The Best Beaches in the World

A lot of travel magazines run articles on the best beaches in the world, and I suspect that advertisers pay dearly to get listed in this countdowns. I am always suspect of a place that lists Santa Monica Pier for example. Despite ardent anti-smoking campaigns in the state of California, the beach is so dirty! Yuk! It is also very noisy in LA. I couldn't in good conscience recommend Venice beach or Santa Monica Pier.

Here is a list I have compiled based on my own personal experience. I guarantee no one has paid me to get on my list!

Eastern US Domestic beaches:

For white sand and a relaxing time try the Virgin Islands. Everyone speaks English and the food is great. Try kayaking in a glass bottom kayak. You can see dolphins way up close. The Island vibe is friendly. It's not as far as going to Mexico and you don't need a passport either. Also beautiful and a little more exotic is Puerto Rico. Both destinations are geared toward the tourist industry, making travel and entertainment simple. Plus they don't hate Americans!

Next best: the muggy humidity of Florida is not for everyone's taste, but the Cuban food is to die for! Try Saint Augustine for romantic historic architecture. Go early in the season or late to avoid the overcrowding caused by Spring break and summer vacation. Disney's World in Orlando is still worth a look. Rent a time share or a condominium close by for most bang for your buck. Stay on site in one of the theme park hotels if money is no object. Everything from the wallpaper to the floor is carefully chosen to delight children and adults alike. Epcot Center deserves a day to itself, or two. Miami has its night clubs, whale watching and tourist industry but boy is it hot hot humid!

Midwestern close by: the shores of Upper Michigan are beautiful and remote. Go in the summer when it is warm enough to fish on one of the many many lakes. Rent a cabin for an inexpensive rustic vacation. Hiking, dirt bike riding, horseback riding, mountain bikes are all fun things to do in the summer here. Lower Michigan also has plenty of lakes, the word "Michigan" meant "father of the waters" and in the summer, fresh fruit stands pop alongside every road. Mid-size towns such as Benton Harbor are pleasant stop-overs.

Midwestern lost gem: the once upon time retreat from the 1940's of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin is an inexpensive family get away. Take your kids fishing on the eponymous lake, wander around the little shops. This is a place to barbeque and get away from the bustle of Chicago. It's quiet, and less than a couple hours drive depending on where in the city you live. Ride your motorcycle up for a road adventure.

Western beaches: despite the length of California I'm hard pressed to find a Western location to recommend. The water is COLD west of the Rockies. I wonder what brave surfer invented the wet suit! Monterrey area is pretty, and full of historic architecture. Near Hearst Castle, the coast line is full of sea lions which are interesting to watch. Be prepared for fog though. And the sand is not white and pearly as in the Caribbean, its grey or dun colored yellow.

Far West Domestic: If you like Hawaii, go a step farther to American Samoa or Guam for a truly exotic beach. If you love to surf the waves are big and the water warm. Don't worry if you don't know how, every proper hotel will have someone willing to give lessons, or you can try a boogie board which is smaller and simpler. American Samoa and Guam are both American Territories in the South Pacific which do not require passports to visit.

Eastern International: Forget the French Riviera – go to the Italian side! The food is so much better! Ok, ok if you're really curious get a rail pass and go back and forth during the day. Everything in Europe is so close it's worth getting a Eurailpass and cramming in as much as you can see. It's hardly a day or two more by rail to get to Brindisi, Italy and hop a ferry to a Greek island. Do it! You came far enough to see it all!

Further East International: The very best beaches in all the world can actually all be found on the same small island of Sri Lanka. Once known as Serendip, the genesis of our word "serendipity" this green jewel set in the Indian Ocean is friendly, inexpensive and so gorgeous you won't believe it. Visit the elephant park to see the cute baby elephants. Go surfing in Hikkadu. Stay at least one night in the major city of Colombo where 5 star hotels abound. See ancient ruins in Kandy or historic architecture such as a the Mt Lavinia hotel. This tiny island has an inordinate amount of gem deposits. Most of the worlds real rubies come from here or South Africa. Renting a car with a driver is convenient and serves as a bit of a built in translator as well.

Western International: The all expenses paid clubs in Cabo Mexico insulate you from any of the crime or more unsavory aspects of visiting Mexico. The customer service is superb and the beaches are cleaner. Check out a charter boat for deep sea fishing, it is so much more pleasant that doing it in California where the water is so cold. Booze cruises are also available, not for the faint of heart. It's sickening enough to be drunk, drunk on the high seas will make you green!

Further West International: Check out a little grass shack in Fiji, the ultimate get away from it all when you have decided Hawai'i is too commercial. The water is so clear you can see right through it. The waves enormous, the sand pristine.