(CNN) — Anyone can stick up a shack on the sand, stock it with beers and call it a beach bar.
But what makes a great beach bar?
It could be the sand-in-your-toes factor or the washing and hissing of the waves nearby or the sunsets or the people you meet.
The truth is there’s no formula, no magic ingredients that guarantee a place in a list of the world’s best beach bars.
We’ve included spots that range from the chic and the elite with smooth lines and mesmerizing cocktail waiters, to the haphazard, thrown-together shacks constructed from scavenged driftwood.
The only thing these places have in common is that once you’ve been, you inevitably start planning to get back there someday, somehow.
We know this list won’t hit all the great beach bars around the world, so let us know — which beach bars did we miss? Leave a comment.
50. La Plancha (Bali, Indonesia)
How did a simple beach shack beat out ultra-luxe Bali bars such as KU DÉ TA and Potatohead? By keeping it real.
La Plancha’s laid-back reggae, ice-cold beers, oversized bean bags and jugs of potent sangria have made it the spot to be from 4 p.m. onward every day.
Surfers use the place as a strip-down, wax-on spot before catching the last waves of the day.
But La Plancha’s biggest draw is the sunset.
An uninterrupted view of the changing pink-to-red-to-orange sky will have you seriously considering retiring here.
La Plancha Bali, Double Six Beach, Bali; +62 0361 890 0000
49. Nikki Beach (Miami)
This cool club with a rep for its strict door policy — be irresistibly beautiful or don’t turn up without a reservation — didn’t invent the beach bar, but it did reinvent the genre for a generation who may never have felt the sand between their manicured toes.
St. Tropez-style chill joint by day, with raised “opium beds” and linen-covered loungers, it turns into an al fresco nightclub after dark, when international DJs man the decks on weekends.
There are now Nikkis from Koh Samui in Thailand to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico — not to mention the desert resorts of Las Vegas and Marrakech, where Nikki has created a modern-day mirage.
We still love the original.
Nikki Beach Miami, 1 Ocean Dr., South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida; +305 538 1111
48. Tortilla Flats (Dominical, Costa Rica)
This long-standing beach hut is a surfer hotel, seaside restaurant and happening night spot all rolled into one.
The two-story establishment is located right on the sand in the laid-back surf town of Dominical.
During the day, the crowds (mostly dripping wet surfers) flock to Tortilla Flats for the surprisingly good food.
As the day winds down, you can grab a drink from the well-stocked bar and watch the waves roll in against the sunset.
Tortilla Flats, Playa Dominical, Dominical, Costa Rica; +506 2787 0033
47. Pelican Bar (Jakes Treasure Beach, Jamaica)
When a place claims to have “the best cocktails in the sea” it’s easy to be cynical. But Pelican Bar really could have the best, because it really is in the sea.
Part of the Jakes Treasure Beach resort, the Pelican is built out on a shoal requiring a short boat ride for a visit.
No Internet, no TVs, no pool tables — just thatched roof, seats and booze.
No wonder it’s considered by fans to be the single best beach bar in the Caribbean.
Pelican Bar, Calabash Bay, Jakes Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, W.I.
46. Purobeach, Mallorca, Spain
If upon setting foot in Mallorca’s Purobeach you feel as if you’ve stepped into a design magazine, you’re exactly right.
Run by Swedish entrepreneur Mats Wahlström, the gorgeous beachfront property has been featured in countless fashionable glossies.
This no doubt accounts for its popularity among the international jet set.
At Purobeach, beautiful bodies lie on white loungers, sipping passionfruit mojitos under the shade of white beach umbrellas and potted palms.
During the day, Purobeach offers spa and yoga sessions to its designer swimwear-clad patrons.
Come nightfall, clubbers gather around the large pool to dance to tunes from Wahlström’s music label.
Puro Beach, Montenegro, 12 Palma, Mallorca, Spain; +34 971 425 450
45. Tamboo Tavern, Rincon, Puerto Rico
Imagine a bar where you spend lunchtime bathing on the sands and drinking pina coladas, afternoons watching old black and white movies in a cozy corner and evenings listening to live Latin music while humpback whales break the ocean surface in front of the glowing sun.
It’s not a dream — this place exists on the idyllic coastline of Puerto Rico.
It’s relaxed, but lively, it’s popular but roomy.
Tamboo Tavern, Sandy Beach Road, 413 Interior, Puntas, Rincon, Puerto Rico; +787 823 8550
44. Ben’s Back Beach Bar (Shek O, Hong Kong)
Glamorous it ain’t but well positioned it is.
In a city defined by skyscrapers, pollution and dense urban areas the chilled out calm of this low key bar provides remarkable respite and feels so un-Hong Kong.
Its remote location keeps it relatively uncrowded, and even those that make it to Shek O’s main beach seem unaware of what’s on offer barely a few hundred meters away.
Perched on a concrete rise overlooking the town’s back beach, Ben and his small team serve HK$25 ($3.20) beers, basic cocktails and wine.
Other than crisps, there’s no food but BYO from nearby restaurants is decent.
Shek O Back Beach, A one-minute walk north along the road/driveway next to the main No. 9 bus terminal, Hong Kong
43. Catch Beach Club (Phuket, Thailand)
The Thai resort’s most fashionable beach bar is particularly popular on Friday night, when lamb and tuna hit the spit along with oysters and other seafood.
There’s more barbecue action on Tuesdays, and drinks are a draw every night of the week, with signature cocktails including a Sly Thai and My Thai.
While reviews of the cuisine are mixed, the beachfront ambiance and live music are universally acclaimed; best get there early to bag one of the day beds close to the water’s edge.
Catch Beach Club, Twin Palms Hotel, Surin Beach Road, Cherng Talay, Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand
42. Nammos Beach Club (Bali, Indonesia)
Kudos for effort — this lively watering hole aims to recreate the ambiance of a Greek island, despite being based on a bamboo platform with a roof of indigenous grass.
The only access to its home on a tranquil turquoise lagoon fringed with white sand is via a private inclinator, which transports guests up and down 100 meters of sheer limestone cliff.
While the beach is the star by day (not to mention the waiters who dive into the lagoon to collect a lunch of locally farmed seafood to order), by night the bar turns on the romance with champagne and cold beer to lubricate the prawns and lobster.
Karma Kandara, Jalan Wijaya Kusuma, Bali, Indonesia
41. Tanjong Beach Club (Singapore)
This hideout on the sands does its best to recreate a relaxed beach attitude on the outskirts of the uptight city-state.
It came into existence thanks to a pair of not-so-uptight Aussie brothers who saw the sands of Sentosa as the perfect environment for seafood platters, tropical cocktails and good healthy fun like beach volleyball.
Tanjong Beach Club, 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa, Singapore
40. Sundara (Bali, Indonesia)
Sundara adds a sophisticated but casual drinking spot to a beach more renowned for its on-the-sand seafood restaurants.
The Cincecitta (170,000 rupiah) of gin, cucumber and spring mint is recommended.
The food menu is international, with dinner aimed at the surf and turf crowd. The salt-encrusted whole snapper is terrific.
Food and drink, though, aren’t the main attraction. Sunset views, great beach location, infinity swimming pool and tree-filled open bar area would make even an off beer taste amazing.
Restaurant bookings are recommended.
Sundara, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay; +62 361 701 010
39. Ju-Ju’s (St. James, Barbados)
Near Holetown on the island’s west coast, this is one of the best-kept secrets in Barbados.
Small but perfectly formed, it offers great food and a rustic, simple beach bar vibe.
It’s hard to find, so look for the Fairmont Pavilion and the chic Lone Star Inn — it’s between the two, behind a lime-green house with a “Dive Barbados” sign.
Appropriately, the bar specializes in fresh fish, including the flying variety.
Ju-Ju’s, Mount Steadfast, St. James, Barbados
38. Hula Hula Beach Bar (Hvar, Croatia)
If it’s good enough for JAY-Z and Beyoncé, who have stopped by for drinks, it’s good enough for a top 50.
At Hula Hula, deck chairs rest against the Adriatic Sea offering views of the stunning Croatian sunset.
Come 5 p.m. the bar turns into a massive dance party featuring live DJs, dance parties, table dancing and Grand Prix-style champagne showers.
The town of Hvar, where Hula Hula is located, has an Ibiza-like party feel, but is considerably more low-key and friendly.
Located in West Hvar, a 15-minute walk from Hvar city center, open from June to September, Praia do Rei Costa da Caparica, Croatia; +351 967 777 424
37. Basil’s Bar (Mustique, The Grenadines)
Perhaps Mick Jagger comes for the lobster, perhaps he comes to get down with regular Joes — Basil’s prides itself on being a place where “sailors party with business moguls, fashion models, gardeners, rock stars and schoolteachers.”
It opens at 8 a.m. for banana pancake breakfasts and the place is still hopping late at night, when DJs and house bands join the party.
Basil’s Bar, Kingstown, Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; +784 488 8350
36. Moomba Beach Bar and Restaurant (Aruba)
This big, open-air restaurant and bar jumps from breakfast till 11 p.m.; not a late, late place despite the efforts of its happy DJs.
Sunday nights are popular for $25 all-you-can-eat barbecues, as well as more rarefied dishes like Tuscan chicken pate with spiced cranberry sauce.
Moomba Beach Bar, JE Irausquin Boulevard 230, Aruba; +297 586 5365
35. Lagoon Bar (Bora Bora, French Polynesia)
Guests of the St. Regis hotel have to climb out of their over-water villas and take a golf cart to the over-water Lagoon Bar. Non-guests are also welcome.
The restaurant and bar is suspended on stilts over the turquoise water so look down and you may catch a glimpse of dinner darting beneath your feet.
World renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongetrichen offers a menu of local seafood with European influence.
It’s one of the most extravagant beach stays on this list, with a hotel room running to $1,000 a night.
Lagoon Bar, Motu Ome’e BP 506, Bora Bora, French Polynesia; +689 607898
34. Sunset Beach Bar (St. Martin, Dutch West Indies)
St. Martin’s Princess Juliana International Airport is consistently ranked by pilots as one of the world’s most challenging landings, given the low approach that has planes coming in right over the famed Maho Beach.
The best way to take in all those incredibly close landings? Beer in hand, at St. Martin’s Sunset Beach Bar.
Right at the end of the runway but still perched on the island’s glaringly white sand, Sunset Beach Bar isn’t just for plane spotters. The food is top notch and the place regularly hosts live musical acts, making it one of the world’s top places to kill a few hours before your flight.
Sunset Beach Bar, #2 Beacon Hill Road, Maho Beach, St. Martin, Dutch West Indies
33. Little Ochie (Alligator Pond, Jamaica)
Seafood and Red Stripe are the twin raisons d’êtres of this colorful and gloriously ramshackle operation on Jamaica’s south coast.
City dwellers drive for miles to eat jerked crab and other crustaceans in thatched boats on stilts as well as tables and chairs set out on the beach.
Reggae and dance hall blast from the jukebox, attracting the odd beachcombing mutt and roaming pig.
There’s beer aplenty, but you won’t find any alcohol in the signature Fish Tea — it’s a fiery warmup broth to precede the likes of snapper simmered over pimento wood.
Little Ochie, Alligator Pond, Manchester, Jamaica, W.I.; +1 876 852 6430
32. Wreck Bar (Cayman Kai, Grand Cayman)
This local hangout is a good hour from the tourist strip of Seven Mile Beach, whose visitors rarely make it out here.
Weekends are abuzz with regulars arriving by private boat, but on weekdays it regains a sense of placid nonchalance.
The thatched bar is a replica of one that first went up some 60 years ago, when bartender “Old Judd” invented the frozen mudslide, which became the national drink.
This heady mix of Kahlua, vodka, Baileys and ice is best sipped in a hammock strung between casuarina trees, though you’ll want to get up eventually to taste the fine conch fritter, served with jerk mayo made to a secret recipe.
Rum Point, Cayman Kai, Grand Cayman
31. The Star of Greece (Port Willunga, Australia)
For lunch on a sunny day, few places match this colorful beach shack named for a nearby shipwreck in 1888.
It’s attracted celebs from Kylie Minogue to Sting, yet displays no attitude and serves delicious food and drink at good prices.
Best of all it’s on a beautiful broad stretch of clean, white sand that seems largely deserted, in spite of being fewer than 15 minutes from the vineyards of Maclaren Vale.
Visitors can expect gourmet dishes strewn with edible flowers as well as good fish and chips, top local wines and cold beer and cocktails.
Star of Greece Cafe, 1 The Esplanade, Port Willunga 5173, South Australia; +61 8 8557 7420
30. Bar de la Plage (Juan-les-Pins, France)
In a happening little resort where every private beach has a bar, this relatively new entry has injected a little chic into the genre.
Even better than the sand within a toe’s reach are the private cabanas set out for spa treatments along the jetty.
Built on the site of the legendary but long gone Maison des Pecheurs disco, cool sounds now emanate from a decent sound system.
Bar de la Plage, 10 Boulevard Marechal Juin, Cap d’Antibes, France; +33 4 92 93 13 30
29. Da Conch Shack (Provo, Turks and Caicos, B.W.I.)
With more seafood than you can stare at and more rum than you can throw down, Da Conch Shack in Provo, Turks and Caicos stakes a solid claim for the greatest beach bar in the British West Indies.
They’ll pull conch right out of the sea and slice it up for you there and then. They’ll keep pouring you rums till you beg them to stop. And they’ll even serve a great grilled jerk chicken dish, if you overload on fresh seafood.
It’s unpretentious, fun and casual, and for an island that’s not overrun with places to choose from, the prices aren’t too steep.
Conch Shack, Blue Hills Road, Provo, Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies; +649 946 8877
28. Badeschiff (Berlin, Germany)
The German capital may be landlocked, but tell that to the locals, who turn the urban River Spree into a full-blown beach resort come summer.
Deck chairs line the banks, “beach bars” put out huge rafts so imbibers can float over the water and the world’s most unusual pool becomes the city’s coolest venue.
Swimming goes on in a vast ship’s hull, surrounded by real sand and a huge open-air bar. Unplugged concerts, open air cinema and spa treatments provide diversions.
Arena Berlin, Eichenstrasse 4, Berlin, Germany
27. Midnight Rambler (Barrio Baretto, Philippines)
A former haunt of U.S. Navy personnel, this laid-back beach bar across the road from Subic Bay has survived on good pool tables, classic rock and an easygoing attitude.
Expect to see inebriated expats clumsily try to chat up attractive local women — euphemistically named Guest Relations Officers — near the pool tables.
Midnight Rambler is open around the clock, but to experience it at its best, visit during the weekend, when there’s live rock and beachside barbecues.
Those who have had a few too many can just walk off the back deck and dive into the ocean for a refreshing late-night swim.
Midnight Rambler, National Highway, Olongapo City, Philippines; +6347 223 4142
26. Ushuaia Beach Hotel (Ibiza, Spain)
The Ushuaia Beach Hotel has taken the beach bar residential.
A combination of beach club, dance venue and stylish hotel, it aims to celebrate the heyday of outdoor Ibiza, where style, sunshine and dance created Europe’s disco-era party scene.
Ushuaia lives up to the tradition by hosting some of the best parties on the island, with club nights both on the beach and around the pool.
Ushuaia Beach Hotel, Playa d’En Bossa 10, Sant Jordi de ses Salines, Ibiza, Spain
25. Coconuts (Rimini, Italy)
Inspired by Miami’s Ocean Drive, this Adriatic hotspot is furnished with eccentric sofas, bars and palm trees a short distance from Rimini’s beach and harbor.
Open every evening from June to September, it specializes in Latin-American sounds.
Coconuts, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 5, 47900 Rimini Italy
24. Margaritaville (Pensacola Beach, Florida)
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that this familiar chain bar is close to the heart of millions in America.
We like Land Shark Landing, a pavilion that’s part of the Margaritaville Beach Hotel on Pensacola Beach.
A rotating menu of activities including beach-blanket movie nights, beach ping pong and volleyball on the sand.
A giant, fin-shaped fire pit, hammocks under palm trees and live band performances all contribute to the bar’s kitschy charm.
Margaritaville, 165 Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, Florida, +1 850 916 9755
23. Tabon Te Keekee (North Tarawa, Kiribat)i
Whatever you thought you knew about beach bars, you better forget it if you make the trip through the poverty stricken South Tarawa (an island in Kiribati) up to North Tarawa, cross the water in a traditional canoe (for $1) and find yourself in Tabon Te Keekee.
Yes, it has the usual amazing ultra-blue water, traditional Pacific kiakia stilt huts in the sea and more sun than you can lube up for.
But you don’t know it’s even a bar till you’ve fallen into a hammock and Karea, the half-English, half-I-Kiribati businessman saunters up and asks what you’re having.
If you’re drinking like the locals you’ll order the XXXX, but we recommend the sour toddy made from coconut sap. It tastes awful, but packs a punch and if you ask Karea nicely he’ll probably give you some for free.
North of Tarawa island, cross the water and it’s the first stop in North Tarawa
22. UMbar @ Huvafen Fushi (North Male Atoll, Maldives)
On the water’s edge looking over the breathtaking infinity pool, this bar has a floor made entirely of super-soft Maldivian sand.
Guests can relax in oversized chairs and take in the magnificent shoreline while sipping champagne cocktails, martinis or fruit juice and fresh coconut concoctions.
There’s a cigar menu and daily “dreamers,” the local version of Happy Hour, with half-price drinks.
UMBar, Havafen Fushi, North Male Atoll, Republic of Maldives
21. The Beach Club @ ME (Cancun, Mexico)
This South Beach-style high energy spot features a sensual infinity pool that connects to the beach via an amphitheater of Bali-style day beds.
DJs mash it up on Fridays and Saturdays, while Chilled Strawberry Sundays provide a more soothing drop-in.
There’s a swim-up bar, poolside bar and a lounge open for drinks.
The Beach Club, Boulevard Kukulcán, Km. 12 Zona Hotelera Cancún, Mexico
20. ‘C’ Beach Club (Mauritius)
On the unspoiled south coast in Domaine de Bel Ombre, this is the first beach club on Mauritius. Taking some inspiration from Miami’s Nikki Beach and Bali’s KU DÉ TA with cozy “love nests” and day beds, it also has a distinctively Mauritian feel.
A laid-back beach hangout by day with petanque and beach volleyball on offer, ‘C’ Beach Club springs to life by night.
Atmospheric blue lighting and a floodlit pool are the backdrop for parties featuring international and local DJs.
Live music weekly, with other events to stimulate the party mood.
‘C’ Beach Club, Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius
19. Bomba’s Shack (Tortola-Beach, British Virgin Islands)
It’d be easy for some to get turned off Bomba’s Shack, with its signs imploring “Girls with big boops [sic] get naked for Bomba” and women’s underwear swinging from the ceiling.
But from its humble origins as a homey surf-side shack, Bomba’s has become a renowned bar and party spot.
Made of driftwood, telephone poles and other mangled pieces of junk, this characterful bar is notorious for hosting epic full moon parties and reeling in travelers from around the world.
The crowd here is an eclectic mix of surfers, yachting tourists and locals who might be sipping hallucinogenic tea, so Bomba’s is only for the open-minded.
Cappoons Bay, Tortola-Beach, British Virgin Islands; +1 284 495 4148
18. O’Grille Beach Bar & Restaurant (Ilha de Sal, Cape Verde)
With an al fresco terrace and easy access to a sandy beach, this is the place to watch a glorious Cape Verde sunset.
Whiskey, wine, cocktails and barbecue appear limitless, and the bar hosts themed entertainment nights and beach parties featuring live bands and traditional Cape Verde dancers.
Urbanização da Cabocam, ZDTI de Ponta Preta, Ilha de Sal, Cape Verde Islands
17. Flora-Bama Lounge (Florida and Alabama)
Flora-Bama might be a semi-dive, but it has everything a beach bar needs. Live music. Wet T-shirt contests. Cold cheap beer, much loved by the solid mix of locals and out-of-towners.
If you’re feeling more refined, the crew will shuck fresh oysters for you, right on the beach.
What makes Flora-Bama truly legendary, however, is the fact that it hosts the annual Interstate Mullet Toss. Flora-Bama straddles the state line of Florida and Alabama, and each April, thousands gather at the bar to party and watch intoxicated competitors throw slippery fish like a discus back and forth across the state line.
Flora Bama, 17401 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola, Florida. Located right on the Florida and Alabama Line on Highway 292 & 182
16. Cafe Sofia Beach Bar (Cape Town, South Africa)
Wedged between the hooting, honking city and the sweeping, sparkling ocean, Cafe Sofia Beach Bar in Cape Town manages to straddle the line between hectic party place and after-work chill spot.
The decor is warm and lounge-like; the happy hour is generous; the drinks are strong and plentiful; the mezze and tapas platters are communal — sit at the table, grab a fistful of calamari and discuss the best wave you ever rode with complete strangers.
This is a one of a chain — there are eight Cafe Sofia’s dotted around South Africa — but this, the flagship store, is staffed by the kind of people you wish you knew in “real life,” and therefore feels like one of a kind.
Cafe Sofia Beach Bar, Shop 17 Eden on the Bay, Otto du Plesis Drive, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa; +27 21 554 0296
15. Shalvata (Tel Aviv, Israel)
Dubbed Manhattan-by-the-Med, Tel Aviv is lined with miles of white sandy beaches where locals and visitors party from April till October.
The hub of nightlife is the regentrified Port area, and here there’s nowhere better than Shalvata to while the night away with sand between your toes.
Cocktails, cool sounds and low-slung sofas on the sands have made this the summer nightspot of choice for Israel’s beautiful people, but it’s also open for breakfast and doesn’t close till the last customer leaves.
Shalvata, Tel Aviv Port, Tel Aviv, Israel
14. Bayside Beach Bar (Jalousie Plantation, St. Lucia)
The specialties here are mojitos and Creole-style tapas, served up either on a deck overlooking the Caribbean or right on the white sands of Sugar Beach.
Some visitors never get further than the hammocks.
Jalousie Plantation, Val des Pitons, Forbidden Beach, La Baie de Silence, Soufriere, St Lucia, W.I.
13. Cerritos Beach Club (Baja California, Mexico)
Family fun overlooking giant waves is what this laid-back club in a surfing town outside Cabo has to offer. A great indoor-outdoor bar serves classic cocktails and sipping tequilas with live jazz on Sundays.
There’s fresh seafood, an outdoor pool table, and no attempt to shut out 21st-century life — plasma screens show the biggest matches simultaneously and management lends guests laptops to check their email.
Cerritos Beach Club, Playa Los Cerritos, Pescadero, Baja California Sur, Mexico
12. Z-Plage (Cannes, France)
An outdoor gourmet restaurant, cabana lounge and redesigned pier stretch along the famous Croisette, creating a glamorous scene for lunch and dinner.
Hundreds of angular white umbrellas punctuate a decor heavy on teak tables, glass paneling and drapes.
The crowd veers from well-financed Russian women to ultra-bronze French playboys stopping off between St. Tropez and Monaco in their vintage sports cars.
During the summer months, the Givenchy Spa sets up treatment cabanas on the beach for private massages and signature facials within splashing sound of the Med.
Z-Plage, Hotel Martinez, 73 La Croisette, Cannes, France
11. Moonshadows (Malibu, California)
Ahough it now has a lot more competition than when it opened its doors some 40 years ago, Moonshadows continues to score because no one else has quite such a dramatic outdoor bar perched right over the rocks and crashing surf along this stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.
Once a steakhouse renowned for its awesome salad bar, it now pushes seafood, though carnivores will find Kobe burgers on the menu.
The Blue Lounge Bar is open seven days a week from before lunch to the small hours, though it may no longer serve the pina colada-ish Moonglow old hippies used to rock up for.
Moon Shadows, 20356 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California
10. Doyles on the Beach (Watsons Bay, Australia)
Reportedly the world’s oldest beach bar, this family-owned operation first opened in 1885. A boat brings visitors to a strip of sandy foreshore where they can crack a frostie and grab fish and chips while enjoying the fabulous panorama of Sydney Harbour.
Not a late place, it’s much more about wine, beer, seafood and sandy vibes than cool sounds or cocktails.
Doyles on the Beach, 11 Marine Parade, Watsons Bay, NSW, Australia
9. The Fish and Rhum Shack (Mauritius)
Despite its home on a posh resort,this is a satisfyingly rustic hangout illuminated by lanterns.
The sound of waves breaking on the coral reef competes only with the pulsing beats of Mauritian Sega dancers who arrive by night.
The rum is locally distilled, the beer hails from the village brewery and the menu for the daily barbecue depends on the previous night’s catch and morning market. This is as authentically Mauritian as it gets.
The Fish and Rhum Shack, Shanti Maurice, Mauritius
8. Soggy Dollar Bar (Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands)
A much-loved beach bar in the British Virgin Islands, Soggy Dollar Bar is the perfect reminder that sometimes it’s best to let the surroundings be the star.
Nothing fancy here, and that’s why it’s so popular.
Visitors can park their beach chairs right in the blue-green waters of White Bay, letting the tide rise in sync with their blood-alcohol levels.
But that’s not the only way to get soggy. Because there’s no dock, many boaters anchor off the beach and swim to shore.
Their money of course gets wet, so they have to pay with “soggy dollars.” Get it?
Soggy Dollar Bar, White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands; +1 284 495 9888
7. Uxua Praia (Bahia, Brazil)
Set on Bahia’s Barra do Rio Trancoso, Uxua Praia attracts a laid back, music-loving, athletic crowd keen to sample one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Featuring vast, cushioned sofas and flat-roofed pergolas, this resort bar was built with reclaimed fishing boats that for years had languished on the site unused.
As well as partaking in the fresh seafood and caipirinha, you can try your hand at beach volleyball and sea kayaking, as well as capoeira.
Uxua Praia, Uxua Casa Hotel, Quadrado, Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil
6. The Rock Bar, Ayana Resort (Bali, Indonesia)
Named world’s best hotel bar by CNN Travel a couple years ago, the Rock lures visitors who defected to Seminyak a decade ago back to Jimbaran Bay.
Fisherfolk shacks make this southern cove a popular al fresco dining scene, with seafood lovers able to get their fixes while gazing at the ocean from 15 meters above the rocks.
Martinis, tapas and live music Thursday through Sunday — at The Rock Bar there’s no such thing as just popping in for one.
The Rock Bar, Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia
5. Babis Bar (Kalymnos, Greece)
Babis’ lively local hive of activity is a well kept secret on the unsung Greek island of Kalymnos. This rocky outcropping is perched between the Turkish coast and the crowded party island of Kos.
Babis and his family field everything a beachcomber could want.
Once you’re done with your hearty Greek breakfast, logging on to the free Internet, trying out all the various beers and wines and sleeping it all off by the free swimming pool or sun loungers, you can hop on a boat and take a ride over to its own sub-island of Telendos for one of the most spectacular sunsets in the Med.
Babis Bar, Myrties Square, Myrties, Kalymnos, Greece
4. Ponta dos Ganchos (Brazil)
Brazil’s most exclusive resort, Ponta dos Ganchos features a gorgeous beach bar with great views, daybeds and signature cocktails like The Hook — cachaca blended with physalis fruit and sugar.
Located on a private peninsula on Brazil’s Emerald coast, this is where the local elite — and foreign guests like Beyoncé — come to get away from it all.
Ponta dos Ganchos, Rua Eupídio Alves do Nascimento, 104, Governador Celso Ramos SC, Brazil
3. Shipwreck Hut (Cook Islands)
Hammocks, sunsets, barbecues, tropical fruit breakfasts, gospel sing-a-longs and a special “magic” cocktail that’s served in a recycled jam jar — Shipwreck Hut is the bar you dream of owning when you retire.
On Arorangi beach on the west coast of Rarotonga, the barbecues are a favorite with travelers, not least because of the corny jokes and barely believable tales spun by and about affable owner Jim.
On Sundays after an omelet breakfast customers can join a trip to the local church to listen to the locals singing gospel in traditional colorful muumuus and woven hats.
Or you can stay at the bar, swing in the hammocks and keep an eye out for whales (depending on the season).
Shipwreck Hut, Aroa Beachside Inn, Arorangi, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
2. Baba Nest (Phuket, Thailand)
This stylish rooftop venue on the highest pinnacle of the southeastern peninsula enjoys 360-degree views across Phuket, the surrounding islands and Andaman Sea.
A deck scattered with beanbags and low tables is surrounded by an infinity pool that gives bathers the illusion of being afloat between sea and sky.
Tranquil tracks and light Japanese bites punctuate the action, and signature cocktails include a lemongrass and vodka sri-jito and a lychee martini, as well as sake-based concoctions.
Below deck, ocean-front restrooms open to the elements are bound to become a talking point.
Baba Nest, 88 Moo 8 Sakdidej Road, Tambon Vichit, Amphur Muang, Phuket, Thailand
1. Dune Preserve Beach Bar (Anguilla, B.W.I.)
Pieced together from driftwood, wrecked racing boats and seashells and owned by a gray-bearded, grizzly reggae singer, the Dune Preserve Beach Bar is the kind of place you dream of discovering on your first trip to the Caribbean.
And once you have, you dream of staying there forever, to revel in your addiction to reggae tracks and dripping ribs, and to argue politics, philosophy and the ingredients for the perfect rum punch with Bankie, the owner, who can often be found at the bar.
It counts ex-presidents, former pirates and Wall Street bigwigs among its fans, but don’t let them distract you from the real reason this place is the best beach bar in the world — the amazingly affable Bankie Banx and his cohort, who seem to talk in musical lyrics and will teach you not just how to build a boat, but how to build a lifestyle few would turn down.
It’s a daytime place open 11 a.m. till sunset.
The Dune Preserve, The Valley, Anguilla, BWI, Anguilla B.W.I
Originally published in March 2012, updated June 7, 2013.