Lying in a breeze-fanned beachfront cabana while somebody brings me a steady supply of tasty bites and strong cocktails — that's my happy place. I imagine it might be yours, too.
Lucky for us, the world offers an array of beach bars ripe for lounging. Some are ultra chic, frequented by beautiful people in barely there swimwear. Others are a come-as-you-are wooden shack that requires a short wade or swim to reach the counter. As long as there are strong libations and beautiful scenery in spades, I'll take it, preferably paired with a cruise.
Here are some of my favorite beach bars around the world.
The Beach Club
Set along the white sands of Cancun beach at the all-inclusive adult-oriented resort ME Cancun by Melia, The Beach Club has a stream of local and guest DJs Friday through Sunday. The atmosphere is vibrant, fun and high-energy, and you can opt for VIP bottle service directly to your cabana.
Ponta dos Ganchos
Santa Catarina, Brazil
Set at the tip of a peninsula on Brazil's Emerald Coast, fronted by turquoise water and a private island, the adults-only Ponta dos Ganchos resort — a member of The Leading Hotels of the World — oozes romance with to-die-for views. Its beach hammocks and jungle-cocooned accommodations are popular among local celebs and international stars seeking an escape. The beach bar serves cuisine by chef Luis Salvajoli and specializes in cocktails made with cachaça, Brazil’s delicious sugarcane liquor.
Party people, this one is for you. Set on the beach on Europe's famed white isle of Ibiza, Spain, the fun at Ushuaïa starts around 3 pm and goes until late with international house music DJs such as David Guetta, Armin van Buuren and Martin Garrix doing the honors on the decks. Dress code is casual, in keeping with the daytime pool part vibe. If you're not staying on property, you can buy general entry tickets or a range of VIP packages that include massages, private cabanas and lounger-side spa treatments.
Perched 46 feet up overlooking the jagged coast fringing Jimbaran Bay, Rock Bar's atmospheric lighting, freshly caught seafood and stellar cocktails make it one of the best spots in Bali to watch the sunset and then linger as the stars come out. At 7 pm, the experience shifts into "after dark" mode, when elegantly attired guests indulge in king prawns, calamari, swordfish and lobster to a nu-disco soundtrack.
Umbar, Huvafen Fushi Maldives
Set amid the palm trees on an Indian Ocean atoll, Umbar at the Huvafen Fushi Maldives resort is a breezy, open-sided beach bar that brings the outdoors in with sandy floors, views over the open ocean and infinity pool and rattan loungers topped with plush, deep blue cushions. And once you're comfortably situated, there's no need to get up — the resort's attentive staff will bring you yummy bar snacks and drinks all day long.
Ku De Ta
Open air, minimalist and modern, the chic Ku De Ta retreat in Seminyak — Bali's most glamorous beach resort — is a favorite among global travelers. With direct access to the beach, a deck and restaurant, you can come for sundowner cocktails as the sun sinks over the south coast, dine and then dance into the night. Ku De Ta also has its own music line, so even after you've moved on or returned home you can lie back, close your eyes and be right back on the island of dreams.
La Plage du Martinez
While the food and drinks are of a caliber you'd expect from Cannes and the oceanfront setting on France's sun-drenched Riviera is definitely a plus, the main attraction at La Plage du Martinez is people watching. From your sun lounger, you can spend the day and night peeping at models, actresses and billionaires with their trophy wives and husbands, beautiful boyfriends and girlfriends.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is a 24-hour city and its beach bars lead the charge. Shalvata, located in Old Tel Aviv where the Yarkon River flows into the ocean, offers everything from breakfast (starting at 9 am) to lunch, dinner and dancing until the last customer leaves.
Soggy Dollar Bar
Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
The revered Caribbean watering hole Soggy Dollar Bar on the island of Jost Van Dykke earned its name because anyone mooring offshore has to swim to reach the bar — there's no dock — and soak the contents of their pockets in the process. It's reputed to be the birthplace of the painkiller cocktail, crafted with premium dark rum, coconut cream and pineapple and orange Juice topped with fresh grated Grenadian nutmeg — an enticing reason to get wet.
Potato Head Club
Cocktails, tasty food, art shows and day-into-night parties that take place over two infinity pools and a lawn that stretches to the Indian Ocean — it's hard to find a more appealing spot to spend a day or few than Potato Head Club in Bali. Clad in mismatched reclaimed doors, it's also one of Bali's most visually arresting beach clubs.
Pearl Beach Club
Viveros Island, Panama
Ibiza-style clubbing meets Caribbean beach bar chilling at the sleek hotspot Pearl Beach Club on Viveros Island, Panama. You can devour sushi by the ocean on a sand-dusted deck, swing in a hammock, piña colada in hand and dance with acrobats and fire performers, all in one day.
Malibu, California, US
The indoor dining space and outdoor patio of Moonshadows is popular for all-day casual dining. Standouts include Asian-fusion dishes like uni risotto, flavored with saffron and miso glazed black cod. Even if you're not hungry, Blue Lounge on the patio is a great spot for cocktails or a nightcap, with panoramic views over the rocky Malibu shore and Pacific Ocean beyond.
How about you? Have a fave beach bar? Dish in the comments.