The votes are tallied, and Cooking Light readers’ pick for the world’s best beaches are the islands known for clear air, green mountains, and unforgettable seaside stays.

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  • The beaches of Maui attracti surfers and tourists from around the world.

    The beaches of Maui attracti surfers and tourists from around the world.

    Douglas Merriam

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Beach 4―Kauai: Hanalei Bay

Turquoise water beckons on one side of this two-mile-long north shore beach. The other side overlooks the charming town of Hanalei toward emerald green mountains etched with waterfalls.

Where to stay: Vacation rentals are easy to find via realtors and rental companies. Beachfront houses rent for as much as $7,000 per week. For a more economical stay, look for guest houses, like Kauai Vacation Rentals’ Hale Ola, a two-bedroom guest house where weeks start from $1,250(800-488-3336).

Eat Smart: Bouchons Hanalei (808-826-9701) is a popular spot where the specialty sushi rolls are fresh and filling. Sample the grasshopper roll―barbecued eel with the unexpected crunch of macadamia nuts.

Be Fit: Several outfitters in town provide all of the necessary equipment for a kayak trip on the Hanalei River. The most popular route is nearly six miles round trip and takes about three hours.

Live Well: When you’re ready to relax, Princeville Health Club and Spa (808-826-5030) offers a variety of treatments, including the Hawaiian lomi lomi massage, which is designed to help increase lymphatic circulation.

Beach 3―Maui: Napili Bay

Giant swells along Maui’s North Shore attract surfers from around the world. For a calmer oceanfront stay, look to the island’s western rim. Napili is nestled in a crescent bay, resulting in a semicircle of calm water, almost like your own private pool.

Where to stay: Though not quite as posh as some nearby resorts, Hale Napili (from $160, 808-245-2266) is comfortable, has a friendly staff, and the ocean is so close that you’ll be lulled to sleep each night by the sound of the surf.

Eat Smart: After you watch the sunset from a beachfront table at Pacific ’O (808-667-4341), turn your attention to great dining. The menu blends Hawaiian, Japanese, and Italian influences.

Be Fit: At Nakalele Blowhole, surf flows through a small rock fissure with geyserlike effects. The trailhead is at the parking lot near mile marker 38, past Kapalua in West Maui. After 20 to 30 minutes of hiking, you’ll come to the blowhole.

Live Well: From December to April, Northern Pacific Humpback whales are drawn to the warm, sheltered waters between Maui’s western shore and the smaller nearby island of Lanai. See them via boat tour with the expert naturalists of the Pacific Whale Foundation (808-249-8811).

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