June 23, 2016 / Property Spotlight

12 Family-Friendly Beach Destinations

These coastal resorts offer pristine beaches, welcoming restaurants, natural wonders, and calm waters for the youngest swimmers and surfers


Coastal resorts come in a variety of styles. While some emphasize nightlife and glamour at their exclusive bars and restaurants, others cater to families with young children whose top priorities are to swim, collect shells, and find the best ice cream in town. Such low-key destinations have plenty of kid-friendly options for dining, shopping, and local adventures. Filled with charming stores and the sorts of restaurants where no one minds if a little sand gets tracked in from the beach, these summer getaways know how to make families feel at home. Here are a dozen favorites from around the world.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

The historic Brant Point Lighthouse is an iconic sight in Nantucket, and it's also a wonderful place to climb up and enjoy panoramic views of Nantucket Harbor.Deftly blending the shingled look of a 19th-century whaling captain’s house with a modern interior and technological innovations like geothermal heating, Eel Point is the ideal contemporary Nantucket estate.

The island of Nantucket is synonymous with getting away from it all. In fact, its name was adapted from the native Wampanoag word for “faraway land.” Situated just south of Cape Cod, Nantucket keeps a relatively low profile. Arriving there is like arriving back in time as the island still maintains elements of its past as a 19th-century whaling community. Many of its streets are lined with beautifully preserved examples of early New England architecture, and an array of family-owned small businesses contribute to the old-fashioned yet lively ambience of the downtown area. Nantucket is also home to numerous family-friendly beaches such as Jetties Beach, Brant Point, and the aptly named Children’s Beach.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney is renowned for its beaches, especially Bondi Beach, which has special areas devoted to swimming and sunbathing, as well as its own skate park.This seven-bedroom estate in Sydney’s Balmoral district reflects the best of Sydney with its water views, proximity to the shore, and modern yet inviting design.

Sydney’s coastal perch is dotted with beaches for surfers, sunbathers, and swimmers to enjoy. Families will find much to love at the city’s most famous beach, Bondi. Located just six miles from the city center, Bondi Beach has designated areas for surfing and swimming, plenty of golden sand for sunbathing, and a wide paved path for walking or jogging. Gelato stands add to the appeal, and there’s even an impressive skate park. Australia’s largest city also offers a bit of nature to explore via the Royal Botanic Garden and the Chinese Garden of Friendship, both delightful places to seek shade and greenery.

San Diego, California

With some of the finest weather anywhere as well as 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is a swimmer’s paradise.This three-bedroom residence near the village of Del Mar serves up panoramic views.

Although San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States, its unhurried pace gives it an atmosphere more akin to a coastal resort. This unique destination also has a world-class contemporary art museum, the spectacular Balboa Park botanical gardens, and the famed San Diego Zoo, among other attractions. Its 70 miles of coastline and nearly perfect weather make San Diego a favorite city among those who love to swim, surf, and stroll along the shore. West Bonita Cove is great for families with young children due to its big playground, and La Jolla Shores is known for its gentle waves.

Corfu, Greece

Boasting both historic charm and spectacular beaches, Corfu is one of the largest of the Ionian Islands.Kommeno Villa, an eight-bedroom estate on the Kommeno peninsula in Corfu, has an infinity pool that provides breathtaking views of the sea.

It’s easy to see why Corfu is one of Greece’s most popular islands. Its olive groves, white sandy beaches, and charming, walkable Old Town (the oldest section of which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) all make this island a favorite with families. Horse trekking is a popular way to explore the countryside, and glass-bottom boat tours reveal the flora and fauna of the sea. While Agios Gordios beach is home to a number of friendly restaurants and a playground, many of the beaches in Paleokastritsa offer boat rentals as well as caves to explore.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Pawleys Island is a quiet, sandy enclave in the South Carolina Lowcountry that has been a summer retreat since the 18th century.This four-bedroom Pawleys Island estate sits right on the water and offers an ideal blend of rustic charm and<br> state-of-the-art amenities.</br>

The name Pawleys Island refers to both a town in South Carolina’s Georgetown County and the barrier island on which the town sits. With a low year-round population, it is a true getaway—even during high season. One of the oldest resort areas on the East Coast, the island is named after George Pawley, who owned the land in the middle of the 18th century and gradually sold parcels to fellow planters. Today, the island may have a few more inns and restaurants, but overall it retains its relaxed pace. Young visitors will appreciate that most of the action here happens at the beach.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s beaches offer clear Caribbean waters and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.This open and modern four-bedroom villa is located in Dorado, a resort town with multiple beaches and golf courses located about half an hour from San Juan.

With its brightly colored buildings and seaside location, Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan is a dynamic city that provides a tropical breath of fresh air to residents and visitors alike. Families enjoy visiting the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th-century Spanish fort on the water that is full of cannons and passageways. San Juan’s beaches include many options for those seeking a quiet respite from the crowds. At peaceful Ocean Park Beach, palm trees provide shade and beachfront restaurants allow families to stay near the water all day and even into the evening.

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

The town of Kailua-Kona serves up fun for the whole family against a breathtaking backdrop of green mountains and sandy beaches.This spectacular open-plan residence in Kailua-Kona offers five bedrooms and a location close to Uluweuweu Bay and the Kukio Golf and Beach Club.

Kailua-Kona is a vibrant resort town on the western side of the island of Hawaii. Once a retreat for the Hawaiian royal family, it has much to entice kids as well as their parents, from snorkeling in beautiful Kahaluʻu Bay to the annual Kona Coffee Festival. There are so many extraordinary birds and tropical plants here that an ordinary hike could turn into the highlight of a budding naturalist’s summer vacation. The Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast Hawaii Scenic Byway (an official designation) also offers some fascinating archaeological treasures for the historically inclined. While the water at Kikau Beach is generally serene, bigger kids can have fun on their boogie boards at Kua Bay Beach Park.

Biarritz, France

The seaside resort city of Biarritz in southwestern France is at once a summer haven and a mecca for surfers.A spacious three-bedroom penthouse in the Miramar district of Biarritz presents panoramic views of the Atlantic ocean.

Biarritz overlooks the Bay of Biscay in southwestern France, just over 20 miles north of Spain. Known for its grand hotels and casinos, some of which date back to the 19th century, Biarritz was one of the first places in Europe to embrace surfing in the late 1950s. Local architectural treasures include Empress Eugenie’s palace, known today as the Hôtel du Palais. Among the multiple beaches of Biarritz, many families prefer Port Beach, which is set into a rocky cove that keeps its winds low and waters calm.

 Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island, has a rich maritime history dating back to the Colonial period.This four-bedroom estate is located in a resort-style waterfront community on Goat Island in Newport Harbor.

Home to some of the most opulent Gilded Age mansions in America, Newport also claims the famed Vanderbilt estate, The Breakers. The city is surrounded on three sides by water, so it’s no surprise that there are many spectacular beaches here. The largest, Easton’s Beach, has an impressive list of extras including a store, snack bar, shaded pavilion, skate park, playground, and even a refurbished carousel from the 1950s. Gooseberry Beach is also a favorite among families for its calm waters and café.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a tropical haven of white sand beaches, vibrant music and culture, and nature preserves full of exotic plants and animals.Vida de Mar is a five-bedroom waterfront villa tucked into a quiet corner of Saint John just a few minutes from the dining and nightlife of Cruz Bay.

The U.S. Virgin Islands east of Puerto Rico enjoy a similar combination of sun, tropical climes, and local color. The main islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix boast a rich blend of history and culture as well as natural beauty, white sand beaches, lush tropical foliage, and exotic creatures. Each of the main islands offers activities for families as well. On Saint John, the Virgin Islands National Park covers much of the island and offers hiking trails, reefs, snorkeling spots, petroglyph sites, and iguanas galore.

The Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore has dozens of shore towns with beaches large and small that appeal to families with young children. Many of them have old-fashioned boardwalks which offer amusements, food and drink, and prime people-watching along the shore.This eight-bedroom waterfront estate in Long Beach Township sits on 1.9 acres and boasts nearly 8,000 square feet of living space.

New Jersey may be famous for its beach arcades and amusement parks, but it’s also home to one of the nation’s oldest seaside resorts, Cape May, where well-heeled Philadelphians vacationed as early as the 18th century. The nearby town of Ocean Grove is known for its concentration of Victorian buildings as well as its beaches, boardwalks, and parks. The Jersey Shore hosts several seaside villages that are ideal for families, particularly Red Bank, Belmar, and Long Beach Island, which is famous for its nature preserve and relaxed, kid-friendly beaches.

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is the go-to summer resort for locals in the know, offering a sophisticated blend of seafood, shopping, and diverse beaches.The royal roots of Cascais are on full display at Rainha Maria Pia de Sabóia, a 15-bedroom seaside villa built in the 19th century as a summer residence for royalty.

The history of Cascais is not unlike that of Biarritz. Ever since Portuguese King Luís I began frequenting the quiet fishing village as a summer resort in the 1870s, it has been a favorite destination for those who love to relax by the sea. Located on the western edge of Lisbon and featuring a spectacular coastline, Cascais also has a historic downtown with restaurants, shopping, and small museums. Picturesque Conceicao Beach is a favorite spot for families due to its calm, clean waters and cafés. Find a luxury beach property to call home 


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