July Beach Travel Guide

Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach
A PARADISE MINI-MARATHON: Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach (Digital Visions)

Scott's Head Soufriere Marine Reserve (Scott's Head) Dominica
One of three marine reserves in Dominica, Scott's Head showcases why every coastal region with seaborne riches should work to protect these treasures. The diving terrain is an extinct volcanic crater that drops into the void, helping earn the area's accolades as one of the world's top diving spots. Above water is just as jaw-dropping: The main feature is the Scott's Head (Cachacrou) Peninsula, which rises from the water like a southwestern mountain and cleaves between the serene Caribbean and the more moody Atlantic. And mid July is the Dominica Dive Fest. See you underwater!

Meringue Festival, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Dance time, people! This annual July event brings the DR's best meringue bands—along with DJs, beer vendors, and around 100,000 tourists and locals—to the oceanfront streets of Santo Domingo. It's a colorful explosion of culture, energy, food, drink, and dance dance dance as the live beat pulses far into the night (and, in recent years, into surrounding beach towns). An ideal chance to boogie down and test the geometric limits of your hip joints with some of the Caribbean's friendliest residents.

Grand Strand, SC
Okay, you know all about Myrtle Beach, the family fun, the world-class golf courses, the thumping bars…but just below this thriving strip are gorgeous beaches that convey a real sense of South Carolina coastal living. Pawley's Island, a shell-collector's heaven, combines casual atmosphere with a quaint shops, golf courses, and fine restaurants to earn the tagline "arrogantly shabby." Litchfield Beach delivers miles of wide sandy stretches, pocked with rental homes and far more space and quiet than you find an hour north in Myrtle. And slightly further along is Murrells Inlet, a historic fishing village and the seafood capital of South Carolina. Up north summer might still be trying to establish itself, but down here it's in full swing.

Any beach, British Virgin Islands, for the BVIs Highland Spring HIHO Race
This is one of those events that's even cooler than it sounds, and it sounds pretty damn cool: nine days of catamaran and windsurf races among some of the most beautiful islands on earth, with just enough media and star power to create a buzz but not so much that you can't enjoy the race parties. And in 2007 the menu adds an Open division, which will start racing from Saint Maarten. There's plenty for non-wind junkies to enjoy – diving, kayaking, snorkeling and luxuriating on silky sand.

Jamaican Sumfest, Montego Bay
We usually prefer some of Jamaica's lesser-touristed areas but this is one time you want to be in M-Bay: perhaps the biggest reggae and dancehall concert on earth, held in the birthplace of reggae. The schedule has heavy hitters—50 Cent tops the bill in 2007—but it's often the unheralded bands that bring the best energy to these fests. Take advantage of the downtime to see why so many tourists hit Montego Bay—the silvery water cradled in sandy coves, abundant shopping, and hopping local culture.

Rye, NH
This is one of the handful places on the U.S. East Coast where you might actually escape heavy crowds in the heart of summer. Tucked in along New Hampshire's 16 miles (count 'em!) of coastline, Rye boasts a robust rockfish run in July, a caramel-sand beach, and one of New England's more legit surfing breaks. Toss in the cheap local lobstah and you may decide to stay a few extra days.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Tell people you're heading to the Caymans in July and you might get some curious looks, but (unless bad luck delivers a hurricane) this is an ideal month to hit G.C.: The expat bankers, mostly British, are loose and partying, breezes moderate the temperature, and the underwater visibility can stretch to near 200 feet—about as good as it gets anywhere. Dive boats bob lazily in the electric-blue sea, waiting to deliver you to the dreamy reefs and the carefree attitude carries into the bars of George Town far into the night.

Saint Eustatius, Carnival
We hesitate to pick a single beach here because the best ones are on the rougher Atlantic side, not the gentle Caribbean. But we can recommend all of Statia in July: The close-knit, laid-back population of this funky little island puts on its version of carnival, with local talent showcase, a calypso night, an international Latin night, and a closing event that sounds way too whacky to be boring—Burning of Prince Stupid. Take a break from Carnival Village to hike The Quill, a rainforest within an extinct volcano crater, or dive Double Wreck or some of the other shipwrecks (some ancient, some recent) resting hauntingly on the ocean floor.

Hammonasset State Park, Madison, CT
This is the largest beach in Connecticut and it feels like it, with more than two miles of open sand, a beach-front boardwalk promenade, ample field space backing the shore, and scenic creeks running inland. It's also a favorite of tent campers, with 550 sites. July is the sweet spot for New England beaches; leave the city behind and stay a while.

Tofino, Vancouver, B.C.
Okay, so it’s Canada, and yes, the water is cold, topping out in the high 50s in summer. But it’s still a gorgeous beach—around 12 miles of uninterrupted coastline, with crisp Pacific Northwest pines and smell—and it draws a crowd, due both to the scenery and the pumping surf. Waves are best in fall and winter, when storms churn in the Gulf of Alaska, but the beach is worth a long stay at any time of year.

Published: 24 May 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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