As winter’s grip grows tighter, and all memories of those beautiful days of summers past are vanquished, it’s natural that we, as a people, sink into a deep funk that only that first thaw of spring can remedy. Yet with so much time between now and then, Coulee Region Women offers you an elixir which we hope will help you hang on until those sunny days return. So, turn up the heat in your house, ready the margaritas, and get ready to mentally dig your toes into the soft sand of 10 great beaches.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, Australia
More than three miles of pure white, silica sand greet you when you disembark your boat at this Australian getaway. This renowned eco-paradise has warm water so clear you can see stingrays watching tentatively from the bottom—and from a safe distance. Softer sand you may never find; guides will encourage you to shine your jewelry in it. Sure, you can hike the island for the view, but the beach is where it’s at.
Pacific Beach, San Diego, California
The only stateside beach that makes this list, Pacific Beach is so low-key you’ll have to find a new word for “relaxed.” Expect miles of cool, powdery sand, a well-developed boardwalk and killer waves, dude! (Note: makes for great surfer watching!) P.B., as the locals call it, is also a gorgeous place to watch the sunset before engaging in the area’s vibrant night life.
Haad Tien Bay, Koh Phangan, Thailand
A hidden getaway in the Gulf of Thailand, this beach has enough unspoiled beauty to make up for the spoiling that’s been done in other parts of the island. To get there, take a water taxi from the tourist-clogged beach town; the extra effort is well worth it. The bay gives way to a couple of resorts with modest, stilted cabins, (check out The Sanctuary) a handful of restaurants with welcoming hammocks, and a perfect, little beach dramatically flanked by cliffs.
If you were cynical, you might point out that Cancun is essentially a man-made paradise built on the intention of getting you to part with your travel dollars. Of course, that’s exactly why the beach is so great. They know what we love: long stretches of white sand, waves that break and foam over your toes as you walk the water’s edge, and turquoise blue water. No, you won’t get a cultural experience here, but nobody goes to Cancun for cultural immersion, do they? They come for the beach.
If you like glamour, high-end shops and the European cafe culture, the pebbled beach along the Mediterranean Sea in Nice is perfect for you. Steps from the beach, you can sample the luxurious lifestyle inherent to the Cote d’Azur, and stroll the Promenade Des Anglais in your haute couture beachwear. If you’re feeling frugal, get a baguette at a local boulangerie, some cheese from a fromagerie, and the requisite bottle of wine, and claim a spot by the water for a seaside lunch.
Perissa Beach, Santorini, Greece (from Jo Ann Buening, Certified Travel Specialist, Travel Leaders, La Crosse)
Relaxing on this long, black sand beach, highlighted by the Mesa Vouno, a “mountain” rising from the sea to help protect from summer’s Aegean winds, makes one feel as if they had been transported onto a movie set in the Greek Isles. Several palapas, where one can hide from the warm sun and just relax and take in the beauty of the area surrounding the beach, add to its appeal.
Palm Beach, Aruba, Lesser Antilles (from Connie Johnson, Certified Travel Specialist, Travel Leaders, La Crosse)
Aruba’s Palm Beach isn’t only beautiful, with crystal clear perfect-temperature water year around, beach lovers also appreciate its pure white sand and gentle waves. In addition, the beach has a very gradual slope, thereby allowing one to walk out quite far in the water.
Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands (from the Certified Travel Specialists at Travel Leaders, La Crosse)
With its picture-perfect setting: hills and lush foliage behind, islands in front and the most amazing clear turquoise water, full of colorful fish, it’s a setting that one loves to mentally “bring up” in living color, especially on a blustery January day!
Kailua and Lanikai Beaches, Oahu, Hawaii (from the Certified Travel Specialists at Travel Leaders, La Crosse)
In addition the human population who visit, what makes these beaches truly special are the wildlife. Here you will find endangered sea turtles, dolphins, whales and many types of exotic tropical fish. It’s also a kayaking adventure, and there are offshore islets perfect for a picnic lunch, snorkeling or treks to natural pools or sea coves.
The windward side of Cozumel, Mexico
Far away from the resorts of Cozumel, the windward side of the island gives way to rough, unspoiled beaches—some littered with beach campfire debris, most just lazy sand dunes, abandoned in favor of resort life. Yet these beaches hold a special appeal for the free spirits among us. Rent a car and drive all the way to Mezcalito’s, a bar that feels like it’s on the edge of the planet. There, your most important tasks will be to order whatever beverage you like, and try to catch a suspended steel ring on a nail. It’s important to set attainable goals, particularly when you’re on vacation.