Some travelers believe that if you’ve seen one high-end beach resort, you’ve seen them all. And while it can certainly feel that way—with so many over-the-water villas and themed-spa options these days—there is another class of sun-kissed properties doing even more to elevate barefoot luxury.
Forbes Travel Guide’s editors have dipped their toes in sands across the globe to select this dreamy roster of beach resorts for 2020. Be it a magical retreat in the Maldives or a memorable stop in Maui, these are the waterfront wonders worth considering for your next vacation.
Amilla Fushi (Maldives)
There isn’t a bad angle to view the turquoise waters at this 44-villa Maldives resort, but the most lasting image may come from the Lagoon Water Pool Villa, an exquisite over-the-water unit with a sundeck, plunge pool and spectacular panoramas of the Arabian Sea.
Atlantis, The Palm (Dubai)
The first property in the Atlantis Dubai resort (neighboring Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences opens later in 2020), the 1,539-room Atlantis, The Palm wows with fun on the sand (stylish White Beach club), in the waves (Aquaventure Waterpark) and below the sea (Dolphin Bay).
Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort (Mexico)
Among the many reasons to be wild about this Cabo treasure is that it’s one of the only properties in the area with a swimmable beach. There’s also prime whale watching nearby between December and March, and sea turtles take over the local shores from late July through November.
Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa (Mexico)
While hiking through the Riviera Maya jungle, painting like Picasso’s former assistant and scuba diving near the world’s second-largest barrier reef all sound enticing, our favorite pastime at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star gem is reclining on the white sands while sipping rum punch.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota (Florida)
This Sarasota hotel will shuttle you three miles away to its Beach Club, a tranquil private paradise on Lido Key. Order a margarita from the tiki bar, sip it from the powdery sands or waterfront pool and then watch the Florida sun sink into the gulf and leave a trail of pastel hues.
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
Just 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, this Mediterranean-inspired resort feels miles away from city bustle. Located on a gorgeous strip of sand, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort features the world’s first permanent Buddha-Bar Beach lounge, an Iridium Spa with a waterfront cabana and six restaurants with plenty of opportunities to indulge.
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort (Hawaii)
A central location on Kauai makes this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended retreat the ideal home base for island adventures like hiking Waimea Canyon’s red gorges and kayaking Hanalei River—that is, if you can tear yourself away from your oceanfront accommodations.
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (French Polynesia)
Like something out of a vintage postcard, this French Polynesia hotel’s thatched-roof villas and impossibly blue waters get a dramatic boost from the verdant backdrop of Mount Otemanu. A seawater-themed spa (the region’s first), French cuisine and a focus on sustainability make it an unforgettable destination.
The Sanya EDITION (China)
This 50-acre Hainan Island paradise embraces the sea as its influence through its stunning private ocean access—the first of its kind in China—and four sparkling pools. A curated art gallery, 500-plus ocean-view accommodations and a floating restaurant round out the aquatic-inspired offerings.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles At Desroches Island
With a deserted island vibe and all the luxurious trappings of a tropical resort, this Seychelles hideaway opened in 2018 and provides a bucket-list-worthy experience. A spa and white sands help you unwind, while scuba diving, ocean fishing and nature walks through the Tortoise Sanctuary keep things exciting.
Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui (Hawaii)
If ocean views and Hawaiian sunsets aren’t enough to enchant you at this Maui hideaway, three championship-caliber golf courses, a nearly 10,000-square-foot spa, luaus and a food truck will surely do the trick.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (California)
Sitting atop a bluff, this beachfront Orange County, California, hotel makes your stay all about the ocean. Soak in the incredible water views from the restaurants, get ocean-inspired spa treatments or join the throng of early morning surfers catching waves.
Pristine aquamarine waters and white sand make Turks and Caicos’ Grace Bay one of the world’s best beaches. This all-suite hotel takes up 12 acres around the beach and puts you in the water with complimentary Hobie Cat sailboats, kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear.
Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection (Anguilla)
If the alluring, warm waters of Anguilla’s Meads Bay don’t entice you to snorkel among coral reefs, stand-up paddleboard through lagoons or take a horse ride through the waves, then simply gaze at them from the cliffside hotel’s cascading infinity pool.
The St. Regis Bali Resort (Indonesia)
Find beach bliss at this waterfront Bali gem, where golden stretches of sand are dotted with cherry-red umbrellas. The St. Regis Bali offers the only luxurious villas with direct beach access in Nusa Dua, along with highlights like a vast lagoon-style pool and a 30,139-square-foot spa.