Beach season is officially underway, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans take up to 2 billion trips to the beach every year! The need to be near water is as ancient as our need to eat; some scientists even opine that it is human nature to seek out shores. Among the many activities sand and lapping waves lend themselves to — swimming, tanning, surfing — what would a day of fun in the sun be without an outstanding meal?
These days, beach fare is far from the traditional hot dogs or homemade picnic lunches; beaches all around the world have become hot spots for the best chefs to hone their chops and show off their skills. While most shoreside restaurants claim seafood as their specialty, the type of fish available — and their preferred form of preparation — varies greatly around the world. So whether you’re craving red tuna, littleneck clams, conch, or octopus, dining by the sea can oftentimes ensure that your food is fresh caught.
We chose these top 21 best beach restaurants based on critical acclaim, value, the menu’s reflection of its location and, of course, beach access. Whether your style is upscale or casual, convivial or romantic, there’s a venue here to satisfy your vacation cravings. From dining on pan-seared snapper and citrus risotto in the familiar Key West to sampling Caribbean spicy lobster with mango butter in the exotic West Indies, these selections span the spectrum of succulence, and offer superb service to boot. After all, who's not tempted by the idea of a beach and culinary vacation in Bora Bora?
So pack a bag — or don’t. A swimsuit and your appetite will suffice! Whether you wait a half-hour to jump in the water after dinner is up to you. Check out our slideshow to see more!