A great family beach vacation ranks as one of life’s most enjoyable experiences. I asked family travel experts from around the country to send me a favorite beach vacation spot. What a list! From Cuba to Oregon to Cambodia, there’s something on this list for every age and interest. Thank you family travel bloggers for these incredible ideas!
Coyo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, Cuba | Corinne McDermott of HaveBabyWillTravel.com
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are two keys off the mainland of Cuba that are basically just hotel strips. They are beautiful, beachy hotel strips, mind you – but still devoid of the Cuban culture that is the biggest draw for us. It’s an incredibly affordable vacation, however, and the tip of Cayo Guillermo houses a beach gem that makes the entire trip worthwhile, Playa Pilar – a stunning public beach. It’s easy to get to from any of the hotels via taxi or the public bus, and the trip is definitely worth it. Pack a lunch, and bring a few pesos for lounge chairs, and of course for a couple of cold cervezas from the Ranchon.
Seattle, Washington | Anne Hartzell Taylor of HipTravelMama.com
Throw a blanket on the beach and don’t forget lunch, because Hip Travel Mama’s favorite beach for summer 2013 is perfect for a mid-day picnic. Let the kids take to the water and play in the sandy shores of Alki Beach located in West Seattle. There’s nothing sweeter than Seattle in the Summertime and sharing a meal outdoors with your family.
Cannon Beach, Oregon | Keryn Means of WalkingOnTravels.com
Cannon Beach, Oregon gives families a laid-back beach experience in the Pacific Northwest that is so much more than splashing through the waves, and that’s not just because the water is too cold to swim in. The annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Festival in June draws a crowd, along with 4th of July festivities in the area. Since the beach doesn’t have it’s own fireworks this little town stays sleepy for families looking for the quieter side of beach life. Great food and outdoor activities keep little ones active as your feet squish in the sand, hike through caves at Hug Point, take in majestic views at Ecola State Park, and play around Cannon Beach’s iconic Haystack Rock.
Forte dei Marmi, Italy | Amie O’Shaughnessy of CiaoBambino.com
Italians and tourists in-the-know flock to Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan Coast over the summer months. Unlike the rocky beaches prevalent in other Italy beach vacation favorites like the Italian Riviera, Forte dei Marmi has a soft sand and gentle surf, making it ideal for young children and swimming. Best of all, beach clubs line the sand offering umbrellas, chairs, and sustenance, i.e. hotel-like services. The beachfront promenade is perfect for strolling and biking, and the town has shops featuring all the beloved Italian designers.
Ko’Olina, Hawaii | Debbie Dubrow of DeliciousBaby.com
You don’t have to be staying at Disney’s new Aulani resort to take advantage of the baby-friendly beaches at Ko’Olina. Just park in the public parking lot and bring a picnic blanket and cooler! These manmade lagoons make it easy for families with young kids to enjoy the ocean without the worry of unexpected undertow. My favorites are Lagoon 2, which is the least crowded and paradise cove where you can swim with and feed seaweed to the turtles.
Dominican Republic | Carol Cain of GirlGoneTravel.com
The beach town of Las Terrenas is becoming popular among tourists, but it’s commitment to staying true to the culture and the community, makes this a fun beach destination for families. Because of it’s proximity to the capital city of Santo Domingo (about a 2 hour drive), as well to the beautiful peninsula of Samaná (a 45 minute drive) this is the perfect stop when looking to get away from the big city noise and the big resort vibe. Almost all lodging in the area, with a few exceptions, encourage travelers to venture out, taste local eateries, take tours, and experience what are some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Coronado Beach, California | Colleen Lanin of TravelMamas.com
Coronado Beach stands out as the most pristinely-kept of San Diego County’s 70 miles of beaches. Although this sandy stretch of shoreline is meticulously maintained by the castle-like Hotel Del Coronado Resort (after which Disney World’s Grand Floridian was modeled), the beach is open to the public. Grab a bite to eat at one of the hotel’s kid-friendly restaurants or rent a surrey on which to tour Coronado Island with kids. In the winter, take a spin on the Del’s seaside outdoor ice skating rink, open to hotel guests and visitors alike.
Clearwater Beach, Florida | Tina Buell of Trekaroo.com
On Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sandpearl Resort’s private beach, two-bedroom family suites with well-appointed kitchens, beachfront fire pits with s’mores kits, and zero-entry pool with poolside service and free pool and beach toys make it a coastal paradise for families on Clearwater Beach. Children are in for a treat when they participate in one of Camp Ridley’s activity programs building sandcastles, hula hooping with staff, or ringing the sunset bell to signify the end of a day spent in paradise. Off-site, the entire town of Clearwater Beach is connected with complimentary transportation services from Florida Free Rides.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina | Kim-Marie Evans of LuxuryTravelMom.com
Our favorite beach that’s fun for the whole family is on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. Just thirty minutes from historic Charleston you can bike or walk on a breathtaking ten miles of hard packed sand. The water is 85 degrees in the summer, it is shallow for hundreds of yards out so little kids (and moms) can boogie board with ease. The more daring adventurers can sea kayak out next to the dolphins. One year I even tried surfing, it’s easy when the waves come in chest deep. Kiawah Island is also home to five championship golf courses and the Forbes Five Star Sanctuary Hotel.
Chinoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia | MotherofAllTrips.com
Mara Gorman of the Mother of all Trips loves Chincoteague, Virginia for its low-key, family-friendly vibe, fantastic oysters, and natural beauty. What’s special this barrier island beach are the opportunities it offers for viewing not only birds but wild ponies; that’s because it’s situated right on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Start planning now and book your room or campsite for the annual pony swim the first week in July, when the local fire department brings horses over from the refuge to town for an auction.
Laguna Beach, California | Amy Whitley of PitStopsforKids.com
The ultimate beach town, Laguna Beach has something for everyone, from a vibrant art scene for parents, eclectic fine dining, and postcard perfect beaches. Spend the day at Heisler Park overlooking Main Beach, swim at Main Beach and the family-friendly Aliso Creek Beach (both public), and stroll through the Sawdust Festival (held every July and August) for one-of-a-kind artistry and music. Stay at the Montage Laguna Beach or rent a beach house with Dwellable or HomeAway.
Jekyll Island, Georgia | Sue Rodman of FieldTripswithSue.com
Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia was once the winter escape for some of America’s richest families. It still offers something for everyone. History buffs can take a trip back in time with a stay at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, once frequented by Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. Conservationists enjoy visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, or the Tidelands Nature Center, which offers marine science programs for kids and adults. Thrill seekers love Summer Waves Water Park. Everyone can enjoy visiting their favorite spot via the 20 miles of bike trails on this seven mile long, 1.5 mile wide island.
Southampton, New York | Holly Rosen Fink of The Culture Mom
Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York, is a beautiful beach with white sands facing blue waters and a sun filled sky. It’s a place for kids to pick seashells, ride the waves of the Atlantic Ocean and bask in the sun. In 2010 it was listed as America’s top beach according to the annual list of the best American beaches. Equipped with lifeguards and concessions, families can spend the day worry-free. Seasonal parking stickers are available at village hall and at the beach.
Koh Rong Island, Cambodia | Gabi Klaf of TheNomadicFamily.com
After a year of loving South East Asia’s city-life, beaches, and jungles, if you woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me where’s my favorite summer beach, I would tell you Koh Rong Island. off the Southern coast of Cambodia. It’s a year-round tropical paradise compared to no other for Koh Rong Dive Center scuba diving, CoCo Bungalow’s famous BBQ, or that breath-taking jungle hike through the island to what has been bequeathed ‘Top Ten Most Beautiful Beaches In The World.” Justifiably, the one and only place in our world travels that we’ve backtracked to.
Malibu, California | Jennifer Miner of The Vacation Gals
Think of Southern California in the summer, and of course you’ll think of the beaches (well, and Disneyland, but forget about that for a minute). My favorite Los Angeles-are beaches are in Malibu; a 20-minute drive up the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, and there you are. Zuma Beach, Nicholas Canyon Beach, El Pescador and El Matador State Park Beaches, Surfrider – guess the sort of activity you’ll see here – and Point Dume all dot PCH amid beach houses and spots made famous on various television shows. My favorite Malibu Beach though, is Leo Carillo State Park Beach. It’s the northernmost of Malibu’s beaches, hence the least populated by sun-starved tourists. There’s something undeniably romantic about leo Carillo State Park Beach on a cloudy day, but fortunately, this is Malibu in the summer: your family’s beach vacation here will be sun-drenched and full of happy discoveries.
Sanibel Island, Florida | Jamie Pearson of TravelSavvyMom.com
If your kids love beachcombing – and what kid doesn’t? – they’ll love Sanibel Island and its near neighbor Captiva, a pair of upscale Gulf Coast barrier islands in southwest Florida. Besides having 250 types of shells, these islands have 15 miles of beaches, 22 miles of bike paths, 230 types of birds, and 0 stoplights. Since no building can be taller than the tallest palm tree, it feels remarkably underdeveloped for a Florida beach town.
Sydney, Australia | Michelle Duffy of Wandermom.com
There are over 100 beaches in Sydney Australia, some large, some small, some – like Bondi – famous worldwide. A visit to Sydney would not be complete without spending some time at the beach at any time of year. If you’re planning a visit to Sydney with kids the beaches are a must!
Editorial Note: Photo credit for each destination goes to the participating blogger
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