The ten best cities for sunbathing

After you’ve been cooped-up inside all winter, that first day of nice weather at home feels like a gift from heaven. Clothes come off, frisbees start flying and the hardcore sunbathing begins. Even if it’s still cold where you live, the prospect of warmer days ahead looms large. In preparation for the endless days of spring and summer, here’s ten of our favorite spots for sunbathing around the world. Grab yourself a towel and some sunscreen and check it out.

10. Barcelona, Spain
Barceloneta Beach is ideally located at the water’s edge in Barcelona with fantastic restaurant and nightclub options at the nearby boardwalk. While the cleanliness of the sand has been an object of controversy in recent years, Barceloneta cannot be matched for its proximity to the many urban options that Barcelona affords. When you tire of the Mediterranean sun, there is Las Ramblas, La Sagrada Familia, Montjuic, Park Guell, and the smattering of architectural tributes to Gaudi.9. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles offers a wide variety of beaches, from gritty Venice Beach to trendy, hip Malibu. For the best sunbathing, Zuma Beach in Malibu is the destination. A city surrounded by beach options, Zuma is one of the largest and most popular options in Los Angeles County; known for its long, wide stretches of sand and excellent surf. It consistently ranks among the healthiest beaches for clean water conditions in Los Angeles County. Grab a red one-piece and imagine yourself in a Baywatch episode.

8. New York, New York (tie)
Manhattanites know about Carl Schurz Park. This 15 acre parkland on the Upper East Side boasts a waterfront promenade built over FDR Drive. Sunbathing options abound with winding, shady paths, green lawns, waterfront views, a large playground for children, and two dog runs. Bring a towel and picnic basket, plug in your iPod to Astrud Gilberto and imagine you’re on Copacabana Beach.

8. Punta del Este, Uruguay (tie)
South Americans looking for an escape retreat to Punta del Este, an upscale resort town invaded by wealthy denizens of Buenos Aires and Montevideo from early November until late February. With a heady ancestral mix of Spanish and Italian descendants, this Southern Hemisphere destination is perfect for those seeking the “endless summer.” Punta has scenic coasts and beaches with the Rio de la Plata on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. All beaches on the peninsula have public access. Sunbathers have the option of choosing quiet and calm areas to others with strong waves and the requisite surfers, all with fine white or golden sand.

7. Bondi Beach, Sydney
Located 20 minutes from central Sydney, Bondi (pronounced “Bond-Eye”) is the quintessential beach abounding with sun, sand, and sensuality You’d be hard-pressed to find more heavenly bodies than on this half-mile stretch of paradise. Bondi is replete with a wide range of food, entertainment and accommodation options nearby. Here you’ll find fantastic waves, sunbathing models, year-round sun and the coolest beach-side vibe anywhere. And if you really want to blend in and look like an Australian, take a surfing class. Lets Go Surfing, conveniently located in Bondi, is one of the most professional surf schools in Australia.

6. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is certainly not a beach, and not anywhere near a very good beach. However, the banks of the Charles River come alive (and shirts begin to peel off) the moment mercury rises above 68. With a population of 1 in 6 attending any one of the many institutions of higher learning, this hip town has a great deal of young eye candy to enjoy without wandering too far from the dignified boundaries of Beacon Hill or the Back Bay. The Esplanade has miles of jogging and rollerblade trails, and an abundance of manicured lawns to enjoy your choice of literature from Isabel Allende to Emile Zola. After the sun sets, you may be lucky to enjoy a concert at the Hatch Shell.

5. Miami South Beach, Florida

It wasn’t long ago that South Beach was nothing more than a tawdry, tacky strip of forgotten beach land. South Beach has experienced resurgence in the past 20 years to become one of the “hippest” beach destinations in the US. The famous strip affords more miles of undulating sand and perfectly sculpted bodies than seems mortally possible. Beautiful bodies can be found on the beaches, but more so in the hotel pools that line the coast. At the end of the day, head inland a few blocks to the stylish clubs, restaurants and shopping along Lincoln Road, Washington Avenue and Ocean Drive.

4. Paris, France
Though not anywhere near a beach, Paris tops our list of “urban” sunbathing options. In 2002, Paris introduced “Paris Plage,” (Paris Beach), a free summer event that transforms the banks of the Seine River into 3 distinct districts. Those in search of a “traditional” beach (as “traditional” as one might find in a city of 3 million) should head between the Pont Neuf and Pont de Sully bridges. With classic French panache, this location features sand and grass beaches, parasols and chaise lounges–all free! Even the obligatory Le Hot Dog is served in French fashion–stuffed inside a baguette.

Near Pompidou Center, the area takes on a tropical flair, while in the northern reaches of La Vilette boating and water sport options abound. When the sun sets, enjoy many of free concerts offered throughout the season. Considering Paris already has nearly everything a visitor could want, we can now add the “Best City for Sunbathing” to the list.

3. Honolulu, Hawaii
With Diamond Head as an impressive background, the beach at Waikiki is a slice of Hawaiian heaven, offering great weather, good restaurants, and a two-mile stretch of fantastic, sandy beaches. Though Waikiki can be particularly costly (parking and food) and overrun with tourists, nearby Kuhio Beach Park is a quieter, more affordable option. The warm, clear, shallow waters cannot be beat. You may be fortunate to be present during the many events the beach hosts throughout the year, including surf competitions, hula dancing, outrigger canoe racing and outdoor performances. Don’t be tempted to lift one of the grass skirts to see if there’s some sort of vibrating mechanism underneath. These movements should not be attempted at home unless a chiropractor is nearby.

2. San Diego, California
In San Diego, the beach is a way of life, a source of pride and a defining influence in people’s lives. San Diego comes in a strong second due to the sheer number of beaches that run the length of an entire county, from its northern extremity at Oceanside to its southern border with Mexico. Additionally, with 365 days of perfectly balanced sunshine per year, San Diego can’t be beat. La Jolla, an affluent neighborhood with several stunning beaches, tranquil coves and foamy surf, is ideal for families.

Heading north, the exclusive communities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Leucadia have dramatic coastlines and vistas. Film buffs will recognize the Hotel del Coronado from “Some Like It Hot” on Coronado Island. Your sunbathing may (or may not be) interrupted by troops jogging by as the San Diego Naval Base is situated nearby. When the sun sets, the many activities and pleasures of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, Mission Bay, and Sea World are at your doorstep.

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio’s Ipanema Beach has long been considered one of the Sexiest Beaches in the World, Combining the very best any city has to offer with great restaurants, fashionable clubs, and world-class museums, the beach at Ipanema tops our list. Brash with Brazilian style, Ipanema sways to its own captivating rhythm. Somehow I must have gotten by the sensors on the beach which magically prevents anyone from entering with more than a single-digit body fat index. With bravado, the young, fit and beautiful Brazilians hold court one of the most enticing sunbathing destinations on earth.

Oahu’s Best Beaches

It’s time to take a trip around the ever-famous island of Oahu for a beach bopping bonanza (I couldn’t help myself with the alliteration)! There are so many worthy beaches on this small but populated island that I’ll be breaking down my favorite beaches all the way around. There are seven of ’em (there was no way I could narrow down the list), so let’s get started.

Magic Island: Your visit to Honolulu wouldn’t be complete without a picnic at the ever-tranquil, always crowded, and aptly named Magic Island. It’s really not an island; rather, this is a beach park with a long stretch of man-made beach with tranquil waters that are protected by a man-made reef. Outside the reef are some of Ala Moana’s best surf breaks — namely Courts, Concessions, Big Rights, and Marine Land. Whether you’re visiting the Magic Island during the week or on the weekend, you’re sure to catch a scent of the kalbi or burgers on a barbecue grill, and the sight of at least a half dozen stand-up paddlers exercising their shoulders inside the reef pool.

Waikiki Beach: The beach itself is packed with tanning tourists, and the waters are jammed with beginner and local surfers, but there’s something uniquely Hawaiian about the “scene” around Waikiki Beach. This is quintessential Hawaii, and to not spend at least some time people watching or wading in its tranquil waters is like saying you’ve never been to Hawaii at all. Be sure to snap a shot of the Duke statue in front of Queens Break while you’re at it.
Diamond Head: It windsurfing is your thing, the Diamond Head is your haven. From atop Cliffs, you can see the snake-like swell for miles and watch the surfers and windsurfers catching their rides of the day. Head down the paved ramp to the beach, and claim a plot of sand for yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the beach’s frequent visitors — Hawaiian monk seals, who enjoy sunbathing by day. A word of caution, the beach can get a bit windy, and it’s not wise to park it under the rocky cliff, as rock slides are common.

Sandy Beach: The popular video of Barack Obama bodysurfing at Sandy Beach makes the waves here seem manageable, but proceed with caution: many amateurs have broken necks in the shorebreak at Sandy’s and the rip currents on any given day are not to be taken lightly! Sandy’s can draw majorly local crowds especially on the weekends. It is well-known as a high school hangout spot, but the scene here is just part of its appeal. The flat, open green is perfect for flying kites, and it’s an ideal place to barbecue or just chill out.

Lanikai Beach: This list would be incomplete without a shout out to perhaps the state’s most famous beach, Lanikai, just east of Kailua. Lanikai Beach has long been named as one of the world’s top ten most beautiful beaches — and deservedly so. The sand here is so white and fine, you might wonder whether you’re walking on a cloud, and the water is so calm and crystal clear that you can see your little pinky toe. It’s really a sight to behold.

Ehukai Beach: While Ehukai Beach itself isn’t anything too special, when winter rolls around, the pounding surf makes this the place to be. That’s because Ehukai is home to none other than the one of the world’s most famous surf breaks: the Banzai Pipeline. If you get here on a good day — or when a surf contest is being held (usually in December), you’ll be completely shocked and pleasantly surprised by the population of onlookers. Every foot of sand is claimed by hot surfers, bikini babes, and other attractive people. It’s really the place to be — but only in the winter months. If you for some reason miss the swell, head just a mile west and check out the turtles at Laniakea Beach.

Makaha Beach: If you’re brave enough to venture way out to the wild west of Oahu, your trip would not be complete without at least a brief stop at the beautful Makaha Beach. Perhaps the least crowded of all the beaches on this list, Makaha (the Hawaiian word for “fierce”), is also the most authentically Hawaiian beach of the bunch. The Keaulana family and Rell Sunn made this beach famous, and the place remains steeped in history and legend.