9 places like Hawaii for sun & sand in 2021 | finder.com

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9 idyllic places like Hawaii

Snorkel and explore exotic terrain or simply bum on the beach.


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Fishing canoe docked at a beach in clear shallow water, north coast Jamaica.

Tropical island getaway on your mind? When Hawaii doesn’t fit the bill, these alternate destinations offer all the beauty that is synonymous with the Aloha state: from pristine beaches and technicolor coral reefs to rich cultural tradition.

Whether you’re looking for an underwater encounter with marine life or want to chill by the beach to a perfect sunset, these travel deals and discount codes will help you save some money along the way.

1. Best for traditional culture: Samoa

Sitting roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, Samoa boasts lush mountains, waterfalls you can swim under and impossibly blue water.

  • Top five beaches: Aganoa Beach, Lalomanu, Manase, Tanu Beach Fales, Aggie Grey’s.
  • Must do/see: Visit Afu Aau Waterfall, To-Sua Ocean Trench and the Samoa Cultural Village. Dive, snorkel and swim through crystal-clear water.
  • Cost: Low to mid-range.
  • Stay at: Coconuts Beach Club. Offering the ultimate South Pacific island experience of overwater bungalows, this resort also has a restaurant, spa and gecko-shaped swimming pool. It also hosts a Samoan culture day every Saturday that’s free for guests. Overwater bungalows start at about $800 per night.
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2. Best for honeymooners: Fiji

More than 300 lush islands await — with plenty of secluded inlets and off-the-beaten-path beaches where you can swoon with your sweetie. Fiji sits in the Coral Sea slightly east of Australia.

  • Top five islands: Yasawa, Vomo, Malolo, Tokoriki, Wakaya
  • Must do/see: Visit colorful Sri Siva Subramaniya temple, hike through the Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve, go snorkeling, take surfing lessons.
  • Cost: Mid- to high range.
  • Stay at: Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay. Treat yourself to a 5-star stay in a bungalow above the waves. This Fijian resort is from a big brand but has a boutique feel.
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3. Best for families: Cayman Islands

From Miami, this nonstop flight takes only an hour and a half with Cayman Airways — perfect for even the littlest members of any brood. There are three Cayman islands — Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Swim with stingrays and go on a Robinson Crusoe Adventure to the uninhabited Owen Island.

  • Top five beaches: Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Kai, Rum Point, Sandy Point, Owen Island.
  • Must do/see: Visit the Cayman Turtle Centre and the Parrot Preserve, tour the sparkling labyrinth at Crystal Caves, dive to see underwater sculptures at Cayman Brac.
  • Cost: Mid- to high range.
  • Stay at: Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, which starts at $384 per night. Or opt for the more budget-friendly Holiday Inn Resort Grand Cayman — rates start at $182 per night.
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4. Best for solo travelers: Bali

With its enviable beaches and relaxed vibe, you won’t have to stretch your imagination too far to think you’re lying on a Hawaiian beach with a cocktail in hand. Bali is a super-hot destination right now. Chances are high that you’ll meet like-minded singles to hike, swim and beach-bathe with.

  • Top five beaches: Nihiwatu, Canggu, Derawan, Peucang, Dreamland
  • Must do/see: Visit Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, trek to Tegenungan Waterfall, catch air on the Bali Swing, sweat at the Bali Training Centre, grab a cocktail at a beachside bar.
  • Cost: Mid- to high-end
  • Stay: At the Padma Resort Legian. 5-star luxury for a fraction of the price? Yes, please. Rates start at $199.
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5. Best for history: Guam

WWII history buffs will take interest in the battle sites — though Guam’s unique heritage can be traced back to 4,000 years ago. From native precolonial architecture to active archaeological sites, you’ll find plenty of intrigue between walks on the beach and fresh seafood eats.

  • Top five beaches: Asan Beach Park, Tanguisson, Sharks Cove, Gun Beach, Taga’chang
  • Must do/see: Go on a history tour, visit the Latte of Freedom, befriend a coconut crab at Chamorro Village, dive to 20th century shipwrecks.
  • Cost: Mid- to high range
  • Stay at: The Dusit Thani Guam Resort is chic and stylish, with multiple outdoor pools.
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6. Best for all-inclusive resorts: Jamaica

Famed as the birthplace of reggae, Jamaica is a Caribbean jewel that draws in tourists with lush rainforests and reef-lined beaches.

  • Top five beaches: Seven Mile Beach, Boston Bay Beach, Doctor’s Cave Beach, Reggae Beach and Cornwall Beach.
  • Must do/see: Enjoy free-spirited nightlife, visit the Bob Marley Museum and the resort town Negril, taste Jamaican cuisine like curry goat and saltfish.
  • Cost: Mid- to high-end.
  • Stay at: Whispering Seas in Rio Nuevo close to Dunns River Falls, with self-contained luxury apartments, a beach and stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Apartments start at $315 per night.
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7. Best for young couples: Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic is rich in history, natural beauty and locally-made rum. This lush tropical paradise offers magnificent rainforests, dynamic savannahs and highlands — and some of the world’s best beaches.

  • Top five beaches: Playa Dorada, Playa Boca Chica, Playa Punta Cana and Playa Juanillo.
  • Must do/see: Visit Pico Duarte — the highest peak in the Caribbean, see bustling Santiago, tour Santo Domingo, golf, scuba and kayak.
  • Cost: Low to mid-range.
  • Stay at: Renaissance Jaragua Hotel & Casino. Located on Santo Domingo waterfront boulevard, this elegant hotel has lavish amenities and world-class service. Rooms start at $163 per night.
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8. Best for snorkeling: Barbados

Stunning coral reefs and warm waters may make Barbados a divers’ paradise, but this tropical island also tempts travelers with its art museums, dining scene and friendly people.

  • Top five beaches: Crane Beach, Silver Sands, Bathsheba, Dover, Bath Beach.
  • Must do/see: Lounge on the beach, visit Bridgetown, dance the night away at beachside bars, stroll through Flower Forest, snorkel and scuba dive.
  • Cost: Low to mid-range.
  • Stay at: Bougainvillea Beach Resort. Sitting right on Maxwell Coast, this 4-star resort has private terraces and features a golf course. It’s an easy walk to Oistin Bay and St. Lawrence Gap. Rooms start at $260 per night.
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9. Best for festivities and nightlife: St. Maarten

From nightclubs to casinos and even a piano bar, you’ll have equally as much fun when the sun goes down in St. Maarten. When you’re ready to relax on the beach — dark sunglasses on — you’ll be spoiled for choice with 37 beaches.

  • Top five beaches: Red Bay, Nettle Bay, Friars’ Bay Beach, Pinel Island, Orient Bay.
  • Must do/see: Visit the French town of Marigot and historic Fort Amsterdam near Philipsburg. Then, laze on beaches galore.
  • Cost: High range.
  • Stay at: Oyster Bay Beach Resort, which has an outdoor pool, private beach and sun-soaked terrace where you can recover from the night before.
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Bottom line

We’ll be the first to admit there’s no place on earth with the hula-hula groove that Hawaii owns. But if you’re looking for an island paradise with miles of glittering sand and a laid-back state of mind, these places serve to thrill and delight every time.

If you’re in the mood for a more bohemian escape, check out our guide to the best overwater bungalows in the Caribbean. In places like Panama, they’re less pricey than you might expect.

We sourced nightly accommodation rates from ushotels.finder.com.

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