By Alyssa Mammano
Along the shores of white, sugary sand beaches and glass-like lakes lie the unsullied, untold secrets of private waterfront havens. Ideal for vacationing and even more optimal for an extended stay, these summer home destinations are chart-topping coastal communities for their serenity, family-friendly entertainment and vibrant night life. Upscale amenities, lavish dining and boutique shopping are available in each of these waterfront summer home havens.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Celebrated for its 27-mile stretch of pristine sugary sand beaches and cool turquoise waves, Panama City Beach, Florida tops the charts for locale of a summer home oasis on the water. With nearly 100 public access points along the stretch, there is a patch of sand to suit any mood. Serenity is found on Shell Island, a seven-mile barrier of peaceful solitude accessed only by boat. And for those seeking more thrill in their beach adventure, Pier Park offers more than 900,000 square feet of shops and attractions overlooking the water.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Often referred to as the Florida of Texas, Corpus Christi is quietly nestled along the Gulf Coast of this southern state. Here, a laid-back attitude is adopted and southern hospitality rings true. Low crime rates and ease of access to the water attract affluent homeowners to the Southside and Padre Island portions of Corpus Christi. Retail prevails, with several shopping and dining options, as well as the Bob Hall pier for prime fishing and the new Padre Island water park. On a more low-key note, the Padre Island National Seashore is ideal for exploring 70 miles of undeveloped dunes.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
A jubilant strip and rousing nightlife bring droves of vacationers to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina each spring break season, but the quaint town has so much more to offer. Sixty miles of sparkling water, white sand beaches come alive with games of frisbee, volleyball and surfing. For more sophisticated competition, Myrtle Beach maintains more than 100 meticulous golf courses designed by some of the greats. History abounds within these grounds, known to many as the Golf Capital of the World. Speaking of history, the Carolina Opry, which pioneered the area’s theater boom, shows world-class live entertainment regularly.
Ocean City, Maryland
Dating back more than a century, Ocean City, Maryland’s wooden boardwalk has drawn crowds for its amusements and attractions. Stretching nearly three miles today, the boardwalk, lousy with shops, eateries and games, presides over a 10-mile span of beautiful Ocean City beachfront. The destination is also known for its locally-sourced, fresh from the Atlantic culinary delights, namely the blue crab. This delectable delicacy is caught daily just off shore and served as spicy steamed crabs or sweet crab cakes by chefs passionate about procuring local ingredients.
Wilmington, North Carolina
This sweet waterfront inlet is tucked away from the open waters of the Atlantic along the Cape Fear Riverway. The vibrant scene of the Riverwalk is juxtaposed by three island beaches of unique and transformative beauty. The unsullied sands of Kure Beach are aptly named to cure stresses with cool breezes and a family-friendly small-town vibe. The luxurious shores of Wrightsville Beach offer upscale amenities and wellness activities such as watersports and beach boutiques. And Carolina Beach’s colorful community boasts a scenic boardwalk and world-class fishing. Island indulgence abounds along the shores of Wilmington.
Hawaii’s oldest and most lush island, Kauai, is often referred to as the Garden Island for its dense greenery and unaltered natural beauty. Valleys of emerald rainforests are parted by cascading waterfalls over towering jagged cliffs. Rivers weave through the contours formed by centuries of elemental transformation. Parts of the island can be accessed only by waterways or air travel and the remote towns of Kauai truly afford an escape from reality. Experiences are reserved for exploration and adventure with a focus on enjoying the simpler things in life. Romance and relaxation take precedence, allowing time to fixate on the dramatic magnificence of the surroundings.
The magnificent beauty that is Crete, Greece is celebrated with outdoor attractions ranging from glass bottom boat rides to historic archaeological site tours. This enchanting Greek island is world-renowned for the pink sands of Elafonisi Beach and the crystal-clear turquoise waters of Balos Beach. Though a popular vacation destination, the populous city still has a boutique vibe and exclusivity in its most extraordinary waterfront living locations. Tiered terraces extend from each home, rising over one another up the sloped mountainside to create an illusion of solitude while remaining in the midst of all that Crete has to offer. As Crete’s most famous author, Nikos Kazantzakis wrote, “Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force coursing warmly and beneficently through their veins, sensing their soul beginning to grow.”