The loose definition for the tropics is the region that surrounds the Equator. More specifically, it is the region that is confined between the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. However you define it, this is a region that is tailor made for beach vacations. Idyllic strips of sand are found throughout the tropics, and the region is also blessed with warm year-round weather and abundant sunshine. Add it all up, and it is little wonder that tropical beaches consistently rank so high among the world’s very best. Just the thought of them invokes relaxing images of swaying in a hammock, listening to the sounds of the surf, and watching palm trees sway in the ocean breezes.
Of course, tropical beach vacations don’t have to be all about relaxation. Many tropical beaches have exceptionally clear waters and coral reefs just offshore, in which case they can be perfect jump-off points for snorkeling or diving excursions. Depending on the beach in question, it might also be possible to engage in any other number of fun water sport activities. Basically, tropical beach vacations can include as little or as much as you want in the way of activity. Whichever way you decide to go, finding a tropical beach destination that suits your fancy shouldn’t be difficult. There are so many gems to select from. You can read about some of the very best destinations below.
The Hawaiian Islands boast some of the most enticing tropical beaches on the planet. While there are too many of these beaches to list, worth pointing out is Lanikai Beach on the island of Oahu. This is certainly one of the most picturesque beaches in the island chain, offering a divine mix of white sand, lush tropical plants, and swaying palm trees. Protecting the shore and keeping the turquoise-blue waters calm at Lanikai Beach is a nearby coral reef. Another Hawaii beach of note is Kauna’oa Bay. Found along the Big Island’s famed Kohala Coast, Kauna’oa Bay features a crescent-shaped strip of white sand that is backed by palm trees. The water is almost always calm and clear, which encourages visitors to enjoy such activities as swimming and snorkeling. Sunbathing is also quite popular at Kauna’oa Bay, as you might suspect.
The Caribbean is awash in tropical beaches. As such, it is understandable that so many travelers focus on the region when planning beach vacations. With so many islands and bordering coastlines to choose from, trying to decide the exact location for Caribbean beach vacations can be difficult, however. Some good places to keep in mind include the island of St. Barts and the Turks and Caicos island chain. St. Barts is small, but it boasts no less than 20 beaches, not to mention a number of small coves. White sand and sparkling turquoise water are in good supply. St. Barts also entices with its relaxing nature and its French chic appeal. As for the Turks and Caicos, the island of Providenciales stands out. This is where you can find Grace Bay Beach. More than 10 miles long, Grace Bay Beach has won plenty of praise for its spectacular setting, and just a couple of miles offshore is a reef for snorkelers to explore. Other noteworthy beaches in the Caribbean include, but certainly aren’t limited to, Trunk Bay Beach on the island of St. John, Aruba’s Palm Beach, and Grande Anse Beach on the island of Grenada.
Mexico and Central America
Much of Mexico is located within the tropics, and there is no denying that the country is home to splendid tropical beaches. The Yucatan Peninsula alone makes Mexico a fantastic destination for tropical beach vacations. In Cancun, miles of miles of gorgeous beachfront awaits, and both beach hotels and water sports activities are available in good number. South of Cancun, Playa del Carmen also weighs in with its mix of beaches and beach accommodations, and regional visitors can surely find bliss on the beach in Tulum. This beach is set at the base of cliffs, and atop the cliffs are Mayan ruins. To the south of the Yucatan Peninsula, Central America unfolds. Much like Mexico, this region of seven different countries features beaches that are about as tropical as they get. Examples of highly rated beach destinations in Central America include the Belize beach town of Placencia, El Salvador’s Playa Los Cobanos, Nicaragua’s Corn Islands, Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, and the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama.
Bora Bora is a beach lover’s dream destination. Found in French Polynesia, this small South Pacific island is surrounded by a turquoise lagoon that is ringed by a coral reef. White sandy beaches extend along the shorelines, and contributing to the island’s scenic allure are two volcanic peaks. Several resorts have been built on the smaller islands around the lagoon, and they are known for their thatched-roof overwater bungalows. Because of the area reefs and the relative calmness of the water, Bora Bora is a popular place to snorkel and scuba dive. It’s also a place where people come to achieve total relaxation. It certainly isn’t difficult to leave the real world behind at Matira Beach. The most famous beach in Bora Bora, Matira Beach extends for more than two miles around a small peninsula. Coconut palms dot the sand, and visitors can wade through shallow, crystal-clear waters to get to a coral reef.
Scattered across 500 miles in the Indian Ocean are the 1,102 islands that make up the Maldives. The majority of these islands feature tropical beaches with pure white sands and green palms. Also worth noting is the clarity of the area waters in the Maldives. These are some of the clearest waters on the planet. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities, allowing visitors the opportunity to admire coral reefs and tropical fish. Other popular things to do in the Maldives include kayaking in shallow lagoons, picnicking on uninhabited islands, taking sunset catamaran cruises, and indulging in spa treatments. Of course, kicking back on the seemingly endless supply of world-class beaches is also a popular pursuit. The numerous resorts that have sprung up around the Maldives have their own stretches of private beach. Some of these resorts are also known for their locations on tranquil, secluded islands.
Tourism is the main industry in the Cook Islands, and understandably so. Found in the South Pacific approximately halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, this chain of coral atolls and volcanic islands is home to spectacular beaches and mesmerizing blue lagoons. Only serving to accentuate the overall appeal of the Cook Islands is the idyllic climate. This is truly paradise on earth, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to bask in all of its glory. The Cook Islands offers a variety of accommodations to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets.
When planning tropical beach vacations, it can be a good idea to consider the Seychelles. A mix of granite and coral islands, this Indian Ocean republic is a dream. One look at the beach of Anse Source d’Argent, and you’ll think that you’ve been transported to heaven. One of the most photographed beaches in the world, Anse Source d’Argent is known for its pale pink sands and its towering granite boulders. As is true of so many other idyllic tropical beaches, Anse Source d’Argent also has calm turquoise waters that are protected by a reef. Should you need any more reasons to consider the Seychelles when planning that next great beach escape, the daily mean temperature throughout the archipelago is around 80 degrees throughout the year, and since the islands lie outside of the cyclone belt, they are rarely plagued by high winds.
Rounding out this list of prime destinations for tropical beach vacations is the Southeast Asian country of Thailand. Some of the best beaches in the world can be found in Thailand, and the warm year-round weather means that there is never really a bad time to visit. The island of Phuket is among Thailand’s destinations of choice for beach enthusiasts. Among other things, it is known for its warm water, palm trees, and beautiful scenery. Relatively busy Patong Beach and quieter Kata Beach are two of the most noteworthy Phuket beaches. The island of Koh Phi Phi Leh is just one more example of a Thailand destination that caters to beach lovers. Among the island’s major assets is the beach at Maya Bay. Used as a setting for parts of the 2000 movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Maya Bay sits nestled among tall limestone cliffs that are covered in green foliage. It’s almost too scenic to believe.