But often, the “world’s coolest beaches” morph rapidly into mere sand strips crawling with tourists, price tags and inner tube peddlers. There’s nothing worse than visiting a famous beach only to find that everyone else on Earth has done the same.
Consider some lower-key alternatives to the beaches you’ve heard all about.
So you’ve heard of Waikiki?
Try Kaimana Beach, Oahu
It’s just steps from what is perhaps the Hawaiian Islands’ most frequented beach, but Kaimana feels a world away. Families can barbecue in the sand, spread blankets on the lawn or turtle-spot in seas so empty that even the locals are impressed. For an adventure, visit the Waikiki Natatorium, a World War I memorial in the form of a public ocean swimming pool.
So you’ve heard of St. Barts?
Try Vieques, Puerto Rico
St. Barts is famous, but it’s also a hub for famous actors, famous paparazzi and famous crowds. You’ll have someone besides Rihanna to photograph at Vieques’s Bioluminescent Bay, where odd microorganisms make every submerged swimmer glow a magical shade of blue. Under U.S. Navy control until 2003, Vieques replaces other islands' hype over ritzy resorts with its own hype over a rare 300-year-old tree.
So you’ve heard of Aruba?
Try Los Roques, Venezuela
Way out in the Caribbean Sea, just a couple hundred miles from Aruba’s touristy beaches, lies the little island chain of Los Roques. In the 70s, Venezuela deemed Los Roques a national park for its pink coral reefs which host 280 species of fish. A few tourists take small planes or boats to visit for the day, but you'll beat them all when you wake up in an adorable family-run B&B.
So you’ve heard of Cancun?
Try Tulum, Mexico
It’s a funny juxtaposition: Cancun’s man-made hotel isle didn’t even reallynexist in its current form till the '80s while Tulum, just an hour down the road, has played home to Mayan society since for centuries. You can literally see towering ruins during dips in the perfect water off craggy cliffs. Though the beach is certainly already popular, Tulum keeps a bohemian vibe due to its history-- plug into one of many meditation retreats and reflect on your place in it all.
So you’ve heard of Miami?
Try Playalinda Beach, Florida
Up the coast and away from the spring break bustle, Playalinda sits far from glitzy condos and close to Cape Canaveral (you can see the launch pad from some spots). The Spanish gave this surf spot a name that means “Pretty Beach.” We’ll assume they were referring to the perfect blue water, not the beach’s nudist section.
This photo of Playalinda Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor
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Saline Beach - St. Barth
Tucked away underneath St. Barth's rocky hillside, feel free to forget everything at St. Barth's most secluded beach. Including your clothes. One sbhonline.com member recalled his favorite all-time memory of St. Barth as "enjoying a Cuban cigar and a glass of french rose wine on Saline beach in the late afternoon - wearing nothing but a hat."
Es Cavallet Beach, Ibiza, Spain
In America, we have the right to remain silent. The saucy Spanish, however, have the right to remain nude. According to <a href="http://goeurope.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=goeurope&cdn=travel&tm=905&f=10&su=p531.51.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.naturismo.org/docs/legal_fen_english.pdf" target="_hplink">this PDF</a>, penalization for nudity violates constitutional rights. We're happy about that because this <em>rear view</em> above makes us giggle. Es Cavallet (pictured) is one of Ibiza's gay-friendly nude beaches.
Haulover Beach - Miami, Florida
Enter the beach near Haulover Park for big, bouncy, nude beach volleyball bliss. Who knew volleyball could ever be such a <em>spectator</em> sport.
Black's Beach - San Diego, California
UC San Diego's mascot may be King Triton, but over by Black's Beach, its the bear. Join the Black Beach Bares, a group of local nudie sport enthusiasts, for a friendly round of stripped snorkeling, birthday suit boogie boarding or jiggly jogging.
Plage de Tahiti - St. Tropez, France
No cameras allowed around this jet set crowd. Skip the ragmag subscription and catch a peak of your favorite celebrities' itties and bitties for free at this nude beach for the rich and the famous.
Praia do Pinho -Santa Catarina, Brazil
The "itsy-bitsy-teeny-weenie-yellow-polka-dot-bikini" is <em>nowhere</em> to be found here. In 1987, Pinho became the first nationally sanctioned au natural beach in Brazil. Its motto? "Clothing is not an option." Amen.
Paradise Beach - Mykonos, Greece
Paradise Beach is just that. Marvel at the tannest and fittest bosoms Greece has to offer while partying all day and night at the bars and clubs surrounding the sand line.
Little Beach - Maui, Hawaii
Feast your big eyes on Maui's Little Beach. Little Beach is Maui's official "unofficial clothing optional beach". If you're lucky, you might run into Dr. Leisure, an artist whose been painting scenes of nude beaches for the past ten years. If you're luckier, Dr. Leisure might paint you.
Playa El Agua--Margarita Island, Venezuela
Here's an interesting fact. Margarita Island in Venezuela <a href="http://www.margaritaislandbeaches.info/topless/" target="_hplink">claims</a> that in countries where nude sunbathing is the norm, there is less incidence of sexual assault. Here's to unclothing with a cause. <em>Correction: A previous version of this slide incorrectly showed a photo of Pedro Gonzalez, also on Margarita Island. We apologize for the error.</em>
Baker Beach, San Francisco
Baker Beach is part of San Francisco's famed Presidio and was once host to Burning Man. The half-mile long beach, which lies on the peninsula of San Francisco, has stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city. Be forewarned: nude bathing (or rather "clothing optional") is only allowed on the northern section.
Haulover Beach, Florida
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/TV_people"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/TV_people">TV people</a>:<br />This beautiful, family friendly, regionally run park beach north of Sunny Isles is a great example of a US clothing optional beach that is open to the public.
Wreck Beach - Vancouver, B.C., Canada
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stopgeorge"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stopgeorge">stopgeorge</a>:<br />With or without their bathing suits, hundreds of thousands of people visit Canada's first and largest clothing-optional beach each year. This all-natural beach is 7.8 kilometers long and follows the coastline below a forested, 200-foot high, cliff system on the western tip of Vancouver. Eagles, kingfishers, and escaped domestic birds like parrots, lovebirds, and magpies hover about – as do vendors selling everything a sunbather’s heart desires, from sunscreen for your sensitive bits, to empanadas, organic fruit juices, and buffalo burgers to stave off those west coast munchies! Ah, Wreck Beach…so near to the city, and yet so far!
Hawaii - Kehena Black Sand Beach
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Patricia_Beach"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100000595729802/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Patricia_Beach">Patricia Beach</a>:<br />Courtesy of Hangin'Loose Hawaii