While the Winter cold hits the us, Karen LeBlanc, The Design Tourist has put together five hot destination beaches for us to obsess over while we bundle up in our parkas.
These are the trendiest beach vacation destinations according to travel industry experts Hotels.com, Travelzoo and Expedia based on their travel booking data and customer reviews. Check out what’s on our beach bucket list this Winter.
SANTA BARBARA: THE AMERICAN RIVIERA
Known as the American Riviera, Travelzoo says Santa Barbara is a haven for sun seekers, culinary and culture aficionados. In addition to surfing, sailing, whale watching and world-class hotels, including the newly-opened Hotel Californian, this beach vacay offers foodies a fix.
Culinary tourists can enjoy world-class cuisine in trendy eateries including Toma, The Lark, Loquita and the Funk Zone, teeming with tasting rooms and working wineries. “Transportation here is also a plus: a super cheap shuttle can whisk visitors up State Street to shops and galleries, or the nearby Santa Barbara Zoo, and the Amtrak station, which brings travelers from throughout Southern California, is in the middle of it all,” says Travelzoo.
FORT MYERS/SANIBEL: SHELL-HUNTING SANDS
This stretch of beach in southwestern Florida offers an easy-going attitude, superb shell-hunting sands and plenty of family-friendly fun. Some of the country’s finest shrimp are harvested here – pink gold, some call them – and hundreds of varieties of shells that attract nature loving collectors from all over the world. The USS Mohawk Memorial Reef, a WWII US Coast Guard cutter transformed into an artificial reef, is located 25 miles offshore and 90 feet below the surface and is a popular diving site.
Travelzoo says the downtown area was recently revitalized, with streets repaved with brick, weekly art walks and a plethora of locally-owned shops.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN: HIPSTER HAVEN
Expedia in its annual Flip Flop report says the most popular international beach destination for American sun-worshipers is Mexico. The travel website picked Playa Del Carmen as a favorite for its ideal location along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, near Mayan Ruins. Playa Del Carmen is known for its bohemian vibe and underwater caves known as cenotes attracting divers from around the world. Hotels.com also picks Playa Del Carmen as top vacation hot spot for its high guest ratings at properties including The Palm at Playa and Mahekal Beach Resort.
TULUM: BEACHSIDE BLISS
The trendiest city along the Mayan Riviera, Tulum draws yogis, spiritualists and A-listers in search of enlightenment and eco-chic accommodations. Known for its yoga retreats, spas and archeological attractions clustered around the ancient walled city of Tulum, a protected national park, this once rustic beach village keeps it real despite the luxury travelers it attracts.
BONDI BEACH, AUSTRALIA: SUNSHINE DOWN UNDER
Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most famous landmarks, beckons surfers, fashionistas and adventure seekers along this half-mile stretch of beach, six miles from Sydney’s city center. Hike the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, a cliff top trail between Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee beaches, each with its own unique charms. Shop famous Australian designers in the boutiques lining Gould Street, and delve into Bondi’s main dining district on Hall Street.