The United States is a huge country with lots of natural diversity. And that includes beaches. I’ve been searching for the best US beaches for most of my adult life; some of the romantic getaways in the USA also deserve consideration as the best beaches in the world.
If you’re not a fan of heat and sandy swimsuits, not to worry…here are some great USA winter bucket list destinations!
Where to Stay
If you want to stay at the beach for longer than a day, a better option for you would be to rent an apartment with a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals.
In the blue boxes beneath each US beach destination below, you’ll see a link to find hotels in that area. Simply click on that link, and then scroll down the left-hand filter column until you see “Property Type;” check the boxes for “Vacation Homes” and “Apartments.” Then you can add any other filters that reflect your needs and preferences.
What about travel insurance? You should never travel without it. Click here to find no-obligation pricing for travel insurance.
Don’t want to fly or take public transit? Why not rent a car?
Ready to go to the beach? Check out my top ten beaches in the United States for the one that best appeals to you!
1) Lanikai, Oahu, Hawaii
This small half-mile strip of beach on Oahu’s windward (east) coast is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world. Lanikai, one of the most exclusive beaches in Hawaii, is tucked inside a residential community. It is a favorite of locals, but because of its legendary beauty –particularly the stunning view backdrop of the Mokulua Island on the horizon – it’s also sought out by tourists. Crystal-clear turquoise water lapping onto the soft sandy beach isn’t hard to take either. About a mile offshore is a coral reef that protects the beach from sharks. The only downside is that there is no parking at the beach, so if you don’t come early, it can be difficult to find parking in the neighborhood of Lanikai.
2) Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s Flamenco Beach is a mile-long crescent-shaped beach on the Caribbean island (aka the Spanish Virgin Islands) of Culebra just a short ferry ride from the country’s mainland. Also highly ranked world-wide, Flamenco is known for its magnificent variegated water hues that range in color from clear as glass to baby blue, to iridescent turquoise, to deep emerald green, white sand, and diving sites. Contrary to most Caribbean beaches, Flamenco is not surrounded by high rise hotels or crowds for most of the year, making it seem more like “paradise.” We were there during the month of February; it was still warm, but there were virtually no other people on the beach, the ultimate in romantic beach vacations!
3) Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola Beach is on the Gulf Coast barrier island of Santa Rosa. It is world-famous for the sandy beaches so white as to almost be blinding, with spectacular emerald-green waters. The beaches include the protected Gulf Islands National Seashore. There’s a boardwalk on Santa Rosa Sound with shops, restaurants, nightclubs, street musicians, and stage for outdoor concerts. There’s also a pier that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico. Nearby is historic Fort Pickens to explore, or hike along the Sand Eco Trail where you can learn about the dangerous journey of sea turtles.
4) Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, GA
A visit to incredible Driftwood Beach is a year-round, otherworldly experience. Georgia’s gem, this beach is scattered with a jumble of old pieces of weather-beaten driftwood, limbs, and tree trunks, creating a photographer’s landscape that would be virtually impossible to recreate. The unique scene was created by the erosion of the sand which caused the trees to uproot and die, some giving the appearance they are emerging from the sand. It was cloudy the day we wandered around Driftwood Beach, but that didn’t stop us from thoroughly enjoying the mesmerizing waterfront.
5) Aquinnah, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Aquinnah Beach, also known as Moshup Beach, nestled in the Gay Head Cliffs of charming Martha ’s Vineyard Island, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. Soft golden sand, occasional boulders, and clean deep-blue crashing waves make the mile-long beach a very enjoyable and walkable beach. Because it’s far from the bustling and touristic town centers in the western half of the Vineyard, Moshup Beach is usually quieter and less crowded than the other beaches on the island.
Please take note that a portion of Aquinnah Beach is known for its unofficial “clothing optional” area. There’s no signage so it’s easy to stumble onto it without knowing for those that are not aware.
Also, it is prohibited to climb on the cliffs or remove any clay; the cliffs are owned by the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and are under special environmental protection to prevent erosion.
6) Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Part of what makes Hanauma Bay so special is that it lies at the bottom of a volcanic crater. Sitting along the southeast coast of Oahu, Hanauma is a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring. The spectacular bay has long attracted snorkelers from all over the world.
Because Hanauma is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Oahu, it has suffered from over-tourism. At one time (although no longer), visitors could even feed the fish, making the waters very cloudy. State park officials stepped in and made changes and the marine park has improved.
7) Siesta Beach, Florida
Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, is known for its sandy beaches. It’s an eight-mile stretch of a unique sand composition of 99% pure quartz – possibly the softest and whitest you’ll ever see, juxtaposed on the Gulf’s shimmering blue-green water. There’s very little seaweed and I didn’t see any trash at all. From your beach chair, wildlife sightings of dolphins, manatees, egrets, and pelicans are quite common. Another advantage is the close proximity to the shops and open-air cafes of Siesta Key Village.
8) South Beach, Florida
Personality-plus Miami’s South Beach, aka SOBE, is known for its highly-visited beaches, glitzy nightlife, trendy shopping, and posh celebrity-chef restaurants. Ocean Drive with its attractive, well-preserved art deco architecture is ground zero, complete with a boardwalk frequented by rollerbladers and skateboard aficionados. Quirky as it is, there’s something very something special about this chunk of Miami Beach that brings me back time and again.
9) Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, is the hub of the Carolinas. With 60-miles of sparkling blue/green water and sandy beaches, celebrity-designed golf courses, live shows, a famous beachfront boardwalk, arcades, souvenir stands, restaurants, and one of the country’s tallest Ferris wheels, you’ll never run out of things to do. In addition to lounging on the beaches, nearby Brookfield Gardens invites visitors to take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful grounds to take in the sculptures, reflection pools, and flora and fauna, and there’s also the ruins of Atalaya, the Moorish mansion which was once the winter home of industrialist and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his world-renowned sculptor wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington.
10) Coronado Beach, California
Coronado Beach in San Diego is arguably the nicest beach in California. The wide, 1.5 mile-long beach is set against the backdrop of the iconic and upscale Hotel del Coronado. When opened in 1988, the Victorian architecture “Del” was the largest resort in the world and gives the ocean boulevard the vibe of a bygone era. You can channel your inner Marilyn Monroe here—Some Like It Hot was filmed at the Hotel del Coronado.
Waves crash onto boulders piled along part of the shore; a wide expanse of golden sand glitters because of the tiny specs of mica, lending a magical feeling. For those who prefer not to plunge their toes in the sand to take a walk along the beach, there’s a long promenade behind a low seawall. Swimmers, sun-worshipers, surfers, and beachcombers all love this beach, but surprisingly, Coronado Beach is usually not as crowded as some other Sand Diego area beaches.
11) Avon Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
12) Laguna Beach, California
13) Ogunquit Beach, Maine
While many cities are closing their public venues, these are generally enclosed spaces, not outdoor public beaches or parks. Some beaches, like South Beach in Miami, are closing the beach at 5 pm in an attempt to mitigate close personal activities primarily from spring break youths. However, please check with the local government site for the beach city you may be planning to visit.
Click below to PIN so you can find romantic getaways in USA again:
This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer.
About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.” Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.