypso band we’ll swear when we get home was “amazing”, though we won’t really remember the band? Is it that we will only remember the way we felt so relaxed we could’ve melted down through the plank floor into the sand beneath as we watched the sun meet the sparkling blue water in the distance against glowing pink sky?
Yeah, pretty sure that’s the one.
Beach bars are almost as important to a beach holiday as the water itself. After all, you can’t swim and nap on a towel all week. Eventually, you’re going to need to get your drink on, and a great beach bar lets you leave your everyday self back in Cleveland where it belongs and become beach you, who dips barbequed lobster in butter with no qualms about cholesterol and can wax poetic about the sunset well enough to rival drunk Hemingway.
It goes without saying that most beach bars have beautiful views (duh, they’re on the beach), so how did we round up the best? Well, first we considered location. It doesn’t get much better than Bali, so it stands to reason that beach bars there are going to have some killer views. Next, we looked at the bars themselves. Some spots are built to maximize the natural beauty around them, like Moonshadows, which is built into the side of a cliff to offer an unobstructed view of the ocean. Finally, we relied on a little help from our friends. Each beach bar on this list has been vetted by the best: CNN Travel, Condé Nast Traveler,and other adventurous publications of repute, so you can be sure these spots aren’t just beautiful — they’re absolutely stunning.
Don’t believe us? Read to see more for yourself!
12. Pirates Bight, Norman Island
This island was the basis for Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island; now it’s home to a private resort with a beautiful bar that features clear views of both the shoreline and 610 acres of uninhabited island.
11. Ty Coch Inn, Wales
The humble inn on the beautiful beach made waves when it was recently voted one of CheapFlights’ Best Beach Bars in the World. However, on closer inspection, it’s easy to see why the world is warming up to this place. The quaint bar (which used to be a vicarage) is nestled into green hills and has clear views of nearby Yr Eifl and Snowdonia. Not every great view has to be tropical!