After five continents, 13 countries, and hundreds of cervezas, we found the world's 15 best beach towns, places where locals share their secret break, lunch comes straight from the sea, and you fantasize about staying for good. Whether you want an escape from winter's cold gloom or a hot summer break in the northern hemisphere, there's a beach town that's warm in every season.
Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Just beyond Rio's most famous beach, Ipanema, is an even richer and more fashionable – but refreshingly subdued – hangout. The hamlet of Leblon is a mellow mix of Rio's most affluent Cariocas: tan, lithe locals who spend confounding amounts of free time nearly naked, playing futevôlei (no-hands volleyball), jogging or skating along the wide sidewalk, or sipping caipirinhas at colorful beachside kiosks. Leblon is Rio without the favela grit or the chaos of a major tourist party scene. Inland, bars and cafes line leafy streets amid upscale apartments and boutiques, where an older wealthy crowd ebbs and flows in typical Brazilian languor, before settling in at Jobi, a small boteco that serves the local draft, Chopp. Meanwhile, a younger contingent gets lively at Sushi Leblon and then hits the neighborhood's friendliest open-air spot, Bar Veloso. Academia da Cachaça, on Rua Conde Bernadotte, does inventive cocktails made from the famous sugarcane spirit until the wee hours. It is still Rio, after all, and plenty of bars, clubs, and cafes stay open – and busy – until sunrise. Then it's back to the beach.
More information: Fly to Rio, and then catch a taxi (about $35) for the 30-minute drive south. The apartments at Marina All Suites have sea views [from $270, marinaallsuites.com.br]
Credit: Jane Sweeney / Getty Images