Beach Vacation Destinations Adventure Travelers Will Love

  • 01 of 09

    Coasteering, Surfing, Hiking or Biking on Wales' Pembrokeshire Coast

    Coasteering off cliffs in Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom
    ••• Coasteering off cliffs in Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom. Visit Wales 2011

    The Pembrokeshire Coast on Wales southwestern shore is a magnet for adventurous travelers who enjoy coasteering, cliff jumping, surfing on scary reef breaks and swimming in sea caves. And, that's just in the water. On land, there's hiking and biking along the 186-mile long Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, rock climbing and riding horses in the sand. If you enjoy exploring, there are more than 40 Iron Age promontory forts, Norman and Medieval castles, and towns to visit during a hike.

    The Pembrokeshire coastline was rated second in National Geographic's Top Rated Coastal Destinations for good reasons. As one of the expert panelists commented: " Magnificent protected coastline from both ecological and geological perspectives."

    Freshwater West and Newgate are good starting locations for adventurers. If you're a surfer, Fresh is a huge beach with large peaks along the main beach and good breaks in the smaller bays to the south. (The beach was featured in the latest Harry...MORE Potter film.)

    Coasteering, scrambling up a cliff wearing a helmet, a wetsuit and life jacket, then jumping into the whitewater surf, is popular here. St. David's is the starting point for many of the coasteering trips.

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  • 02 of 09

    Oahu's Waikiki Beach, the Most Famous Strip of Beach in Hawaii

    Paddling an outrigger canoe by Oahu's Waikiki beach in Hawaii
    ••• Paddling an outrigger canoe by Oahu's Waikiki beach in Hawaii. Waikiki Beach Services

    Bodies are sprawled over the soft sand on Oahu's Waikiki Beach, the most famous stretch of beach in Hawaii. Millions of visitors each year sunbathe on this strip of sand, which is back by dozens of multi-story hotels on one side and rolling waves as far as one can see on the other.

    It's a prime people watching place. Most days, you can find couples practicing flips and other acrobatics on the sand, groups playing volleyball with a beach ball, and joggers slogging by in the breaking surf. In the water, wanna-be surfers are learning the basics, while farther out you'll see experienced surfers riding waves, stand-up paddlers, and a group of tourists in an outrigger canoe steered by a local. Young kids are building sandcastles, under the watchful eye of parents. Young bodies in bikinis are eyeing each other, while middle-age folks are slathering on suntan lotion then hiding under beach umbrellas.

    On a paved path near the beach, a line of people riding on segways are rolling by....MORE It's the easy way to take in the sites and enjoy people watching along Waikiki beach.

    If you want to learn about more beaches in Hawaii, visit All you need to know about beaches in Hawaii.

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  • 03 of 09

    Beach Vacation Adventures - Nude Beaches

    1st April 1939: Women covering up on the beach at Nassau with straw hats.
    ••• Protective Hats. 1st April 1939: Women covering up on the beach at Nassau with straw hats. From the Hulton Archive collection. Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

    If you're a fan of nude beaches - or think you might like to visit one - we've got you covered. Many of my fellow About.com Guides to traveling around the globe have listed nude beaches in their regions. Here's where you can find the bare necessities you'll need to visit these beaches.

    Etiquette on Nude Beaches

    What is - and what isn't - appropriate on nude beaches varies greatly. Here are some general guidelines for Nudist Beach Etiquette but always check locally for what's appropriate before stripping.
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  • 04 of 09

    Beach Destination for Adventures – Santa Monica, California

    The Trapeze School on the Santa Monica beach in California
    ••• The Trapeze School on the Santa Monica beach in California. (c) Andrea Lafoon

    With a trapeze school right by the beach, non-stop beach volleyball games, great waves for surfing or stand-up paddling, nearby hiking and mountain biking trails, one could say an active, adventurous lifestyle is practically in Santa Monica's DNA. Travelers can join locals in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, or exploring the challenging terrain overlooking the beach from the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains.

    If you've ever wanted to learn how to soar on the high wires, like the acrobats in the circus, the Trapeze School of New York is located at the famous Santa Monica Pier. Here, pros offer classes in acrobatic techniques in classes and opportunities for all levels - from thrill-seeker to fear-facer. (Watch this video to what it's like to attend trapeze school.)

    The South Coast Bicycle Trail stretches along the sand from Malibu down to Torrance, and it's a great way to stay by the beach, stop for quick dips, and enjoy people watching. Hikers and bikers still get...MORE panoramic views, from the dozens of trails threading the Santa Monica Mountains. The 17-mile Paseo Miramar/Temescal Canyon Loop challenges mountain bikers with over 4,300 feet of total climbing, with the toughest segments generously cooled by the ocean breeze. The Lemming Trail offers hikers 12 miles of strenuous terrain stretching from Tarzana to Temescal and the Pacific.

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  • 05 of 09

    Beach Vacation Destination - Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island, Australia

    Snorkeling off Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
    ••• Snorkeling off Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Hamilton Island

    Australia's Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef is a top beach vacation destination for travelers who love to combine sunbathing on soft sand and lots of adventure. Catseye Beach is an especially prime choice for people who like to snorkel around colorful coral in calm water. Divers must go farther out, but trips are easily arranged with local dive operations.

    Off the beach, you can go kayaking, parasailing, wakeboarding and enjoy other water sports. Go adventure sailing on a 36-foot catamaran, where you can hang off the side of the boat on the 'trapeze,' or dip boom-netting in the front.

    Take a day trip to Reefworld. You can take a tour on the semi-submarine, see the fish through glass in an underwater viewing chamber, and go diving or snorkeling. You can even taken a scenic helicopter flight over world famous Heart Reef. For more information about Catseye Beach and visiting this part of the Great Barrier Reef visit Hamilton Island.

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  • 06 of 09

    Beach Destination for Adventures - Taiwan's Penghu Archipelago

    Beaches in Taiwan's Penghu Archipelago, guarded by steep basalt cliffs
    ••• Go sea kayaking and swimming in the turquoise waters of Taiwan's Penghu Archipelago, guarded by steep basalt cliffs. (c) Dave Anderson

    "Taiwan's spectacular Penghu Archipelago contains over 50 picturesque islands. Located just north of the equator, Penghu is the perfect spring/fall tropical escape with clear blue skies overhead and sparkling golden beaches underfoot. Warm turquoise waters guarded by steep basalt cliffs and rimmed by white sand beaches are home to abundant coral, shells, and various ocean creatures. Due to its strategic military location in southeast Asia, foreign travel to Penghu has only been recently allowed. As a result the people of Penghu have maintained their traditional ocean based way of life." says Dave Anderson of LittlePo Adventures, a relatively new company that offers kayaking and other tours in this region.

    Sea kayaking is one of the best ways to explore the Penghu archipelago, and it is probably the only way to visit many breathtaking basalt columns and formations on the uninhibited islets, according to Anderson. He reports there are many popular sea kayaking routes that...MORE circumnavigate major islands, or include island hopping between two or more islets. Currently there are at least 20-30 defined itineraries, starting from a quick tour which usually takes a couple of hours to all-day and multiple-day outings. Visit LittlePo Adventures to learn more.

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  • 07 of 09

    Beach Vacations for People With Dogs - Whidbey Island, Washington

    Skimboarding off Doublebluff Beach on Whidbey Island, Washington
    ••• Skimboarding off Doublebluff Beach on Whidbey Island, Washington, is popular. (c) Ari Strickland

    Pack your dog, and your skimboard or surfboard, in the car and head to Doublebluff Beach on Whidbey Island in Washington. The skimboarding, surfing, kiteboarding and other sail sports are terrific on Doublebluff, which also has two miles of off-leash dog beach.

    Never been skimboarding? The owner and operator of a local shop, where you rent boards and get lessons, says it's a fun, easy to learn sport for people of all ages. Here's a video of skimboarding, if you've never watched anyone skimming along the water. You could plan a trip around the Jack'd Skimboards annual mid-summer festival called "SKIMusicFEST", when music and skimboarding are both celebrated.

    Locals say Whidbey Island, Washington, is a sport lover's paradise, with scuba diving in three locations off Whidbey, sightseeing for whales, fishing, kayaking, cycling and hiking. For more information visit Whidbey Island.

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  • 08 of 09

    Beach Vacation Adventures - Cliff Jumping & Diving at West End Cliffs, Jamaica

    Cliff diving off the West End Cliffs in Negril, Jamaica
    ••• Cliff diving off the West End Cliffs in Negril, Jamaica. Oyster.com

    Cliff jumping ensures an adrenalin rush to many visitors taking a beach vacation at a resort perched on Negril's West End Cliffs in Jamaica. If you think leaping or diving off a cliff and jumping into the ocean sounds appealing, but you're staying in a hotel along the popular Seven Mile Beach, just hop in a car or take a taxi for a quick ride to the cliffs. The cliffs range in height up to about 40 feet above the ocean, and cliff jumpers and cliff divers often can scramble up the side of a cliff to choose the height from which they want to jump or dive. Head to Tensing Pen, one of resorts on the cliffs, and you can jump off a bridge into the water.

    Don't want to try it but you'd like to watch others climb up and leap or dive into the ocean? Snag a table and a beer at Rick's Cafe.

    Along the Seven Mile Beach (which is actually about four-miles-long), sunbathing beachgoers can enjoy a variety of water sports from kayaking and sailing to jet skiing. Breezes Runway Bay...MORE Resort has multiple trapeze nets for guests who want to fly high.

    Thanks to Kesey Blodgett, one of the editors at Oyster.com, for this suggestion. Oyster.com is a Web site with unbiased reviews written by experienced travelers who are paid to visit hotels as guests. The photos taken by reviewers depict what the resort actually looks like as well as the surroundings.
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  • 09 of 09

    Beach for Adventures - The Picture Postcard Manuel Antonio Park, Costa Rica

    Surfer carries his board on a bike in Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio Park.
    ••• A surfer carries his board on a bike riding along the beach in Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio Park. (c) Roberto Ramos
    Manuel Antonio may be a tiny park on Costa Rica's coast, but between the beaches and the rainforest it has everything an adventurous traveler could want. You can relax on the crescent-shaped beaches lined by lush forests on one side, then cool off snorkeling around coral reefs.

    Hiking trails meander through the park's rainforest, and as you walk listen to the squirrel monkeys chatter, maybe catch a glimpse of sloths and look for iguanas and colorful tiny crabs. Surfing, scuba diving, sea kayaking and sport fishing are all popular water sports off the beach and around the tiny islands dotting the bay. Day trips can range from zip lines and canopy tours in the rainforest to boat rides to an island where you may see white-face monkeys, caymans and even boas in the mangrove forests.

    You'll find plenty of lodging, from luxurious to budget, in Quepos which is north of the park, and right outside the park. To learn more about Manuel Antonio and see pictures of the park visit Manuel...MORE Antonio looks just like a picture postcard