The 10 Best Beaches in America
From East Coast to West Coast, from family beaches to surfer spots, these are the top beaches in America.
Photo By: Mark Van Dyke Photography
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Photo By: Craig Terry/Cape May County, NJ Department Of Tourism
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Photo By: Don Riddle/Four Seasons
10: Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
Stretching for 72 miles along the Atlantic coast on the Outer Banks, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a skinny strip of barrier islands from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island. The beach’s hallmark high, sandy dunes front frothy surf making this beach perfect for swimming, beachcombing and body-surfing. Visitors can climb up 248 steps to the top of the nation's tallest lighthouse — towering at an impressive 196 feet — for a spectacular view of the seashore.
9: East Hampton, NY
It's easy to see why the picturesque town of East Hampton is a beloved vacation destination for New Yorkers. A-listers settle into sprawling mansions along Lily Pond Lane, but anyone seeking out white sands and scrumptious lobster rolls will find them on Main Beach (just beyond Main Street).
8: Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Tucked beneath the infamous Gay Head Cliffs, Moshup Beach is an unspoiled paradise of soft, white sand framed by red, brown and tan striated cliffs looming from above. A true New England getaway, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts — located 7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod — lures travelers to its shores with its history, charm and natural beauty. Meander through the historic districts of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Tour the Vineyard's five lighthouses, or find respite on one of the island's 19 scenic beaches. Avoid crowds of tourists and travel here from October to May when prices also tend to be less expensive.
7: Cape May, New Jersey
As the farthest point south on the shore, Cape May is the crown jewel of the region with gorgeous beaches and a quaint town center filled with gingerbread Victorians and colorful bed and breakfasts. Wanting a break from the sand and sea? Enjoy bike rides along the boardwalk and you won't miss out on any of the waterfront views. Bring your binoculars to the beach to spy on the playful dolphins that frolic in the wake.
6: Coronado, California
Coronado Central Beach, stretches 1.5 miles behind the great houses along Ocean Boulevard in front of the glamorous Hotel Del Coronado. Swimmers, bodysurfers, boogie boarders, sand sculptors, tide poolers and whale watchers (from December through February) all take to the sand and sea.
5: Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach has lured countless families and couples to its broad, sandy shores and beachfront hotels for years. Spread along a narrow, 3-mile stretch of the Pinellas Peninsula on the Gulf Coast, Clearwater Beach straddles the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and tranquil Tampa Bay to the east. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing on white sandy beaches, diving into a game of beach volleyball, renting fishing boats, taking a dolphin-watching cruise, parasailing or heading to a mainland museum or aquarium.
4: Kauna'oa Beach, Hawaii
Picture Hawaii and you're probably conjuring images of Kauna'oa Bay without even realizing it. Located on the Kohala Coast of the Aloha-state's Big Island, Kauna'oa Bay is quintessential, picture-postcard Hawaii. With its abundant white sand, palm trees and clear, calm blue water, the crescent-shaped beach is a natural draw for sun worshipers, water sport enthusiasts and families in search of safe, sandy fun.
3: Nantucket, Massachusetts
A trip to Nantucket is like visiting a faraway fairytale land — one set against a bright blue backdrop of ocean and bay in a community of simple, weathered white cottages surrounded by wild roses.This former whaling community has quaint neighborhoods and a beach for everyone, including Surfside Beach and Children's Beach, both of which feature calm waters and no shortage of sandcastles.Nantucket Island, MA, may be small but it's so full of character. With cobblestone streets, historic cottages and quaint shops and restaurants, the "Faraway Land" — as it was referred to by Native Americans — provides visitors of all ages with the perfect New England getaway. Meander through downtown's historic district, charter a boat for a day of fishing, or watch the sunset on popular Madaket Beach.
2: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
As the largest resort along South Carolina's 60-mile Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is the East Coast's ultimate vacation hub. The town teems with summertime action: beaches dotting the Strand, amusement and water parks, restaurants and live entertainment. Myrtle Beach's actual beach is an extensive stretch of silky white sand, with opportunities for fishing, swimming, sunbathing, sailing and surfing. And let's not forget to mention the outrageous sunsets that can be seen from anywhere along the waterfront. There's a lot to love about Myrtle Beach in fall, both on and off the beach. As a bonus, area rentals average 24% less per night compared to the busy summer season. On the oceanfront boardwalk, plan for a spin on the SkyWheel, a 187-foot-tall Ferris wheel, as well as a mouth-watering walk around I LOVE SUGAR, which is home to all kinds of colorful candies.
1: Manele Bay, Hawaii
For most of the year Hulopoe Bay is the best place for kayaking, swimming and snorkeling on the island. In fact, snorkeling and diving spots here are considered some of the finest in Hawaii, making a swim in the 70-degree water all the more tempting. Rent a kayak or bring your own and soon you'll find yourself torn between paddling and stopping to take photos.