The Best Beaches of 2012

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The summer is right around the corner and with it people will be flocking to the beach. But just what type of beach are you looking for? There are relaxing getaways, family-friendly boardwalks, party beaches and more.

If you know what type of vacation you’re looking for, but haven’t finalized the details yet, then here are Travel Channel’s best beaches broken down by category.

Best Overall

Lahaina Beach, Maui.

Lahaina used to be the royal capital of Hawaii so it has historic appeal. But this romantic stretch of beach is also near nightlife and is home to the Old Lahaina Luau. And what’s a trip to Hawaii without traditional Hawaiian food, history and dance?

Best Party Beach

Paradise Island, Bahamas

Five miles long and less than 1 mile wide, Paradise Island is a mecca for nightlife mostly thanks to mega-resort Atlantis Paradise Island's clubs and casinos.

Best Family Beach

Cape May, New Jersey

Jersey's most historic beach also has a wholesome atmosphere and pristine beaches ideal for kids. With wineries and breweries for the adults, golf for the sports enthusiasts, arcades for the kids and cultural attractions like local museums, theater productions, art shows and the county zoo, it’s no surprise Cape May draws a huge crowd. Although just 3,600 people live their year round, the population in the summer can balloon by as much as 50,000 visitors

Best Romantic Beach

Matira Beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti

There are a number of reasons why Bora Bora boasts the nickname 'the Romantic Island,' including the secluded beaches, intimate hotels and quiet atmosphere that embraces visitors in Matira.

Sexiest Beach

Copacabana Beach, Rio, Brazil

Rio is the hot spot for some of the sexiest sunbathers in the world and home to Copacabana Beach, the world's most famous beach. Millions flock to the area during New Year’s Eve and it has been the official venue of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Best Beach Bars

Tropicana Beach Bar, Mykonos, Greece

The Tropicana Beach Bar sits on Paradise Beach and throws the greatest early-evening beach parties. A hot spot for young people, the drinks flow from early morning until long past sunset.

Best Beach You Haven't Heard of Yet

Llandudno Beach, South Africa

Is seclusion your idea of paradise? Then welcome to Llandudno, a cliffside resort near Cape Town, South Africa, so tucked away you’ll find nary a shop or street light in view. The suburb has some of the most expensive residential properties in South Africa.

Best Beach for Adventure

Cave Diving in Whangarei, New Zealand

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are an exciting playground for thrill seekers and nature lovers.

Best Exotic Beach

Anse Source d'Argent, Seychelles

Not only did the Royal Couple honeymoon in the Seychelles but Anse Source d'Argent manages to be tropical, homey, understated and classy all at once. Located on the island of La Digue, Anse Source d'Argent is one of the best known beaches in the Seychelles.

Best Scenic Beach

Zlatni Rat, Bol, Brac Island, Croatia

The Golden Horn sandbar is 580 yards long and provides this beach with a unique shape and unparalleled people-watching. The afternoon wind makes it a destination for windsurfers. The shape of the beach shifts with the changes in tide, currents and wind.

Best Beach Boardwalk

Ocean City, MD

With boardwalk fries, its famous Grotto pizza and, of course, saltwater taffy, Ocean City, Md. has all that’s expected of a boardwalk. The three-mile long strip has two amusement parks; a Ripley’s Believe it or Not; arcades; shops; and restaurants.

Read more:

Travel Channel’s Best Beach Awards 2012

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The Most Exotic Golf Courses in the World