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Top 15 Beach Destinations for Winter Escapes

By Kathleen Squires
2/16/2014 7:13:11 AM

When most of the US is stuck in winter's icy grip, it's a relief to know there's somewhere warm and breezy to escape to. Our guide to the top warm-weather getaways-from our 80 Degrees beach-finder tool-will help you find the perfect beach based on your interests. In no time at all, you'll be ready to head off to where beaches, warm waters, and outdoor adventures await. Be sure to pack your swimsuit and suntan lotion, and leave the coat, turtlenecks, and gloves at home.

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Photo Credit: Stockdonkey/Shutterstock

The Florida Keys

Why Go: The archipelago stretching off southern Florida is made up of 1,700 islands; when narrowing down which to visit, put Key Largo on the list so you can visit the only living coral reef off the mainland US. Key West is another must: there's always something going on at Smathers Beach, from Jet Skiing to volleyball tournaments.

Where to Stay: Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa offers luxurious castaway isolation. The quaint Marquesa Hotel, on the other hand, is set in Key West's lovely historic district.

Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Florida Keys Guide

Photo Credit: © Peter Guttman / Fodor's Travel

St. Martin and St. Maarten

Why Go: It's like visiting two countries in one on this sun-soaked, half-French and half-Dutch island. Thirty-seven beaches include Cupecoy and its dramatic sunsets; the windsurfing-friendly Orient Bay; and surfer spot Mullet Bay, where the beach scene is refreshingly tranquil. The Gallic influence on the cuisine in the gourmet hub of Grand Case makes the restaurant scene one of the best in the Caribbean, with Creole fish shacks, high-end French spots, and everything in between.

Where to Stay: The villas of La Samanna front the island's largest beach. Bide your time in the casino at the The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa between stretches of sunning.

Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's St. Martin and St. Maarten Guide

Photo Credit: idreamphoto/Shutterstock

Maui

Why Go: Maui offers some of the world's loveliest drives, such as The Road to Hana, lush with rainforests and waterfalls, and a winding tour through Haleakala National Park to the world's largest dormant volcano, with breathtaking overlooks along with the twists and turns. Wai'anapanapa State Park, not only consists of pristine waters and a black sand beach, but also stunning fresh water caves and cliffs crying out for jumping.

Where to Stay: The palatial Four Seasons Resort Maui is strewn with gardens alongside its beachfront property and many of its guestrooms include volcano views. The stylish Andaz Maui features a restaurant from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Maui Guide

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