Want to travel, discover a city and have fun on the beach at the same time. Want the best of both worlds ? Here is my selection of some cool cities, on the beach, that are easily accessible with thousands of things to see and do, including having fun on the beach. Some of the cities are obvious, but others are real discoveries, and very cool too. So here is my list of the top cities with a beach to travel to.

Honolulu, Hawai: Once an idyllic retreat for 19th-century Hawaiian royalty, Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach is now chockablock with resorts, some of them historic like the 1901 Moana Surfrider Hotel. The long, rolling breaks are ideal for novice surfers, but most beachgoers here are happy basking in the temperate, turquoise blue Pacific and killer views of the Diamond Head crater.

Barcelona, Spain: With layers of architectural wonders, cutting-edge cuisine, and buzzing nightlife,Barcelona would be a world-class city even without the eight white-sand beaches that rim its Mediterranean coastline. Accessible by metro, the nearly mile-long (1.6-kilometer-long) Barceloneta Beach—revitalized in the massive waterfront makeover for the 1992 Olympics—is one of the most popular. Hit the Beach Centre to rent a beach umbrella, chairs, or a bicycle.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The city that spawned Carnival and “The Girl from Ipanema” has a buzzing beach scene throughout its 25 miles (40 kilometers) of shoreline, from Copacabana— where bronzed Cariocas clad in skimpy swimwear and Havaianas stroll the wave-patterned promenade in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer—to the more upscale Ipanema, framed by the Rio skyline and the rocky peaks of Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers).

Cape Town, South Africa: The African capital of cool sprawls on a peninsula that divides the icy Atlantic from the warmer Indian Ocean, putting some 20 beaches within striking distance. The Clifton beaches, known for the posh homes that overlook them and stellar sunset-viewing, are sheltered from the region’s strong trade winds by a mountainous ridge. Further north, the breeze is unleashed at surfing sweet spots Milnerton and Blouberg. Families favor the eastern False Bay coast for warmer water and tot-friendly tidal pools.

Sydney, Australia: Sydney is rimmed with dozens of beaches, but Bondi—a 0.6-mile (one-kilometer) crescent of golden sand 20 minutes from downtown—has become synonymous with the laid-back Aussie lifestyle. Sydneysiders come here for the booming surf, but the beautiful-people-watching is unparalleled. Keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales from May to early October.

Miami Beach, FLA: Separated from Miami by Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach is a barrier island and city unto itself fringed with nine miles (14 kilometers) of sandy Atlantic beaches, the red-hot center of which is South Beach. Once a seedy outpost, the 25 art deco-filled blocks known as SoBe has emerged as a stomping ground for the glitterati. Park your towel among the glamorous denizens at the southern tip of the beach.

Santa Monica, CA: With 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) of broad, sandy beaches, a fresh ocean breeze, and progressive vibe, Santa Monica has long been a magnet for the Hollywood set. In the 1920s, movie moguls and starlets partied at Club Casa Del Mar; today, celebrities dodge the paparazzi at the Shutters on the Beach hotel. Join a volleyball game, look for sea lions, or just watch the Pacific rollers crash on the beach.

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