Summer inevitably evokes fantasies about fleeing the daily grind for the sea. These lesbian-friendly coastal getaways—one a short flight, one a long haul—are perfect for erasing the sheen of sweat that is all-too- familiar right now.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – While South Florida comes with its share of humidity, the ocean breezes, 23 miles of beautiful beaches, and balmy tropical nights make for a surprisingly pleasant summer destination. Plus, there are better hotel deals to be found now, which means more time to camp out on the beach, frolic in the 80-degree Atlantic Ocean, or learn to paddleboard. More adventurous types should get scuba certification and take advantage of the local reef system within swimming distance of the sands and the significant collection of wrecks teeming with aquatic life. Select a hotel within walking distance of the beach and Uber at night to Wilton Drive, which overflows with gay bars, cafés, and shops. Progress Bar has a women’s night on Wednesdays; Stonewall National Museum & Archives does an excellent job of incorporating lesbian history into the exhibits at its Wilton gallery space; and lesbian-owned 13Even (small plates/extensive list of wines and craft beers by the glass) and its new sibling, indoor-outdoor Thirteen, have elevated dining on the Drive. sunny.org/lgbt.
Cape Town, South Africa – Airfares to the Mother City are comparable to European jaunts and the very favorable U.S. dollar-to-rand conversion rate ensures that you can vacation in grand style when you arrive. Cape Town has a cosmopolitan dining scene with local seafood in abundance (mussels, oysters, kingclip) and a fantastic selection of regional wines. Our summer means it’s Cape Town winter, so you might experience four seasons in one day, with temperatures ranging from the 50s-70s; it’s about soaking up the stunning scenery when it’s sunny and chilling in a cozy café when it’s blustery. Queer nightlife is often mixed and centers on the De Waterkant/Green Point area; check Beaulah Bar for women-centric events. Outdoorsy types will love the hikes to the top of Lion’s Head or Table Mountain for the staggering views of this waterfront city; it’s also worth day tripping to the Cape Winelands for tastings far more affordable than Napa and to Hermanus to watch southern right whales less than 175 feet off shore. Gay-owned Rhino Africa (rhinoafrica. com) can assist with short excursions or longer South African safaris that include the country’s famous game reserves. If you’re looking for a lesbian-run safari, Jody Cole is an expert guide and a class act: view her upcoming trips at wildrainbowsafaris.com.
Bonus round – Want to maximize the eye candy on your seaside holiday? The ELLA International Lesbian Festival wields its Sapphic powers over the Spanish island of Mallorca, Sept. 1-9 with parties, inspirational talks, live music, a film fest, and more parties! Ellafestival.com
LoAnn Halden is the Communications Director for the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. Visit iglta.org to find welcoming travel businesses in 80 countries.