The Lazy, Crazy Guide to Sand Land

Best (Affordable) Beachfront Resorts

BEST TIKI DRINK

The Horny Monkey
You've sampled barrels of mai-tais, pina coladas, and margaritas, but have you ever faced down a horny monkey? Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1.5 ounces of banana liqueur, one ounce of vodka, a half-ounce of light rum, and two ounces of cream of coconut. Shake well. Strain into a tall, ice-filled glass and fill with pineapple juice. Garnish with a whole banana, dust with cinnamon, and serve (recipe from Tiki Drinks by Adam Rocke, published by Surrey Books in 2000).

HOTEL HANA-MAUI, MAUI, HAWAII: When you get a load of the sea crashing practically right into this place, you won't be surprised that scenes from Fantasy Island were shot on the 66-acre grounds. Sure, there's tennis on site, hiking in Haleakala National Park, cycling along the winding coastal roads, and snorkeling nearby at Hamoa Beach, but after soaking in the stars and the ocean views from the hot tub on your room's huge deck, you won't feel like doing much else. The resort's 47 plantation-style cottages, all with ocean views (and surrounded by a 4,500-acre ranch), are situated near the little town of Hana on Maui's east coast. A main dining room, with streamers dangling from the ceiling to diffuse light, serves scrumptious meals with local produce (doubles from $275; 800-321-4262, www.hotelhanamaui.com).

NUEVA VIDA, MEXICO: This tiny resort's Swiss Family Robinson-style rooms, with mucho wood and palm thatch, are housed in bungalows built ten feet off the ground to maximize the sultry ocean breezes and gorgeous ocean views. What to do? Tulum's sweep of white-sand beach and one of the Yucatán's most dramatic clusters of Mayan ruins are right outside your door (you can also explore the nearby ruins of Cobá and Chichén Itzá)—or let the hotel's massage therapist noodle you silly. Leave the blow-dryer at home: The sun and wind power the lights and aren't up to the task of drying your hair (doubles from $65; 011-52-984-877-8512, www.tulumnv.com).

EDEN ROCK, ST. BART'S: If you want a whiff of Saint-Tropez in the Caribbean, try this red-roofed resort, which crowns a rocky promontory jutting into Baie de St. Jean. You're more likely to see guests wearing Prada than Patagonia—most of the 16 rooms cost at least $600 per night—but the common denominator is a love for the luxe beaches that stretch out below the hotel. The trick: Reserve the Captain's Cabin at about half the cost of a room. When you tire of snorkeling around the reef surrounding Eden Rock, you can gorge on French cuisine, pamper yourself in the spa, sip fruity cocktails in the beach bar, or laze on the topless beach (cabin rental is $375 per night from January to April and less during the summer and fall; 877-563-7105, www.edenrockhotel.com).

WINDMILLS PLANTATION, SALT CAY, TURKS AND CAICOS: On laid-back Salt Cay, you're in the company of wild donkeys, windmills, and migrating humpback whales; the perfect place to slow yourself down is this eight-room, plantation-style hotel overlooking a 2.5-mile stretch of beach. The hotel has a saltwater pool and snorkeling off the beach; divers can explore the coral walls and the Endymion, an 18th-century wreck, with Salt Cay Divers. At day's end, repair to rooms whose colorful walls and dark wooden antiques from colonial-era plantations take you back to the days when those donkeys hauled salt from mines to ships bound for distant ports (doubles from $325; 800-822-7715, www.saltcaysite.com).

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