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stephen_s
08-05-2005, 02:18 PM
http://www.traveldailynews.com/new.asp?new...bcategory_id=77 (http://www.traveldailynews.com/new.asp?newid=24073&subcategory_id=77)

Beach-goers swarm popular seaside getaways all year long looking for everything from rest and relaxation to action and adventure . Last year alone the Travel Industry Association reported that 105 million people headed to the beach, prompting a key question for vacationers: Where can solitude-seekers find their moment in the sun among the crowds? Travelocity`s editors have selected the top 10 lesser-known beach retreats that might have slipped through most travelers` radars. From local U.S. shores to more exotic Caribbean waters and beyond, this coastal collection features hidden sands that are ripe for discovery.

"Each year beach vacations rank among the most popular leisure getaways for travelers throughout the country," said Travelocity editor-at-large Amy Ziff. "Vacationers seeking a final summer escape this Labor Day or planning a sunny getaway for this winter will find that these lesser-known coastal retreats offer beauty and charm without the crowds of the more touristy spots."

Bonita Springs, Florida
Barefoot Beach Preserve: Venture through one of Naples` most exclusive neighborhoods, down a long, windy road to Little Hickory Island, home of the Barefoot Beach Preserve. On this barrier island, travelers can enjoy one of Southwest Florida`s most natural areas. Five distinct habitats within the preserve create a peaceful atmosphere with everything from beaches and sand dunes to dense jungle and nesting sea turtles.

Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii
Barking Sands Beach: With its singing sands and towering dunes, the only thing that separates Barking Sands Beach from the Mojave is the presence of waves so powerful that even the strongest swimmers don`t dare test these waters. Both scenery and seclusion attract beachgoers to this stretch of Polihale State Park. In fact, it`s so off-the-beaten-path that the paved road ends miles before the beach begins, and those wishing to experience this 15-mile stretch of beach must first pass through a military installation. Once visitors arrive, one glance at the sunset is all it takes to make the "trouble" worthwhile.

Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Beachwalker Park: With more than 10 miles of unspoiled coastline, Beachwalker Park sits peacefully on the western end of one of the country`s most beautiful barrier islands. Atypical of the promenades envisioned by most beachgoers, travelers won`t find seaside parties and t-shirt vendors here. Instead, the park`s boardwalk winds through live oaks, pines, palmettos, and yucca plants, inviting vacationers to enjoy nature at its best.

Malibu, California
Nicholas Canyon County Beach: Take a sharp turn off the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, down a dirt road to this very local, nearly hidden beach (blink, and you`ll miss the sign). Nicholas Canyon is popular with surfers for its "nectar" breaks. But the long, narrow stretch of sand also provides plenty of room for beachside activities. Bring a towel and nap under the sun or pick up SoCal fish tacos along the road for a "when in Rome" picnic with a view. The rocky part of the beach is a prime spot for fishing--a great place to catch carp and white seabass while exchanging tall-tales of the one that got away.

Outer Banks, North Carolina
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge: Named for its abundance of wild pea vines, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge has been a birder`s paradise since it was established in 1938. Nearly 300 species of bird and duck call this 12-mile stretch from Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe home. Many visitors also seek the peace and solitude of its pristine beaches for shelling, beachcombing and strolling along the shore.

Friday Harbor, Wash.
San Juan Islands: Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan make up what is known as the San Juan Islands, just off the coast of Washington state. These distinctly different paradises all offer 247 days of sunshine annually and half of the rain Seattle receives. Friday Harbor, a historic fishing village, welcomes visitors to San Juan`s rocky shores and sandy beaches. Go from late April through September to observe the island`s most famous residents-a pod of about 80 Orca whales that are best seen from Lime Kiln Point State Park, AKA "Whale Watch Park."

Belize
Southwater Caye: This simply charming island off the coast of the culture-rich fishing village of Dangriga offers little to be desired and much to be admired. Stand on the sandy white beaches of Southwater Caye, and gaze at nothing but clear blue waters. With its vast sea grass beds, shallow coral reefs and abundance of marine habitats, it`s no wonder this island serves as the hub of Southwater Caye Marine Park, a protected area of the Belize barrier reef. In fact, visitors get so close to the barrier reef, they can actually swim right out to it.

Barbuda
Wa`Omoni Beach Park: Known as the Caribbean`s last frontier, the nations of Antigua and Barbuda boast unspoiled beaches and exclusive resorts. Stay in Antigua, but head to Barbuda for a day trip. Can`t-miss pink and white beaches line the Barbuda coast, showing off its virtually uninterrupted sandy contour. Protected by barrier reefs, the smooth Southwestern shore stretches for more than 10 unbroken miles, while the island`s Eastern shore offers ideal beachcombing conditions with a more rugged edge facing the Atlantic waters. At Wa`Omoni Beach Park, enjoy the Frigate Bird Sanctuary or snorkel for lobster.

Puerto Rico
Bellanas Beach: Welcomed by Bellanas Bay, the blue, green and turquoise waters of the Caribbean create the picture-perfect blue lagoon. A tropical oasis shared only by Guanica`s 1,570-acre Dry Forest and more than half of all the species of birds that live in Puerto Rico, this two-mile stretch of beach beckons visitors with its unequivocal beauty and soft, white sands. Explore Bellanas Beach in all its glory, but, please leave only your footprints behind.

British Virgin Islands
Loblolly Bay Beach: While most of the British Virgin Islands are characterized by green hills and mountainous landscapes, the island of Anegada offers a different view. The ocean once submerged this flat coral atoll, which lingers just a few feet above sea level, showing off 12 miles of powdery white sand. One of the island`s most treasured beaches, Loblolly Bay Beach, boasts a 360-degree lookout and a 50-foot walkout into the ocean. Hint: If visitors really want to enjoy the scenery, grab a tropical concoction from one of the two seaside bars and relax on a hammock within the sea grapes that fringe the shore.

Rania Deimezi - Wednesday, August 03, 2005