The US has a plethora of glorious tourist destinations, making it one of the world’s most visited countries. From majestic mountain ranges to lush forests and picture-perfect natural landscapes, the US is a wonderland of beautiful places to see.
Although many travellers opt for national park visits and big city tours, don’t be the one who misses out on the best beaches in the United States. California to Maine, Hawaii to Florida, each state offers splendid seashores.
One of the things I treasure most about US beach destinations is how they capture America’s diverse cities. You get quiet beachfront nooks like those on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island and buzzing waterfronts like Miami’s hottest strands.
No matter what kind of waterside retreat tickles your fancy best, you’ll find just the place for you in the States. I’ve put together a list of the best US beaches you’ll fall in love with.
31 Best Beaches in the United States
Table of Contents
- 31 Best Beaches in the United States
- 1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oʻahu – Hawaii
- 2. St. George Island State Park – Florida
- 3. Poipu Beach, Kauai – Hawaii
- 4. South Beach, Miami Beach – Florida
- 5. Glass Beach, Port Townsend – Washington
- 6. Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea – California
- 7. Fort Lauderdale Beach – Florida
- 8. Cannon Beach – Oregon
- 9. Ocean City Beach – Maryland
- 10. Harris Beach – Oregon
- 11. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin – Florida
- 12. Santa Monica Beach – California
- 13. Oak Street Beach, Chicago – Illinois
- 14. Waimea Bay Beach Park, Oʻahu – Hawaii
- 15. Pope Beach – California
- 16. Clearwater Beach – Florida
- 17. Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island – South Carolina
- 18. Flamenco Beach, Culebra – Puerto Rico
- 19. Coronado Beach, San Diego – California
- 20. Rockaway Beach, New York City – New York
- 21. Park Point Beach, Duluth – Minnesota
- 22. Coopers Beach, Southampton – New York
- 23. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton – North Carolina
- 24. Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester – Massachusetts
- 25. Gulf Shores Public Beach – Alabama
- 26. Wrightsville Beach – North Carolina
- 27. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod – Massachusetts
- 28. North Beach, Tybee Island – Georgia
- 29. Lanikai Beach, Oʻahu – Hawaii
- 30. Grand Haven State Park – Michigan
- 31. Carlsmith Beach, Hilo – Hawaii
- The Last Word | Best Beaches in the United States
From the Sunshine State to California’s coveted coves, here’s my list of the top beaches in the US.
1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oʻahu – Hawaii
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Being the country’s 50th state is one cool Hawaiian fact, and another undeniable truth is it has some of the best beaches in the world.
One such beach is Kahanamoku Beach – the most expansive and westernmost part of Waikiki Beach in Oʻahu (the “Gathering Place”), Hawaii. Kahanamoku Beach is quiet and remote enough to provide tranquil seclusion away from the crowds.
Luxuriate at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, an exquisite saltwater cove with a coral reef.
2. St. George Island State Park – Florida
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St. George Island State Park sports almost 10 miles of fine-grained white sands dotted with stunning beach houses and stylish family campsites.
Go swimming, kayaking, and canoeing in the crystalline water. If you’re holidaying with little ones, embark on enthralling nature study-inspired beachcombing and shelling adventures.
Get-up-and-go travellers can also enjoy boating, fishing, and coastal hiking. Nature lovers will delight in bird-watching and angling activities.
While on St. George Island, I suggest you make time to catch a few sunsets in Florida. This is an awe-inspiring place in the state for close-of-day vistas.
3. Poipu Beach, Kauai – Hawaii
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Hawaii features prominently in this list thanks to its countless idyllic beaches, like Poipu in Kauai. Poipu is a heavenly, sunny place to visit, ideal for warm winter getaways on the island’s southern side.
The beach comprises twin bays separated by the Nukumoi Point Tombolo. This unique sand spit is a popular viewing spot for those wanting to see the endangered Hawaiian monk seal.
If you want a windsurfing, bodyboarding, or snorkelling experience, Poipu is for you. The beach has shower facilities, restrooms, and lifeguards.
4. South Beach, Miami Beach – Florida
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No US beach countdown is complete without mentioning Miami, one of the US’ most romantic cities. It’s also an exciting holiday haven for proud thalassophiles (lovers of the sea).
Thrill-seekers and travellers who favour high activity and an electric buzz should head to Miami Beach. Here, the South Beach area serves up a bonanza of alluring activities.
Expect glistening ocean waters, soft sands, and a bustling entertainment scene. Explore Lummus Park and soak up all the classic Miami rollerblading, volleyball, swimming, and sunbathing action.
5. Glass Beach, Port Townsend – Washington
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Washington is one of the US’ most liberal states and your go-to for fantastic beach holiday destinations. A trip to Port Townsend is your chance to let go of the stress and embrace a laid-back vacation.
What I think sets this beach apart is its abundance of dazzling sea glass, hence the name. Looking at the beach’s splendor, you wouldn’t believe this was once a town dump.
Glass Beach is most suitable for curious beachgoers who like to do more than just swim, picnic, and sunbathe. Granted, it’s a bit pebbly and not the most comfortable beach in the world, but it’s a treasure trove of intriguing seaside finds.
6. Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea – California
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Beyond California’s sunflower fields, you’ll discover sublime coastlines in this destination. Carmel Beach near the popular Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea boasts mesmerising sapphire-coloured waters.
Besides a pristine white-sand beachfront, Carmel is also known for its verdant foliage. That’s why you’ll find spectacular nature trails and footpaths along this dog-friendly beach.
Just as well alcohol is permitted because Carmel has excellent wineries. Need an idea for a romantic date? Grab your favourite snacks, a bottle of red or white, and cosy up beside a beach fire.
7. Fort Lauderdale Beach – Florida
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Palm tree-laden Fort Lauderdale doubles as one of Florida’s fascinating historical places and a magnificent beach holiday hideout. If you savor making culinary experiences part of your beach vacations, Fort Lauderdale won’t disappoint.
When you’re not frolicking on the beach, sample the tasty flavors of Florida. Choose from various trendy food trucks, seaside restaurants, and beach bars. I recommend the cheerful Sun Surf Sand.
Imagine admiring astonishing beach views while sipping exotic Cajun and Creole-style cocktails with delicious tapas.
Top Tip: Fort Lauderdale Beach is pretty big. Skip the city traffic and get a water taxi day pass to make the beachside adventure a stress-free affair.
8. Cannon Beach – Oregon
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Oregon’s beaches are just as enticing as Oregon’s hot springs. Nine miles of beach strip make for popular locations when exhilarating Portland day trips beckon.
Apart from the fabulous ocean views, one of the most attractive features at Cannon Beach is its collection of peculiar rock forms. If you’re like me and enjoy ticking famous landmarks off your sightseeing itinerary, look no further than Haystack Rock.
This 72-metre (235-feet) basalt sea tower peaks from the water below. It’s covered by grassy cliffs that add green colour splashes to the massive rock.
At low tide, grab a kayak and navigate to Cannon Beach’s nearby hidden sea caves.
9. Ocean City Beach – Maryland
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Ocean City Beach in Maryland is an enchanting beach destination where boating and jet skiing take centre stage. Explore this ten-mile-long white sandy beach at your own pace, where you’ll find lots of people swimming, fishing, and cycling.
The boardwalk is one of the best and busiest areas at the beach, lined with small stores, rental shops, and restaurants.
10. Harris Beach – Oregon
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On Oregon’s south coast, you’ll find another impressive US seaside destination at Harris Beach, part of a staggering state park. Here, you’ll take in incredible seascapes amid unique rock formations.
Splash in the tide pools when you’re not swimming in the ocean, hiking along the beach trails, or bird-watching. This territory is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, so it’s wildlife galore.
At opportune times, sightings of sea lions, grey whales, and harbour seals make this an exciting location for marine enthusiasts.
11. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin – Florida
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Another state park gem is Caladesi Island in Dunedin, on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The Caladesi-Clearwater-St.Petersburg stretch is often grouped together when travellers think of Florida’s finest.
As such, you’ll probably also spot Caladesi on most round-ups of the best beaches in St. Petersburg. Caladesi has a private beach appeal to it and is accessible by ferry, boat, or kayak.
Activate full relaxation mode while on the island. You can hire sun loungers and umbrellas and kick back as you enjoy delights from the café near the ferry dock.
My biggest piece of advice for Caladesi Island? Don’t miss the opportunity to navigate the paddling trails to discover the mangrove forest.
12. Santa Monica Beach – California
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Santa Monica Beach offers a carnival of beach activities just 20 minutes from Los Angeles. You can surf, swim, and play volleyball, then switch things up with thrilling entertainment at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.
This beach escape is best suited for travellers who want to fill their holiday with unrelenting action. If you wish to bask in the warmth of the California heat or go sunset viewing, Santa Monica is for you.
For the beach-hopping fiends, take a bike ride or a breezy car drive to Venice Beach, only 15 minutes away.
13. Oak Street Beach, Chicago – Illinois
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Oak Street Beach sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. It provides a peppy coastal destination with endless recreational activities.
For seaside visitors who enjoy simple things like people-watching or casual game-playing (hello, chess masters), you’re sorted too at Oak Street Beach.
Aim to get there early if you have a liking for a comfy beach hut. Cabanas, loungers, and umbrellas are available for hire. There are also food shops, quirky vendors, and quaint little beach stores where you can buy souvenirs and trinkets.
14. Waimea Bay Beach Park, Oʻahu – Hawaii
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The North Shore of Hawaii’s breathtaking Oʻahu island gives us Waimea Bay, a plush ocean destination. Its waters are clear, its waves are big, and the marine life is an absolute wonder.
Kaleidoscopic fish, dolphins, and sea turtles are the stars of the show in this region. Waimea Bay is also a surfer’s paradise – in both summer and winter.
To elevate your visit, I strongly advise you to make your way to Waimea Valley, where the Waimea Falls are a marvel to behold. Consider joining a day tour of Waimea to experience the island’s best bits, including this stunning beach.
15. Pope Beach – California
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Pope Beach in California sits on national forest land and offers something different from other beaches. You get a wonderful Lake Tahoe experience, access to recreational space, and Sierra Nevada mountain range vistas.
This beach is great for picnicking and swimming and is a top family option. There are barbecue facilities, food stalls, and tables on-site.
You can rent a kayak when it’s time to hit the water. The surrounding alpine trees create a captivating outback atmosphere where you can take it easy.
16. Clearwater Beach – Florida
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The name is a giveaway, isn’t it? Clearwater Beach is one of the best beaches in the Tampa area owing to its calm, azure waters, silky soft sand, and lively Pier 60.
The pier is populated by cyclists, street artists, rollerbladers, and local entertainers. Meander around the promenade, tasting scrumptious seafood and treats from the sea-facing cafés.
This easy-going beach is frequented by parasailers, jet skiers, and paddleboarders. The beach offers umbrellas, chairs, and a kids’ play area. You can hire private cabanas and fishing gear.
Top Tip: Clearwater Beach is also one of the best places to join a dolphin sighting tour due to its year-round dolphin pods.
17. Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island – South Carolina
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Many travellers like to make the half-hour journey from Charleston to visit Kiawah Beachwalker Park on the western end.
I adore quiet beach walks, listening to the waves crashing and the birds chirping. That’s what you get at Kiawah Beachwalker Park. You can take a canoe ride to striking areas like Captain Sams Inlet, an awesome dolphin-watching spot.
Unlike other state beaches, like Hilton Head Island and Isle of Palms, Kiawah isn’t one of those dangerous, shark-infested US beaches.
18. Flamenco Beach, Culebra – Puerto Rico
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People tend to forget that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated US territory with many white-sand beaches like the ravishing Flamenco Beach in Culebra.
Flamenco Beach has clear cyan waters, fine sand, and a protected bay, providing serenity and seclusion for all ages. If you prefer calm waters that are almost waveless, you’ll enjoy your time at Flamenco swimming, snorkelling, and paddleboarding.
The beach is well-equipped, with showers, beach camping areas, diving sites, and lifeguards. The nearby concession stands also serve flavourful Puerto Rican fare.
19. Coronado Beach, San Diego – California
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San Diego is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the US, with gleaming beaches where you can fish, beach comb, picnic, and play volleyball.
The city’s weather is one of its biggest drawcards. Spend an entire day on the crystal-filled golden sands of the dog-friendly Coronado Beach, which features firepits.
San Diego sunsets are unmatched, and Coronado is the place to witness them. Let your beach escapades extend well into the night so you can spot bioluminescence glowing at the water’s edge. You’re most likely to see this vivid natural display from March to September.
20. Rockaway Beach, New York City – New York
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New Yorkers might not be known as nonchalant beach bum types, but they’re budding beach babes in their own way. The likes of Rockaway’s sandy shores in Queens provide sensational opportunities for seaside fun.
The boardwalk offers five miles of exciting activity and entertainment, together with food shacks where you can nibble on pizza and colorful Italian ice.
Pack a picnic basket and make use of the barbecue facilities when it’s time to fuel up after hours spent splashing in the water.
21. Park Point Beach, Duluth – Minnesota
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In the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, you’ll discover Park Point Beach. It’s like a lengthy sandbar on Minnesota Avenue on Lake Superior, one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes.
Travellers can go summer crazy with all kinds of recreational beach activities, including paddleboarding. Get the blood pumping with an early morning five-mile beach hike to capture a blissful Duluth sunrise.
Park Point has barbecue grills, volleyball courts, pavilions, and a beach house that you can reserve for group activities or some extra privacy.
22. Coopers Beach, Southampton – New York
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If you’ve heard about the Hamptons, it’ll come as no surprise that this upscale New York State destination is a prime spot for those looking for luxury beach escapes.
In Southampton, you’ll find Coopers Beach – a 50-minute drive from Long Island. The views are superb, and the waters are shallow. This beach is perfect for swimmers who aren’t trying to catch big waves or high tides.
The area attracts affluent New York crowds and celebrities, which explains the $50 daily parking fee for non-residents.
23. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton – North Carolina
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The Outer Banks in North Carolina is a treasured coastal sanctuary where East Coast surfers, kiteboarders, and windsurfers flock to ride dramatic waves.
In Buxton, Old Lighthouse Beach is the place to be for sightseeing and fun beach activities. This was once the site of the must-see Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which was moved just five minutes from the beach on Hatteras Island.
No need to keep searching if you’re all about hitting the water and enjoying your beloved aquatic sports. But if you’d rather experience this destination when it’s quieter, avoid visiting during the fall.
24. Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester – Massachusetts
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In Gloucester, Massachusetts, Good Harbor Beach is an unspoiled destination perfectly matched for low-key travelers who don’t want too much hype when going on holiday.
This family beach has sugar-fine sand, calm waters, and pleasant tidal pools to splatter in. Wait until low tide to walk across a tombolo (sand bar) to Salt Island, which showcases the area’s natural beauty effortlessly.
Being a small beach with limited parking, bear in mind and prepare in advance since non-residents need to utilise the online reservations system.
25. Gulf Shores Public Beach – Alabama
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Let Alabama’s Gulf Shores be your playground for romantic getaways when in the country’s southeastern region. The Gulf Place main public beach offers clear blue water, a white-sand beachfront, and palm trees.
Explore the boardwalk and hang out with your travel partner (or make new friends) at the chic beach bars. You can also play a round of volleyball before dipping into the ocean for a refreshing swim.
It’s best to purchase an all-day pass so you can take all the time you need, enjoying the facilities and notching up those vacation activities.
26. Wrightsville Beach – North Carolina
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If the belle of the Outer Banks ball is Lighthouse Beach, then the Inner Banks presents Wrightsville Beach as its star attraction. Wrightsville is a quiet but picturesque beach town a little over 10 minutes from Wilmington.
Whether you want to tick off a range of water sports from your bucket list or laze around the beach sun tanning and shelling, Wrightsville Beach will cater to your holiday needs.
There are plenty of local boutiques for thrift shopping, restaurants, and bars to crawl come nightfall.
27. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod – Massachusetts
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The Cape Cod National Seashore is well-known for providing visitors with sizzling summer retreats.
Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and a great choice when you’ve ventured to Massachusetts. Go surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding when the water baby bug bites.
While parking isn’t available at the beach itself, a shuttle service moves between Coast Guard Beach and the Little Creek area. Walk along the sandbar at low tide and hike to the remote crannies nearby.
28. North Beach, Tybee Island – Georgia
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Georgia tops many lists of unforgettable places to visit in the southeast. One reason for this is because it’s one of the warmest US states… wait for it… in the winter.
Beach devotees can still embrace seaside adventures in the colder months here. Tybee Island delivers tourist attractions, retro-inspired shops, funky eateries, and immaculate beaches.
One such seashore is North Beach, half an hour from the historic city of Savannah. North Beach is a relaxed, family-friendly destination where boating and fishing are big hits.
29. Lanikai Beach, Oʻahu – Hawaii
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Hawaii is the gift that keeps on giving, and this time, the spotlight is on Lanikai Beach – the “heavenly sea” – on the southeast of Oʻahu Island.
Palm trees? Check! Crystal clear turquoise waters? Got it! White, soft, sandy beaches? Say no more! Spend your time in the nearby town of Kailua, living your best tropical life.
Consider a short trip to the Mokulua Islands for the full paradise experience. Lanikai is only 40 minutes away from the capital, Honolulu. This makes this location perfect for all-day cruises, island-hopping escapades, and picturesque kayaking tours.
30. Grand Haven State Park – Michigan
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Grand Haven State Park grants access to nearly 50 acres of beach turf along the shores of Lake Michigan. There’s something for everyone at the park.
Action seekers can swim and play volleyball, while the laid-back beachgoers can pick a barbecuing spot. Drink in some good old Vitamin D when in the mood to unwind and enjoy the setting.
Nearby attractions include the Grand Haven South Pier and Lighthouses. Stay until late to view the sunset – a peachy way to seal the day.
31. Carlsmith Beach, Hilo – Hawaii
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Hilo, on “the Big Island”, is home to Carlsmith Beach – filled with shiny, black lava rocks, lagoons, and a resident sea turtle population. This region is famous for snorkelling, kayaking, and marine tours, making it a water lover’s dream.
Also referred to as Four Mile, Carlsmith is really a protected reef featuring shallow lagoons where you can relax and ruminate to your heart’s content.
The park also has lush grassy portions, shaded coconut trees, and picnic tables, providing convenient chill spaces for your beach day.
The Last Word | Best Beaches in the United States
With this terrific list of the best US beaches, you’re ready to start planning an amazing coastal getaway. There are balmy tropical-like beaches in Florida and Hawaii, laid-back, family-friendly shores in Massachusetts, and so much more.
When you’ve gotten enough sea, sun, and sand, cast your eye over this list of the US’ most visited places for more brilliant American holiday ideas.
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