Honeymoons

The Best 25 Beaches in the World

Continued (page 3 of 5)

BEST SOCIAL SCENE

These five cityside strands thrive on the buzz of nearby cafés and nightclubs

Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona
You don’t visit this city of 1.5 million just to go to the beach. But after you’ve ogled Gaudi’s otherworldly cathedral, and more Picassos and Miros than you ever imagined, it’s nice to know that you can head here for a sunny stroll beside the balmy Mediterranean. Just a short amble from Las Ramblas, this sandy swath has a wide, palm-lined path that allows walkers, bikers and Rollerbladers to enjoy a breezy workout or people- watching, then break for lunch: Some of the city’s most popular seafood eateries are nearby. Try sunny Marina at Hotel Arts Barcelona, overlooking Frank Gehry’s sculpture "Peix." Stay at: Hotel Arts Barcelona, a 43-story tower of 483 rooms offering stellar views. The top-floor Six Senses Spa is to die for. (Doubles from $295; 800-542-8680 or ritzcarlton.com) —Donna Heiderstadt

Bondi Beach, Sydney
Sunny skies, lovely landscape and fab food—Sydney is designed for pleasure. Bondi (bon-dye not bon-dee), the golden arc of sand that is synonymous with Aussie beach culture, is a mere 15 minutes by taxi from downtown. To fit in, learn the lingo: If a local says he’ll "miss the early," that means he’ll usually "make the late" (a postwork surf, swim or skate). This true-blue oasis explains why Aussies are so laid-back. They swim and surf in cerulean swells with large blue grouper, sleepily contort into downward dogs at sunrise, and picnic on Oz-fresh fish-and-chips. Come sunset, dress to impress for a sexy dinner at Icebergs Dining Room & Bar (idrb.com). The next morning, slurp freezachinos (iced coffees) at Speedo’s Café (speedoscafe.com.au). Stay at: Park Hyatt Sydney, where you can stare across the water, frothy with ferries, at the "sails" of the Opera House. (Doubles from $585; 888/591-1234 or sydney.park.hyatt.com) —Nikki Goss

Santa Monica Beach, California
Day or night, this 3.5-mile strand 30 minutes from downtown LA pulses with Southern California energy: Surfers catch waves by day (Baywatch was filmed here), and revelers converge after dark to play arcade games, nibble on fish tacos and ride the Pacific Wheel—a solar-powered ferris wheel—on the iconic pier. Roller-blade or bike the path south to more bohemian Venice Beach. Back in Santa Monica, check out the Third Street Promenade or Montana Avenue for shopping, and then watch the sunset (it’s amazing) before grabbing a bite along beachfront Ocean Avenue. Stay at: Viceroy Santa Monica, a mod hotel with a cabana-lined pool—the vision of design guru Kelly Wearstler. (Doubles from $359; 800-670-6185) —Donna Heiderstadt

South Beach, Miami
If every city had a South Beach, we’d solve the obesity epidemic, because everyone on this hedonistic strand is clad in next to nothing and is fit enough to cause "I’m fat" thoughts in anyone bigger than a size 2. That said, there’s something irresistible about this Art Deco world where models, musicians and wannabes laze the day away, then party until dawn. The beach is a beauty—a blanket of white sand washed by a surprisingly aqua Atlantic—with an anything-goes vibe. And the scene on Ocean Drive lets you perfect the art of people-watching. Wear sunglasses and gawk before ducking into Mark’s South Beach for a divine meal as you stare at the only thing that really matters: each other. Stay at: The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, a 375-room restored Art Deco gem. Splurge on a Club Level room for the VIP lounge. (Doubles from $269; 800-542-8680) —Donna Heiderstadt

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
With Diamond Head crater looming in the distance and five-star hotels lining the shore, Waikiki—the epicenter of Oahu—defines fun in the sun. On any day, you’ll see both first-time and expert surfers catching waves, tanned bodies playing volleyball, and couples enjoying splashy outrigger canoe rides. The action seeps down the street to the Waikiki Beach Walk, packed with shops and eateries. Grab a table at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Mai Tai Bar as a hula dancer sways to slack-key guitar music. Later, dine at the new Nobu in the Waikiki Parc Hotel. On weekends, check out the Sunset on the Beach movie on a 30-foot screen in the sand. The hippest night spot? The Hanohano Room atop the Sheraton Waikiki. But don’t stay too late—another action-packed day awaits. Stay at: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort, a historic gem chicly redone with flatscreen TVs and Heavenly Beds. (Doubles from $270; 866-716-8109) —Elaine Stuart

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