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10 Best Beach Vacations in the US

I love me a beach getaway!

Trips to the beach are always a staple of my Summer vacations and occasionally during the Winter to escape the snow and cold temps for a few days.

If you’re looking to book a beach getaway in the US, look no further! I’ve rounded up the top 10 best beach vacations in the US.

Now let’s get to it, so you can book your trip ASAP!

Colored sand beaches in the USA: Punalu’u Beach, HI

Colored sand beaches are always a hot ticket on Instagram and other social media sites. The pink sand beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas comes to mind.

Closeup of the black sand Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Photo by Tor Johnson, courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

But did you know there are colored sand beaches right here in the US?

One of the most beautiful colored sand beaches in the US is Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The rich black sand at this beach is a result of volcanic lava that cools in the ocean, forming volcanic rock.

The unique way Punalu’u Beach is formed is what makes it my top pick for colored sand beaches in the USA.

If you’re visiting a different island in Hawaii, check out my tips on island hopping in Hawaii for ideas on how to get to Punalu’u Beach.

Best beach sunrise in the USA: Chatham Lighthouse Beach, MA

Given that the sun rises along the east coast of the US, you’re almost always guaranteed for a lovely sunrise at east coast beaches.

Landscape photo of Chatham Lighthouse Beach in Massachusetts

One of the best spots for a beach sunrise the US is Chatham Lighthouse Beach in Chatham, MA. This Cape Cod beach faces directly east, making it prime sunrise viewing.

If you’re visiting Boston, getting to Chatham on Cape Cod can be hectic thanks to traffic – especially in the Summer. Check out my tips on the best ways to get from Boston to Cape Cod for a smooth journey.

TIP: Arrive 30-60 minutes ahead of the anticipated sunrise time in order to take full advantage of this gorgeous show from Mother Nature.

Best beach sunset in the USA: Little Corona del Mar Beach, CA

Since the best beach sunrises are on the east coast, the best beach sunsets are naturally on the west coast of the US.

Aerial view of the Little Corona del Mar Beach alcove in Newport Beach, California.
Photo courtesy of Visit Newport Beach.

One of the most beautiful beach sunsets in the US is at Little Corona del Mar Beach, right outside Newport Beach, CA.

Little Corona del Mar Beach is located in a rocky alcove, creating a private, romantic setting – perfect for viewing sunsets with your sweetie.

Like sunrise, arrive 30-60 minutes ahead of scheduled sunset time.

You might also want to stay put 30-60 minutes past sunset time in order to take full advantage of the changing colors and levels of light.

TIP: Pack a flashlight to help guide your way back to your car or bike!

Rocky beaches in the USA: Little Hunter’s Beach, ME

Little Hunter’s Beach in Acadia National Park in Maine is made up of rocks smoothed over by the ocean’s tide.

It’s not well marked on maps or the Ocean Loop road, which makes it hard to find. However, this just means that there’s a higher chance that you’ll have the beach all to yourself.

Little Hunter’s Beach is one of my favorite beaches in the US to sit and read or think, given that there is never a crowd.

It’s also a great spot for a quiet picnic lunch – but please don’t forget to dispose of your trash appropriately!

Secluded beaches in the USA: Carova Beach, NC

As much as I love going to the beach, I hate going to overcrowded beaches!

A rusty red wild Mustang horse walking along Carova Beach in North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of visitNC.com.

Nestled in the northern corner of North Carolina’s Outer Banks is Carova Beach. Carova Beach is so secluded that there aren’t any paved roads.

One of the most amazing and unique features to Carova Beach are its wild Mustang horses.

Yes, horses run free here, so chances are you’ll see one of these majestic creatures trotting along the beach.

Please respect the wildlife and stay a respectable distance away. Technically speaking, we are on THEIR territory and should act accordingly.

Need Instagram captions for your beach vacation photos? Check out my post with over 100 beach captions for Instagram.

Best family beach vacation in the USA: Myrtle Beach, SC

The Myrtle Beach area in South Carolina is one of the best spots for a family beach vacation in the US.

Aerial view of a long stretch of beach with a pier stretching into the ocean, tall resort buildings, and a ferris wheel dotting the shore.

Myrtle Beach has a variety of activities aside from the usual beach activities, such as golf (LOTS of golf, like ~100 different courses!), fishing, museums, water parks, and amusement parks.

Beach-friendly wheelchairs are available for FREE at 6 public beaches in the Myrtle Beach area, making it a great spot for families with people that use wheelchairs.

Also, through the Adaptive Surf Project, people with autism, paralysis, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities, can experience surfing in North Myrtle Beach.

Lastly, Myrtle Beach is very dog friendly, with lots of hotels and restaurants that allow pups to join you.

So yep – when I say Myrtle Beach is family-friendly, I wasn’t exaggerating!

Best beach for surf vacations in the USA: Huntington Beach, CA

Surfing has long been an activity in Polynesian cultures, eventually making its way to California before spreading across coastal areas of the US.

Man in a black wetsuit surfing a big wave in Surf City USA, aka Huntington Beach, California.

One of the most well-known and popular beaches for surfing in the US is Huntington Beach, CA. In fact, Huntington Beach is often referred to as Surf City USA!

This California beach has 10 miles of gorgeous coastline with prime waves. It hosts several big surfing events throughout the year, such as the US Open of Surfing.

In addition to surfing, Huntington Beach is a great spot for riding bikes, skateboarding, beach volleyball, and stand up paddleboarding.

Party beaches in the USA: Lake Havasu, AZ

While a nice quiet and secluded beach vacation is on many peoples’ bucket lists, I’m sure just as many want to experience a party beach, too.

A boat docked along Lake Havasu at night with people sitting around a bonfire and a tent on the shore.
Photo by Chadwick D. Fowler, courtesy of the Arizona Tourism Board.

Lake Havasu, located in western Arizona along the California border, is one of the best party beaches in the US.

It’s well known for its wild boat parties and has become a big Spring Break destination over the past decade or 2.

There’s a variety of outdoor activities available nearby, such as camping, hiking, offroading, and fishing.

In addition to its fun atmosphere, Lake Havasu has stellar weather. There’s nothing worse than booking a beach vacation and then having to sit inside all week due to rain.

Lake Havasu has more than 300 days of sunshine each year, so the chances of a rained-out vacation happening is pretty slim!

Best lake beach vacation in the USA: Lake Michigan

Speaking of lake beaches – the outer coastline of the US aren’t the only areas with stellar beaches!

Closeup of the beach along Lake Michigan in Chicago during sunset, with tall buildings and a ferris wheel in the background.

Lake Michigan spans 4 states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin) with an abundance of beaches to choose from.

In Chicago, Illinois alone, there are 26 free, public beaches along Lake Michigan. My top pick of these is the North Avenue Beach.

I love the mix of beach and outdoor fun blended with the amenities of a big city at North Avenue Beach. Not to mention the big city skyline in the background!

Best nude beaches in the US: Haulover Beach, FL

K… so nude beaches aren’t for everyone, myself included. But, some people like them, OK??

Contrary to popular belief, nude beaches aren’t just in Europe and other places around the world. In fact, there are lots of nude beaches right here in the US.

Haulover Beach in Miami, FL, is often rated among the best nude beaches in the US, and even the world, due to its prime location and easy access.

This clothing-optional beach is located in the northern section of Haulover Park, just north of Bal Harbour, FL.

Where are your favorite beach vacations in the US?

Drop by the comments section below to let me know where your favorite beach vacations are in the US. I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit!

This post was originally published on July, 9, 2016. It was last revised on June 9, 2019.

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