When going to a new destination, many of us stick to the beaten path; we'll go where the other tourists are going for the first time around. But once you’ve been to Cancun, or Montego Bay, or any other well-touristed beach spot, you may be more interested in heading somewhere a tad more under-the-radar on your next visit to the area. Or perhaps you’re the type who opts to skip the crowds the first time around. Either way, we love these seven underrated beach destinations; they’re rarely a traveler’s first choice, but perhaps they should be.
Where to stay: Haramara Retreat, Sayulita. This luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation just outside Sayulita is one of the most special hotels in Mexico. It is geared toward those in need of some detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an open-air spa, a vegetarian and seafood restaurant, unpaved trails, and limited electricity and cell phone service.
Where to stay: W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island. The W is easily the top luxury option on Vieques, and it is located on its own private (and beautiful) beach. The nice spa, sexy open bathrooms, and beautiful infinity pool make it a great pick for couples.
Where to stay: Turtle Inn. This romantic resort owned by the Coppola family features stunning Balinese-style villas with thatched roofs and plenty of charmingly rustic decor details (including textiles and hand-crafted furniture). With only 25 units and a sprawling layout, guests are assured of plenty of privacy.
Where to stay: Jake’s. Jake’s may be trendy, but its boho-chic cottages with no phones, TV, or Internet suit this sleepy area perfectly. The spa, yoga classes, and excellent cuisine area also draws.
Where to stay: Ke Iki Beach Bungalows, Oahu. These 11 beach bungalows are just the ticket for travelers looking for a no-frills experience on a beautiful, empty beach. There aren’t many amenities to speak of besides the hammocks and the barbecue grills – but that’s sort of the point.
Where to stay: Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa. Natura Cabanas is a 10-minute drive from the town of Cabarete, and its eco-friendly bungalows are just steps from a virtually crowd-free private beach. The prices are remarkably fair, the food is delicious, and the yoga classes overlook the ocean.
Where to stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve. Lapa Rios has 16 bungalows and is situated amid 1,000 acres of lowland tropical forest. The pool overlooks the ocean, the rustic-luxe rooms have private decks, and the (rocky) beach is a 10-minute walk away.