We caught up with global traveler and model extraordinaire Colby Melvin to find out just what keeps his travel bug alive and kicking. Hint? The many beautiful beaches from around the world play a big part. Here, his favorite ten beaches from around the world. Can you keep up?
1. North Bondi, Sydney, Australia
When it comes to beaches, Colby has one hands-down favorite, and it’s down under. While the powder soft sand and crystal-clear waters make for a picturesque beach destination, Colby points out that the beach is home to “the best eye candy CAN'T imagine.”
Things to do: Head to North Bondi Surf Club, where gay men can be found in droves. If you’re feeling a little like showing off, there’s a beachside workout area.
Things to know: Unlike many other public beaches, Bondi doesn’t allow drinks on the beach, so if grabbing a drink is your MO, head to one of the nearby pubs to grab a beer and some bites. After all that surfing and working out, you’ll have earned it.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse North Bondi listings on misterbandb.com.
2. Pensacola, Florida
If asked to name the top beaches in Florida, Pensacola is not likely to be at the top of most people’s list. And that's exactly why this particular beach is special. Having gone to school in nearby Mobile, Alabama, Melvin has warm memories of times spent here, particularly Memorial Day weekend.
“Not only is the water and sand beautiful, but on this particular weekend, gays fill up miles of beach. Unlike many gay party weekends, this weekend focuses on connecting with other gay people from all over.”
Things to do: Do as Colby does: visit Memorial Day weekend. What can you expect? DJs spinning the latest hits and lots of people out and about just looking to meet new people.
Things to know: Be sure to stockpile all your needs—food, drink, etc.—because grabbing a taxi, or even an Uber, can prove difficult. Besides, why would you even want to leave the beach?
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Pensacola listings on misterbandb.com.
3. Jackie O, Mykonos, Greece
Few places offer better views, or a more relaxed vibe, than the Greek Isles. And Mykonos is no different. Colby tips his hat to Jackie Onassis, whom he credits for making Mykonos a popular gay travel destination since the 70s.
Things to Do: Be sure to hit up namesake the Jackie O bar and, as lovely as the beach itself is, you’d be remiss if you didn’t charter a boat tour to take a look at the neighboring islands.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Mykonos listings on misterbandb.com.
4. Blacks Beach, San Diego, California
Hate crowds? This is the place you want to head. Colby swears this is the beach to hit up if you want to avoid crowds, disconnect, and “enjoy some quality friend time or quality you time.” Getting to the beach requires a bit of a hike, which Colby loves; you get in a leg workout just for the right to enjoy this secluded surf.
Things to Do: Leave your flip-flops at home and instead don a pair of shoes.
“You definitely don’t want to tumble your way down.” For the adventurous types, there’s hang gliding from the steep oceanside cliffs, so you can really take in the sites from a bird’s perspective. Side note: “It’s a nude beach, but if that’s not your thing, clothes are still allowed.”
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse San Diegeo listings on misterbandb.com.
5. Hilton Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel
“Tel Aviv’s gay community is thriving and this is the spot to be seen.” Rainbow flags and umbrellas almost always dot the sands of this Mediterranean beach.
Things to do: Enjoy the plentiful eye candy—and trust, there is plenty of it. Beachside activities include kayaking, windsurfing, and beach volleyball.
Things to know: If all that ogling and activity leaves you feeling hungry, there’s more than one nearby bar and restaurant to grab a drink and a bite to refuel.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Tel Aviv listings on misterbandb.com.
6. Fire Island Pines, New York
Think of this as the summertime mecca for all New York City gay men. Close to the city, but it feels like a world away. “There are no cars, just wooden boardwalks. This is definitely a step away from your ordinary life.”
Things to Do: Leave the phone at home—or at least back at the room you’ve rented—since the name of the game here is to meet people, and you can’t do that if you’re staring at your screen the whole time. And his must-do activity? “Get naked!” Take advantage of the nude beaches here and strut your stuff.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Fire Island listings on misterbandb.com.
7. West Street Beach, Laguna, California
California beaches are notorious and you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that lets you down. But Colby insists that this particular beach is “extra special.” Rather than seemingly never-ending beach, this semi-hidden cove has become a bit of a haven for gay locals and travelers.
Things to Do: Have your camera on-hand; whether it’s the hotties on the beach, or the breathtaking scenery, you’re going to want some tangible memories for when your trip is done.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Laguna Beach listings on misterbandb.com.
8. Marbella, Barcelona, Spain
“Yes, another nude beach!” Nude beaches aren’t for everyone, but as Colby stresses, just because the option of being completely nude at the beach is there, it doesn’t mean you have to strip down if that’s not your thing. “It’s okay to keep your clothes on, but the relaxed atmosphere might have you questioning if you should keep them on shortly after you arrive.”
Things to do: Book a trip here during peak season. “It starts in May, but is most popular in August.” Why travel, if not to mingle and meet new people? When you’ve had your fill of surf and sand for the day, the nearby Rambla del Poblenou is a great way to spend the evening; the pedestrian road stretches many blocks, and you’ll find a wide assortment of great cafes, restaurants, shops, and more.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Barcelona listings on misterbandb.com.
9. Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Just try finding a beach in Puerto Vallarta that doesn’t deliver. It’s nearly impossible. But this particular stretch of sand is the go-to spot for gays to visit. Surfside, relaxation is the name of the game. Sure, you may be staying elsewhere, but the waterfront resorts stockpile the beach with chairs so you can lounge for free.
Things to do: Don’t stay in one spot too long! “Bounce around and meet other travelers,” Colby suggests. Local vendors will also crawl the beach, peddling everything from jewelry to local fruits, so you can grab that souvenir for mom without having to compromise your tan. When the sun touches down, you’re just steps away from the hottest local gay clubs and restaurants, so there’s little need to plan ahead.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Puerto Vallarta listings on misterbandb.com.
10. Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is a hot topic in the wake of the Olympics, but even before the world’s top athletes showcased their skills, the beach in Rio was a hot commodity. With the stunning urban skyline as a backdrop, the beach is a beautiful oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
“There’s a reason why there’s a song written about this beach,” Colby reflects.
Things to do: Head to lifeguard stand #9 (you’re welcome), the area at which most of the local gays tends to gather.
Things to know: For those looking for the best Rio photo-op, Colby suggests heading to the Vidigal neighborhood, where you’ll find breathtaking aerial views of Ipanema, unchallenged by any other spot in Rio.
Best place to stay: Stay with gay-friendly locals, browse Rio de Janeiro listings on misterbandb.com.
Looking for your next dream vacation? Be sure to follow Colby on Instagram for some vacation inspiration.