When I think back to all beach vacations and beach breaks that I had, it is hard to narrow it down to just five. Each place has something to offer: beautiful white sand, clear crystal water, diverse marine life, great spot for people watching, cultural significance and amazing wild life. Some may prefer a busy popular location for the value, others may prefer a quiet isolated beach, while crazy Eastern Germans prefer to go nude on non nudist beaches.  Check out the top 5 of my most memorable beach destinations below:

1) Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Want to take a dip in warm and still water while watching monkeys at play? Then, this place is for you! Situated in the middle of the National Park, you will be surrounded by a beautiful rainforest. Upon arriving here, you will feel like civilization and your 9 a.m meetings are worlds away but, in reality, you are only a couple minutes drive away from the nearest hotels, restaurants and vibrant/hippy town of Jaco.

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

2) Praia da Dona Ana, Lagos, Portugal 
While the beach is only warm enough from July to September and is usually packed with crowds of vacationers taking their annual leave, the views of this beach are incredible. Do not miss the tide changes in the morning and evening, it is not unusual to see tourists walking waist deep to get to the other side of the beach having barely touched the water in that same place that same morning. Free parking and great beach views can be found in Carvi Hotel Lagos which allows direct access to the beach.  

Praia Da Dona Ana in Lagos, Portugal

3) Nerja, Spain
While most people go to Costa Del Sol for their Spanish vacation with popular destinations such as Torremolinos, Malaga and Marbella, a short 40 minute drive North will lead you to the beautiful town of Nerja. Which is not only away from the crowds, but also has beautiful white houses, a Balcony of Europe and is a short drive away from the famous Alhambra

Beach at Nerja, Spain

4) Dubrovnik, Croatia
This famous walled city has some of the most beautiful Burque buildings, marble streets and the beautiful Adriatic sea which can be accessed through staircases throughout the city. The city has been left untouched since the Yugoslavian War in 1994 and a map can be found at the entrance with clear markings of the destruction that the city endured during the war. If you are looking for a quieter beach atmosphere away from the throngs of tourists, Korcula the city often named “Mini Dubrovnik” is your spot. 

View from Old Dubrovnik

5) Whitsundays, Australia 
This is truly beach paradise. The calm waters are surrounded by the Great Barrier reef making it a paradise for a relaxed vacation and scuba diving heaven. If you are on a tight budget, check out Ben Southall’s guide to staying under $100 for the day. 

Whitsundays Australia

While swimming, snorkelling, exploring, and tanning, do not forget that sunscreen is your best friend unless you want to match the lobster that is on your plate!

What are your top five beach destinations?