Travel & Leisure
updated 9/16/2011 1:16:06 PM ET 2011-09-16T17:16:06

It doesn’t matter if you live right down the boardwalk or miles inland. We all dream about that next trip to the beach. And why not? Imagine the sand under your feet, the crash of the waves, the warmth of the sun, an icy drink in hand…it all adds up to the perfect place to relax.

So when we asked you to submit your best beach photos to T+L for our photo contest earlier this year, we weren’t surprised by the huge response. But it was still a challenge to narrow down hundreds of beach photos to these very best—the kind of vivid, in-the-moment photos that just make you want to drop everything and head to the shore.

One such photo captures a big wave splashing up high as it hits the shore in San José del Cabo, with water the most stunning shade of turquoise we’ve ever seen. Just looking at the picture, you can almost hear the sound of waves rolling in. And we can’t help the urge to sip cocktails out of a coconut when we look at the shot of a thatched-roof cabana on Egypt’s Paradise Island. (Seriously, take a look and don’t tell us you don’t immediately feel the same.)

Timing, of course, is everything, and one particularly captivating shot was taken at the famous Santa Monica Pier—as the sun dipped below the horizon for the night. There’s a rich red in the sky that brings to mind the warm glow of a fireplace and blends into a deep blue tone, all above an absolutely still ocean. It’s dreamy and inviting and makes you pause.

The beautiful photo even makes you forget about the chaos and crowds synonymous with Santa Monica Pier. Like the other photos that made the cut, it showcases Santa Monica as you’d like it to be: your own private, pristine beach.

So take a break to enjoy these dreamy beach photos—and be sure to let us know which ones are your favorites.

Think you can do better? Upload your great travel photos to our T+L community. You never know: Yours might end up in our next slideshow.

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