Not all beaches are created equal. The sands of some are whiter and finer, the waves of others stronger or calmer (depending on the water sports they are known for), and at peak season, each one experiences varying degrees—and pedigrees—of congestion. In other words, some beaches get all the ritz, while others rank little more than regular.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that some of the world’s most spectacular shores are also the most extravagant. The French Riviera, considered one of the first modern resort areas in history, plays host to an exclusive tourist population of the rich and famous. Faces we know from the screen, stage, and society pages relax in canopied lounge chairs under the morning sun and revel in elite nightclubs for their evening entertainment. And it isn’t just the A-listers who make the coastlines so alluring—many of these five-star beaches have appeared in Hollywood films and chart-topping music videos, raising them to celebrity status in their own right.

That being said, here are six of the most glamorous seaside hotspots that most folks can only dream of visiting. Read on—and take a vicarious vacation through our glitzy picks!


ST. TROPEZ, FRANCE

glam_beaches_st_tropez.jpgDubbed a “playground to jetsetters, models, and millionaires,” this commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France is home to perhaps the most famous stretch of beach in the French Riviera. In the ‘50s, St. Tropez received an astonishing amount of exposure due to the film Et Dieu…créa la femme (And God Created Woman) starring sexpot Brigitte Bardot, and its reputation as a summer mecca for the fabulously wealthy has only escalated since.

There are at least 40 Tropezian beaches on the peninsula, including the famed Bouillabaisse Beach, Caneliers Beach, and Salins Beach (some private beaches support the naturist movement, in which clothing is optional.) Each beach is furnished with shaded cabanas and tanning areas, ideal for vacationers who love to sit back and unwind. For those who prefer more active pursuits, the nearby concessionaires offer jet-skiing, scuba-diving, wind-surfing, and other water sports. And then of course, there’s sailing. The port of St. Tropez, once a thriving commercial hub, now anchors some of the largest, most beautiful yachts in the world—showcased in a tourist-drawing regatta every October. Music industry power couple Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z have been known to dock at the posh port, as have U2 frontman Bono and the Beckhams.

(Photo source: sxc.hu)


CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO

glam_beaches_cabo_san_lucas.jpgKnown simply as “Cabo,” this seaside city in Baja California, Mexico draws celebrity clientele year-round with its white beaches, incredible scuba locations, and a breathtaking local landmark called El Arco de Cabo San Lucas—a stone arch in the middle of the ocean.  World-class resorts, timeshares, and spas dot the stretch between Cabo San Lucas and nearby San José del Cabo (called the Tourist Corridor). Cabo’s happening night life is also one to draw crowds, with a club list that includes the star-studded Tiki Bar, Mandala, and El Squid Roe, as well as legendary resto-bar Cabo Wabo Cantina, owned by Sammy Hagar of Van Halen.

Cabo is also a hotspot for natural marine activity. In winter, groups of whales (called pods) give birth to their calves in the warm water—a sight not to be missed. The area also boasts of a rich population of big gaming fish, which is why Cabo hosts the largest marlin tournament in the world. All of this, added to the awe-inspiring rock formations that jut out from the sand and sea, is what makes Cabo San Lucas a go-to getaway for famous Friends stars Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox and Fantastic Four’s Jessica Alba.

(Photo by HL02007 via sxc.hu)


IBIZA, SPAIN

glam_beaches_ibiza.jpgLocated off the coast of Spain’s Iberian Peninsula, Ibiza (or Eivissa, as it is officially known in the Catalan dialect) is perhaps the most celebrated party beach on the planet. Although tourism officials are working towards the promotion of more family-friendly entertainment, the name Ibiza still remains a buzzword for the island’s wild 24-hour beach festivities and the pumping dance music that propels them. Celebrated bars and nightclubs include Space and DC10, which “start” the party season in June and “close” it in October, as well as the sunset-centric Café del Mar, whose brand of electronic chill-out music was made famous by resident DJ José Padilla.

Set against this non-stop party atmosphere, Ibiza’s gorgeous coastline and archaic topography make it an exciting, exotic destination—boasting of regulars like supermodel Kate Moss, socialite Paris Hilton, and actress Penelope Cruz. Clear, calm waters prevail at Cala Bassa and Cala Conta; snorkeling and diving are must-dos at Cala Vadella; and a panoramic view of the stunning bay awaits at Cala d’Hort. Large sectors of both the Ibicenco sea and the shore are registered UN World Heritage Sites, including the digit-like rock formation “God’s Finger” in the Benirràs Bay.

(Photo source: sxc.hu)


BALI, INDONESIA

glam_beaches_bali.jpgConsidered the number one tourist destination in Indonesia, the island of Bali is replete with both culture and coast. The Sanur shore, once the only tourist hub in the country, is laden with ancient temples; the small Soka and Medewi beaches are perfect for secluded contemplation; while the Kuta and Legian stretch is a major surfing spot. Then, of course, there’s the glitzy, glamorous resort area of Nusa Dua, with its famed marine life, manicured golf courses, soothing spas, and five-star accommodations.

America’s Sweetheart Julia Roberts (whose new film Eat, Pray, Love is filmed in part on the island), actress Jessica Biel, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have all made the rounds at Bali. Adventure tours that include elephant rides, rice paddy treks, and white water rafting certainly appeal to both the famous and anonymous. While terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005 scared off much of the tourist population, the island’s striking culture, rare wildlife, and pure, pure shores are slowly but surely bringing back the It-crowd.

(Photo by cendol via sxc.hu)


THE BAHAMAS

glam_beaches_bahamas.jpgThe number of films shot entirely or in part in the Bahamas actually outnumbers the archipelago’s 29 isles—notably, there’s Splash, The Silence of the Lambs, Flipper, Into the Blue, the last two Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, and a handful of James Bond movies, including Casino Royale. The Bahamas have also been fraught with Hollywood tragedies—last year, actor John Travolta’s son Jett died in the Freeport area while on holiday; in 2001, RNB singer Aaliyah’s plane crashed right after she filmed her “Rock the Boat” video on the Abaco Islands; and after her death in 2007, notorious glamour model Anna Nicole Smith was interred at the island’s Lakeview Memorial Gardens. And still, amidst this barrage of good and bad press, the singular fact still remains that The Bahamas is an unparalleled beach destination—and now, a center for celebrity-spotting pilgrimages.

Needless to say, the Bahaman nation is home to some of the finest shores in the world. The famed Paradise Beach, accessible almost exclusively to guests of the chi-chi Atlantic Hotel, is arguably the most crystalline coast in the Caribbean. Then there’s the extremely popular (and populated) Xanadu Beach, where people go to see and be seen. Tahiti Beach, on the other hand, is a placid piece of sand and surf frequented mostly by the sailing set. City-dwellers will find the Western Esplanade, also known as Junkanoo Beach, only steps away from the capital of Nassau, where the islands’ holiday street parade, Junkanoo, is held on special occasions.

(Photo source: sxc.hu)


MONTE CARLO, MONACO

glam_beaches_monte_carlo.jpgBlue-bloods reign in magnificent Monte Carlo, a tax-free haven in the city-state of Monaco. If you think anyone who vacations in the French Riviera has got it made, you’re wrong—it is Monte Carlo, specifically, that welcomes the crème de la crème of the affluent and illustrious. Timeless actress Grace Kelly filmed Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief on location—and not long after wed the prince of Monaco (it doesn’t get any more glamorous than that).

Monte Carlo is home to a few thousand millionaires who spend their money at the casino, the opera, the races (Formula One Grand Prix, specifically), and especially the lavish beach community of Larvotto. Of the latter, which pits the city’s high-rise buildings against immaculate shores, the Travel Channel has said that this is one beach “…where women may go without their bikini tops, but wouldn’t dare to be seen without their jewels.” Luxury is a lifestyle among the regulars of Larvotto, so once they tire of lounging in their designer maillots, of sailing in their majestic yachts, and of downing caviar and Cristal, there’s always the cards table (where a grand is considered loose change).

(Photo source: sxc.hu)

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