The Lazy, Crazy Guide to Sand Land

Best Beaches

Try to keep it to yourself : Hawaii's secretive Piopu Beach     Photo: Corel




SECRET BEACH, KAUAI, HAWAII: At the base of 150-foot cliffs west of Kilauea, this two-mile stretch of gold-glowing sand draws its name from its remote location (and the presence of nude sunbathers). To get in on the Secret, you have to drive two miles west from Kilauea to Kalihiwai, go a half-mile down a muddy road to the trailhead, then walk five minutes on a rocky path. Once you're there, you'll want to comb the beach and lounge around, but it's best not to swim: From October to May, swells can be quite large, and currents are always strong. The folks at Kayak Kauai are knowledgeable and can help with directions (800-437-3507, www.islandout post.com/jakes).

SANDY CAY, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: This uninhabited 14-acre nirvana southeast of Jost Van Dyke can be reached only by boaters, namely yachties, but its crystalline waters and gleaming white sand make it well worth chartering a ride yourself. Daytrippers are welcome to anchor on the island, owned by Laurance Rockefeller, and bask on his beach or hike the 20 minutes it takes to circle Sandy Cay or venture up the trail through its interior. Call Caribbean Connection for charters (284-494-3623).
ST. JOSEPH PENINSULA STATE PARK, PORT ST. JOE, FLORIDA: Rated America's best beach by Dr. Beach himself (Stephen Leatherman, a coastal geologist who assesses the health of the nation's sandy stretches), the 2,516-acre park is bounded by St. Joe Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, with 14 miles of coastline. Highlights include snowy sand dunes, wildlife (this is a primo spot for spotting hawks and monarch butterflies), and the bliss of seeing nary another soul (campsites, $15 per night; 800-326-3521 for reservations, 850-227-1327 for information).

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