Beach Hotels

This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

The Caribbean oftentimes musters up images of massive beach resorts. Even some of the most luxurious options can be teeming with crowds that filter from the various restaurants to the packed beaches to the lively pool scene, frequented by both splashing kids and partying co-eds. But during our travels around the islands, we’ve also found plenty of quiet hidden gems. These beachfront boutiques have the look and vibe of a casual oceanside hut – but nonetheless deliver a hotel-like experience with on-site amenities and activities, and quaint, well-designed rooms. Explore our 10 favorite low-key properties on the Caribbean sands.

Coyaba Beach Resort, Jamaica

 Coyaba

For travelers who want to enjoy a resort experience but still prefer a more intimate hotel, the Coyaba Beach Resort is an attractive upper-middle-range option. The 50 plantation-style rooms are spacious, and guests won’t feel crowded or cramped at the private beach (even though it’s small). An all-inclusive option lets guests dine and drink on the property, and couples will likely appreciate the spa services, lush gardens providing shade and privacy, and the quiet pool.

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Looking to escape to the beach for one last summer hurrah? Well, have we got the place for you: New Jersey. Stay with me. The Garden State has 130 miles of coastline and, contrary to what MTV might have you believe, not all of those beaches are chockfull of Snookis and Situations. Cape May has some of our favorite stays on the Shore that are anything but typical (or trashy). At this seaside town, visitors can catch some waves, swim with the dolphins, go whale watching, shop ‘til they drop, and so much more. Of course, there are always boozy days on the beach a la our favorite guidos, but Cape May and other Jersey towns are proving that there’s a lot more fun to be had down the Shore than just keg stands and table dancing.

1. The Mission Inn

Mission Inn

Unlike the majority of the Victorian-style bed and breakfasts in the Cape May area — or anywhere on the East Coast, for that matter — the Mission Inn, built in 1912, was constructed in the classic California Spanish architectural style. Perfect for couples seeking a romantic getaway by the Jersey Shore, the upscale inn includes individually designed rooms (each themed after a different California mission) and an impressive home-cooked daily breakfast. And bonus: You’re only a block from sun and sand. Read More »

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Maybe it’s the summer heat that’s getting to us, but lately we’ve been loving the idea of showering outdoors. We guess we’ve just decided that there’s no better way to cool down and wash away inhibitions than with an outdoor scrub down. Since we think you might be feeling the summer heat, too, here’s a list of 10 of our favorite hotels that have private outdoor showers — some even have outdoor baths!

GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, Jamaica

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GoldenEye’s cottages and villas are hip and stylish without seeming out of place in Jamaica. Jalousie shutters and hardwood floors add an authentic island feel, while luxe details such as clawfoot bathtubs and kitchens featuring designer appliances are a cut above what is found at most other Jamaican resorts. All units have views of either the serene lagoon or the ocean, and come with private porches equipped with lounge chairs, tables and chairs, and even kayaks. But we love the outdoor showers (and bathtubs!) where you can soak and soap in a beautiful, open-air garden setting.

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For travelers on a budget, a jaunt to the Mediterranean might seem off limits. Known for its gorgeous scenery, temperate climate, sumptuous cuisine, and sky-high price tags, the area is often thought of as a playground exclusively for the rich and famous. But we believe everyone deserves a fabulous vacation and a trip to the Mediterranean is, well, fabulous! So our team of Oyster investigators has searched high and low to find hotels across the Mediterranean that are a little more wallet-friendly  than you’d expect. (We don’t expect any thanks and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but, sure — you’re welcome). Here are 11 of our favorites.

Villaggio Colostrai, Sardinia

Villaggio Colostrai

Villaggio Colostrai is a budget traveler’s best bet in Sardinia. The hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, nightly activities for adults and children, and free parking. Rooms are pretty basic, and the hotel doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, but its manicured grounds and incredible pool, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, will certainly make up for any shortcomings.

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Honeymoons, anniversaries, or just weekends away can be made all the more romantic with a bottle of champagne for drinking and a hot tub for soaking. But it can kinda kill the mood if you have to share the whirlpool with other hotel guests, or if it’s nestled up alongside a pool teeming with splashing tots. That’s why we’ve found some hotels that offer private whirlpools — either in luxurious bathrooms or on lovely wooden decks — in various room types so your jetted bath time won’t be disturbed. Here are our 11 favorites — we just couldn’t narrow it down to 10.

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

Wailea’s aptly named Fairmont Kea Lani is a “white heaven” indeed — its 450 units sit on a 22-acre beachfront property that includes four pools, four restaurants and one lounge, access to world-class golf, some of Maui’s largest rooms, and a relentless dedication to service that rivals the nearby Four Seasons. The Two Bedroom Villa pictured above is definitely for deep-pocketed patrons that want a romantic getaway. The spacious villa has a separate living and dining room area, but its most alluring feature is the terrace with a private jetted pool and gorgeous views of the water.

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It’s hard to pick just one spot to visit in Southern Italy. After all, it seems that every corner of the region is rife with beautiful scenery, architecture, and attractions. But if you’re just in the area for a quick trip, it’s worth starting your time in Sorrento. A laid-back, seaside town set on a cliff, Sorrento is surrounded by some of Italy’s more popular tourist destinations – Naples and Pompeii to the north; the island of Capri just offshore; Positano and the famed Amalfi Coast to the east. With a large selection of hotels and easy transportation options, it’s the perfect home base for a southern Italian vacation. Aside from being a gateway to other areas, Sorrento is also a lovely place to stay. Scented by lemon groves and offering stunning views of the Bay of Naples, its Old World charm remains intact, with a maze of beautiful, cobbled backstreets and an assortment of quaint shops. Here are six of our favorite Sorrento hotels.

Grand Hotel Royal

Grand Hotel Royal. Sorrento, Italy

Grand Hotel Royal. Sorrento, Italy

Grand Hotel Royal is set dramatically above the Bay of Naples, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto the well-manicured garden and pool overlooking the bay. It’s only a short walk from Piazza Tasso, popularly considered the center of Sorrento’s old town, and the area’s train station is also a few minutes walk away. There’s frequent service heading towards Naples, with stops at stations that offer access to the Herculaneum and Pompeii. The ferry station with service to Capri is close by the hotel as well.

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Whether you’re a total pro or a complete amateur, there’s nothing quite like the rush of surfing. And for us here at Oyster, there’s nothing quite like the rush of finding the perfect hotel either. So we’ve combined these two awesome feelings to come up with nine amazing surf destinations…and some pretty great hotels to go with ‘em.

Honolulu

Sunset-Surfing-in-Waikiki-Oahu-Hawaii

World famous Waikiki Beach is the perfect place to catch a wave. You won’t be alone, however, as this sandy stretch receives more than four millions visitors every year. Waikiki abounds with surf shops and instructors, making it easy for pros to brush up on their skills and first timers to learn the tricks of the trade.

Where to Stay: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

When it opened its doors in 1901, the Moana Surfrider was Waikiki’s first hotel. Now that it shares the spotlight with a multitude of others, guests will appreciate Moana’s old-world ambiance. Though the hotel is often packed with people, it sits on one of the nicest stretches of Waikiki Beach, perfect for surfers and non-surfers alike.

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Forget rusty aluminum chairs and fraying towels — these top hotels cabanas only come equipped with first-rate finds. Here’s a roundup of our favorite poolside bungalows designed for discerning loungers: Picture plush seating, shade, salty ocean air, and fancy extras, all right by the pool so you can take a dip whenever you please. These 10 cozy nooks also dazzle with high-tech features and jaw dropping views.

Viceroy Anguilla

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Offering the ultimate in poolside luxury, Viceroy Anguilla provides guests with their own private poolside oasis. Cabanas come with sofa beds, lounge chairs, and gourmet treats. After all, opened in 2009, the Viceroy is the most modern property on this tiny island — and arguably the most luxurious. The Kelly Wearstler-designed resort manages to mix an upscale look with a laid-back, beachy feel, and features sleek lines, modern amenities, numerous art installations, earth tones, animal prints, and wood, stone, and gold accents throughout.

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We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.

The Hotel: Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey

Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.

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Remember how exciting it was to go on school trips to the aquarium? Getting an up-close look at marine life – from tiger sharks to stingrays – was always an enchanting experience. Well it turns out aquariums are a fun sight at any age… and they certainly add a tropical, under-the-sea vibe to otherwise bland spaces. That’s why it’s no surprise that a good number of the hotels we have visited have installed fish tanks to add a cool oceanic feature for kids and adults to enjoy without having to suit up. Several of these hotels have gone above and beyond in bringing the awe factor to their aquariums. In typical grandeur Vegas fashion, three of its properties made our list, but you’ll want to visit all seven spots!

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

Mandalay

The giant, 3,215-room Mandalay Bay offers a wave pool and streaming lazy river pool for kids, as well as a quality spa, lively bar,s and premier cuisine for adults. But everyone can enjoy the 1.6-million-gallon Shark Reef Aquarium with about 2,000 sea creatures on display, including 15 different kinds of sharks. In one of the exhibits, visitors can experience an almost 360-degree view of the fish and sharks swimming about; another displays the bright jellyfish. If just looking isn’t good enough, there’s a popular Touch Pool, where guests can touch sharks, rays, and horseshoe crabs.

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