I am not a beach person, but working long hours has made me dream about sun-kissed shores and water sports. I have been to beaches all over the world and a few have stayed with me.
The calm tradewinds of Aruba offer a perfect opportunity for wind surfing and snorkeling. There’s no place like Costa Rica for animal lovers where palmtree hugging sloths and nesting sea turtles can be found along the shores. Iguanas sunbathe on Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico. If you want a relaxing getaway, fly to Andros, Bahamas where hammocks and tropical drinks on secluded beaches await you. Here, I put together my top five beach destinations in Central America and the Caribbean:
1) Palm Beach, Aruba- I loved this island so much, I returned within a year, breaking my rule of never visiting a place more than once. I told myself it was for the paddleboard yoga, but it was really for the sensation of soft sand on my feet and a chance to soak up the sun on this ever-pleasant island. From wind-surfing to banana boat rides, there’s no shortage of water sports; if you walk a few hundred feet away from the bustle of resorts, you receive an unfettered view of long stretches of white sand and the aqua blue waters of the Caribbean.
2) Montezuma, Costa Rica- A short plane ride from the capital, San Jose, brought me to Montezuma on the western coast of Costa Rica. I immediately fell in love with its small town feel and pristine, palm-fringed beaches. Even better, the beach house in which I stayed had a sea turtle conservation center as a neighbor. Every night, we would gather under the moonlight to witness adorable hatchlings make their way into the sea. In town, there are plenty of vegan dining options to choose from and, if you are lucky, you just might make friends with the capuchin monkeys hanging out in the trees. Don’t get too close though.
Where to stay: Ylang Ylang Beach Resort
3) Tulum, Mexico- The ocean-side Mayan ruins are the highlight of this bike-friendly town, providing stunning views of the coastline. Best of all, the iguanas that reside at the ruins are fun to admire in all their lazy glory. Along the shore south of the ruins lies a long stretch of beach with thatch-roofed, eco-friendly cabin resorts. Get down to the Salsa music in outdoor venues at night, and enjoy the yummy seafood. Just a warning — you may not want to come back home.
Where to stay: Playa Azul
4) Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica- The coastal region of Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific Coast is home to the smallest, yet most bio-diverse, national park in all of Costa Rica. Known for its abundant exotic wildlife, and hiking trails that lead you directly to heavenly beaches, this landscape is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. Sloths chill out atop palm trees, attention-seeking monkeys howl from above, toucans attract crowds, and giant trees with above ground roots provide a level of other-worldliness. Once you reach Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio, you will feel like you hit the jackpot. With refreshing waters and serene views of the rainforest hugging the coastline, you can’t help but unwind.
Where to stay: Costa Verde
5) Andros, Bahamas- The biggest island in the Bahamas is perhaps the most beautiful, with secluded beaches, untouched splendor, and friendly people that treat you like family. The island boasts the second largest barrier reef in the Western Atlantic with abundant marine life that attracts divers from all over the globe. Whether it’s bird watching, diving, or the Annual Crab Festival that piques your interest, Andros — listed in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, is a place lost in time, where you can safely lose yourself.
Enjoy and hope you can catch some sunshine (even if it’s virtually through this article!).