Here in America, we’re pretty fortunate to have two incredible coasts on which to sunbathe, swim, and generally get our beach on. Not only that, but this country is peppered with beautiful lakes that offer land-locked seaside pleasures to those who can’t hoof it to the Atlantic or Pacific. Check out these gorgeous beaches across America, and prepare to experience some serious salt air cravings.
1. Halona Cove, Hawaii
Situated between Halona Point and the Halona Blowhole, this sheltered cove has been featured in films such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “50 First Dates.” The only route to this hidden tropical gem is by hiking a rocky and somewhat challenging trail, so it's likely that you and your sweetheart will have this beachy nook all to yourselves. And if your sweetheart is a picnic hamper full of wine and cookies, all the better.
2. Beacon's Beach, California
This Encinitas beach is a local favorite and as such, you won’t find too many tourists here. The road leading to the beach is a bit winding and the signage isn’t the best, but you’ll be rewarded for your perseverance by stunning views and pristine sands. This place is a good spot for meeting people from the area, catching a gorgeous sunset, or just laying out and listening to the waves.
3. Ruby Beach, Washington
Ruby Beach is one of many beaches near Olympic National Park, but this one just might offer some of the most dramatic views of the park’s rugged coastline. The waters here can get chilly, so visit at the peak of the summer season to experience the comfiest swimming temperatures. As there isn’t easy driving access to this spot, a bit of a hike will be in order. But for that scenery, I’d walk all day.
4. Lake Powell, Arizona
This is as close as you’ll get to a beach day on Mars (for a while, at least). The turquoise waters and rich orange shoreline provide an otherworldly view from your beach towel, and lake is also a very popular spot for boating and diving. Get there bright and early to catch one of the most stunning sunrises in Arizona.
5. Cave Point Park Beach, Wisconsin
This is a rugged and rocky beach, but that doesn’t detract from its beauty. Located in Cave Point Park, which offers great hiking and caving opportunities, this stunning beach features crystal clear blue waters and plenty of places to wade into the surf. While it might not be the best place for kids (the rocks can get slippery and depth is hard to gauge), this place is perfect for an oceanside adventure.
6. Coronado Central Beach, California
Coronado beach was ranked as the nation’s #1 beach by Stephen Leatherman (a.k.a Dr. Beach) in 2012. The striking Hotel Del provides a dramatic background to the clear blue waters and smooth, sandy strip. You don’t need to be a guest at the Hotel Del to enjoy this beach, but if you are, they’ll provide you with all sorts of beach amenities. If you’re vacationing in Southern California, you’ll want to make time for beach day at Coronado.
7. Aquinnah Beach, Massachusetts
The striking clay cliffs of Gays Head are the focal point of this incredible beach. The unique geology of the area is behind the mesmerizing ribbons of red, green, and gold that run through the clay. If you don’t mind crowds and can appreciate some great people-watching, then a visit at the peak of summer will almost guarantee you spectacular, clear views and plenty to do on the rest of Martha’s Vineyard.
8. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
Featuring a gorgeous series of barrier islands, prime beach-combing areas, perfect conditions for body-surfing, and nation’s tallest lighthouse (196 feet high, 248 steps to the top), this national seashore has a little something for everyone. The best view of seashore is probably from the top of Cape Hatteras light (view pictured above) so be sure to bring sturdier shoes than flip flops for the climb to the top!
9. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is only part of South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand, but it's the largest single beach in the area. More than just a sandy stretch, this beach is the focus point of an lively seaside entertainment district that is packed with great nightlife, amusement parks, live music, and great eateries. The beach itself is perfect for sunbathing, fishing, sailing and surfing.
10. Hulopo’e Beach, Hawaii
Located on the island of Lana’i, this swathe of pure white sand is a designated marine preserve is chock full of tropical fish and graceful dolphins. In addition to being a prime sunbathing spot, Hulopo’e beach is a great place for snorkeling and diving. You’re sure to spy lots of colorful sea life while you glide through the 70-degree water.
11. Destin Beach, Florida
Destin is located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, named for its sparkling, clear green water. Destin Beach has extremely fine, soft sand that is more powdery than granular. If you enjoy strolling barefoot by the surf or building epic sand castles, this is definitely a great destination for you. The area is a popular vacation spot, so you won’t have any trouble finding accommodations that fit your family and budget.
12. Wai'anapanapa State Park, Hawaii
This black lava beach is a total departure from the norm. Take in tropical views and roam the rich, verdant hills around the beach while listening to the surf break against the coasts dramatic rock formations. This spot is incredible in any weather.
13. Ocean City Beach, Maryland
This is a beach that has something for everyone. The surf isn’t too strong and the people-watching is really stellar. The boardwalk is a perfect place to stroll and take in the sites, and there is easy access to parking near the water. There are plenty of great places to grab a bite along the seaside, and the amusement park is sure to thrill.
14. Pensacola Beach, Florida
If you're looking for a great beach in northern Florida, Pensacola Beach is a fantastic choice. The sands are clean and powdery, the surf is warm and mostly pretty gentle, and the oodles of lifeguards make it a great spot for a family beach day. There are many water sport equipment rental places near the water, and the city of Pensacola is full of wonderful nightlife and dining options.
15. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
This is a beach for all seasons. While the Lake Tahoe shore is certainly stunning during the summer, the area is also heaven on earth for snow sport enthusiasts during the winter months. If you’re looking for an amazing place to stay along the shore, Squaw Valley Resort was the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics and is a great option for families and couples. Of course, if you'd rather come for the sun and surf, you won't be disappointed by the crystal clear waters and lovely coast.
16. Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
This place is a basically paradise. Your visit to Hanauma Bay will begin with a bit of a line and a mandatory educational video about reef protection, but from there it’s just glittering waters and movie-worthy views. If you’re not up for the hike down to the beach, you can cruise down on the trolley for only $1.50. Divers and snorkelers can expect to see an incredible amount of colorful fish, and there are plenty of places to rent equipment if you choose not to bring your own.
17. Flathead Lake, Montana
This lake beach is perfect for people who want their seaside experience to include a little more adventure and exertion than simply sunbathing. If you book a stay at the all-inclusive Flathead Lake Lodge, you'll be treated to horse-riding lessons, hiking adventures, barrel-racing competitions, and roping demonstrations. Even if you're not in the outdoorsy stuff, this lake is beautiful enough to transport you to your happy place.
Which U.S. beach gets your vote for the most gorgeous in the nation? Let us know!