Beach season is officially underway, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans take up to 2 billion trips to the beach every year! The need to be near water is as ancient as our need to eat; some scientists even opine that it is human nature to seek out shores. Among the many activities sand and lapping waves lend themselves to - swimming, tanning, surfing - what would a day of fun in the sun be without an outstanding meal?
These days, beach fare is far from the traditional hot dogs or homemade picnic lunches; beaches all around the world have become hot spots for the best chefs to hone their chops and show off their skills. While most shoreside restaurants claim seafood as their specialty, the type of fish available - and their preferred form of preparation - varies greatly around the world. So whether you're craving red tuna, littleneck clams, conch, or octopus, dining by the sea can oftentimes ensure that your food is fresh caught.
Indulging beneath the stars, feet in the sand and the sound of the tide nearby, heightens the sensuality of an already pleasurable experience. Every one of your senses is alive. Your taste buds would agree that everything tastes better on the beach.
We chose these top 21 best beach restaurants based on critical acclaim, value, the menu's reflection of its location and, of course, beach access. Whether your style is upscale or casual, convivial or romantic, there's a venue here to satisfy your vacation cravings. From dining on pan-seared snapper and citrus risotto in the familiar Key West to sampling Caribbean spicy lobster with mango butter in the exotic West Indies, these selections span the spectrum of succulence, and offer superb service to boot. After all, who's not tempted by the idea of a beach and culinary vacation in Bora Bora?
So pack a bag - or don't. A swimsuit and your appetite will suffice! Whether you wait a half-hour to jump in the water after dinner is up to you. Check out our slideshow to see more!
Credit: Pantellis Marathi
Pantelis Marathi-Marathi, Greece
Before heading to this 35-year-old oasis of Greek food, practice your pronunciation; you'll need it when requesting items like xynomyzithra (a Greek cheese), moussaka (a layered eggplant and meat dish), or kataifi (shredded phyllo dough soaked in syrup). Ingredients are locally sourced from small producers and prepared with care.
Specializing in Marseille's trademark dish, bouillabaisse, this seaside charmer also boasts exquisite sea urchin risotto, tuna with foie gras, and Bourride du Vallon. Service is just as spectacular as the view.
Credit: Baros Maldives
The Lighthouse Restaurant-Male, Maldives
Located on a coral island, the acclaimed Lighthouse Restaurant looks out onto the Indian Ocean. Freshly shucked French Fin de Claire oysters are served on an ice red-wine vinaigrette and tiger prawns are wrapped in kadaif pastry, then topped with mango and passion fruit coulis. Other intrepid items include Tasmanian salmon "Stroganoff" and lobster "Wellington."