USA January 20, 2017
Here Are the 21 Best Beaches In The World According To National Geographic
Being hugged by the ocean on three sides, it’s natural that America would have some of the most breathtaking seaside destinations on Earth. National Geographic has just published
a round-up of the best beaches in the world, and six of those coastal gems are right here in the U.S.
These beaches offer everything from pearly sands and tropical flora, to dramatic cliffs and jade-green waves. Check out the most spectacular beaches in the country, and start planning your next seaside escape.
1. Sunset Beach, Brunswick Islands,
Sunset Beach is the most southerly seashore in North Carolina. This pristine beach is known for being a quiet, old-fashioned, retro seaside destination. The sands are silky, the vibe is definitely family-friendly and the dramatic pier provides an unbeatable vantage point from which to watch the surf. Visitors can also check out the nearby Ingram Planetarium, walk to Bird Island at low tide, or simply take in a stunning sunset. Due to the beach's position, the sun actually rises and sets over the water several months of the year.
Observant visitors will also notice a lone mailbox at the west end of the beach, about mile away from the access point. It was erected by local Frank Nesmith in the 1970s, and is full of notebooks that invite beachgoers to set their dreams, musings and wishes to paper.
2. Bowman's Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida
Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island is known to give visitors what locals call the "Sanibel stoop." Shell hunters can be seen hunched over all along the shore, looking for treasure in the form of conchs, coquinas, sand dollars and countless other gleaming shells. Bowman's Beach is famed for the stunning array of shells that are deposited here by Gulf of Mexico currents, but it's also a peerless place to spread a blanket and take in the tropical sights and sounds.
Be sure to bring beach shoes if you visit this spot; the beautiful shells can be unforgiving on bare feet. Once you're done soaking up rays, head to nearby Bailey's General Store for a treat.
3. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is a starkly beautiful, northern beach that lacks palm trees and coconuts, but delivers hard-packed sand, dramatic sea mists and the unmistakable silhouette of Haystack Rock. This beach has a prehistoric kind of glamour. Just south of Cannon Beach is Ecola State Park. If you hike up the southern hillside a bit, you'll be greeted with a vision of the rugged Oregon coastline edged by dramatic sea stacks.
A little-known perk of visiting Cannon Beach after sunset (actually, just go for the sunset and linger afterwards) is the incredible view of the stars. There's little light pollution in this area, so the heavens shine brightly.
4. Carmel City Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
This beach is a popular spot for dogs and their human companions. Pooches can roam off leash, splash in the water and romp with the other furry visitors that crowd this seaside destination. Their owners have it pretty good too: the world-famous Pebble Beach is a whisker to the north and Point Lobos hovers just to the south. Crowds here can get a little thick during peak hours in the summer, but there's definitely enough clean sand and sweeping views so go around.
5. Papakōlea Beach, Hawaii
Gazing at Papakōlea Beach from a distance, it wouldn't be surprising if you thought this seaside cove was actually covered in grass. The sand here is actually mixed with small crystals called olivine, which lends the beach its verdant hue. The olivine comes from the nearby rocks that ring the cinder cone of the Puu Mahana volcano.
This is one beach that you'll never find overrun with visitors; a challenging, two-mile hike is necessary to reach the coastal spot, and the beach itself is on the smaller side. Still, it's a magical place for a few hours in the sun.
6. Sleeping Bear Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
Sleeping Bear Point is the only freshwater beach on this list, as it wraps along the coast of Lake Michigan. One of the main draws at this beach is the opportunity to walk along the former Sleeping Bear Point Trail leading over pristine dunes to the shore. There are 450-foot bluffs to peer over, and panoramic views of the sparkling waters of the lake.
On clear days, visitors can spot North and South Manitou Islands. History buffs will also love the checking out the former Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station, which now functions as a maritime museum.
Planning an international beach day? Here are the other 15 beaches that National Geographic calls the best of the best:
Playa del Amor, Marietas Islands, Mexico
Cathedrals Beach, Ribadeo, Spain
Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles
One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Western Australia
Lyme Regis, England
Noordwjk Beach, The Netherlands
Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
Pink Beach, Great Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga, The Philippines
Pelican Beach, South Water Caye, Belize
Blue Bay, Mauritius
Cas Abao Beach, Curaçao
Piscinas Beach, Arbus, Sardinia
Corniche Beach, La Teste-De-Buch, France