Image: Pool Cabana
The Four Seasons Nevis Resort in the West Indies is a family-friendly resort that accommodates kids with beach activities while mom and dad can sit in the Pol Cabana and sip on libations of their choice.
updated 6/27/2007 12:51:11 PM ET 2007-06-27T16:51:11

There's more to a great surf-side bar than high-octane punch and Coppertone-covered clientèle.

"Ambiance is first when it comes to throwing a top-notch beach party," says Michael Penrod, president of Nikki Beach clubs and resorts, with locations in Miami, Sardinia and Marbella, Spain, among others. "Great products and great service are also important. When you have those three, you can't be beat."

At Nikki Beach Bar in Miami, guests sip Moleca Caipirinhas (Moleca Gold Cachaça, lime and sugar) on natural wood and linen banquettes that pepper the shoreline. In the evening, a dance floor is laid out and international DJs serve up house beats.

Throw pretty people into the mix and it's a party nonpareil. To ensure exclusivity, many venues rely on the velvet rope. The door policy at Nikki Beach, for example, is strict; bouncers adhere to a guest list and weed out hangers-on. Not on the list? It's best to arrive with no more than two other people, wearing proper attire (trendy but not trashy).

Though the emphasis is undoubtedly on partying with the posh, not all beach bars are just about boozing.

Beachside betting
Cain at the Cove Atlantis Resort, the Bahamian outpost of New York's South African-themed nightclub, offers craps and poker tables right beside the dance floor and wading pools. Spend the day sipping margaritas on a poolside chaise, where spa coordinators will tempt you with treatments or gather a group in one of the resort's 22 plasma tv- and mini bar-stocked cabanas.

Sensational swimming pools
For those sick of sand, the newly opened beach club Encanto at El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico features a swim-up bar, so you can float around on your raft while enjoying a citrus cocktail with Mojito-flavored ice cubes. Dry off on the wood-paneled deck, designed by famed Buddha Bar interior decorator Stephane Dupoux, and soak up the sun on a linen daybed.

Gourmet getaways

Image: Iceberg's Bar
On the cliffs of Sydney's South Bondi Beach, the tri-level Iceberg's Bar is a minimalist lounge where patrons relax on hammocks or in private rooms with balcony views.
Is your sangria begging for a side dish? Lots of beach bars offer good eats as well as stellar drinks. At Le Beauvallon Beach Club Bar in Sainte-Maxime, France, a 10-minute boat ride from St. Tropez, guests can graze on seafood tapas such as shrimp ceviche and salads including fresh tuna nicoise. Enjoy a Dublin Peach — a mix of Jameson Irish Whiskey and peach puree — while lounging on woven chaises and enjoying views of the bay and the resort's private beach. Both bar and beach are open to hotel guests only.

Mickey's Bistro and Bar at the Elbow Beach Hotel in Bermuda not only offers Caribbean cocktails like the Bermuda Rose (vodka, apricot brandy and grenadine) and the Gombey Smash (Bacardi Gold, Malibu, Crème de Banane and pineapple juice), but their chicken salad, made with mango, avocado and curry sauce, is said to be popular among locals. The open-air deck is right on the sand, so you can easily kick off your heels for an after-dinner stroll along the shore.

Hedonistic, sure. But what else do you expect from sun spots such as these?

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