The Most Beautiful Beaches in the World
St. Petersburg, Florida
With summer quickly approaching and many people looking forward to that perfect beach getaway, it's only fitting that TripAdvisor recently announced its 2012 Travelers' Choice Beach Destination Awards. First on the list? Beautiful St. Petersburg Beach, Florida.
The sugary white sand and dolphins frolicking offshore are enough to make you think you're in a postcard, but St. Pete's Beach is also home to top-notch art museums, including the largest collection of Salvador Dali paintings outside of Spain.
Miami Beach, Florida
The land of the tanned and toned has landed the No. 2 spot on the list. Picked by travelers for its see-and-be-seen vibe, Miami Beach is a vacation goer's playground with some of the hottest bars, clubs, and restaurants in the city. Bonus: If you're into celeb-watching, this is your ideal spot!
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach snagged the No. 3 spot in the travelers' choice awards this year. With golf courses, shopping malls, and water parks galore, this promises to be a family-friendly vacation destination.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
In addition to miles of shoreline, Virginia Beach also has miles and miles of hiking trails. If you're looking for more of an active vacation, Virginia Beach may be your ideal summer getaway.
It's practically a crime to visit Hawaii and skip the surfing. OK, it's not, but it should be! An almost legendary vacation destination, Honolulu is No. 5 on the TripAdvisor list of best beaches.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach, also in Florida, comes in sixth on the list. The 23-mile beach is free and open to pedestrians 24/7. Plus, tidal conditions permitting, cars are permitted in designated areas of the beach from sunrise to sundown.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The stretch of great beaches, nearly year-round sunny weather, and upscale restaurants and bars have helped Fort Lauderdale leave its spring break party image behind and land the No. 7 spot on this list.
Did you know Lahaina used to be the capital of Hawaii? Although Honolulu's taken over that honor, Lahaina remains one of the state's most interesting historical cities. In the 1800s it was the center of the global whaling industry, and its Historic District has been named a National Historical Landmark. So it's not surprising it snagged the No. 8 spot on the list.
San Diego, California
The list wouldn't be complete without beautiful San Diego. From beaches and Seaworld to golf courses and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, it's a city that truly has something for everyone. And of course, San Diego is home to some of the world's best restaurants with a melting pot of flavors, cuisines, and prices.
Key West, Florida
Everybody's favorite author and barfly Ernest Hemingway called Key West home (though he was born in Illinois and also had a permanent residence in Cuba), and the official Ernest Hemingway House and Museum is a National Historic Landmark and tourist spot. Famous as a wedding destination and for its six-toed cats (the residence houses 40 or 50) and tours, it's a must-see spot in Key West.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
If you're traveling to Providenciales, make sure to stop by Iguana Island (home to the endangered rock iguanas), visit Smith's Reef to walk along the ocean floor and see underwater signs describing the reef's ecosystem. Or go diving or snorkeling—rock-free Grace Bay Beach is supposed to be one of the best locations in the world to do so.
Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba
Aruba is only 20 miles long, which makes traveling up and down the island by moped or bicycle a cinch! On the east side, you can visit Eagle Beach, an idyllic locale with white sands and turquoise water that is frequented by water sports enthusiasts. On the west side, you have Palm Beach, which offers near-perfect swimming conditions.
History buffs will love Tulum, Mexico for its ancient ruins, and beach goers will love Tulum for its gorgeous beaches and white sand. It's a win-win for everyone!
Enjoy the dramatic Negril Cliffs or watch the sunset from your hotel in beautiful Negril, Jamaica.
At 4.5 miles long, Boracay, Philippines beats out Aruba for being the smallest island on the list. Rent a bicycle or motorbike for your trip and be sure to visit the Boracay Butterfly Garden in between trips to the beach.
Cancun: Not just for spring breakers anymore. The most popular destination in Mexico, Cancun is a sun-kissed paradise that offers everything from horseback riding on the beach to canoeing to snorkeling to playing with dolphins.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Did you know that resort buildings in Punta Cana can't be taller than a palm tree? True story! While Punta Cana itself isn't a major tourist town, its main draw is the 25 miles of coastline, blue water, and coconut trees. If you're looking to de-stress and relax, Punta Cana is the place for you.
Varadero is Cuba's top beach destination. Spend the day soaking up sun on the beach or deep-sea fishing and cool down with some ice-cold Mojitos at a club or bar afterward.