No doubt about it, beaches the world over are among the sexiest places on the planet. After all, they're hot and people on them aren't wearing much (if anything at all). Of course, there are just about as many different kinds of sexy beaches as there are different kinds of sexy people. On one end of the sexy beach continuum lie romantic beaches, where couples stroll hand-in-hand while amber sunsets bathe the sand in a photo-finish glow. But we're not here to talk about those beaches.
Instead, we've been on the hunt for the hottest, steamiest, sexiest beaches around - the kinds of places where bronzed bums outnumber bathing suits and skinny dipping carries the shock value of a sand castle.
While much of the world is just starting to accept naturism and the nude beach goers that fuel the movement, nude beaches have been a part of Croatian beach culture for decades. In fact, the Croatian island of Rab is credited with inventing the naturist movement way back in the early 1900's. The country boasts plenty of sandy spots where travelers routinely strip down to sunbathe and swim, but Kandalora Beach is one of the most famous. Often called English Beach ever since England's King Edward VIII visited to skinny dip here with wife Wallis Simpson, this pebble-strewn destination is located on the southern side of the island's Frkanj peninsula and is accessible via boat from the main harbor in nearby Rab Town.
Ibiza. If all-night clubbing followed by limp days spent recovering on the beach are among your vacation goals, there is perhaps no better destination than Ibiza. Just outside Ibiza Town, Playa d'en Bossa is known for its high-energy, party-til-you-puke vibe and shallow Mediterranean waters. For those still standing after a night of pounding house music and god knows what else to go along with it, watercraft from catamarans to wind-surfing boards are available for rent right on the beach.
The young and the restless:
South Beach. See-and-be-scenesters count Miami's South Beach among the best people-watching destinations in the world. Just beyond the shops, restaurants and Art Deco treasures packed along main drags Ocean Drive and Collins Ave., South Beach is dotted with more toned beach bodies than palm trees (and there are a lot of palm trees). This is the beach to visit if your sexiest swimsuit isn't something you actually intend to swim in. And while having real sex on the beach might get you arrested, drinking one (or twelve) in a swanky beachfront bar nearby will hardly be a problem.
St. Barths's Grande Saline Beach. Hidden behind rolling dunes, St. Barths's Grande Saline Beach is both intensely popular among island vacationers and yet secluded enough to give canoodling couples ample space to coo amongst themselves. Most visitors arrive at this stretch of white sand by car and a short hike over the dunes to the beach. Officially speaking, nude sunbathing is not allowed, but that doesn't seem to bother beach visitors, who routinely belly up here sans swimsuits. While restaurants and resort hotels flank many of this tiny island's beaches, this swimming spot has neither, so plan accordingly.
Koh Phangan. With Thailand's tourist-friendly Koh Samui offering mostly upscale lodging options and restaurants, neighborhing Koh Phangan routinely draws neo-hippies and the gap-year, backpacker set with its laid-back atmosphere and flat white beaches. The island's monthly Full Moon Party is famous around the world for attracting hoards of 20-somethings, who arrive via boat to snag accommodations as far as two weeks in advance. Every full moon, the party takes place on Had Rin beach, where revelers pack the open-air bars lining the shore to dance and mingle with other travelers. By day, local women comb the beach selling fresh pineapple juice and Thai massages for next to nothing. The drama queen: Plage de Tahiti. With a little help from Bridget Bardot, St. Tropez became synonymous with fame, fortune and fabulousness during the late 1950s and hasn't looked back since. While the masses may head to other beaches just outside town, the sexiest swathe of sand can be found at Plage de Tahiti, located on the northern side of the Bay of Pampelonne. Famous faces are known to pop up here - usually behind sunglasses that outsize their bikini tops.
Girl next door:
Bondi Beach. Just about everyone who visits Sydney hits Bondi Beach for one reason or another. Locals and visitors hit the beach for annual festivals, athletic races, weekly markets and community events held there throughout the year, and thousands of families blanket the beach on Christmas Day each December. Near-universal crowd appeal, a cosmopolitan edge and obvious surfer style give this beach our ultra-sexy stamp of approval.
Pongwe Beach. With only 16 cottages set on an intimate white beach, Zanzibar island's Pongwe Beach is one of those rare places that really is away from "it all." Clear across the island from the main town, Stone Town, Pongwe doesn't have nightclubs or boutiques or fancy restaurants. In fact, the only all-night dancing you'll find here is the kind that takes place between the sheets. But that's exactly what's so appealing about it. Travelers who make the trek to the island's secluded east coast are rewarded with long, quiet days spent snorkeling, "sleeping," sunning and swimming - all within feet of the pale blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
Blacks Beach. As one of the most well known U.S. nude beaches, San Diego's Blacks Beach is the perfect place for curious couples to try out sunbathing in the buff. Hardly everyone who visits this beach strips down. In fact, on the southern end of the beach, which is owned by the city, nudity is prohibited and violators are routinely fined for baring it all. If you want to get neckit, head to the state-owned northern end. This end of the beach is often populated with more men than women, though everyone is welcome.