All the sand and surf you could ask for, no passport required.
By Caitlin MortonFebruary 19, 2020
“There’s never a wrong time to daydream about your next beach vacation, but our wanderlust tends to grow even stronger during the winter months. ‘Tis the season for warm-weather escapes—jetting off to tropical islands and Mediterranean ports, and getting a little extra thrill from leaving our cold coworkers behind. And while the idea of traveling abroad every weekend is wonderful, it’s not exactly feasible. Luckily for those in the U.S., you don’t necessarily have to go far to enjoy some of the world’s best stretches of sand. America’s seashores—from New England to Hawaii—offer enough beautiful sand and surf to keep us warm and satisfied all year long. Here are 14 of the best beaches in the U.S., all just an easy plane ride away.
This gallery was last published in May 2018. It has been updated with new information.
It should come as no surprise that some of the best beaches in the U.S. can be found in Florida. Grayton Beach State Park, found on the lovely Gulf Coast, is one of our favorites, with more than 400 acres of fine, white sands and a wildlife-rich coastal dune lake. Visitors also come to camp in the park and visit its other highlights—some of which are found under the water’s surface. The state park happens to be home to the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA), the nation’s first permanent underwater sculpture exhibit, which lets travelers snorkel and scuba dive around seven larger-than-life pieces of artwork.
Stay here: A much-loved Panhandle favorite, WaterColor Inn & Resort (flanked by Grayton Beach) is a a stylish, contemporary spot with complimentary kayak rentals and farm-to-table dining options.
One of Southern California’s most popular beaches, Coronado has fine sand, mild surf, and is privy to a Mediterranean climate that makes it a year-round destination. After enjoying some water sports and trying to spot the beach’s sunken ship at low tide, make sure to head to Coronado’s Dog Beach at the north end of the island—a favorite with those who wish to let their pup run off-leash.
Stay here: The landmark hotel associated with the beach, Hotel del Coronado, was built more than a century ago, and continues to impress with Queen Anne–style architecture and its on-site shops and restaurants.Advertisement
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Swimmers on Cape Cod tend to be on the braver side, as sand is coarse and water temperatures only reach 60-70 degrees in the summer. (Getting here will also require a bicycle or shuttle bus ride from Salt Pond Visitor’s Center.) Still, views of the Nauset Spit barrier system and bay prompt travelers to pay repeat visits, and a photo of the quaint old Coast Guard station, which sits on top of sandy bluffs, is practically Instagram-required.
Stay here: Surrounded by 380 bike-friendly acres, the Villages at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club is ideal for family vacations—and it’s just 20 minutes away from Coast Guard Beach by car.
Also known as Cathedral Beach, Honopu is quite difficult to reach. For starters, it’s only accessible by water; to get there, you must swim from an offshore boat, or from neighboring Kalalau Beach (a quarter-mile swim). But the trouble is worth it: Think cumin-colored sand bordered by soaring, and vegetation-cloaked cliffs—and, usually, not a soul in sight.
Stay here: Our readers love Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach for its quiet pool, sophisticated restaurant, and expansive lawn overlooking a cove where guests can take in the sunset.
The siren song of Miami’s South Beach is undeniable. Beautiful people, flashy cars, Art Deco architecture: It’s all here. The busiest—and most touristy—section runs parallel to Ocean Drive (between 5th and 15th Streets), so locals tend to hang around the quieter patches of SoFi (South of Fifth). But we say those famous white sands are worth bumping elbows with a few fellows.
Stay here: Your best bet for a quality hotel in the heart of South Beach lies on 15th Street, at elegant beachfront boutique property, The Betsy South Beach.
While some people may make the trip to Manchester-by-the-Sea to see where the movie was filmed, others come for the more curious Singing Beach: If you shuffle your feet in the dry sand you will hear a sing-song-like squeak. It’s wildly popular with families in summer, but from mid-October to mid-April, expect to hear more barking than singing, as it’s the beach’s official dog-friendly season.
Stay here: Just a 45-minute drive from Boston, we recommend making the capital city your home base and day-tripping to Singing Beach. Boston has tons of great properties to choose from, but we’re fans of XV Beacon and The Envoy Hotel.
With its jet-black shore, electric-blue waters, and thick, jungle-like foliage, Honokalani Beach is a photographer’s dream. Besides lying lazily on the “sand”—actually made up of of tiny lava pebbles—there’s plenty to do: you’ll find seaside lava tubes and sea caves carved into the lava cliffs along the shore. It’s wild, unspoiled Hawaii at its best, and a necessary stop en route to Hana.
Stay here: You can’t beat the ocean views and private tranquility at Hotel Wailea, Hawaii’s only luxury adults-only resort.