Not all beaches are created equal. When thinking about the best beaches in all of the United States, I had a problem just keeping it down to five. I could name at least 20 beaches off the top of my head in the United States that would make the bill as a top beach, but I tried my best to choose the best of the best. This list includes some of the most unique beaches in the world. Feel free to leave a comment telling us about beaches you think deserve an honorable mention.
Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
One thing you must do if you come to this beach is watch the sun set and sun rise from this beach, because it is one of the few beaches in the main land in the United States where you can watch the sun do its thing over the water without actually needing to move. When a hurricane devastated this park nearly 20 years ago, Florida decided to completely revamp the park with native plants and remove non-native plants. It is one of the finest displays of what Florida flora is supposed to be without the accidental and purposeful disruption of us humans. You can also find 50 different butterfly and 170 bird species wondering the park. Really cute raccoons wonder the park, who aren’t all that afraid of humans probably because tourists have fed them too many times.
Here you can also find some interesting and quirky sites. A unique example of a human habitat of houses on stilts out on the water called Stiltsville that has been there in one form or another since the 1920s. Don’t forget to check out the free light house tour that is offered at 10 am and 1 am to get a unique view of the island. The tour is actually action packed and worth your while, it includes a story of a man who was chased up the lighthouse only to have his enemies catch it on fire. This is a perfect beach for vacationers with small children since the island is blocked from most waves, so it is extremely gentle water to swim in.
Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina
This beach includes 72 miles of vistas with sand dune beaches that have some of the best surf in the Eastern United States. It is a perfect destination for those who like a mix of the natural world and vacation world. It attracts a crowd of outdoorsy tourists who like to get away from the stereotypical hyped beach themes of the rest of the Outer Banks, so there isn’t a lot of touristy junk like mini-golf, goofily named restaurant or tourist shops. The focus is more set on nature and water sports, and there are a lot of different things to explore between the marshlands, the barrier reef, sand dunes, wide beaches, maritime forests. You can let your eco-friendly side go wild at Cape Hatteras.
Recently the Cape Hatteras light house was moved 2,870 feet from its original location due to erosion. It is fun to actually go see how far they moved this enormous light house. For those who are curious, there are plenty of articles regarding exactly how you move a historic light house that long of a distance.
Manela Bay, Hawaii
Hulopo’e Beach is at the base of the Four Season Laina’I at Manela Bay; if you can afford it, I definitely recommend staying at this Four Seasons. The beach overlooks the wildlife preserve Manela Bay that features some of the most pristine snorkeling and diving spots in the world. The perfect 70 degree water will tempt even the most hesitant of swimmers to explore the aquatic wonderland available here. Walk along the beach to find the red-cliff sweet heart rocks that are a wonder of their own.
This bay is located on the cleanest and most exclusive Hawaii Island, Lana’i. There are only 30 miles of actual road on this island that is mainly dedicated to just tourism now, so it isn’t the best choice for those who want to explore more of Hawaiian culture without hopping on a small plane to get to another island. It is perfect for travelers who want a luxury beach get away where they don’t have to even leave the resort to get the full experience paradise.
Magens Bay Beach, St Thomas
Protected by two peninsulas, this beach boasts some of the calmest water in the Virgin Islands to swim in. It is a half mile-loop of perfectly sandy beaches that are part of a 68 acre park with one mile of sand beach, a six acre arboretum, two acres of camping ground, 15 acres of mangroves, wetlands and 5 acres of coconut groves.
Travelers either hate or really love the lively partying crowd on this beach. If you are looking for a serene beach away from people, Magens Bay Beach is probably not for you. Travelers that are looking for a good time, good people watching or good crowd energy will love it here. To get away from the crowds, walk away from the concession and restaurant areas where people usually crowd around for convenience.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
I know we already mentioned a Florida beach, but Fort Lauderdale is a completely different experience from Key Biscayne. Fort Lauderdale is a less snobby version of Miami-Beach, and it is a lot more affordable than staying in Miami too. If you want to check out the party scene in Miami it is a short drive south, but there are plenty of places to have a good time in the Fort Lauderdale area.
The narrow beach is across a narrow highway from many hotels, restaurants, shops and bars. It is a thin beach, so even on a crowded day you don’t feel like there are a bunch of people between your beach towel and your ocean view. The water can get a bit choppy during storm season, but the temperature is always perfect for a dip. There is a nice wide concrete sidewalk that goes up along the beach that is fun for rolling blading, jogging or strolling. Fort Lauderdale is a perfect destination for travelers who want to experience South Florida, but without the heavy price tag that comes with staying in Miami.
Holly Williford is a beach connoisseur and thinks no vacation is complete with one. She currently lives in land-locked Washington D.C. suburbs. She can’t wait to explore the historical and beautiful Ghana coast next year via a tour to Ghana with Palace Travel.