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More Than a Bed and a Beach

When it’s time for a bit of beach therapy, many of us instinctively reach for remote, self-contained resorts. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s another kind of beach hotel — a place where you’re not isolated, but immersed in the local life, on and off the beach. Here are ten beach hotels where you’ll want to make sure you get out and absorb some local color.

The Nam Hai
Hoi An, Vietnam
The Nam Hai

Compared to neighboring Thailand, the beach towns of Vietnam are still relatively low-key. The well-preserved village of Hoi An, with its Japanese-style footbridges, bustling markets and French pâtisseries, has to be the most enchanting example.

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Viceroy Zihuatanejo
Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Viceroy Zihuatanejo

Mexico’s got a plentiful supply of fishing villages that grew up into tourist destinations, and the Viceroy, which has been here under one name or another since the Seventies, is among the most desirable addresses on this famous bay. One look at that beach is enough to explain why.

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The Library
Koi Samui, Thailand
The Library

Koh Samui’s Chaweng Beach has quickly gone from undiscovered paradise to extremely discovered paradise — which means that all the stimulation you could possibly require is available just outside, while the hotel’s own grounds are as quiet as, well, a library.

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The Rose Hotel
Venice, California
The Rose Hotel

While most of SoCal’s beach towns have gone relentlessly upscale, Venice is doing its level best to stay weird — and we mean that in the best possible way. The Rose Hotel hits just the right note — plenty of character and low-key, ramshackle personality, but without sacrificing the essential comforts.

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Etnia Pousada
Trancoso, Brazil
Etnia Pousada

Perhaps the worst-kept secret in all of Brazil is Trancoso, the Bahian beach town that’s become something of a mecca for fashionably chilled-out Europeans. These days the secret may be out, but the town’s appeal is scarcely diminished.

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Sublime Samana
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
Sublime Samana

On one side Sublime Samana borders on an endless, idyllic, powder-soft beach, but a short walk in the other direction places you in Las Terrenas, a lively town that’s home to a substantial enclave of French expats.

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The Harmony Hotel
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
The Harmony Hotel

Dirt roads wind through lush greenery and deposit you at what feels like the end of the earth. Playa Guiones isn’t deserted, though — this is one of Costa Rica’s legendary surf beaches, with good conditions year-round and all the infrastructure a beginner (or expert) could need.

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Batu Karang Lembongan Resort
Bali, Indonesia
Batu Karang Lembongan Resort

If Bali proper is feeling a bit overtraveled and overdeveloped, Nusa Lembongan is just hitting its stride. Here you’ll watch the sun set over crowded, noisy Denpasar and thank yourself for making just a little bit of extra effort.

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Casa Morada
Islamorada, Florida
Casa Morada

No need to drive all the way to Key West — Islamorada is smaller, mellower, arguably just as charming, and is legendary for its sport fishing, its diving, and its spectacular sunsets, for all of which Casa Morada is perfectly placed.

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