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See yourself at these world-class seaside destinations

For many people, summer vacation means hitting the beach. We’re moving past the sand and into the water to offer a splash of inspiration for your next lavish getaway. | By Paul Oswell | June 1, 2022

Sun, sea and sand are the building blocks for a perfect summer vacation. Not all beach and seaside destinations are created equal, however. We’ve scoured the globe to find three sunny spots that shine above the rest and promise one-of-a-kind memories that last a lifetime and beyond.

  • Sublime Santa Monica: The California dream is alive and well in this seaside community, where designer names and decades-old beach attractions mix

  • Alluring Algarve: The pride of Portugal really delivers with spectacular beaches under clear blue skies — all backed up by world-class dining options, of course

  • Blissful Bodrum: Surrounded by the glistening Aegean Sea, there are flavors to suit every palate on this picturesque peninsula, from upscale party crowds to tranquil coves

Santa Monica, California

California’s ideal climate means that it’s a welcoming destination year-round, but it’s during the summer months that its world-class beaches truly shine. One of the most beloved beach communities in the United States, Santa Monica blends its iconic coastline with high-end dining and designer retail along Wilshire Boulevard. Michelin-starred restaurants give a choice of experiences; the crisp white tablecloths, caviar and Champagne elegance of Mélisse and the sleek but equally sublime seasonal produce of Rustic Canyon. You can appreciate this oceanside paradise even more with experiences offered by Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Take to the air in a helicopter tour and bask in the beauty of the Malibu coastline or relax as you cruise on the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean on a private yacht with a dedicated crew attending to your every need. The hotel’s Beach Butler can even help you make the most of a simple day soaking up some rays for a classic, laid-back California day on the sands, and if you’re interested in horseback riding or a tour of the Getty Villa Museum, it’s all tantalizingly possible.

The Algarve, Portugal

With its azure skies, Mediterranean climate and golden beaches framed by dramatic limestone cliffs, the Algarve stands out as one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe. You can wander through the region’s evocative, historic fishing villages before relaxing on the celebrated sands of the stunning Navy Beach (Praia da Marinha). Outstanding, memorable rock formations also grace the sands at Camilo Beach (Praia do Camilo) and Three Brothers Beach (Praia dos Tres Irmaos). The Algarve boasts outstanding fresh seafood and produce. This bounty is celebrated in style at high-end dining rooms such as Willie’s in the Vilamoura neighborhood, where the sauteed sea scallops on truffle risotto is as decadent as it sounds. Unforgettable culinary memories are also on the cards at the Michelin-starred Gusto by Heinz Beck (a three-Michelin-starred chef) at Conrad Algarve. The incredible Quinta do Lago setting will only distract you for so long as the five- or seven-course tasting menus command your full attention.

You and your family can catch your own seafood on the hotel’s Clam Picking and Oyster Tasting experience, cruising the calm waters on a traditional wooden sailboat before gathering razor clams and oysters — sampled alongside a delicious glass of Champagne, of course. You can spot dolphins and more on a private catamaran tour, which shows off the wonders of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. If you’re feeling more active, you can mix it up with a private stand-up paddleboard water yoga session, where you’ll find tranquility and mindfulness amid the serenity of Quinta do Lago Lake.

Bodrum, Türkiye

An idyllic peninsula set against the dazzling Aegean Sea, it’s little wonder that Bodrum has slowly gained a reputation as The St-Tropez of Türkiye. The town is centered around a stylish marina, and the boats that are docked here reflect the fact that Bodrum is a glamorous hub for world-class sailing. Models and actors join the young and the beautiful at the chic beach clubs that pepper the coastline, creating a chic sense of hedonism in nooks such as Golturkbuku. The rustic fishing villages offer a wealth of alfresco dining that pairs the freshest seafood with the outstanding panoramas of the Aegean. Treat yourself to the tasting menu at Orfoz, with its irresistible smoked eel and sea snails or linger over the meze and the views at Memedof and its delicacies such as grilled squid or jumbo prawns. Gourmet cuisine spotlighting local producers is the ethos at Malva Restaurant at Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts, where you can savor locally caught fish as the sun sets across the calm waters.

The hotel has its own boat, which you can charter for a one-of-a-kind fishing adventure, complete with a delicious seafood lunch when you return. Your memories of Türkiye should include some time in a traditional hammam, and just by chance, the hotel has one in their decadent on-site spa. Or, watch the world go by from your private poolside cabana, where the most energetic activity is ordering a cocktail at the swim-up bar.

There are seaside vacations that help fulfill some basic needs, and then there are seaside vacations that replenish the soul and revive you. These dreamy destinations do both. Add to the mix some world-class scenery and you have all the ingredients for a sensational, sun-filled summer vacation.

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”