Top 10 Exotic Beach Destinations

Escape to a tropical paradise with our top picks for the best exotic getaways.

Kamalame Cay, The Bahamas

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Kamalame Cay, The Bahamas

This private island is just a 15-minute flight from Nassau and offers an isolated sanctuary surrounded by crystal-clear water and shaded with rustling palms.

Stay: At Kamalame Cay Resort, you'll get as much (or as little) attention as you want from the staff. Grab a cocktail and stroll across the sandy path to the dock to catch a stunning sunset; 800/790-7971.

Eat: At the resort's Great House restuarant. Begin the day with a made-to-order breakfast with local fruits and freshly made Bahamian breads. Situated in a wraparound veranda, you'll enjoy gourmet cuisine in an elegant atmosphere.

Do: Discover the beauty of underwater life with a scuba expedition at the island's PADI rated Dive Centre. The centre offers all levels of certification for non-divers, snorkelers, and children. Diverse marine life and 100-foot visibility promises an unforgettable adventure.

Rosalie Bay, Dominica

Photo: Courtesy of Rosalie Bay Resort

Rosalie Bay, Dominica

Set on the wild Atlantic coast of rugged, mostly undeveloped Dominica, Rosalie Bay offers a tranquil island escape 45 minutes from the capital city of Roseau.

Stay: The Rosalie Bay Resort features 28 guest rooms and suites with mountain, ocean, river, or garden views amid towering palms and coconut trees; 877/732-2864.

Eat: Zamaan Restaurant offers fresh ingredients from Rosalie Bay Resort's garden and authentic Dominican flavors. Enjoy your meal under the moonlight on their outdoor veranda.

Do: Lace up your hiking boots for an intense trek over moss-covered paths to Boiling Lake, the world's second-largest volcanically heated body of water.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Photographer: David Tsay

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The exotic city of Playa del Carmen sits just outside of Cancun, with gorgeous beaches on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.

Stay: The Banyan Tree Mayakoba resort ensures privacy with your own plunge pool. Spacious villas seamlessly blend outdoors and indoors, with an open-to-the-stars tub; 800/591-0439.

Eat: Grab your significant other and experience a drifting dinner on the resort's Ixchel Dining Boat. Enjoy local and international cuisine prepared by an on-board culinary hoast as you drift down the Mayakoba lagoon.

Do: Take a day trip to the historic archeological sites outside of the city where you can explore preserved pyramids, ancient temples, and colorful murals.

Peter Island, British Virgin Islands

Photo: Courtesy of Peter Island Resort

Peter Island, British Virgin Islands

Located on one of the largest private islands in the Caribbean, Peter Island features a collection of five secluded beaches.

Stay: Peter Island Resort is the island's only attraction, but you won't be shorted on service. Enjoy luxurious villas and suites, a quietly attentive staff, and a spa surrounded by lush gardens; 800/346-4451.

Eat: Indulge in authentic Caribbean food and delectable desserts at the resort's Tradewinds restaurant. Don't miss the eatery's wine room, which features more than 300 exclusive selections.

Do: Sign up for the Sunset Loop, an exciting ride up the curvy mountain roads to one of the highest points on the island.

Curaçao, The Caribbean

Photographer: Kevin Garrett

Curaçao, The Caribbean

This enticing island known for its gorgeous coral reefs is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast.

Stay: Visit Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino, which was actually once a slum. Now, the drastically renovated hotel features 80 rooms, each uniquely different; 877/264-3106.

Eat: Go global at the open-air Old Market, where vendors grill chicken, fish, or even goat for lunch. Seating is communal, so picnic tables are likely to be shared by government employees, cab drivers, and tourists.

Do: Head to historic downtown where boutiques line the streets selling duty-free diamonds, designer clothes, and Dutch goods.

Costa Alegre, Mexico

Photo: Courtesy of El Tamarindo Resort

Costa Alegre, Mexico

Located just below Puerto Vallarta and just above Cihuatlan, Costa Alegre translates to "Cheerful Coast."

Stay: Unwind at El Tamarindo, where you won't have to angle for beach space with only a few dozen guests and two miles of coast; 866/717-4316.

Eat: Try El Marino in nearby Manzanillo for fresh seafood and a stunning beach view.

Do: Arrange for a temazcal, an ancient purifying treatment involving a mud bath and sweat lodge on the beach.

 

Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands

Photo: Bryan Allen/Corbis

Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands

This small nature preserve in the British Virgin Islands is great for snorkeling and swimming, thanks to crystal-clear water and a shallow reef.

Stay: Sebastian's Seaside Villas, located about 4 miles from the island, offers beachfront accommodations with private balconies or terraces. Stroll the shore and enjoy spectacular sunset views; 284/495-4212.

Eat: Hit up Ivan's Stress Free Bar (284/495-9358), located on nearby Jost Van Dyke Island for seasonal BBQ every Thursday and great company from chef Ivan himself.

Do: Explore the white-sand beach—home to endangered leather back turtles—and snorkel in the waters around Sandy Spit.

West Snake Caye, Port of Honduras

Seventeen miles from the town of Punta Gorda, the four small Snake Cayes lie in the 160-mile Port of Honduras Marine Reserve, which boasts lush mangrove trees and endangered species.

Stay: The Wyvern Hotel in Punta Gorda is equipped with lush bathrobes provided in every room with tranquil Charlotte Harbor views; 941/639-7700.

Eat: For a taste of fresh, local cuisine, try Emery's (501/702-2929) in Punta Gorda. The open-air restaurant features a variety of dishes, with everything from stew chicken to whole fried snapper.

Do: Trek through towering mangroves toward the center of the island, where you'll find a small, serene lagoon.

 

Gold Coast, Barbados

Photo: Courtesy of Sandy Lane resort

Gold Coast, Barbados

You might experience a "star-sighting" on this popular celebrity hot spot off the West coast of Barbados.

Stay: The lavish Sandy Lane resort will make you and your family feel right at home with spacious villas, penthouses, and suites; 246/444-2000.

Eat: Head to the resort's casual Bajan Blue restaurant for European, Asian, and Caribbean influenced cuisine in an idyllic beachside atmosphere.

Do: Tee up on the luxurious Green Monkey golf course, designed by golf architect Tom Fazio. Carved from an old limestone quarry, the stunning view may make concentrating on the game a little harder.

Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

Photographer: Don Herbert/Getty Images

Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

Sleepy Anguilla wakes up—a little—at this two-mile expanse of feathery white sand that glitters in the sun.

Stay: The quiet Shoal Bay Villas offer studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments all equipped with kitchens, and steps away from the water; 264/497-2051.

Eat: Don't miss Gwen's Reggae Bar, where you can enjoy a tasty lunch, live reggae on Sundays, and a nap on an inviting hammock under a grove of palm trees.

Do: Take advantage of the bay's pure-white beaches, which are rarely crowded, and offer complete relaxation.

 

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