Image: South Beach, Miami, Fla.
Fan Travelstock  /  Alamy
Somewhere between chic and kitsch, South Beach is overkill to some and heaven to others. Those 23 blocks on the bottommost tip of Miami Beach possess their unique brand of star-spangled sexiness. South Beach is our own little slice of paradise on the home front.
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updated 6/13/2009 10:47:32 PM ET 2009-06-14T02:47:32

Beaches have always been places of passion, wonderment and sensuality for people. The raw energy and natural beauty of beaches appeal to the fundamentals of human passion, making them the definition of sexy.

That and the fact that beaches are the only place in the modern world where groups of attractive people get semi-naked in public with the singular purpose of enjoying themselves.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of competitors for the 25 sexiest beaches in the world.

The number of contenders is exacerbated by the fact that what is sexy to one person may not be sexy to another: Those who enjoy an exclusive, topless European beach club may not care for the laid-back romanticism of a remote Australian bay or the searing sensuality of an urban Brazilian party beach.

Given the task at hand, our methodology in making our selections was extensive. To determine which 25 beaches on earth had that special combination of sassiness and scenic beauty (both geographic and human), we consulted with our own personal specialists—a well-heeled, well-traveled bunch who have been there, done that.

We also checked in with a sizable panel of experts: travel writers, tour planners, globetrotters, hotel owners, beach aficionados, and an assortment of bloggers and personal diarists devoted to covering the beach scene.

In the end, some of the usual suspects made the Top 25, including Saint-Tropez, Ipanema and South Beach. However, the majority of the big names were left out, mostly because of crowds and commercialization that clearly dent the sexiness-factor.

So, once again, big names like Waikiki and Bondi didn’t make the cut.

Moreover, some of the 25 sexiest beaches from years past, such as Copacabana have been dropped in favor of less-famous, but sexier beaches like neighboring Barra da Tijuca. Rio de Janeiro businessman and hang glider Daniel Silva says, “Going to Copacabana is like going to New York and heading right to Times Square. Barra is where the sexy Cariocas (people from Rio) spend their time.”

Image: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Celia Mannings  /  Alamy
Copacabana may be the famous big brother of Rio’s beaches, but Ipanema is the sexy little sister. Ipanema is less about big hotels, touts and tour groups and a lot more about live music, sensuality and the crowds of sexy swim-suited locals and visitors sipping on caipirinhas near the lifeguard stations.

We have attempted to use a wide breadth of beach styles so that there is something to suit everyone’s palate. We have the funky: like Byron Bay on the eastern shore of Australia.

According to Sydney-based book publicist and travel writer Kate Mayor, “The beach at Byron Bay is so sexy because it is the ultimate freewheeler's paradise. Anything goes. It's a stunning haven for the alternate lifestyle.” We have the romantic: like Anguilla's Shoal Bay which attracts a relaxed, high-end clientele. And we have the wild: like the unabashed party scene at Ibiza's Playa d'en Bossa.

So pour yourself a tropical drink, sit back and take a virtual stroll down the 25 Sexiest Beaches in the World.

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