The World's 10 Best Beachfront Hotels
Photo: Napili Sunset Resort in Maui
The resort: Sitting on a half mile of palm-fringed private beach, the hotel features two swimming pools, a putting green, two bars, and four restaurants. There's also a spa offering a variety of services, including the authentic Mayan Temazcal, an ancient herbal steam treatment. Take advantage of the onsite scuba and snorkeling center or just sit back and relax on your personal terrace overlooking the sea.
Distance from the sand: The closest rooms to the water are only about 20 steps from the beach.
The resort: Bolongo Bay is a boutique Caribbean property with its own 1,000-foot-long beach lined with palm trees and frequented by iguanas. Enjoy the beachfront pool and the complimentary use of paddleboards, Hobie Cats, kayaks, aqua tricycles, snorkeling gear, and other watersports equipment.
Distance from the sand: Beachfront rooms are about 3 feet from the edge of the white-sand beach.
The resort: This private island is capped at 60 guests who take up temporary residence in two-story beach houses on stilts. Each of the 15 suites features a king-size bed with mosquito nets, a balcony overlooking the palm-fringed beach, an ensuite bathroom, a wooden-decked lounge area, and daybeds. The resort also has two swimming pools, three bars, a restaurant, acres of virgin rainforest to discover, and coral reefs to snorkel through.
Distance from the sand: Zero—your suite is right on the beach.
The resort: This island resort whose name in Sanskrit means "a little patch of heaven" is located within a pristine tropical landscape. If you're looking to escape beaches crowded with tourists and reconnect with the natural world, look no further. Accommodations include villas, suites, and hotel rooms. Several onsite dining options are available.
Distance from the sand: About 50 feet. Depending on the tide, the warm, crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Sea are only another 30 feet or so away.
More info: www.pimalai.com
The setting: Isla Carenero in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago of Panama. The island is easily accessible by water taxi from the mainland and from the other islands in the chain. This is a favorite spot for serious surfers and even more serious birders.
The resort: The family-run Hotel Tierra Verde is secluded and serene, yet easy to get to by water taxi. It's on the quieter, eastern side of the island, away from the noise of neighboring Isla Colón. The inn's seven rooms are cozy, woodsy, and comfortable. For those who want to upgrade, there's a two-bedroom suite with a private terrace facing the ocean. The hotel fronts a small, quiet, and swimmable beach. The owners can help arrange tours to anywhere in the Bocas as well as surfing trips.
Distance from the sand: Three steps max
More info: www.hoteltierraverde.com
The resort: Terraced rows of 135 whitewashed bungalows and suites line this exclusive stretch of Greek paradise. All waterfront rooms and suites feature private sun decks. The hotel also has three pools, three bars, and two restaurants.
More info: www.knossosbeach.com
The resort: Crusoe's Retreat is an intimate resort on Fiji's famous Coral Coast. With only 29 bures (traditional huts), Crusoe's is the ultimate getaway. It's located next to an authentic Fijian village, and you are encouraged to experience firsthand how time-honored traditions and ancient customs continue. Complimentary resort activities include sea kayaking, snorkeling, beach volleyball, and bush hikes.
More info: www.crusoesretreat.com
The resort: Bounded by the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest, the luxurious Castaways Resort & Spa sits on a stretch of sand that is 9 miles long. From the beach right outside your room, you can snorkel out to coral reefs. The resort also offers spa services and whitewater rafting.
Distance from the sand: Walk across perfectly manicured lawns outside your villa for 60 feet to reach a private Coral Sea beach.
More info: www.castaways.com.au
The resort: It isn't easy to find a true beachfront hotel in Maui that doesn't involve high-rises, high costs, or hundreds of rooms. Fortunately, you can book a night at the Napili Sunset Beachfront Resort, a collection of two-story buildings with 26 tropical-themed rooms and spectacular views. Napili Bay is known for its golden sand, gentle surf, and memorable sunsets. During the winter months, you may spot some whales and dolphins swimming in the warm waters.
Distance from the sand: About 10 feet
More info: www.napilisunset.com
The resort: This 1940s-era hotel in the heart of South Beach's Art Deco Historic District is one of the few truly oceanfront properties in Miami's glitziest area. Many of the property's 200 rooms and suites have beachfront views, and there's a pool that reaches right up to the sand line.
Distance from the sand: About 40 feet
More info: www.shelborne.com