Top 25+ USA Beaches

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The USA's so big that trying to sum up its beaches in one go is near-impossible. In fact, 30 of the country's 50 states have a coastline adding up to a colossal 95,000 miles of shoreline. From Miami's soft sands in the South East to Oregon's rugged Arizona Beach in the West, the American beach scene is as varied as the country's landscape.

That being said, when it comes to US beaches, there's really only one place to start - Florida - or the Sunshine State as it's so aptly known. Many of the best beaches in the USA reside here, with big-hitters like Miami's South Beach and the Space Coast's Cocoa Beach. Arguably, the most impressive aspect of the USA's beaches is that they tend to have plenty going on beside them. For example, South Beach is barely a 15-minute drive from Downtown Miami, while Cocoa Beach is just a little further from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. One thing they have in common though, as with most of Florida's beaches, is silky soft sands, an abundance of watersports and tons of bars and restaurants nearby.

While Florida can lay claim to the mainland's best beaches, the island state of Hawaii can almost certainly claim to have the most tropical beaches. This archipelago, which sits around 2,000 miles off the mainland's West Coast, is sprinkled with golden sands, palm trees and crystal clear waters on its many islands. If you're after an island paradise without the crowds, then Hawaii's a top pick.

Back on the mainland and the complete opposite of Florida - both geographically and scenically - is the USA's ninth largest state, Oregon. While non-natives might know very little about the state's beach scene, the locals are definitely clued up about it, and some of the beaches here are among America's best kept secrets. Top of the pile is Cannon Beach - a biscuit-coloured swathe of sand that's been named one of the world's most beautiful places by National Geographic. What makes this beach so scenic is the rugged landscape that envelopes it and the cloud-brushing Haystack Rock in the water. This 235ft basalt sea stack is a mighty impressive sight, and at low tide you can even walk to its base, such is its proximity to the shore. Regarding facilities at Cannon Beach, there are plenty of places to grab food and drink from, but from an activity point of view, this place is definitely more about the scenery than the surf. 

The Best U.S. Beaches...

  • 1. Lanikai Beach // Oahu

    Lanikai Beach
    © Tomasfoto

    Situated on the windward coast of Oahu in Hawaii is Lanikai beach, which translates as "heavenly sea". With its fine white sand and brilliant aqua blue water this name seems quite fitting. Lanikai is fringed with palm trees and with water temperatures rarely dipping below 75° F (24° C) there is no mistaking you are in the tropics. Unlike many of Oahu's other great beaches, Lanikai is not designated a… read more »

  • 2. Cannon Beach // Oregon

    Cannon Beach
    © Stacey Andrew McClain

    Look for Cannon Beach on a map of Oregon and you'll find its not only the name of a stunning stretch of west coast shoreline, but also a city in Clatsop County. Named one of the world's most beautiful places by none other than National Geographic (and they should know), Cannon Beach also featured in the last scene of the 1991 cult classic Point Break.

    Face out from the soft sands… read more »

  • 3. Miami South Beach // South Florida

    Miami South Beach
    © sborisov / 123RF

    South Beach is perhaps the ultimate urban beach. It has it all; history, style, quirkiness, class and as much partying as you want, not to mention a vast swathe of white sand beach bordering clear blue ocean. This is where the beautiful and rich come to play in the sunshine before hitting the nightlife of Ocean Drive after dark. South beach is brash, colorful and even a little crazy -… read more »

  • 4. Poipu Beach // Kauai

    Poipu Beach
    © Ellen Smile

    Poipu is the most popular beach on Kauai's South Shore and by all accounts one of the most highly rated in all Hawaii (or at least according to Dr Beach). The island of Kauai itself is the least developed and with its abundantly lush interior is often referred to as the Garden Isle. So, despite the fact Poipu borders a number of resorts it still has plenty of pristine, tropical… read more »

  • 5. Tunnels Beach // Kauai

    Tunnels Beach
    © Sekar Balasubramanian

    Tunnels beach is set on the north coast of Hawaii's most northerly main island, Kauai. Originally known as Makua beach, the name Tunnels could be from one of two possible sources; most likely is it comes from the maze passages that wind their way through the big coral reef which sits just offshore. Alternately, it could be from the shape of the waves that make it popular with surfers.

    The… read more »

  • 6. Ocracoke Beach // North Carolina

    Ocracoke Beach
    Ole Bendik Kvisberg

    Ocracoke beach is amongst the best in North Carolina, and some say the whole of America. It is indeed a beautiful stretch of pristine coastline and forms part of the protected Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

    Set on the 16-mile long Ocracoke island which froms part of the Outer Banks, the beach is accessible only by boat. This secluded, unspolit cast is perfect for fishing and beachcombing. The Atlantic Ocean beaks… read more »

  • 7. Ke'e Beach // Kauai

    Ke'e Beach
    Ben K

    Located at the end of the road, Ke’e Beach is the last accessible beach from the north shore of Kauai. This stunningly majestic beach is a prime spot for snorkeling and sightseeing, with spectacular views of the entire coast. 

    The beach connects to the Kalalau Trail, an infamously treacherous route spanning 11 miles along the coastline. The rugged trail is widely acclaimed as one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes… read more »

  • 8. Honopu Beach // Kauai

    Honopu Beach

    Honopu Beach is a remote and secluded beach on Kauai's spectacular Na Pali Coast. The only way you can get there is by boat or swimming to it. The incredible beach is backed by 1200-foot high sea cliffs, and they are separated by the Honopu Arch. There is a huge waterfall that comes down the sea cliff and goes through to arch on its way to the ocean.

    The word… read more »

  • 9. Baker Beach // Northern California

    Baker Beach
    UltraView Admin

    Situated between San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to the north, Baker Beach is a flat, wide expanse of golden sand approximately 800 metres in length.

    In the city's Presidio area, its natural vistas are improved by views of the entirety of the Golden Gate Bridge on all but the foggiest of days. Within Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it also boasts a coastal trail that leads up onto… read more »

  • 10. Santa Rosa Beach // Florida

    Santa Rosa Beach
    © Barbara Reddoch

    Powdery white sand and the clear waters of the Gulf are all par for the course along Florida's Emerald Coast and Santa Rosa beach is no exception. Situated less than ten miles away from the ever popular beaches of Destin, what you get at Santa Rosa is a more laid back, and dare I say, upmarket experience. You can instantly tell there is money here from the fine beachfront properties… read more »

  • 11. Laguna Beach // Southern California

    Laguna Beach
    © Joe Belanger

    Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Laguna Beach is the archetypal Southern Californian beach town. This is one of the most fashionable seaside towns in Orange County and as such has attracted the wealthy and famous for many years. Laguna Beach has a long established reputation as a cultural hotspot and is home to any number of art festivals, most notably the Pageant of the Masters. 

    But it is… read more »

  • 12. Kāʻanapali Beach // Maui

    Kāʻanapali Beach
    © Rob Newton

    If you are a beach connoisseur, then Kāʻanapali Beach on Maui's west coast is definitely one for your bucket list. Dubbed "Black Rock" Beach locally, this stunning three mile stretch of golden-white sand and alluring, azure water is within walking distance of several large resorts, tempting restaurants and many other local attractions.

    No surprise then that this beautiful Hawaiian beach has received many international accolades, including America's Best Beach… read more »

  • 13. La Jolla Cove // Southern California

    La Jolla Cove
    John Uhrig

    Tucked away at the foot of the sandstone cliffs north of San Diego, La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in SoCal, so it's fair to say it's exceptionally beautiful. The Spanish phrase "La Jolla" means "jewel" and this cove is a gem.

    Facing north it has an exceptionally clear deep blue waters with visibility up to 30 feet in depth making it popular for swimming, snorkelling… read more »

  • 14. Wailea Beach // Maui

    Wailea Beach

    Stretching from Makena to the south and Kihei to the north, Wailea is an affluent area with first-class resorts and a sunny beach.

    With a wide stretch of golden sand and gorgeous scenery in every direction, Wailea Beach is a picture-perfect destination. The sandy beach offers a view to the islets of Kahoolawe and Molokini while the surrounding landscape is draped in verdant foliage. The classy resorts with access to the… read more »

  • 15. Kiawah Beachwalker Park // South Carolina

    Kiawah Beachwalker Park

    Beachwalker Park is located on the west end of Kiawah Island not far from Charleston in South Carolina. The park is the only public access to the beautiful beaches of Kiawah Island, but with 11 miles of silky smooth sand, this should be enough to keep most beachgoers happy.

    Facing out over the Atlantic Ocean, the beach is backed by the Kiawah river. Beachwalker Park has a designated swimming area… read more »