Foamy plumes of water shoot from Jet Skis and dozens of water taxis buzz through the calm waters off Médano, a 3-km (2-mi) span of grainy tan sand that's always crowded. When cruise ships are in town, it's mobbed. Bars and restaurants line the sand, waiters deliver ice buckets filled with beer to sunbathers in lounge chairs, and vendors offer everything from silver jewelry to hats, T-shirts, and temporary henna tattoos. You can even have your hair braided into tiny cornrows or get a pedicure. Swimming areas are roped off to prevent accidents, and the water is usually calm enough for small children. But be aware: there are quick shoreline drop-offs, so life preservers are a good idea for the little paddlers in your group. Hotels line Médano, which is just north of downtown off Paseo del Pescador. Construction is constant on nearby streets, and parking is virtually impossible. The most popular spot on the beach is around the Baja Cantina Beach Club, where more than half a dozen bar-restaurants
have set up beach chairs and tables. This is a hot spot for people-watching (and for singles). For something a bit more tranquil, grab a bite at Casa Dorada Resort's oceanfront restaurant Maydan, which is open to the public. Be prepared to deal with the many crafts vendors cruising the beach. They're generally not pushy, so a simple head shake and "no, gracias" will do. Amenities: Food concession. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming.