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Warm Winter Beaches

Travel agents reveal their top picks



Photo by Tim Porter

Looking for a new stretch of sand by the sea? Three Marin-based travel agents tap their expertise to suggest the perfect antidote to winter. Whether your focus is romance, peaceful solitude or family fun, there’s a special place for you in the sun. Happy beaching.

Kathy Kerns

Redwood Skytours

A leisure travel specialist since 1984, Kathy Kerns is known as the “beach go-to” agent at San Rafael’s Redwood Skytours, Marin’s oldest travel agency.

Romantic getaway
“Fiji’s Vatulele Island Resort is the perfect spot for honeymooners and others looking for a romantic beach vacation,” says Kerns. Set in a lush jungle, the bures (thatched roof bungalows) are separated from each other by more than 20 meters, with easy access to the water. Best of all, “it’s not hard to find a private beach for an entire day to yourselves.”

All in the family
Castaway Island, another Fiji locale, tops Kerns’s list for getaways with kids. There, “spacious bures can easily accommodate parents and children, and the island’s beaches are well-suited for playing and swimming. It’s just the best place for families,” she adds. “Any time I have sent families there, they say they never want to go home. Fiji just has the nicest, kindest, most genuine, family-loving people.”

Get away from it all
To truly disconnect, Kerns recommends the atoll of Tikehau, part of the Tuamoto collection of islands in French Polynesia. You’ll find long stretches of secluded white-  and pink-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters where the fish are said to outnumber humans by a billion to one.“The only place to stay,” Kerns adds, “is the small Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort.” Island activities revolve around the spectacular setting: reading, sunning, snorkeling. Last year a client who’d just passed his medical exams asked Kerns to find “remote”; she sent him here with his wife; and “when he came home,” Kerns recounts, “he told me, ‘You sent me to Gilligan’s island. There was absolutely nothing there. It was perfect.’ ”

Diana Saint James

Dimensions in Travel

Owner of Novato-based Dimensions in Travel, Saint James draws on 19 years of travel-planning experience plus advice from other company agents for these top spots.

Romantic getaway
“The Yucatan Peninsula’s Maroma Beach often finds its way onto top 10 lists for romantic beaches—and with good reason,” says agent Carol Farnworth. “The sand is like white sugar and the water is crystal clear. The beach itself is quite secluded, about 30 minutes south of the Cancun airport, and you have to ride over a very bumpy dirt road to get to it, so that helps keep it from being overcrowded.” Nearby Maroma Resort and Spa is a romantic lodging option, with a spa and a beachfront Jacuzzi.

All in the family
“Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic tops the list for traveling with children of all ages,” says agent Winnie Coleman. “A seven-mile-long private beach bordered by palm trees is the perfect setting for a range of activities, including snorkeling, sailing and sipping cocktails.” Specialized children’s programs are available for ages four months and up. Factor in amenities like freshly puréed baby food and a dizzying array of activities for older children and adults, and “it is beyond belief for a family,” Coleman attests.

Get away from it all
“It’s not far from Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, but Green Sand beach is a world apart,” says Saint James. The beach isn’t easy to get to—reachable only by four-wheel-drive or a 2 ½-mile hike—but the reward is a stunning swath of olive green sand, rocky yet private inlets and dangerous swimming waters. While small amounts of these olivine- or peridot-grained sands can be found around the islands, here the entire beach is covered in it; hence its name. Isolated at the southernmost tip of the island (and of the United States), this destination requires some planning and caution: wear good walking shoes, and don’t leave valuables in the car. But once you get there, Saint James says, “look across the horizon, and you can’t help but sense that you’re somewhere significant.”

Bill Wiess

Eyes of the World Travel

Wiess, who has 16 years of experience in the travel business, owns Mill Valley–based Eyes of the World.

Romantic getaway
Any of the five-star resorts on Bora Bora is perfect for a romantic beach vacation, Wiess says. White-sand beaches laden with palm trees lead to the emerald waters of the surrounding lagoon; the waters are warm, clear and teeming with fish life. “The sheer beauty of Bora Bora is unparalleled,” he asserts. “Add the love of your life to this destination and, simply put, Bora Bora is a magical place.”

All in the family
“Barbados’s west coast has numerous beautiful beaches where families can find peace and tranquility—or activities galore,” he adds. “The waters on the west coast are much calmer than those on the east coast and offer excellent snorkeling, including turtle encounters, fantastic scuba diving, waterskiing, jet-skiing, tubing, fishing, catamaran trips and surfing. And the people are warm, friendly and eager to share their love of the island with vacationers.”

Get away from it all
With its 3.5-mile coast, Whitehaven Beach is Wiess’s pick for a remote getaway. Located on Whitsunday Island off the coast of Australia, it’s best reached by sailboat or catamaran. “The turquoise waters touching the beach are crystal clear, warm and ideal for snorkeling; however, the main draw here is the superfine white sand.”

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