Best Secluded Beach Retreats
The splurge destination: Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
When to go: April to September, when the weather is mild to warm
Sample economy airfare: $2,400 from Los Angeles to Hamilton Island
The allure: If the impossibly turquoise waters, white sands and lush greenery aren’t enticing enough, perhaps the diving, snorkeling, sailing, whale watching and wildlife spotting—koalas, wallabies and dingoes, oh my!—will lure you in.
Seshadri says the best time to visit is when it’s summer in the U.S., which is Australia’s winter—and when the weather in Queensland is most ideal. In August you can catch Audi Hamilton Island Race Week—one of Australia’s biggest regattas. Another great draw? Hamilton Island is the only Great Barrier Reef island with its own big commercial airport, so there are direct flights from hubs like Sydney and Melbourne.
For an unforgettable hotel stay, try the splurge-worthy Qualia, on the northernmost tip (from $995 per night). It’s the most upscale resort in the area—the property was ranked best in the world by Condé Nast Traveler in 2013. With its 60 private, beachfront pavilions, this is heaven on earth.
The budget-friendly alternative: Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica
When to go: January to April (peak season), when you’re likely to get the most sun
Sample economy airfare: $692 from New York City to Liberia
The allure: Located on the country’s north Pacific coast, the Peninsula Papagayo offers a good balance of resort life and pristine nature—at affordable prices. Plus, “a brand-new, first-class international airport and a bevy of new hotel openings has made the peninsula much more accessible,” Seshadri says.
That said, 70% of the peninsula must legally remain untouched, so overdevelopment isn’t an issue. Beaches are unspoiled, and the region’s tropical dry forests are home to over 400 species of animals, which you can explore via zip lines and canopy tours. Water activities range from windsurfing to kayaking, and you can catch some major waves at Ollie’s Point at the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Hotel rooms are often open-air and nestled in nature—and reasonably priced. A couple of new properties to consider: the Andaz Papagayo ($350 per night for a standard room) and the Hilton Papagayo ($278 per night for a room with a king bed).