Surfs Up

10 Extremely Tempting Beach Vacations to Take in 2018

From Baja to Puerto Rico, it's time to plan for sand and sun.

By Gwendolyn Knapp May 25, 2018


Summer's here and the time is right for shutting yourself indoors with Netflix  making beach vacation plans. This year, beach resorts are stepping up their approach to leisure from summer right on into winter. These vacation packages feature everything from wellness retreats to food festivals to volunteer opportunities and then some.

Choose your own adventure accordingly.

Get fit in Baja

Acclaimed Los Cabos resort and villas, Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, has launched a new wellness initiative that’s all about weekend retreats and healthy activities for fitness, culinary and spa enthusiasts.

Guests can partake in TRX, yoga, Zumba, spinning, and beach boot camps led by fitness pros ModuVated, dine on sustainable local seafood and healthy eats at eatery COMAL and its Juice Bar, or reserve a spot for its first Fit + Well Weekend, June 14-18, led by wellness power couple Chris and Tracie Vlaun from Miami-based V Art of Wellness. The retreat includes a surfer’s bootcamp, aqua-spinning and aeroga, healthy cooking demos, tons of yoga and spa treatments.

The next wellness retreat will be held October 25-28 with Louis van Amstel of “Dancing with the Stars” fame.

Or just bask in its beauty

The Viceroy Hotel Group has just opened its 15th luxurious property, Viceroy Los Cabos, a complete redesign from the former Mar Adentro resort into a new 194-room dreamscape complete with a beachfront pool and bar, infinity pool, state-of-the-art fitness center curated by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, and five new eateries, one of which appears to float on water and another that has a tequila library. Later this year, a rooftop bar will also make its debut.

Resort activities include surf lessons with a pro, fishing with a chef, scuba diving with underwater photography, fluorescent night dives, and custom tequila making classes. A rotating art collection is now featuring Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Spencer Mar Guilburt.

All this luxury will cost you though. Reservations start at $420 per night.

The Norwegian Sun departs out of Port Canaveral.

Cruise to Cuba or the Bahamas

Here’s an idea. Fly to Orlando, abandon your children at Disney and take a shuttle to Port Canaveral to hop on the Norwegian Sun, which has just launched cruises to Havana this summer. Berthed at the Port's recently remodeled, $35 million dollar Cruise Terminal 10, the ship does a four-night itinerary to Havana, Cuba and Key West (departing on Mondays) and a three-night itinerary to the Bahamas (departing on Fridays).

In Havana, Norwegian Sun visits Havana Harbor and offers guests U.S.Treasury Office of Foreign Assets-compliant shore excursions. In the Bahamas, you'll visit Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island beach with cabanas and underwater snorkeling.

On board, you’ll find 14 dining options, bars and lounges, shopping, spas, and entertainment. Tickets for summer appear to start in the $450 range.

Port Aransas sunrise.

Go Texas in Port Aransas

Since Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas island in August 2017, Port A's 18 miles of beach have certainly come a long way. As of last month, 70 percent of restaurants have reopened, over 2,000 vacation homes are available for booking, and hotel rooms are expected reach 80 percent capacity by early summer. So, where to stay?

  • Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club is reopening its condos and debuting new cottages for summer, bringing the total number of single-family homes available for rent to nearly 40. It also has retail shops, a coal oven pizzeria and coffee shop.
  • Sunflower Resort & Residences, a new boutique development, will have eight new luxury cabins ready to rent in July.
  • Port Royal Ocean Resort is slated to return at 100 percent capacity this summer too.
  • Meanwhile, fishing tournaments begin in June, and the Texas qualifying events for the 2018 World Food Championships, October 3-6Head to for more details. 

Bask in the tropical retreat of St. Regis.

Volunteer in Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico

If you can put off your need for beach time until late October, and also want to help support Puerto Rico a year after Maria devastated the island, you might want to book a room at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, located on a 483-acre former coconut plantation between El Yunque National Forest and Espíritu Santo River State Preserve. 

For guests interested in volunteer opportunities, the property works with Bahia Beach Resort Golf Club and its non-profit Alma de Bahia on initiatives to support the affected communities in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

The hotel just underwent a $60 million renovation including upgraded guestrooms and suites and a refurbished Plantation House, which is home to an on-site bar and restaurant. A new casual eatery will also debut as well as a new spa called The Iridium. There’s also an ocean-front golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., lush gardens, trails for running and biking, and watersport equipment rentals for use at the beach.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is also launching an $85 million beachfront, ultra-luxury residential development, The Ocean Drive Residences are expected to be completed by June 2019, along with another $30 million hotel expansion.

Or relax in Dorado Beach

Likewise, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve also reopens in October 2018, with expanded facilities and upgrades in its 114 beachfront guestrooms and suites. The sprawling grounds will have acres of new plants, and a new eatery is set to debut in mid-November.

The resort is already home to several restaurants, each of which seem to be getting some menu upgrades, as well as the villa, Su Casa, a unique five-bedroom option which was originally home to the historical figure Clara Livingston. There's also a culinary center that hosts cooking classes and private dinners, the five-star Spa Botánico, a fitness center and movement studio with new equipment, and an array of retail spaces with two new boutiques expected to debut as well.

Get schooled in Fiji

Did you know there's a Fijian resort with its own on-site marine biologist? Yup, guests at diving mecca Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort can learn about the beauty and wonders of the ocean from the resort’s marine biologist, Johnny Singh. 

Singh regularly dives and snorkels with the guests, conducts evening slide presentations, video presentations, and night snorkels too. It's a nerd's delight in paradise, half the world away—and, oh yes, remember to pack that SPF 100.

Namaste in Parrot Cay

Need to chill? Head to COMO Parrot Cay, a luxury resort on its own private island in the Turks and Caicos this fall, for a pre-Turkey Day "Well of Grace Retreat," November 4-10. Renowned yoga instructor Elena Brower hosts six days of guided asana and meditation. The package includes daily meals, one 60-minute massage, roundtrip airport transfers, and access to the stunning beach property and one of the world's leading yoga practitioners.

All this wellness will cost you though. $7,444 for single occupancy or $13,603 for a double. Book it here.

Plan ahead for the Cayman Cookout.

Gourmandize in Grand Cayman

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is booking for its 11th annual Cayman Cookout, January 16-21, 2019. Celebrity chefs include Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, Andrew Zimmern, Emeril Lagasse, Yannick Alléno, Dominique Crenn, Amanda Cohen, Emma Bengtsson and Nancy Silverton

The Cayman Cookout package starts at $1,536 per night for two guests (plus taxes and fees, y’all), including accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, daily breakfast for two at Seven Restaurant, a reduced resort fee of $30 per day, and two tickets to four of the festival’s events—a Wine Fair and Auction, Barefoot BBQ, the After-Dinner Party, and Rum and Robusto. Plus, it's an intimate affair so you'll be up close and personal with the chefs for the weekend. 

There’s also a variety of daily demos and classes, meet-and-greets, special meals and more with the full lineup available on October 1 this year. Make reservations here.

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