This is the third post in the "My 5 Favorite" series. Next up: My 5 Favorite Beaches Around the World!
Having a favorite beach is like having a favorite ice cream sundae — most are really good, it's just a matter of which ones are better than all the others. At least that's always been my opinion on the matter.
As a Pisces who grew up 15 minutes from the beach in South Florida, I have always been drawn to the water and often find it to be extremely soothing. In fact, every time I exercise outside in New York, there is always a body of water nearby, whether it's the reservoir in Central Park or the East River in Long Island City. Water in any form, particularly beaches, makes me happy. So, as you can imagine, it was a very hard decision to narrow my list down to a top five. I have visited some truly stunning beaches around the world, but the ones below all had a little something extra that charmed me from the moment I stepped on the sand and spotted the ocean.
CLIFTON 4TH BEACH, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Why I Love It: The one time I visited Clifton 4th Beach was not during the summer, when I've heard the crowds descend on the area and jockey for prime people-watching positions on the sand. Rather, I visited this Cape Town hot spot in early October on a Monday morning around 9 a.m. Not exactly your typical beach-going hour, but I found it to be perfect. I had just finished a hike up Lion's Head and mentioned in passing to my amazing guide, Lauren, that I had not yet visited Clifton. So, being the helpful guide and person that she is, she promptly brought me to Clifton's 4th Beach. My first impression could only be described as mystical — the morning mist had yet to rise and huge rock formations jutted out of the ground while the ocean quietly sparkled. There was not one other person on the beach, giving it a peaceful serenity that I loved.
Why It's Worth Visiting: Beyond it being one of the most popular beaches in Cape Town, Clifton 4th Beach also happens to be really pretty and is framed by some of the most beautiful homes in Cape Town. I hope to one day visit during peak summer so I can see Clifton at its prime, but I'm grateful I got to first experience quiet, serene Clifton.
FORT CLARENCE BEACH, KINGSTON, JAMAICA
Why I Love It: Similar to my time at Clifton 4th Beach in Cape Town, I visited Fort Clarence Beach early in the morning when the water was calm and the sand had not yet become packed with visitors. Located not too far from Kingston's most popular beach, Hellshire, Fort Clarence is like the quiet cousin in the corner. Not as many people know about it but there's something there that is worth examining. By no means is it the prettiest beach I've ever been to, but I like the combination of beach, food, proximity to Hellshire and quiet (notice a noise-related theme here?).
Why It's Worth Visiting: While visiting the beach, you can eat some grilled lobster, go for a swim, enjoy freshly caught fish, grab a drink at the seaside bar or ride a horse along the shore. It has a little of everything you can find at nearby Hellshire Beach but with prettier views and less people trying to sell you things. Also, there's this bench coupled with this view:
PERISSA BEACH, SANTORINI, GREECE
Why I Love It: I'll be honest, a big part of why I love Perissa Beach is because I had the best gyro and souvlaki here. They were seriously amazing. And it was right on the beach with gorgeous views, straw umbrellas and Perissa's unique black sand. The gyro and souvlaki came from Kenzo Grill House, one of the many tavernas lined along the beach, and was one of the best meals I had during my time in Greece. Perissa is also in close proximity to Kamari, another beach known for its volcanic black sand.
Why It's Worth Visiting: Well...there's the amazing gyro and souvlaki that I can't stop mentioning. The black sand is also worth seeing in person, as is the entire ridiculously gorgeous island of Santorini.
MARINA PICCOLA, CAPRI, ITALY
Why I Love It: Capri is all about glamour (or at least that's always been my perception), so I knew I had to summon my inner Italian goddess before arriving at Marina Piccola. My friend and I had visited the island as part of our Busabout tour and spent an amazing day on Capri, part of it relaxing on Marina Piccola's beautiful beach. What is so great about this beach is that it's beautiful and in a glamorous destination but it's not pretentious or anything like that, at least not at the public beach. We didn't pay to hang with the private beach folks. Also, the water is this fascinating color that I have not seen anywhere else in the world.
Why It's Worth Visiting: It's an easy day trip from Sorrento, Naples or the Amalfi Coast, plus you also have the option to visit Anacapri and take the chair lift up to the very top of the island.
FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
Why I Love It: I recognize that this is a purely sentimental choice, but I'm including it anyway. Fort Lauderdale Beach feels like home to me. Even though I didn't actually grow up in the city of Fort Lauderdale, I basically spent every weekend there so I might as well have lived in Fort Lauderdale full time. What is great about this beach is that there's more happening here than the beaches in Palm Beach County but it's way less "see and be seen" than South Beach. And as much as I love Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach is more casual and the beach itself is a much more comfortable, welcoming alternative, not to mention it was closer to my house than Miami, so proximity wins.
Why It's Worth Visiting: Everyone knows Miami and South Beach but Fort Lauderdale Beach is also worth visiting. It has great restaurants, the same pretty views and not nearly as much craziness as South Beach.
I know I just talked about how I like Fort Lauderdale Beach more than Miami Beach, but I do think the latter deserves a shout out. Another honorable mention: the beaches of Nice, France. I loved Nice and found it to be a great combination of village life, French Riviera glamour and an urban city feel. Solomon Beach on St. John's island is your classically beautiful beach with the bent palm trees and white sand. It's what postcards are made of. Lastly, I had my very first surf lesson at the beach in Jaco, Costa Rica and it was one of the best experiences of my life, so that definitely deserves a shout out.
Next up: my five favorite parks around the world!