If you have the cash to splash there are plenty of luxury beach properties for sale out there. For the rest of us, at least there are some nice pictures.
Luxury is a subjective concept: one person's bubble bath is another's Jacuzzi and all that. Once we sympathised with people who could only afford to live in a block of flats; now we envy those who can afford the high rise luxury on offer in destinations such as Dubai and Florida.
One thing that remains sacrosanct, however, is that luxury costs. If you want to talk silly numbers, just ask your friendly neighbourhood estate agent about luxury by the sea.
Keith Stewart is not an estate agent, but the chairman of, and driving force behind, Pezula, a multi-award-winning development near Knysna in South Africa. Pezula is one of the few developments in the world to successfully marry luxury with environmental awareness, and Stewart believes the development offers buyers of property in Knysna with the wherewithal the thing they crave most - privacy.
Spending time at Pezula gives you the opportunity to recharge the batteries and, dare I say it, commune with nature. Pezula is seriously low density: just 15 per cent of the available land is developed, and a total of only 255 plots, covering a massive 612 hectares of land, which dramatically overlooks the Indian Ocean.
The development offers buyers a sort of barefoot luxury. Although the properties are superbly equipped and offer all the comforts you'd expect when you're paying R1.37m (£95,500) for the plot alone, the surrounding area is allowed to run pretty wild (apart from the golf course, that is) and you could well wake up to find the odd bushbuck grazing outside your window.
The recently-launched Country Estate phase of Pezula comprises just 30 plots with an average size of around 5,000 sq m, and owners here will be afforded (and can afford) outstanding panoramic views of forest, dense vegetation and distant mountains. On top of all that they will have access to the nearby secluded Noetzie beach.
Of course, Pezula's strapping outdoor vibe may strike some luxury vultures as a mite too cardiovascular, so for them a little pied-a-terre in southern France would perhaps be de rigueur.
One extraordinarily beautiful villa offered by Sotheby's International Realty is situated in the residential heights of Cannes. It boasts 12 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, as well as an enormous freestyle pool - and pool house - and the obligatory servants' quarters. OK, the property in Cannes is not, strictly speaking, beachfront, but just a touch of sand scattered on the area around the pool and, voila!
With 10,000 sq m of land, those craving ultimate luxury might consider having a limo permanently on hand to drive them around the property. The pool area, by the way, has a thatched roof reminiscent of Anish Kapoor's giant artwork in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, and the indoor kitchen comes complete with an outdoor kitchen, just because, one would suppose, it has better views of Cannes. Yes, there is a price for such ludicrous luxury; it's on request, of course.
Coming back to earth for a moment, perhaps it's time to look at some luxury that you won't have to fight Bill Gates for. In the Almeria region of southern Spain, the Almanzora Bay Group has recently completed construction of 24 detached beach properties on the seven kilometre-long El Playazo beach. Just two of the front line properties in Almeria remain, priced from around €1.2m (£956,000).
The three bedroom, three bathroom properties have a touch of the maritime about them, with wooden decking, round porthole-style windows and even a sort of poop deck, for taking in the coastal scenery. And there are more nice touches, such as landscaping around the pool and a huge basement - big enough to be a serious games room and house your extensive collection of fine wines. And, as the sun drops over the yardarm, you can begin every happy hour with your toes in the sand.
Of course, the trouble with the beach is that you'll often find the hoi polloi gathered there, making the place look untidy. Better, really, to have a piece of waterfront that's all yours. In Formentor Bay in Mallorca, another too-good-to-be-true property (this one offered by Knight Frank) sits just above its own private stretch of bay - with the obligatory private jetty, of course - in beautifully manicured grounds and terraces. Fit for you, a few friends and the odd passing football team.
The main house, which has the gravitas unique to finca-style mansions in Mallorca, has a mere six bedrooms and five bathrooms. But never fear, there are a further three bedrooms - and three bathrooms - in the separate guest area, as well as a staff apartment.
No need to pack the staff when you travel to the next Knight Frank offering, a two bedroom villa at Bang Tao beach in Phuket, Thailand. Again, this isn't quite a beachfront property, but, before you start complaining, it should be noted that the beach here is so exquisitely beautiful it could actually be damaging to your health to look at it for too long. Better to play it safe on the terrace of your villa (it's just a stone's throw away), with your very own lagoon for company.
As with many upmarket developments in Asia, these stunning properties are filled with understated opulence, and this relatively small package represents quiet luxury and effortless style, priced from around £556,000.
Of course, to claim ultimate luxury, it's always good to have a celebrity angle. So how good would it be to boast about owning a piece of the Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, once the home of Ian Fleming?
Pure International is offering one and two bedroom cottages right on the beach, while the sleek, contemporary Bond Suites, with one or two bedrooms, boast stunning views from their spacious roof terraces, the three and four bedroom Lagoon Villas have private pools and decks. Moving up the luxury ladder, though, Bay Cottages, on the western tip of the Goldeneye peninsula, boast their own private beaches, while the lavish Island Cottages are located on their own private island.
Prices for Goldeneye properties start at US$750,000 (£405,000) for a one bedroom Bond Suite, rising to $3.2m (£1.72m) for a four bedroom Lagoon Villa.
Sean Collins of Pure International says: "Our clients expect exclusivity, discretion and unrivalled levels of service in the world's most exceptional destinations. Owning a property in Jamaica at Goldeneye will deliver this at every level."
Some information contained within this article may have changed since it was first published. HomesOverseas strongly advises you to seek current legal and financial advice from a qualified professional.