Best Beach Vacation Spots

ByABC News via via logo

March 12, 2006 — -- It's spring break time and college students from around the country are flocking to the beach. But if you aren't a college student and you don't feel like hanging out with them in Cancun, Heidi Mitchell, senior editor at Travel + Leisure Magazine, offered some off-the-beaten-path spring break suggestions that are perfect for the family.

St. Lucia has been a charming out-of-the-way Caribbean island for years, known for its rugged interior outlined by empty beaches. Now, the island is served by daily non-stop flights on Delta from Atlanta and American from Miami and is undergoing near-constant real-estate development. The rustic southern half of the island is full of fishing villages, waterfalls, and cottage-style plantation villas. The Coco Palm resort costs $145 a night. The French Creole-inspired resort has wi-fi service, yoga cruises, and guides to take you through the 19,000-acre rain forest on the new zip line.

Visits to this Greek island by celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are a sure sign that the haven is going to become a hot spot. It is part of the Cyclades, off the coast of Paros, Antiparos, which is still without any big hotels. Visitors must fly or sail to Paros and then take a 10-minute ferry ride to Antiparos. The island is laid-back and unpretentious. It has all the elements of Greek island cliché: whitewashed houses, a famous land cave, historic ruins, and even blue grottoes that, according to legend, have magical powers. The island has miles of beaches -- both large and small -- and Oliaros Studios is a chic, affordable inn overlooking the Aegean Sea that offers sea-kayaking tours of the area. It costs only $85 a night.

The east coast of Tasmania has been a well-kept Aussie secret for some time. Characterized by its sheltering hills and warm offshore currents, it has one of the country's best year-round climates. New stylish hotels and houses are opening, including the Avalon Coastal Retreat, which is actually a house that sleeps six. Across the bay, there's the Freycinet Lodge, which has sweeping views overlooking the beaches and granite coastline of Great Oyster Bay. It is a luxurious retreat, especially considering the great price of $148 a night. Tasmania has rugged beauty and amazing wildlife -- including wallabies, possums and even the Tasmanian devil.

"The next great Mexican beach" is located about an hour north of popular Cabo San Lucas on Baja Peninsula's Highway 19. However, it has a much quieter beach scene. Todos Santos is a small fishing, farming, and artistic community on the Pacific Ocean. There is not a lot of development, so you'll need to navigate carefully to find Los Cerritos and San Pedrito beaches, which are popular places for surfers. At Playa Los Lobos, you'll find miles of creamy sand interrupted only by battered driftwood. Posada La Poza, which costs $165 a night, is as close as you can come to sleeping on the beach aside from sleeping in a tent. It features seven guest suites in two low-rise buildings, and the rooftop bar is a favored spot for potent sunset margaritas. Visitors must fly to Cabo San Lucas and drive up the coast.

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