Rincón, Puerto Rico
(Average water temperatures of 80/77)
In the midst of winter, nothing seems cheerier than the idea of Puerto Rico, where temperatures rarely dip below the 83-degree mark. For years, this peninsula on the island’s west coast has been the surfing community’s best-kept secret. Despite a recent rise in popularity, Rincón still has the low-key feel of a small town. The pro surfers head for the beaches on the north section of the peninsula, where the waves can reach up to 25 feet, but newbies tend to stick to the smaller swells on the south side. Puntas Surf School offers lessons from $35, and the owners will have you standing on your board by the end of the session. If you’d rather leave the waves more-experienced to the surfers, try stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking. Or simply set up with an umbrella on the warm white sand on one of the area’s 12 beaches, especially the centrally located, uncrowded Spanish Wall Beach, just north of the Rincón lighthouse.
(Average water temperatures of 77/76)
Kauai has managed to stay a little more under the radar than other Hawaiian islands, and that’s what makes it so appealing. Hanalei, on the North Shore, is as close to magical as a town can get—lush green mountains, fields of taro, and rainbows every day. The horseshoe-shaped, secluded Hanalei Bay is the best beach for swimming and lounging on the golden sand, but if you want to get out on the water, sign up for one of the four-hour motor-powered raft trips with Na Pali Riders. You’ll explore sea caves, go snorkeling, and almost definitely spot dolphins. Afterward, dry off with a hike along the Hanakapi’ai Trail, which follows the stunningly beautiful Na Pali Coast to Hanakapiai Beach and back, about four miles altogether.
(Average water temperatures of 59/58)
San Diego is a small town with big ambitions: The revitalized Gaslamp Quarter, with its shops and restaurants, feels urban, but the crashing waves of the Pacific nearby create a vibe that’s your quintessential classic American beach village. However, the best way to experience it all is to hit the boardwalk. At Pacific Beach, known for its wide stretches of sand and perfect surfing waves, rent a beach cruiser from Cheap Rentals and ride the three-and-a-half-mile stretch to South Mission Beach, passing all manner of local characters along the way: scantily clad in-line skaters, vacationing families, throwback ’60s hippies, and even the random guy on a unicycle who always seems to make an appearance.
For more locations go onto the Budget Travel.