Some people might be satisfied with a bucket list item like "Go to a great beach resort." Others, the more adventurous, will want to hit the "top 10 most visited beach resorts in the world."
To them we raise our glasses with a toast of "Cheers!" and offer them this list of the world's top beach resorts.
1. Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas is a great place to start. It's virtually its own island. The hotel and grounds take up the entire island including two impressive towers connected by a bridge. By the way, if you have a few extra dollars—like maybe $25,000—you can spend a night in the Bridge Suite. Some say it's the most costly hotel suite in the world. When the sun's out, enjoy the beaches, water park and golf, among other activities. At night world-class entertainers perform, you can place a few bets in the casino, and the list of restaurants is almost endless.
2. Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, is probably the single most famous beach in the world. Across the promenade from the beach is an impressive row of hotels—you have lots of choices here. The beach is the stage for lots of activities, two of the most popular being soccer and watching the local ladies stretch their tanga bikinis to the limit. Ipanema Beach is just down the road.
3. Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas is maybe one of our most unusual selections. To visit here you need to book a Disney cruise vacation so it may not be one of the most visited in terms of the number of feet that hit the sand each year, but it has to be the number one in the private island rankings. And, when you're with your family, the exclusivity of a private island can really add to the relaxation factor.
4. Cancun, Mexico, because of its proximity to much of the United States and its wonderful tropical climate, has long been a favorite of American travelers. Visitors have dozens of excellent resort hotels to choose from here and along with relaxing on the beach and snorkeling, side trips to impressive Mayan ruins are easily scheduled.
5. Waikiki Beach has to be mentioned on any list like this, especially with a landmark resort like the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Lovingly dubbed "The Pink Palace," this hotel has been hosting Hollywood stars, royalty and heads of states since 1927. And if you want to know what to do in Waikiki, rent "Gidget Goes Hawaiian"—which was filmed in part a the hotel—before you leave on your vacation.
6. Nha Trang on the South Central coast of Vietnam is quickly earning a spot on the list of the world's top beach resorts. With major chains like Sheraton developing properties in Nha Trang, you aren't going to feel like you're making your screen debut as an extra in a remake of "Apocalypse Now." Everything you could want is there, plus a beach area that is only now being truly discovered.
7. Phuket (the "h" is silent and the "u" sounds like "oo" in moo), Thailand has been a favorite of international travelers for quite some time now. The beaches are unbelievable and once you get there, lodging and meals can be quite inexpensive. If you like blending beach relaxation with nightlife and a cultural experience, this is the perfect place.
8. Montego Bay, Jamaica. The famous Bobby Bloom song declares "I thirst to be thirst in Montego Bay." That's the way a lot of visitors feel about this special place. Major resort chains are here, so doing the all-inclusive thing is definitely an option. If "E pluribus unum" is the original motto of the United States, the motto of Jamaica has to be "Hey mon, no problem!" We recommended a Gidget flick before heading to Wakiki. Watch "Cool Runnings" before you head to Jamaica.
9. Miami's South Beach has to be the U.S. version of Copacabana. This huge strand of sand has always been a people watcher's paradise, even back in the days before topless sunbathing became a generally accepted or tolerated activity. Great resort hotels line the beach, but one of the area's unique features is its Art Deco hotels. The nightlife here can't be topped and the international flavor is as strong as a cup of Cuban coffee.
10. Viña de Mar is the coastal resort city near Santiago, Chile. It's long beaches rival any in the world. It's enjoys a Mediterranean climate. After all, the name means vineyard by the sea and some of Chile's notable wineries make a good day trip from the beach. There's excellent surfing and it's the location for the famous Viña del Mar International Song Festival in February (their summer) and other important cultural events.
Carrie Thompson is a marketing strategist for Captain's Quarters Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC.