Whether you're looking to splash around in the warm blue ocean waters or are simply looking to relax in the sand, going to the beach is a summer staple for many. With so many beaches, there is also a lot to consider when choosing which one is right for you. Do you want to go somewhere that's near shops and restaurants or do you want a more secluded, private experience? Do you want a beach with a lot of sand for you to stroll down or is a smaller, more intimate setting your thing?
Grab your towel and SPF and take a look at some of the best beaches in the world.
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you're looking for the best beach to see and be seen at, there is no better place than Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro. The beach has long been known for its chic patrons and trendsetting beachwear where the rule seems to be less is more. Majestic granite peaks jut from a jungle-covered range to create a spectacular backdrop for the mile-long, 300-foot-deep white-sand beach and the boardwalk lined with palm trees is made for strolling. The rocky Cagarras Islands off in the distance make for gorgeous views as well and you can stop at any of the cabanas along the beach for a fresh coconut drink. If you want to hang out with celebrities and Rio's in-crowd, settle down near Posto 10 in the middle of the beach at the "Coqueirao," a big palm tree, and take in the sights. First-time visitors will want to stroll down Rua Vinicius de Morais, a strip lined with bars, shops and restaurants, including the famous Garota de Ipanema Bar where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Morais penned the lyrics to "The Girl from Ipanema."
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
When one thinks of the picture perfect Hawaii, it is impossible not to have Waikiki Beach in your mind. Framed by Diamond Head, one of the world's most climbed extinct volcanoes, and with nearly two miles of continuous white sand and palm trees, the beach is almost always full of tourists and surfers. It is usually crowded, so it's not the place to go if you are looking for a calm, quiet atmosphere, but it is still a very nice area where one can swim, canoe, surf and snorkel. The areas towards Diamond Head are near the expansive picnic and recreational facilities, including those of Kapiolani Park, and if you're looking for deep waters to swim in, the water is deepest at 100 feet, right in front to the bright pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel. For non-swimmers, one of the safest spots on the beach is near the shallow section in front of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, where everyone can feel comfortable venturing out a bit for a view of the beach.
Kitsilano Beach (Kits Beach), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The best beach for entertainment, Kitsilano Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver and is home to the salt-water outdoor Kitsliano pool. It is the largest outdoor swimming pool in Canada and is operated by the Vancouver Park Board during the summer months. It's backed by the snow-capped North Shore Mountains and is a haven for active types looking to do more than just lie on a towel and soak up the sun. It boasts 10 tennis courts, two basketball courts, and two city parks, which are all free to use and perfect for some summer fun when you get done with your share of sand time. A trail to the east leads to Vanier Park, which features the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, home to a great observatory and planetarium. The park is also home to the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, which offers summer-long performances of Shakespeare's greatest works like The Tempest and Twelfth Night. Head to the park in late July for the annual Celebration of Light, which features an astounding international fireworks competition with displays over English Bay.
Clifton Beaches, Cape Town, South Africa
No best beaches list would be complete without the Clifton Beaches, four small white sand beaches known as the "South Beach of South Africa." The beaches are only separated by boulders the size of small cars and total half a mile in length altogether, so they are perfect if you are looking for a calming, intimate setting. Each of the four beaches has their own features and personality. Locals from nearby luxury apartments mostly visit the first beach, while the smaller second beach attracts people from all walks of life. A trendy young set makes the 100-yard-long third Beach the most lively and at nearly 300 yards long, the fourth Beach is the biggest and most family oriented. All of the beaches tend to be crowded during the summer months, but none tend to get too loud and rowdy. However, if you're looking for a warm dip in the ocean, Clifton Beaches are not the place to go, as the water is always icy. Despite their temperature, the beaches and water are clean and have been awarded the Blue Flag for excellent environmental standards by the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Repulse Bay Beach, Hong Kong, China
Repulse Bay Beach couldn't be more different than the frantic intensity of Hong Kong's downtown business area. The beach is a nice retreat from the big city bustle and features a peaceful stretch of pale golden sand on the south side of Hong Kong Island. It is sheltered by a cove and surrounded by upscale apartments with imaginative architecture, perfect for those looking to take in the local scenery. On the weekends the soft-sand can get crowded with young professionals as well as families who come to enjoy the calming waters and "protection" from the 1,300-foot-tall mountains in the background. Head to the east to see the brightly colored Tin Hau Temple, with its red Bridge of Longevity and 15-foot-tall statues of Tin Hau, the Queen of Heaven and Protectress of Seafarers, and Kwun Yum, Goddess of Mercy. If you're looking to be active, join joggers and dog walkers on a beautiful stroll along the paved Seaview Promenade, which follows the coastline nearly a mile to a narrower beach at Deep Water Bay.