This is the view you get flying by helicopter into swanky Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos.
CNN  — 

With more than two-thirds of the globe covered by water, there’s plenty of seashore to go around in the summer.

But some beaches are better than others, and one easy way to find them is to locate the best coastal resorts – they have a knack of planting themselves in the best places.

They’re not just banking on the beaches, either. These coastal resorts are the best because they have the architecture and amenities to do justice to their surroundings.

Here are the top picks, by continent.


Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

The inviting entrance of the Four Seasons Resort, Sharm el Sheikh.

This Four Seasons Resort features four swimming pools, scuba diving and snorkeling at the Red Sea’s world-class coral reefs.

The architecture pays homage to Middle Eastern traditions.

The usual Four Seasons amenities like a fitness center, spa and a range of restaurants are available.

Frégate Island Private, The Seychelles

Celebrities seeking refuge from the paparazzi come to Frégate for the privacy. The three-square-kilometer island has just the one resort, which has rooms for only 40 guests at any given time.

Guests go for the villas, a cliff-top spa and deep-sea fishing excursions.

The steep price includes full board (island dining experiences anytime, anywhere), private butler service, guided nature walks to learn about the island’s vibrant ecology and non-motorized water sports.

MORE: 15 amazing eco-lodges around Africa

The Majlis, Kenya

Kenya may be better known for its safaris, but off its coast lie some beautiful islands that are regular haunts of wealthy vacationers. The Majlis opened towards the end of 2009, and it has quickly become a top destination.

A mixture of Italian style and Swahili culture, the hotel is decorated with coral stone, hand-carved wood and traditional East African art.

Rates include laser sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.

The Palms, Zanzibar

There are only six villas at The Palms resort, and while they have a traditional, thatched-roof design, they’re actually very luxurious.

Each has an outdoor plunge pool, two bedrooms, a living room and a furnished terrace where guests can lounge on silk-draped four-poster beds and look out at the Indian Ocean.

No one under 16 is allowed at the resort. It’s ideal for couples, with massages for two and a host of activities like kite-surfing, sailing and diving.

The rate is all-inclusive.

White Pearl Resorts in Ponta Mamoli, Mozambique

Mozambique’s not a top tourist destination yet, which should make White Pearl Resorts more appealing. It sits on a relatively isolated stretch of southern coastline.

Guests take a helicopter to the resort and sleep in stand-alone suites with a plunge pool and sea view. Daytime activities include riding horses on the beach and checking out the dolphins, whales and turtles on the offshore reef.

MORE: Best hotels in Mauritius: How top designers remade luxury in paradise


Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, Thailand

The Hyatt Regency's 200-meter beach is the longest of all the hotel beaches in Hua Hin.

Thailand is overflowing with exceptional resorts, but the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin stands out for two reasons. One, its stand-alone spa keeps winning awards, and two, the resort’s beach-front is the longest of all Hua Hin hotels.

Features include landscaped gardens and interconnected free-form swimming pools – along with a waterfall, Jacuzzi and waterslide.

Guests can participate in traditional ceremonies, like making lotus blossom offerings to monks.

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, The Maldives

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi's Ocean Pearls is a group of villas located 800 meters away from the main island.

Only suites are available at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, a Maldives hideaway, and the most popular are the overwater villas that look into clear waters showing coral and tropical fish.

Inside, you’ll find beds that are three meters wide, toiletries from Hermes and steps leading down to the ocean.

One&Only The Palm, Dubai

Located at the end of the surrounding crescent of Dubai’s man-made palm frond of resorts jutting into the Arabian Sea, One&Only The Palm is accessible by water taxi.

Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno heads STAY, the resort’s signature restaurant. Guests can opt for beach or skyscraper views.

The Legian, Bali

The Legian is almost as close to Seminyak’s nightlife and swanky shops as it is to the sea.

Having just completed a four-month-long renovation for the summer, everything about the resort looks and feels brand new.

Recommended: mojitos at the Pool Bar after a dinner of coral trout at the gourmet restaurant.

MORE: Asia’s most exciting 2017 hotel openings

Four Seasons The Nam Hai, Vietnam

The architecture is designed on feng shui guidelines and inspired by the Tu Doc royal tombs of Hue.

Vietnam’s best resort is the Nam Hai, located by the South China Sea. Every room features its own patio, indoor and outdoor showers and personal espresso machines.

A trio of swimming pools, a private beach and villas that come with their own private pool and butler … we like.


Amanruya, Turkey

Amanruya is a multi-level resort that overlooks the Aegean, and has the feel of a small hamlet.

Surrounded by olive groves and backed by pine-covered hills, its 36 cottages were designed to merge village comforts and Ottoman opulence with personal pools, traditional charcoal fireplaces, and indoor and outdoor showers.

Take an excursion to nearby historic sites, explore the countryside on horseback or sail the Aegean Sea. Alternately, the dining pavilions by the infinity pool combine top-notch Turkish food with stunning views.

Finca Cortesin, Spain

Finca Cortesin is home to 67 luxurious suites, even the smallest of which has its own private garden or terrace.

The villas have their own pools, spacious living rooms, and four lavish bedrooms. The renowned golf course hosts world championships.

MORE: 20 of Europe’s most beautiful hotels – from Ireland to Greece

Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, France

Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc is a multi-level resort set into a cliff overlooking the Riviera, immortalized as the Hôtel des Étrangers in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night.”

A 19th-century villa turned luxurious resort, the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc has a glamorous history to live up to, and does it splendidly. Antique furniture, a saltwater pool dug into the rock, and the obvious resemblance of its terraces to the decks of an ocean liner all make this one of Antibes’ most historically cool hotels.

Two fun facts: the hotel has a Head Pool Attendant, whose job is to ensure that everyone’s pool experience is the best it can be, and there’s a trapeze that will fling you straight into the sea.

The Romanos, Greece

The Romanos is number one in a planned development of four eco-conscious resorts on the beaches of Messinia.

What we like: a golf course irrigated by rainwater, suites with private pools, a 4,000-square-meter spa, and – perhaps the best idea ever – two separate child care facilities that provide programs and activities for children of all ages.

One of these, the Sandcastle, even provides overnight accommodation for kids.

Trump Turnberry Resort, Scotland

An aerial  view of Turnberry's infamous ninth hole.

The Turnberry has been open for over a century on Scotland’s craggy west coast and is now owned by President Donald Trump. The Edwardian estate covers 3.2 square kilometers of Ayrshire countryside and sits on a bluff overlooking the sea and Ailsa Craig Island.

The Ailsa golf course is also legendary.

North America

Boucan Hotel & Restaurant (Hotel Chocolat), St. Lucia

Hotel Chocolat, the luxury British chocolatier, opened the Boucan Hotel in 2011 – a collection of 14 cottages on a cocoa plantation that’s been operating since the 1700s (yeah we’re wondering why they didn’t just name the hotel after the brand too … seems like a no-brainer).

The hotel is perched 30 meters above sea level with to-die-for views of the Piton Mountains and the Caribbean Sea, and its clean lines, dark wood and white walls contrast wonderfully with the rainforest that surrounds it.

Guests can harvest cocoa pods and learn how to make chocolate bars.

Also recommended: the cocoa butter massage and the chocolate Bellinis.

MORE: 21 of the world’s most beautiful beachfront hotels

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii

A pool with a view.

Popular with Hollywood’s elite, the Four Seasons Hualalai snagged a top location along Hualalai’s volcanic rock coast. This is a jet-in, jet-out sort of place – guests arrive, have every need catered to, then hop a plane and rejoin the real world.

Parents can drop kids off at the children’s program knowing they’ll be fed, watered and entertained while the adults hit the open-air spa, the no-kids-allowed swimming pool, the yoga classes, the oceanfront Jack Nicklaus signature golf course or the bar.

Musha Cay, The Bahamas

Musha Cay is a resort on one of 11 islands owned by magician David Copperfield.

Musha Cay is a resort on one of 11 islands owned by magician David Copperfield. It can only be rented to one group at a time for $37,500 per day (all-inclusive).

Each of the five guesthouses has its own private beach. Motorboats are available for excursions to the neighboring islands.

For kids (or nostalgic adults), there’s even a Gilligan’s Island-themed bedroom.

Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos

Parrot Cay has its own 1,600-meter-long beach.

Catamaran sailing and windsurfing are complimentary at this Caribbean resort, located on a private island.

In October, the resort is opening three two-bedroom villas with personal butlers.

Recommended: the award-winning Shambhala Retreat Spa featuring Ayurvedic treatments and beach yoga.

Wickaninnish Inn, Canada

Wickaninnish Inn, Canada: perfect in sun and snow.

It’s rather difficult to believe that a top coastal resort is in Canada.

Set on the western edge of British Columbia, the Wickaninnish Inn is backed by pine forest and faces a rocky beach. The owners chose the location because they loved to watch storms churn up the water.

Guests keep coming back for the panoramic views, fireplaces, nature walks and deep bathtubs. The restaurant stocks wines from the Pacific Northwest.


Lizard Island, Australia

Unwind at Lizard Island after your dive to the Great Barrier Reef.

Remote Lizard Island, the northernmost Great Barrier Reef resort, has 24 beaches and they’re all stunning.

Thanks to a population of unusual marine life like the Potato Cod, guests spend most of their time underwater.

Diving, snorkeling and a host of other underwater activities are all provided by the resort.

Rooms are simple but comfortable. Big spenders can book the Pavilion, an extra-private and spacious suite with a 270-degree panorama of Anchor Bay.

Rates are all-inclusive.

Saffire Freycinet, Australia

Saffire Freycinet is Tasmania’s preeminent resort, designed to showcase its setting, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at the Hazards Mountains just above the waters of Great Oyster Bay. The interior is stone and timber – modern and comfortable.

The rate includes canoeing, wine tastings, and a visit to an oyster farm, where guests can wade into the water and harvest their own Freycinet Pacific oysters.

Each stay comes with a complimentary treatment at the resort’s celebrity-patronized spa.

Have money to burn? Go for a facial using gold, sapphire or diamond dust.

MORE: Luxury dive resorts: 10 of the world’s best

The Wakaya Club & Spa, Fiji

The Wakaya, a nine-square-kilometer private island, is owned by the big boss of Fiji Water. A cluster of 10 “cottages” have an indoor space of 140 square meters, private gardens and outdoor showers.

The rate includes meals, beverages (including unlimited mini-bar access), two scuba dives per day, personal tennis and golf coaches and as many bottles of Fiji water as you can drink.

There are 12 staff members for every guest, but the resort can also create a private beach picnic experience, leaving guests with a walkie-talkie and a guarantee that there are no other people within five kilometers.

South America

Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

Learn polo at Estancia Vik.

Estancia Vik combines ranch, beach and high-end art on 16 square kilometers of Uruguayan pampas. The suites house installations by the country’s leading artists and public areas, including even the gym, display paintings and sculptures.

Polo lessons are available, along with a number of other activities.

Kenoa Resort, Brazil

Known as Brazil’s most laid-back area, Bahia is home to some of the country’s best beaches.

Kenoa Resort occupies a prime spot near a nature preserve, and is an “eco-retreat” built from natural materials with an emphasis on conservation.

Luxury is still a byword, however, with gourmet meals and attentive service.

Ponta dos Ganchos, Brazil

The adults-only Ponta dos Ganchos resort.

Ponta dos Ganchos is located on the peninsula in southern Brazil, and features stone-and-wood cottages in a tropical jungle overlooking a bay.

The top accommodation here is the Special Villa Emerald, with its private deck, infinity pool, a dry sauna, huge sleeping and living spaces, all of which come with incredible coastal views.

A beach barbecue of fresh seafood is a nightly option, and a romantic dinner for two on one of the islands can be easily arranged.

Explora Rapa Nui, Easter Island

At Explora Rapa Nui there are volcano treks, horseback rides on the beach, scuba dives and hikes to Easter Island’s famous basalt statues.

Huge windows look out on the Pacific. Guests can relax after a day’s explorations by taking hydro-massage baths.

Rates are all-inclusive.

MORE: World’s top chefs share fave food experiences

The Cliffs Preserve, Chile

Ten kilometers of South Pacific coastline, the Cliffs Preserve showcases the vibrant environment of Patagonia.

During the day, guests can go bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, penguin/sea lion/whale watching, fishing, whitewater rafting and take helicopter trips over the Andes.

Nell McShane Wulfhart lives in Seoul and writes about travel and news in Asia.

Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2012. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.