Image:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels
For those interested in more than strolling and sunning at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea , the 380-room resort offers snorkeling, scuba diving and yoga classes for free.
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updated 6/8/2011 8:27:56 AM ET 2011-06-08T12:27:56

In a corner of Palm Beach, Fla., the soft white sand is flanked by hundreds of chaise lounges, dozens of luxury cabanas and five large pools. It’s the setting of The Breakers, an iconic, recently renovated hotel where travelers have found pure oceanfront bliss for decades.

Slideshow: America's best beach hotels

Ahh … the beach. Relaxing there on a hot summer’s day is an antidote like no other — especially when you choose the right beach hotel as your home base. We asked Travel +Leisure readers to vote on their favorite hotels for our annual World’s Best Awards Survey, and came away with beachfront winners like The Breakers. So if your summer travel plans call for a stay at the shore, we’ve got a hotel for you.

Many of our U.S. favorites are just where you’d expect; two sun-kissed destinations are home to more than half the winners. Six are in Florida, and another half dozen are scattered between four Hawaiian islands. And which beach most famously personifies the Aloha State? Waikiki, of course, where you’ll find the luxurious Halekulani, with panoramic views of Diamond Head and an award-winning restaurant. Hotel guests can enjoy free tickets to the Honolulu Symphony, Academy of Arts, and the Contemporary Museum — so you’ve got plenty to keep you going after some fun in the sun.

For those who want to dip their toes into the Pacific without the long-haul flight, there’s No. 11 on our list: the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Nigel, in Dana Point, Calif. Located atop 150-foot bluffs facing toward Catalina Island, the hotel provides beach chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards for guests and will also arrange surf lessons for the adventuresome.

Properties in four other states round out our readers’ picks for America’s best beach hotels, including the Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island, near Charleston, S.C. This sprawling 225-room hotel is a favorite for its superb coastline, five world-class golf courses and the surrounding wildlife-filled wetlands that are home to migrating birds and nesting sea turtles.

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