The Surprisingly Trendy Beach Destinations for 2019 You Probably Don’t Have on Your Bucket List—Yet!
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Tourism on this popular whale watching peninsula on New Zealand’s south island took a nosedive after the region suffered a massive earthquake in 2016, but more than two years later, the town has vigorously bounced back—and so have the visitors. According to Airbnb, bookings are up here 295 percent since last year, more than any other location on its list of trending destinations. While the town is most known for its whale watching, guests also come here to unwind with a stroll through a lavender farm or a meal shared against the backdrop of the area’s breathtaking scenery.
Rent it: With mountains on one side and ocean views on the other, one could say this Kaikoura rental is all about location. But its clean, contemporary interiors and breezy feel make the home, named Black Mountain, an attraction in itself. Rates from $194.
Just across the Taiwan Strait, this bustling port city has flourished in recent years, thanks to its upgraded transportation system (it boasts the longest elevated cycling path in the world), youthful vibes, lively contemporary arts scene, and beautiful coastlines. If the urban feel isn’t your jam, Xiamen is home to a smattering of surrounding islands, including the car-free Kulangsu, which attracts visitors for its fresh seafood and slow way of living.
Rent it: Park yourself close to downtown—but not too close—in this contemporary two-bedroom apartment, built with eco-friendly materials and decorated with traditional Chinese landscape paintings. Rates from $83 per night.
While many might flock to this northern France beach town to visit the site of the famous D-Day invasion—2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the historic event—there’s plenty to do here beyond the memorials and museums, too. Breathtaking green landscapes are lures for sightseers, while foodies will delight in the region’s Route du Camembert (which is exactly what it sounds like: a cheese trail. Swoon!).
Rent it: There for the history? Stay right on the sea in this charming bedroom set in an 1868-built villa. Now owned and renovated by an artist, the bedroom features colorful décor, breakfast daily, and bicycles for exploring the town. Rates from $91 per night.
While it may be true that one of Africa’s most breathtaking attractions is the wildlife safari (and Mozambique has those, too), skip the coastline and you’ll miss a large part of Africa’s magic. With its long Indian Ocean shoreline, coral reefs, and remote archipelagos, Mozambique is the country to be if Caribbean-like beaches are your scene. But there’s plenty here to entice history buffs, too: On tiny Mozambique Island, a World Heritage Site, the semi-ruins from an old stone colonial village are waiting to be explored.
Rent it: Lounge beachfront in this brand new villa in the tiny surf town of Praia do Tofo. With lush gardens, an outdoor shower, and oceanview hammock, the tropical escape is relaxation at its best. Rates from $102 per night.
Santa Catarina State, Brazil
With nearly 350 miles of coastline, there’s a perfect beach town for everyone in this gorgeous state in southern Brazil, from the surfers and partyers to those just looking to kick back on a wide open stretch of sand. Start your vacay in the state’s capital, Florianópolis, which is located on one big island and separated into different districts, each with their own personalities and draws.
Rent it: This treehouse-inspired tiny home is perfect for adventurers looking for a unique stay in town, just a 15-minute walk to the beaches of Florianópolis. The nature-wrapped chalet includes AC, WiFi, and a fully outfitted kitchenette. Rates from $46 per night.
With the Mediterranean next door, Black Sea resort towns are often overlooked. But Batumi, Georgia—the second largest city in the country—is becoming increasingly popular for travelers as a bustling seaside destination. In addition to its sparkling beaches, the city boasts plenty for explorers with its rich history and unusual architecture (even the McDonald’s deserves a spot on your sightseeing list).
Rent it: Live luxuriously (for a bargain!) just steps from the sea in this 15th floor studio apartment located within walking distance to restaurants, cafes, and scenic cycling paths. Rates from $35 per night.
For a union territory that was previously under French rule until the 1950s, this seaside city strikes a seductive balance between French and Indian cultures. Often referred to as the Riviera of the East, the town boasts French-influenced food and architecture, along with ashrams that draw visitors looking for a spiritual fix. And while there’s plenty to do on land, don’t overlook the sights below the sea: water lovers here are treated to coral reefs rich with wildlife, as well as dolphin and whale watching tours.
Rent it: Venture just a few miles from the center of Pondicherry and you’ll find this quaint studio apartment on the aptly named Serenity Beach. Located in a small fishing village, the area is perfect for those looking for a little more peace and quiet—as well as easy access to plenty of fresh catch. From $36 per night.
Think of the beaches of Italy and you’ll likely think of the swanky Amalfi Coast. But there’s a whole lot more to discover along the border of Italy’s boot, starting at the toe, where the region of Calabria lures with mountains, medieval villages, and beautiful coastlines. While Airbnb has seen a recent surge of interest, Calabria is still a relatively low-traveled part of the country, meaning you’ll find all the beauty and culture of Italy without the hordes of tourists.
Rent it: In Tropea—a small town perched on a rugged hillside with striking ocean views—you can rent this clifftop apartment in the heart of the historic center, with easy access to the area’s restaurants, beaches, and centuries-old landmarks. Rates from $34 per night.
This southernmost region of Spain has a name that sounds straight out of a fairytale—and looks to match. While it’s the castles and picturesque mountains of inland cities like Seville and Granada that get most of the travel cred, Andalusia’s 600 miles of postcard-worthy beaches are equally as alluring. The beaches of Malaga and Cadiz are perhaps most popular, with lively downtowns, resorts, and restaurants that make it easy to spend a week (or forever) in southern Spain.
Rent it: Perfect Mediterranean weather make the terrace on this top-floor apartment the real draw. Located in a historic building in the heart of Cadiz, the apartment boasts modern interiors and a full kitchen, as well as views of the historic Cathedral of Cadiz. From $56 per night.
This island just east of China is known for its bright and modern capital city, Taipei, but travelers these days are paying more attention to the lesser traveled beachside cities on the nation’s east coast. The sprawling coastal town of Taitung boasts some of the region’s best vistas, along with gorgeous beaches, temples, and tiny cafes with a bohemian feel.
Rent it: Stay in the heart of Taitung in this breezy, white-washed space, which comes with the use of bicycles for easy exploring of the city, beaches, and nearby night markets. From $129 per night.