Here is our definitive list of the best beaches in America, from Hawaii to California.
Whether you’re looking for uncrowded sands or adventure-packed waters, you don’t have to go too far to find a beach that’s perfect for your next vacation.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best beaches in the US, based on several notable beach rankings and lists compiled by travel experts, travelers, researchers, and tourism boards. We combined them with our own editorial discretion to come up with the ultimate list of the best beaches in America.
♦ The 24 best beaches in America, ranked
24. One of the alluring beaches that lies along the southern coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Poipu Beach Park has a lifeguard on duty seven days a week, which is why it’s often considered one of Hawaii’s safest beaches. Plus, it’s not uncommon to spot humpback whales, green sea turtles, and endangered Hawaiian monk seals here.
23. Head to Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, Florida, for white sands and emerald waters that you can enjoy without massive crowds. The family-friendly beach also has pavilions for picnics and barbecues, and it’s often noted for its cleanliness.
22. Panama City Beach, Florida, offers more than 27 miles of busy hotels and beautiful white sands. Activities here range from parasailing and fishing to boating and jet skiing. It also has a wide variety of restaurants where you can enjoy the catch of the day.
21. At St. Augustine Beach, in Florida, you’ll find miles of stunning coastline, opportunities for blue-water fishing, and a variety of beachfront hotels and restaurants to enjoy.
20. Located on Hawaii’s Big Island, Kauna’oa Bay is also known as Mauna Kea Beach. Thanks to its calm waters, the crescent-shaped beach is ideal for swimming, and its waters have an abundance of marine life for snorkelers to enjoy.
17 (tie). Head to the island of Nantucket, in Massachusetts, and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time as you take in its simple white cottages and cobblestone streets. Nantucket is also home to a variety of popular beaches like Surfside Beach, where you can enjoy a picnic, fly a kite, and take in the views.
17 (tie). Considered one of the finest beaches on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Kapalua Bay Beach is a crescent of golden sand lined with palm trees. The bay is protected by an outcropping of lava rocks and offers sublime snorkeling.
17 (tie). Another picturesque beach in Maui, Ka’anapali Beach is lined by some of the island’s most luxurious resorts — fitting, since it used to be a retreat for Maui royalty. Today, visitors to the beach will find three miles of white sands and clear waters. There’s also an exhilarating cliff-diving ceremony here.
16. At St. Pete Beach, located on a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida, you can enjoy long stretches of undeveloped white-sand beaches. Pass-A-Grille, at the southernmost end of the town, is known for its laid-back vibes and historic resorts.
15. Head to Myrtle Beach, in South Carolina, for an extensive stretch of soft white sand and activities that range from fishing and swimming to sailing and surfing.
14. Lanikai Beach — which translates to ‘heavenly sea’ — is located on the coast of Oahu and has warm, turquoise waters that brush against its soft sand. Head here to relax on the sand or to take a swim in clear, blue waters.
13. Hulopoe Bay has one of the most popular beaches on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, with rich marine life that makes it ideal for snorkeling and swimming. The bay is popular with dolphins and whales, and you’ll find plenty of tide pools housing everything from hermit crabs to sea stars.
12. Ocean City, Maryland, is home to miles of family-friendly beach terrain, where you can surf and fish in the summer and go horseback riding in the winter. Once you’ve had enough of the water and sands, head to the boardwalk for a bike ride and shopping at the variety of stores that line its path.
11. Protected as a US national seashore, Cape Hatteras includes miles of undeveloped shoreline along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It has something for everyone, from plants and wildlife to salt marshes and ocean waves and even a lighthouse. Consider a trip to Ocracoke, at the southern tip of the cape, to enjoy miles of uninhabited shoreline.