Just like most other people on this planet, we love beaches. We have been fortunate enough to visit beautiful beaches all over the world, and it’s so very difficult to decide which one is better than another, and why. There are so many factors that go into deciding what makes a beach particularly wonderful.
For that reason, I’ve decided to start our beach list in the part of the world that, in many ways, exemplifies the beach culture, the United States. With nearly 90,000 miles of total coastline, the USA has beaches ranging from the tropical in Hawaii to frozen ice baths in Alaska. Here are our five favorite beaches in the United States, in no particular order.
Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach), Big Island of Hawaii
Often deserted due to the remote location, this beach is a stunning example of the diversity of Hawaii. The sand isn’t really sand at all, but the mineral olivine which is left over from the cinder cone that the beach lies in, and it is one of only two green sand beaches in the entire world. Located near South Point on the Big Island, a four wheel drive vehicle, or strong legs and plenty of sunscreen, is required to make the two and a half mile journey from the main road, but the reward is simply spectacular. Once you reach the beach, a quick scramble down the cliff places you in a sparkly green wonderland. This is easily one of my favorite places in the entire world.
Second Beach, La Push, Washington
The Pacific Northwest is such a fantastic part of the country, and the landscape as you near La Push is reminiscent, to me, of unicorns and elves, with huge mossy trees, wispy fog, and gorgeous, wild beaches. A short hike through the cloudy, wonderful rainforest gives you better and better glimpses of what you’re in store for and a climb over the inevitable pile of driftwood places you on Second Beach. It is long and wide and sea stacks rise from the waters of the ocean and seem to stand guard. Myriad tide pools and rock formations are an entertaining diversion from getting lost in the spectacular view.
Destin Beach, Destin, Florida
The Florida panhandle, sometimes referred to as the Redneck Riviera, has some of the most beautiful coastline in the country, and Destin is the easy winner of that beauty contest. The sand is bright white and as fine as sugar, and the water is a crystalline turquoise that takes my breath away. Add fantastic year-round temperatures to the mix and the result is a near-perfect beach experience. Additionally, Destin is home to great seafood shacks that are brimming with delicious fresh catches and cold beer. Just try to avoid the area like the plague during spring break, unless drunken revelry and inevitable vomiting are your thing.
Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit, Maine
The beautiful Maine coast epitomizes summer for me. While uncrowded beaches are a delight, sometimes being with throngs of people who are enjoying the exact same thing is a great experience. Ogunquit Beach’s three and half miles of coastline and grassy dunes really fill with beachgoers during the summer, but the fun beach atmosphere comes with that. Clam stands, ice cream shops, snack bars, you name the beachy, summertime treat and it’s there. Visit during the fall or winter to get a completely different, but equally beautiful, taste of the Atlantic Ocean as the placid, summer waves become big and wild and the sunshine turns to snowflakes. Ogunquit Beach is truly a destination for all seasons.
Venice Beach, Venice, California
We can’t forget California on this list, and there’s no way I can’t include Venice Beach. Perhaps more famous for the atmosphere than the actual beach, Venice is a wonderland for beachgoers, surfers, skateboarders, muscleheads, and people watchers. The pedestrian-only boardwalk is a feast for the eyes, and the iconic Venice fishing pier is a must see. In fact, the entire area is such an all-encompassing experience that really and truly shrieks “BEACH!” from the rooftops. Legends and dreams were born here, and will continue to be born, as long as Venice Beach still exists. This place is a vital part of American beach culture and should be a drop in everyone’s bucket list.
Any beach is a good beach, in my opinion. Being near the water really soothes my soul, and, if given a choice, I’ll usually choose a beach destination over most others. Any of these five beaches would be just fine with me.
Have you visited any of these beaches? Have I left a favorite beach of yours off of the list? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below!
I have not been to any of the beaches mentioned here. I have been to the beaches in southern California and it was there that I spent one of the greatest days of my life. It was a beautiful day and it was just me and my son Dylan, who was 7 years old at time. It was the first time to swim in the ocean and we spent the whole day together, just the two of us. The power of the water, the ocean breezes, and the joy on my son’s face is a memory that I will always treasure. It is no mystery why we are drawn to the sea.