There’s a reason beach vacations are so popular among families, striking the perfect balance of activity and relaxation for grownups and little ones. Even better? No matter the ages or interests of your kids, there’s a beach out there that seems tailor-made for you. From Hawaii and the Caribbean to Mexico and Thailand, these beaches are some of the best for jet-setters from toddlers to teens.
Turks and Caicos: This group of isles south of the Bahamas technically sits in the Atlantic and not the Caribbean Sea, but you wouldn’t know it! Powdery sand, azure waters and several top-notch resorts along gorgeous Grace Bay beach, on Providenciales, make this an easy, breezy vacay for the entire family.
Baby Beach, Kauai: In Poipu on Kauai’s south side, this aptly named beach is enclosed with a bay where boulders break the surf for calm, shallow waters. Spot hermit crabs, sea slugs and other creatures in the tidepools.
Forte dei Marmi, Italy: This classic seaside town in northern Italy has been a favorite with Tuscan families for ages, but remains largely under the radar for U.S. travelers. Wide beaches with slow-moving waves make this a great destination for wee ones with plenty of international flair to boot.
Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda: One of Bermuda‘s most famous beaches, Horseshoe Bay features the pink sand for which the island is known. Although it’s often packed, families with babies and toddlers can escape the crowds at Horseshoe Bay Cove, a little pocket of shallow water that’s just right for them to splash.
Elafonisi Beach, Crete: Widely considered one of the most stunning beaches in a country that has many hundreds of them, Elafonisi is magical, taking on a pink cast at certain points due to the millions of crushed seashells in the sand. Shallow, tranquil water and amenities like umbrellas, restrooms, and lifeguards combine to make it perfect for the tot set.
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Florida Panhandle: The sugar-white beaches and emerald water of the Florida Panhandle are often overlooked in favor of bigger-name destinations on the East Coast. Consider the manicured communities along Scenic Highway 30-A, like Seaside and Rosemary Beach, within a short flight or couple of hours’ drive from Tallahassee. Biking is de rigueur here; families enjoy pedaling off to dinner or to the nearest ice cream shop.
Thailand: Thailand is well known for its beautiful beaches, and the island of Koh Samui, just off the southeastern shore, ranks especially high. And there just happens to be a top-notch Four Seasons resort on the island, catering to families. Convenient indeed!
Tulum, Mexico: Authentic and quiet, Tulum feels like nearby Playa del Carmen and Cancun did decades ago. Enjoy the gorgeous beaches, visit the Mayan ruins, explore cenotes (secluded natural sinkholes popular for swimming) … you can’t go wrong.
Mauritius: The waters off this Indian Ocean isle teem with colorful sea life thanks to the coral reefs that surround it, and glass-bottom boat rides are an easy way to spot creatures like clownfish and parrotfish. Most hotels offer a wealth of watersports for kids to burn off energy in the waves; windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, snorkeling and others will keep them busy sunup to sundown.
The Algarve, Portugal: No matter what kind of beach you seek, you’ll find it along Portugal‘s southern coastline: sandy, rocky, remote, bustling. Kids can try surfing, explore the oceanfront cliffs, swim in sea caves, collect shells — whatever suits their fancy. Need a break from the sand? Spend a day at one of the area’s numerous water parks.
Laguna Beach: One of California’s most famous beaches, Laguna has a laidback vibe. The cooler Pacific waters makes this spot a good choice with older kiddos who want to try a wide variety of water sports. Nearby, Crystal Cove State Park is great for hiking and biking.
Bondi Beach, Sydney: With its surfing scene and prime city location, Sydney’s Bondi Beach is a destination for locals as much as it is for travelers. Sign up for surf lessons and hit the water! If you’d rather take it easy, a small fee gets you into Bondi Icebergs Pool, jutting right into the ocean so that waves crash over its sides.
Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island of Hawaii: This half-mile stretch on the Big Island’s northern shore is great for families, with small coral reefs on both sides of the beach that create an ideal spot for snorkeling. Older kids can try stand-up paddleboarding here too.
Sardinia: Just off mainland Italy’s southwestern coast, Sardinia’s beaches are simply dazzling and the reason most visitors make the trip. Take a sailing excursion along the Golfo di Orosei, lined with sheer cliffs, pristine white pockets of sand and impossibly blue water. Or go scuba diving in the underwater caves and tunnels; Sardinia has some of the best dive sites in all of Europe.
Jumeirah Public Beach, Dubai: Among the busiest public beaches in Dubai, this one is noteworthy not only for its sports activities and people watching, but also for its lifeguarded night swimming — a real boon when it’s too hot to bask on the sand during the day. Instagram-happy teens can take a selfie with the dramatic Burj Al Arab as a backdrop and then post it right away, thanks to solar-powered “smart trees” that provide free WIFI.
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