Every traveler has a different fantasy about their ultimate beach vacation. Adventure-seekers want beaches that are both beautiful and close to exciting attractions, like exotic jungles or a historically important port city. Honeymooners, on the other hand, gravitate toward deserted islands with palm-fringed beaches of the softest sand on Earth. Meanwhile, a family may be looking for fun-filled beach towns that have boardwalks lined with amusement rides and food stalls hawking saltwater taffy and corn dogs. No matter what your definition of the perfect beach vacation, you're sure to find inspiration on our list of the 15 best beaches to explore in 2014.
Photo Credit: Brandon Bourdages/Shutterstock
The beauty of Belize just got closer with Delta's new non-stop weekly service from Los Angeles to Belize City. Delta joins a variety of carriers that already offer non-stop flights from places like Houston, Dallas, Newark, Atlanta, and Miami. The ease of getting to this striking Central American nation is helping to boost Belize's status as one of the most compelling getaways for nature-lovers. The country is home to the massive Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System-the largest reef in the Atlantic Ocean-as well as the awe-inspiring Blue Hole. Many travelers peg Ambergris Caye as their home base. Its Belize's largest island and it's situated in the northeast, surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The mangrove island is 25 miles long and one mile wide with white-sand beaches ringing the atoll. Visitors spend lazy days on the beach, bird watch, bike, golf, and take a variety of tours in the Caribbean Sea to fish, snorkel, dive, windsurf, or sail. Those interested in Mayan culture can take day trips to Lamanai Ruins, or Tikal in the Petén district of nearby Guatemala.
Insider Tip: Just 11 miles north of San Pedro town on Ambergris Caye you'll find El Secreto, which debuted on Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards in 2013. This one-year-old resort touts "barefoot luxury" and lures couples that want to lose themselves on the secluded beach. The property consists of 13 very private thatched-roof villas-four of them are beachfront-all outfitted with private pools.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Belize Cayes and Atolls Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia
Where: St. Lucia
Honeymooners have long understood the allure of Soufrière, a small but vibrant town on St. Lucia's west coast. Formerly the domain of French plantation owners in the 1700s, today Soufrière is the epicenter for tourism on the island. People come here for both luxurious and laid-back resorts, gorgeous beaches, and other natural attractions like The Pitons, the now-dormant volcano Qualibou, Sulphur Springs, dozens of waterfalls, and the expansive St. Lucia Rainforest. In welcome news for those on the East Coast, United Airlines recently launched nonstop service from Newark to St. Lucia's Hewanorra International Airport (UVF).
Insider Tip: It's hard to define the most enchanting aspect of the new Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort in Soufriere. It's situated on 100 acres of lush rainforest and is gifted with amazing views of the most breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site in the Caribbean: the dual mountains of The Pitons. The meticulously landscaped resort was once an 18th-century sugar plantation and still holds that old-world charm. Sugar Beach is blessed with a particularly wide swath of white powdery sand that fronts Pitons Bay with excellent opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. Viceroy rebranded the resort (formerly The Jalousie Planation) in late 2012 after a $100 million dollar renovation and it's already a favorite with travelers as proven by its place on Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2013.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's St. Lucia Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Cosmopol/Dreamstime.com
If you haven't gotten around to visiting Cartagena, don't delay much longer. As the country's government and economy stabilize, more and more travelers are heading to this diverse destination in South America. The historic walled city on the coast is a study in Spanish colonial architecture and monuments to both military and religious figures. The city is now also home to all types of restaurants, chic art galleries, and trendy bars.
Insider Tip: Take a day trip to the Islas del Rosario archipelago, one of Colombia's protected Natural National Parks. This group of 27 coral islands in the Caribbean Sea, just 30 miles south of Cartagena, offers superb beaches for sunbathing and coral reefs where you can see 170 species of fish and 52 different types of coral. Day tours generally include the boat transfer from Cartagena, lunch, a visit to El Oceanario aquarium, and a visit to Playa Blanca on Isla Baru. This beach, with its soft, white sand is the one you want to visit. Be sure your tour includes a stop there.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Colombia Caribbean Coast Travel Guide
President Obama visited flood victims in Louisiana this week, while several tropical systems were on the prowl in the Atlantic.Read Story >