Best Beaches of 2011


Summer vacation season is only weeks away, bringing with it thoughts of sun, sand and relaxing at the beach. If you’re still undecided about your summer destination, or planning ahead for a holiday trip later in the year, you’ll want to check out travel-review website TripAdvisor’s ranking of “Best Beaches in 2011.” Here are the Top 5. (You can find the complete list here.)

1. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.





Why is Providenciales No. 1 on TripAdvisor’s list? Besides the sunshine and gorgeous scenery, travelers can enjoy the “white-sand beaches, calm clear water and a bountiful barrier reef make the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales a hot spot for families, snorkelers and divers,” according to TripAdvisor. Some of the top attractions include horseback riding at Provo Ponies, a sailing tour on The Beluga and whale watching and swimming at Grace Bay. Weather here averages a high of 87°F to a low of 80°F in July, though trade winds keep the climate temperate.

Top-Rated Hotels:
Air Fare: From Los Angeles: $667; from New York: $555; from Chicago: $676.


2. Boracay, Phillipines.





Despite the fact that tiny Boracay is only 4.5 miles long, is has a number of stunning beaches, including Yapak Beach, White Beach, with its picture-perfect sunsets, and the romantic, secluded Balinghai Beach. Some of the top attractions include cliff diving at scenic Ariel’s Point, a day of pampering at the lush Tirta Spa, and Willy’s Rock, a volcanic formation topped by a statue of the Virgin Mary. Weather averages a high of 86°F to a low of 76°F in July.

Top-Rated Hotels:

Air Fare: From Los Angeles: $1,717; from New York: $2,041; from Chicago: $2,936.


3. Palm/Eagle Beach Aruba.





Just a tad bit larger than Boracay is the island of Aruba, home to white sands, turquoise waters, and warm, breezy, trade winds. Visitors here flock to Eagle Beach, a popular resort destination, secluded Arashi Beach, known for its snorkeling, and Malmok Beach, where the 400-foot German SS Antilla shipwreck – one of Aruba’s biggest attractions -- is visible from the water’s surface. The Tattoo Party Boat is another crowd-pleasing favorite, according to TripAdvisor. In July, weather in Aruba averages a high of 88°F to a low of 78°F.

Top-Rated Hotels:
Air Fare: From Los Angeles: $709; from New York: $595; from Chicago: $577.


4. Negril, Jamaica.





“Hedonistic Negril beats to a reggae pulse,” according to TripAdvisor. “Major tourist areas are Seven Mile Beach, home to adult-oriented resorts, and the West End, with smaller, more laid-back accommodations and beaches, shops and restaurants within walking distance.” Among Negril’s major attractions are the Blue Hole Mineral Spring, a resort centered around a unique mineral spring, where locals dive from platforms perched on tress. You can also tour the Jamaican countryside on horseback by way of the Rhodes Hall Plantation. In July, weather in Jamaica averages a high of 87°F to a low of 77°F.

Top-Rated Hotels:
Air Fare: From Los Angeles: $683; from New York: $463; from Chicago: $500.


5. Tulum, Mexico.





South of Playa del Carmen, the town of Tulum is divided into three sections: the Mayan ruins, the hotel zone and the pueblo. “Those staying in Tulum can easily bike around, or explore swimming opportunities off white sand beaches and in subterranean sinkholes,” according to TripAdvisor. “The clear Caribbean waters also offer great diving.” The main attraction in this area is obviously Mexico’s ancient Myan ruins, but other favorite destinations in Tulum include the Extreme Control Kite School, where kids of all ages can learn to kiteboard, along with other water sports. The caverns of Cenote Dos Ojos are also a popular destination for scuba divers. Weather averages a high of 88°F to a low of 76°F in July.

Top-Rated Hotels:

Air Fare: From Los Angeles: $549; from New York: $438; from Chicago: $432.


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