The Best Travel Destination For Your First Beach Vacation Abroad

With the weather starting to become cooler, it's the perfect time to book a dreamy beach vacation. And with the high season winding down, what better time to head out to an international destination to experience relaxing beach vibes and soak in a new culture? 

The world is full of stunning beachside getaways, but if it's your first time heading outside America for a beach vacay, then consider heading to the Italian Riviera. Located in northwestern Italy in the region of Liguria, the Italian Riviera is between the border of Italy and France and the Tuscan region. It's full of beaches with plenty of watersports that kids and families will enjoy. 

Whether you're the type of beachgoer who loves to lay out in the sun or you like to spend your days in the water, there's something to suit every taste on the Italian Riviera. And speaking of taste, it's no secret that Italy is home to some of the world's best cuisine, which should help keep hunger at bay while you're having fun on the beach.

Visit islands along the Italian Riviera

The Italian Riviera features a number of beautiful islands to explore. According to Forbes, there are three islands in the Gulf of La Spezia, which is located on the southwestern side of the Italian Riviera. Together with the town of Portovenere, the islands are a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Tino can only be visited for a short time in mid-September for the San Venerio Festival, and Tinetto, which is the smallest of the triad, is home to a rare lizard, as well as the ruins of a 6th century monastery. 

The largest of the three islands is Palmaria and it can only be reached by ferry or private boat. Discover Portovenere describes the stunning variety of nature that you'll find on Palmaria, including diverse terrain, hundreds of species of local flora, a variety of birds, and two incredible caves: Grotta Azzurra and Grotta dei Colombi. There are also a number of hiking trails that allow you to take in all the beauty of the island. Of course, the island also has a number of stunning beaches including the main beach, Spiaggia di Palmaria on Punta del Secco, which offers both paid and free beachside experiences, according to Discover Portovenere.

Beyond the beaches

Another draw of the Italian Riviera is that there's plenty of history, culture, and delicious food to enjoy. What's a trip to Italy without eating some of the best pasta in the world? Travel Magazine recommends trying Genoa's signature dish, Pasta alla Genovese, which is made with cubed potatoes and pesto. Before you eat, however, consider participating in the local tradition of enjoying a happy-hour aperitivo, which should help whet your appetite. If you're a fan of olive oil, Travel Magazine notes that local olive oil production facilities in the countryside offer tours where guides teach you the differences between all the types of olive oils that are made in Italy. 

For more beautiful sites, don't miss Hanbury Botanical Gardens. One Tripadvisor user wrote, "We absolutely loved these gardens! The setting is exquisite ... My only complaint is that we had to leave the garden! I wanted to stay!" The fishing village of Portofino, Cinque Terre's hilltop towns, and the Cathedral of San Lorenzo are just a few of the other countless attractions along the Italian Rivera that you can enjoy between your visits to the beach.