Best Beach Vacation Spots

ByABC News via logo
March 12, 2006, 9:26 AM

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.