On Thailand’s Andaman Coast, you can only get to the beach by boat. But once you’ve hitched a longtail to the Railay peninsula, you can find white sandy beaches, clear and shallow water, and some of the best rock climbing winter tourism has to offer. Clambering around its limestone cliff faces and stalactites with its old ropes and metal climbing poles, you can also spot gorgeous views of one of the best beaches in the world.
Thailand isn’t the only remarkable winter beach in the world. Belize, the Caribbean, and Guadeloupe all boast deep, transparent waters, mostly with shore residences you can stay at, which make great vacations year-round. Why settle for a controlled, sterilized Disney beach experience when you can sail the Sea of Abaco or climb Saba’s volcanic peak?
Florida even has some great beaches, including remote tropical paradises like Cedar Key, St. George Island, and Anna Maria Island. Those beaches are home to dolphin tours and crab racing. Oyster beds perfect for scuba-diving and mangroves ideal for paddling through. Beats staying sedentary with Epcot looming in the background, huh?
Here are 15 destinations for every kind of beach lover on every kind of budget—the best beaches in the world.
For years people have flocked to Belize to snorkel and dive the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. However, the best way to see Belize may not be under the water but on top of it—on a standup paddleboard. Island Expeditions offers an island-to-island trip through South Water Caye Marine Reserve—a weeklong tour that crisscrosses mangroves and cays amid a UNESCO World Heritage–designated barrier reef. You fly into Belize City and are shuttled via boat 10 miles out to a resort at Tobacco Caye. A brief clinic will get you up to speed on how to pivot turn, complete efficient forward strokes (harder than you think), and pop between square and surf stances. Then it’s five days of paddling. (A boat follows behind, carrying your luggage and supplies.) You’ll stay in rustic but comfortable cabanas built over the water and spend your downtime snorkeling among spotted eagle rays and nurse sharks, and eating dinners of fresh lobster (six nights, $1,829).
Once you’re comfortable on a board, Slickrock Adventures will teach you how to ride waves on a three-night surf trip out of Long Caye, a private island in Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve. “We’re one of the easternmost islands in Belize, and when the swell hits the island, it makes a peeling four-to-six-foot right,” says owner Cully Erdman. He’s got 16 cabanas and exclusive access to the country’s most reliable break. By trip’s end, you’ll be ripping ($1,350).
Getting there: Daily nonstop flights from Houston, Miami, and Atlanta.
Sea of Abaco, the Bahamas
Would-be captains won’t find a better classroom than the Sea of Abaco, a massive lagoon in the Bahamas with sheltered conditions that are perfect for newbies. You’ll encounter multiple outfitters in Marsh Harbour, where you can charter a private 40-foot cruiser with a captain and crew for around $5,000 per week. You’ll live aboard and learn the basics as you cruise from island villages to deserted keys to one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. If your goal is to become a bona fide skipper yourself, understand that this will be a working vacation—it’ll take at least seven days, and in addition to your time on the water, you’ll be cramming through three American Sailing Association courses. But you’ll come away certified to bareboat—that is, charter a sailboat as the captain. Says Mark Gonsalves, owner of Cruise Abaco: “Many of our students return year after year and charter from us.” And not just in the Bahamas. With bareboat certification, you can skipper a sailboat around the world.
Getting there: Daily nonstop flights leave from Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Miami.
You’re shimmying up a cliff face, climbing without ropes, when your strength gives out and you plunge. But it’s OK because your fall is cushioned by the inviting 85-degree waters of the Andaman Sea. Climbers from around the world come to Railay for its sheer rock walls, which rise above a dense jungle and emerald sea, but you don’t have to be super-experienced to climb. For about $30 per day, you can hire a boat to take you to the limestone islands in the bay. You start right off the deck, up routes geared to climbers of all abilities, as an instructor coaches you from below. It’s as easy as climb, jump, repeat. If you’re looking for a more formal climbing education, a number of outfitters offer three- and five-day courses ($200 to $300) that teach skills like rappelling and lead- and top-rope climbing. Of course, once you’re confident, you may never want to leave: Railay has more than 600 bolted climbing routes to choose from.
Getting there: From Bangkok, fly to Krabi. It’s a 45-minute cab ride to Railay from the airport.
Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands
One of the bummers about learning to scuba dive is that most of your first dives take place right from the beach, while all the good stuff—the brightest coral, most exotic fish—is out in the deeper ocean, accessible only by boat. Not so in Bonaire, which boasts 53 world-class sites that are shore dives. Simply gear up and step right into the sea, no boat required. Located at the far southern end of the Caribbean, Bonaire has desertlike conditions and sees very little rainfall; as a result, the water is calm, clear, and silt-free year-round. More than 20 outfitters offer every conceivable kind of experience—from beginning PADI or NAUI certifications (four days, $400) to night diving and underwater-photography classes. For dive packages, check out Coral Paradise Resort, 100 steps from the sea, where a seven-night deal with a rental truck (for your tanks) and unlimited shore diving runs around $950 per person. Blue Divers has 10 apartments around a swimming pool ($85 per night); for another $25 per day you get unlimited shore diving.
For those who really want to push the limits, Rec Tek Scuba teaches the kind of technical diving needed for the crazy-deep stuff—like the wreck of the WindJammer, a three-mast sailing ship that sank in 1912 and now sits on the ocean floor, 200 feet below.
Getting there: Delta flies nonstop to Bonaire from Atlanta. United has direct flights on Saturdays from Newark and Houston.
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Beach-hopping around Brazil, I kept hearing about this mythical place. Over and over the Brazilians told me, If you really want the most unspoiled beaches, the most spectacular diving, the best waves, go to Fernando de Noronha.
An archipelago of 21 islands about 200 miles from the mainland, Fernando de Noronha allows just 700 tourists to visit at any time. Imagine Hawaii without the people—that’s Noronha, says Sergio Fernandes de Lima, a former pro surfer who grew up in Noronha and now lives in Hawaii. “Beautiful white sand, water that is superblue and clean and warm,” he says. “But no crowds.”
Getting there takes some work: It’s three hours by plane from Rio to the northeastern city of Recife, then another, hour-long flight to the eponymous main island, the only one that’s inhabited, with about 3,000 full-time residents. The only town, Vila dos Remédios, doesn’t offer much; it’s a mellow hamlet with a few merchants, restaurants, and dive shops. But that’s not why you’re here. Drop off your bags and head to the beach.
I went to Sancho’s Bay, one of the three beaches here regularly named Brazil’s best. (The others are Bay of Pigs and Lion’s Beach.) I descended a ladder wedged into a sheer rock crevice to a bay flanked by rising rock cliffs. Aside from a frigate bird circling overhead, I had this stretch of paradise all to myself. Sea life is abundant—barracudas, manta rays, spinner dolphins. I grabbed my mask and snorkel and played hide-and-seek with some sea turtles.
Big resorts are verboten here, so lodgings are funky rather than glitzy—a bungalow near the beach at Pousada Teju-Acu goes for about $500 per night; a basic room (with a hammock on the porch) near town at Pousada Mar Aberto is about half that. The locals are friendly and helpful. Most speak only Portuguese, but they’re quick with a smile and the Brazilian salute: a thumbs-up.
Getting there: From Rio de Janeiro, fly to Recife, then take a one-hour flight to Noronha. Space is limited, so book at least a few months in advance.
Îles de Saintes, Guadeloupe
These eight islands, a dependency of Guadeloupe, have a decidedly French twist. Stay on the biggest (at five square miles), Terre-de-Haut, where many of the 1,800 residents are the light-haired, blue-eyed descendants of Breton colonists who settled here in the mid–17th century. A small main strip hosts bistros and boutique hotels with views of a sailboat-filled bay. (Stay at the Hôtel Auberge Les Petits Saints, an old villa that was once the mayor’s residence.) After you’ve explored Marigot Bay via Hobie Cat and enjoyed your own private snorkeling spot, you’ll know why the French call this un petit paradis.
Getting there: Ferries run daily from Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.
Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
No matter how many beaches you’ve wandered, you’ve probably never seen anything like the particular glow of Barbuda’s pink-sand beach, a 10-mile stretch of blush-colored coast. Its unique hue comes from the microscopic red shells of foraminifera, a microorganism that mixes with the crushed coral sand. Chances are you’ll admire this beach alone: The low-lying sister to Antigua is one of the least-visited islands in the Caribbean and is home to just 1,600 residents. “If you can’t find a stretch of beach to be alone on here, you won’t be able to anywhere,” says Chris Doyle, who writes a popular guide to sailing the Caribbean. For the full desert-island experience, stay at the North Beach Barbuda, a boutique five-cottage retreat that’s as far removed from Jet Skis and EDM pool parties as you can get.
Getting there: Take a 25-minute flight or a 90-minute ferry ride from Antigua.
Saba, Caribbean Netherlands
A steep volcanic peak that juts from the sea, Saba is a 15-minute plane ride from St. Maarten. It’s tiny—5 square miles—but tops out at a misty and mossy 2,850 feet. The island’s sheer cliffs mean that you won’t find many beaches, but this won’t seem like a problem once you get in the water. “The diving is spectacular,” says Brent Winner, a Florida-based marine biologist. Sharks, rays, and turtles swim among coral-encrusted volcanic pinnacles like Diamond Rock. (Book dives through Sea Saba, which also organizes snorkel outings.) “Afterward,” says Winner, “you can climb the trails that crisscross the island and see from 2,000 feet up some of the formations you just dived. I’ve never experienced anything like it.” Another option: Just take in the view from the Queen’s Gardens, a luxe resort clinging to a cliff 1,200 feet up.
Getting there: From St. Maarten, take either the 15-minute flight or a 60-minute ferry ride.
Anegada, Antigua and Barbuda
This coral atoll peaks at a mere 28 feet above sea level, giving it the nickname “the drowned island.” By the time you see it on the ferry from Tortola, you’re there. The first thing you’ll notice: Few others are. Just 300 people live on Anegada’s 15 square miles. So get lost in it. “Jump on a scooter and head to the north shore—you can walk for miles on white sand without seeing anyone,” says Simon Scott, co-author of Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands. Once you’re tired of the silence, or of snorkeling the U-shaped reef that rings the island, pull up a seat on the Anegada Reef Hotel’s back porch, where at twilight, lobsters fished a stone’s throw from the dock are cooked over oil-drum grills. “It’s just a laid-back experience unto itself,” says Scott.
Getting there: Fly into St. Thomas, then take a 50-minute ferry to Tortola; from there a 75-minute ferry runs to Anegada three days a week.
I was about 45 minutes northeast of Kauai’s Lihue Airport when the two-lane highway made an abrupt hairpin turn and I found myself face-to-face with paradise: a mile-wide aquamarine crescent ringed by white sand and palm trees, electric-green farms by a lazy river, jagged mountains topped with clouds pouring warm rain into thousand-foot waterfalls. I turned to my wife and kids. “Somebody please tell me why we’ve spent a minute of our lives anywhere else?”
That reaction, I learned, is typical.
Moments later, we pulled into the tiny town of Hanalei, at the bay’s protected innermost point—450 people, not a single traffic light. Barefoot surfers and local kids strolled past the walk-up window at Bubba Burgers, offering grass-fed Kauai beef, and the Harvest Market, with baskets of local mangoes by the front door. A green cottage had a sign that read “north shore bike doktor”, so I stopped in to rent a ride. I told the shop’s owner, John Sargent, how dazzled I’d been by that view. He laughed. Sargent was living in California in 1978 when a friend called. “Hey, John!” the friend said. “I just found the best place on the planet!” “Are you in the South Pacific?” Sargent asked. “He was like, ‘No, I’m in the United States! I’m on Kauai!’ ” Sargent flew over with his surfboard. He took one look at Hanalei and never left.
Like all the major Hawaiian islands, Kauai is really like two different islands: an arid, sun-splashed south shore with big resort hotels; and a north shore with daily rains, lush jungle, big waves, and a funky, artsy vibe. But Kauai’s northern coast stands apart because it’s home to the world-famous Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, an 11-mile stretch of dramatic sea cliffs and hidden beaches fed by clean waterfalls.
I rented a longboard at a nearby surf shop and drove through a neighborhood of modest homes, stopping at Hanalei Bay Beach Park. I stepped onto the white-sand strand that makes Hanalei so special: mile after mile of clear, warm water, waves gentle enough to body surf, and people drifting around on SUP boards and outrigger canoes. Soon I had my nine-year-old daughter up and surfing the first warm-water wave of her life.
Accommodations in Hanalei are limited. The main options are vacation-rental homes (two bedrooms start at about $350 per night) and three hotels: the super-basic Hanalei Inn; the ultraluxe St. Regis Princeville Resort, tucked out of sight on the bay’s eastern tip; and the relatively low-key Hanalei Colony Resort, west of town ($250 to $400 per night). We stayed in the latter, in a room that had a full kitchen, where we cooked our own meals between walks on the hotel’s private beach and hikes along the enormous cliffs and secluded beaches of Na Pali Coast.
Hanalei, of course, is hardly undiscovered. Hollywood loves the place. Ben Stiller and Pierce Brosnan own homes there, and Julia Roberts put a place on the market last year for $17 million. “When you see J. Lo paddleboarding by, word is out,” said Jim Moffat, chef-owner of an excellent tapas restaurant called Bar Acuda. Still, walking through town, there’s not a luxury store or restaurant in sight and—at least from the outside—the homes are hardly extravagant. You’d never guess that Hanalei is becoming Hawaii’s answer to Aspen. Unless, that is, you stopped to to ask yourself, “Where would any sane person live if they could live absolutely anywhere?” Spend a few days here and the answer is obvious.
Getting there: Daily direct flights to Lihue Airport from Los Angeles and San Francisco, or connecting flights through Honolulu.
El Nido, Philippines
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to try to circumnavigate Lagen Island at twilight. Just minutes earlier, our two-seat kayak had been gliding over bright clusters of brain coral in the gin-clear waters of El Nido, in the northern reaches of Palawan, the remote westernmost province of the Philippines. Then the sun dipped below the horizon, and the violet sky yielded to a wildly splattered canopy of stars. Lagen’s commanding gray-green cliffs faded into the gloam. Soon, my girlfriend and I were paddling alone in the dark.
Just two and a half hours earlier, she and I had boarded a 50-seat turboprop and departed the monochromatic sprawl of Manila for what is considered by many to be Asia’s last truly unspoiled tropical paradise. How long it will remain that way is an open question. El Nido has won numerous “best beach” awards and served as a setting for The Bourne Identity, Survivor, and The Amazing Race, and more people make the trek here every year.
We’d dropped our bags at a bungalow set on stilts above the bay, which would be our home for the next few days. I noticed a kayak on the beach and simply had to get into that water. At least I was in good company: Jacques Cousteau visited the region in the early 1990s and called it the most beautiful place he’d ever explored. Five hundred years before that, after a poison arrow felled Ferdinand Magellan in the surf off Cebu, a few hundred miles to the east, his starving crew decamped to an island off Palawan and soon became convinced they had found paradise. For weeks they gorged on fish, fruit, and rice wine before continuing their around-the-world voyage.
We were just trying to make it back to the resort for dinner. But the amazing topography of El Nido kept luring us farther out. Lagen Island is only a few miles long, but the perimeter we paddled is much longer, thanks to the limestone cliff walls that undulate like curtains. If you’ve been to Halong Bay, Vietnam, or Phuket, Thailand, you’ve seen a similar landscape: El Nido’s islands, along with the rest of Palawan, are part of the same tectonic plate, unlike most of the Philippines. But in contrast to Halong or Phuket, the Philippine islands are almost entirely unpopulated.
We had booked a stay at El Nido Resorts, a collection of four luxury hotels, each on its own protected island. The resort was founded in 1983 by a group of Japanese scuba divers entranced by the waters’ more than 800 species of fish; until then, the region was basically untouristed. Now guests come to snorkel, dive, standup paddle, and kayak while in these primeval tropics. (We visited in early December, at the beginning of the dry season, which lasts through May, when underwater visibility can reach 90 feet.) Before darkness closed in on our kayak, we had observed swiftlets running missions out of their high cliffside nests and bats flinging themselves from the crevices. Dark clouds shifted underneath our boat, revealing themselves to be schools of fish.
Fortunately, the current in Bacuit Bay was mild. For more than two hours, we paddled toward cliff face after cliff face, hoping each turn would reveal the resort’s stilted cottages, until we finally saw its lights. We dragged the kayak up to the darkened beach, sweaty and exhausted. A giant flying fox swooped lazily down, like a puppet on a string, as if to greet us.
Over the next few days, we did what one does on El Nido: island-hop aboard dual-outrigger boats, bouncing between snorkeling spots with other resort guests. On one such outing, we met a 40-something lawyer from San Francisco. It turned out he had been raised in Manila, and he offered some Filipino perspective. “They call Palawan ‘the Last Frontier,’ like Alaska in the U.S.,” the man told us. “But when I was in school, it was off the map. I had moved away before I learned how beautiful it is here.”
Leaping off the boat into the sea revealed again and again a psychedelic parade of creatures—barracuda on patrol, seahorse-like pipefish hiding in fields of antler coral, clouds of jackfish thousands deep moving like walls. Nudibranchs—thumb-size, sluglike creatures with bizarre neon paisley patterns—writhed in shards of light on the ocean floor. On the shore of one island I watched a five-foot-long monitor lizard retreating into a sea cave. When we retreated, it was to a bungalow facing a 750-yard stretch of white-coral sand, where the only sound to be heard, aside from a chorus of birds, was the breeze blowing through thatched roofs.
Paradise does not come cheap: Cottages at El Nido Resorts run $550 to $1,000 per night. If that’s too much, or you don’t want to sequester yourself at a hidden-away resort, you can stay in the village of El Nido, a kind of pop-up town that has emerged as more people make their way to Palawan. It’s not much of a town: Until recently, the power shut off each day from 6 am to 2 pm. Tricycle-cabs, jeepneys, and stray dogs crowd Calle Hama, the narrow, dusty main strip that connects a scattering of wood-frame guesthouses, dive shops, and hole-in-the-wall grill joints serving charred, gingery stuffed squid, whole fish pulled from the bay, and kilawin, a raw seafood dish. Expect to be surrounded by backpackers studying for scuba exams, cans of San Miguel in hand.
We found a room at a place called Cadlao Resort, in a solar-paneled bungalow facing the bay, for about $185 per night. At twilight one evening, I chatted with the co-owner, Jean Brice Traon, a French national who first visited El Nido in the 1990s, before dropping out of his investment job to start the hotel with his wife and live here full-time. “I resisted as long as I could,” he told me. Traon expressed concern about his home’s newfound popularity. He pointed out that road improvements will soon drastically reduce the six-hour trek to El Nido from Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa. “There will be more people, for sure,” Traon said. “The problem is that the pie will stay the same size. It’s a good pie, though.”
Getting there: From Manila, take a one-hour ITIAIR flight to El Nido. El Nido Resorts is a 45-minute boat ride from there.
Cedar Key, FL
Funky old Florida endures in this ramshackle hamlet set 3 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles southwest of Gainesville. No cookie-cutter condos or mega-developments here—just stretches of white-sand beaches and unspoiled marsh and mangrove bayous that are perfect for paddling. Be sure to row a half mile to the abandoned Atsena Otie Key, where you can explore the ruins of the Faber pencil factory circa 1868—when Cedar Key was a logging capital and the second-largest city in Florida. Stay at the Low-Key Hideaway, a quirky but clean motel where you won’t see kids (they’re not allowed), but you will see epic sunsets from the tiki bar on the back porch. When you’re done exploring the estuaries, clam beds, and shell mounds, have a drink in town at the delightfully shabby Island Hotel, built in 1859, where an unknown singer-songwriter named Jimmy Buffett used to play impromptu sets back in the early 1980s.
Getting there: From Gainesville, drive about an hour southwest.
St. George Island, FL
This 28-mile-long barrier island off the Florida Panhandle is the sort of place where you can post up for a week with nothing to do and never get bored. It’s all empty stretches of white-sand beaches, oyster beds patrolled by redfish, and a village in the dunes that feels more like Cape Cod than north Florida. Rent a house (VRBO has more than 300 listings, ranging from $400 to more than $1,000 per night) and, before unloading the car, pick up a bushel of oysters in Apalachicola and a kayak at Island Outfitters in the main village. If the fishing is slow, paddle across to Little St. George, an uninhabited island to the west, where loggerhead sea turtles waddle ashore during the winter. History buffs will want to climb the 92 steps to the top of St. George Lighthouse, which dates to 1852. Or if that feels too ambitious, simply shuck a few oysters while you fire up the grill. Maybe you mix a Bloody Mary. Maybe not. One thing is for certain: There’s no rush.
Getting there: From Tallahassee, drive 90 minutes southwest.
Anna Maria Island, FL
Think of this as the vintage Florida family vacation, without the theme parks. This seven-mile-long barrier island has three distinct towns, all of them high-rise-free. At Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, you’ll find entertainment from a simpler era—including minigolf, dolphin tours, ice cream stands, and crab races. But stay at the north end of the road, in Anna Maria village—where quiet reigns. Rent a beach bungalow through Airbnb or VRBO (a three-bedroom house with a pool goes for about $350 per night). Rent a bike—the island is crisscrossed by lanes and trails; if your legs get tired, there’s a free trolley (with bike racks). After the kids have had their fun, relax for an afternoon at Bean Point, where Tampa Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, a chilled-out stand of palm fronds and pearly white sand that’s like a forgotten island in the Caribbean. It’s the perfect balance: one family vacation, zero compromises.
Getting there: From Tampa, drive an hour south; from Sarasota, drive a half-hour north.
Ruta 10, Uruguay
California has Highway 1. In Uruguay, the classic beach road trip is along Ruta 10. The 100-mile, two-lane stretch of blacktop begins in Punta del Este, the notorious playground for Latin America’s rich and beautiful, and then winds through the golden beaches and vast pampas along the country’s southern coast. Every few miles there’s a dirt-road spur that leads to a different stretch of beach or funky fishing village.
You can camp almost anywhere, and every little town has a range of accommodations, from cheap hostels to luxury hotels; the restaurants serve fresh fish and pasture-fed beef. The locals are friendly, the water is warm, and the waves are mellow and fun. My friend Yancy Caldwell and I rented a Toyota Corolla, crammed our surfboards in the backseat, and hit the road.
There are stretches of coastline in Uruguay where you say to yourself, “This must be what California was like 50 years ago.” Low-key bars serve cold beer out of coolers on the sand by the dunes; horseback riders trot between small towns along the beach. Vintage cars, such as an old VW van, are everywhere—so much so that being on Ruta 10 feels like driving through a classic car show.
A highlight of the road trip is renting a beach shack in Cabo Polonio, an isolated fishing village inhabited by hippies, fishermen, artists, and other off-the-grid weirdos—think of it as Uruguay’s version of Key West, circa 1960. It’s pretty rustic: There are few amenities, and you’ll find all your supplies—firewood, wine, and fresh bread—at a small general store. By day we surfed a fun beach break, explored the dunes, and drank beer with the locals at a bar on the beach. Once the sun went down, a canopy of stars, a roaring bonfire, and the sounds of waves crashing in the distance were our main source of entertainment.
To get to Cabo Polonio you take a four-wheel drive or hike four miles across the dunes from the main road. There’s no electricity, and only a few of the houses have running water. But the beaches are among the most beautiful in Uruguay. And the tourists are just as interesting as the locals: One evening at a beach-shack bar, we met an architect from Sweden, a singer from Peru, a dancer from Brazil, and a couple of surfers from Chile.
Uruguay’s surf isn’t world-class, but you’ll find plenty of good waves along the southern coast. Around sunset, fishermen sell the day’s catch directly from their boats. (You can build a bonfire on the beach to cook your dinner.) Stay at the Playa VIK José Ignacio or Miradores de Laguna Garzón—a pair of elegant boutique hotels where rooms start at about $180 per night.
Beyond the seafood, Uruguay’s lush pampas produce some of the world’s tastiest beef. Ruta 10 is dotted with barbecue joints known as asados, where fresh meat of all types is cooked on giant open-flame grills. Beef this good doesn’t need much—just some sea salt and vinegary chimichurri, and maybe some baked beans and potato wedges.
One more bit of local flavor, if you’re inclined: Just hours after landing in the Uruguayan capital, we found ourselves sitting at an outdoor table at a crowded bar on Bulevar España, with three beautiful women and a bearded guy who was busying himself by rolling a large joint from the pile of homegrown weed serving as our group’s centerpiece. There’s nothing nefarious going on: Marijuana use has been legal in Uruguay since December 2013, and on a Saturday night in Montevideo, the stuff is everywhere.
Getting there: A nine-hour direct flight to Montevideo from Miami.