The World's Most Athletic Beaches
This globe-spanning guide serves up 10 choices for the incredibly fit beachgoer.
Most people associate beach vacations with, for lack of a better term, relaxation enthusiasts. By contrast, athletes are presumed to climb mountains, hike national parks, or schedule brick workouts on their precious days off. But what if you could have both: the rejuvenation of the sand and the sun paired with the best exercises every fit traveler craves? Head directly for these sandy destinations, and take our beach body fitness tips with you:
Playa de La Concha, San Sebastian, Spain
In Northern Spain, the Atlantic hits the heart of Basque country making up a scenic urban beach. And you won’t find the Basque on their bums: They’re known for their love of sports, says Jamie Chen, CEO of food-tech startup Dinneract, who frequents the beach. (The small coastal city even has its own soccer team in La Liga, Spain’s premiere soccer league.) Run or bike the promenade; hike nearby Monte Urgull or Monte Igueldo; or sign up for surf school. The beach is also home to a triathlon, a regatta, and swimming races.
Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Known as “Holy Spirit Island,” Isla Espiritu Santo is a national park and UNESCO Biosphere just north of Mexico’s La Paz. Inlets and coves jut out into the turquoise waters, which is why sea kayakers flock to the nearby beaches. Local companies such as Sea Kayak Adventures send groups on excursions that consist of four hours of kayaking, hiking desert cliffs, and snorkeling.
Parrot Cay by COMO, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
If yoga is your thing, Providenciales is your place. Beyond an idyllic, secluded location, this private resort is known to put on yoga retreats; they’ve also got free classes you can do on your own six days a week. Plus, the property boasts a ‘Plantation Run’: a 5K trail through banana and coconut plantations.
Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Two miles from the start of the breathtaking and popular hike, Kalalau Trail (which you can get at Ke’e Beach), is Hanakapiai—and it’s worth the tough hike, says Mike Riodran, owner of New Yorked-based active tour company Fit Tours NYC. Though the beach itself can be too rough for swimming (especially in the winter), it’s two miles from Hanakapiai Falls—and once you return to Ke’e, you can enjoy a swim with stunning views.
Hobbit Beach, Florence, Oregon
When you think of the Pacific Northwest, you might think coffee shops and breweries. But Florence, Oregon, actually has some of the world’s best sand. (That’s why it’s got a huge sandboarding park.) Work up a sweat trying your hand at the unique sport, or running or hiking the 40-mile stretch of rolling dunes overlooking the Eugene coast before taking a dip; the popular Hobbit Trail which will spit you out at the sea.
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, The Cayman Islands
This famed Cayman beach touts a scenic backdrop for beach runs, bike rides, and water sports like SUP or snorkeling. Hit the islands at the right time and you may catch some of the many sporting events that traverse the area like the Off The Beaten Track Marathon, the Flowers Sea Swim (which has over 800 competitors, including Olympic swimmers), and the Cayman Islands Triathlon or Marathon.
Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia
Home to Sydney’s iconic Australian Open of Surfing, it’s no question that Manly is known for its swell, attracting water sport athletes of all kinds. Whether you want a group lesson, a one-on-one session, or elite training, Manly Surf School has something for everyone, including pro tips from former world champs who are almost always nearby.
Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, IN
From beach yoga (every Thursday and Friday during the summer) to the 3 Dune Challenge —an extreme fitness trail that can be done any day—the shores of Lake Michigan prove to be a great place to test your mettle. The latter option includes tackling a fierce 1.5-mile course: climbing the three highest dunes in the park, Mount Jackson (176 feet), Mount Holden (184 feet), and Mount Tom (192 feet). Cool off in the Great Lake afterwards.
Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica, CA
Three miles of heaven: That’s how Equinox group fitness instructor Sara Haley describes Santa Monica State Beach. From a massive swimming pool and playground at Annenberg Community Beach House to beach volleyball courts and the original “muscle beach” (parallel bars, rings, balance bars, and swings), this SoCal spot isn’t just for sunbathing. Yoga classes, boot camps, and private one-on-one training take place as runners and bikers cruise along adjacent beach paths.
Race Point Beach, Provincetown, MA
The lone wolf athlete will never want to leave Race Point Beach way down at Cape Cod’s tip. It’s accessible by car, but you can also hike from the dunes or bike the hilly Provincelands Trail, which is over 5 miles. As one of the Cape’s wildest beaches—coveted by surfers, adventurers, fishers, and sun-lovers alike (since the beach is north facing, the sun is most always shining)—it’s also one of the most beautiful and rugged. With seemingly endless sand, relaxing will come easy, and water temps colder than other local nearby spots supply a natural ice bath.