Best Beaches

Best Beaches In America for Adventure Travel

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, there’s no doubt that America is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Of course, you can expect to find the best beach vacation destinations in the warm weather paradises of Hawaii, California, and Florida but there are gorgeous seaside destinations all along the country’s coastline. Some may even argue that they rival the best beaches in the Caribbean or Bermuda. Whether you’re searching for the best family beaches or the most romantic white sand beach spots, the United States offers a wonderful selection of beaches for oceanfront fun and adventure travel.

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Located on Santa Rosa Island off the Florida panhandle, the white sand beach of Pensacola attracts visitors with the promise of clear blue water and vibrant sunsets. It’s so incredible that USA Today even ranked it as the best beach in Florida in 2018. The calm waters are perfect for both snorkeling and swimming.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

There are many active adventures to be found at Clearwater Beach along Florida’s Gulf Coast. From parasailing and paddleboarding to more leisurely activities, like sunbathing and dolphin watching, this three-mile-long white sand beach has all the makings for an adventure trip. Plus, there are lifeguards on duty and free entertainment nightly on Pier 60.

Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Considering that Ka’anapali Beach was once used by Maui royalty, it should come as no surprise that it’s thought to be one of the best beaches in the United States. The three-mile white sand beach on the northwest part of the island features a daily sunset cliff-diving ceremony that is a must-see for any adventure trip. For the best beach vacation experience, be sure to try surfing, snorkeling or paddleboarding.

Coronado Beach, California

Everyone from locals to tourists and even canine companions love San Diego’s Coronado Beach, which includes an off-leash dog beach at the northern end. The iconic Hotel Del Coronado makes a picture-worthy backdrop for this 1.5 mile-long stretch of sparkly mica-rich sand that is considered one of the best beaches in the country.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

When it comes to adventure vacations, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach has it all. This resort town includes amusement parks, outlet malls, golf courses, and a minor league baseball team. You’ll also find active adventures, such as surfing, sailing, and swimming in the warm waters during the summer.

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

This North Carolina beach stretches for 72 miles in the Outer Banks and enjoys a year-round mild climate due to the Gulf Stream. Be sure to add the lighthouse to your adventure trip bucket list – at 196 feet, it’s the nation’s tallest.

While Southern California is often thought to be the location of the state’s best beaches, don’t count out Carmel-by-the-Sea. Located just south of San Francisco, this is considered to be one of the best family beaches in the country. From viewing sea otters to relaxing around a bonfire, there’s something for everyone at Carmel Beach.

St. Augustine Beach, Florida

Not only is St. Augustine the site of the oldest European settlement in America, but it’s also home to some of the best beaches. You’ll find white sand beaches, a splash park on the St. Johns County Ocean Pier for the kids and plenty of opportunities for active adventures.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Tide pools and Haystack Rock, which juts 235 feet out of the ocean and is home to tufted puffins during the summer, make this Oregon beach one of the best beach vacation destinations. While the water is chillier here than other locations on this list, a wetsuit can help you comfortably enjoy the waves, even in the summer.

Hapuna Beach, Big Island of Hawaii

You’ll find Hapuna Beach on Hawaii’s Big Island, along with lush tropical landscape and calm water during the summer that is perfect for bodysurfing, snorkeling and scuba diving. Watching the sunset is a popular activity on this westward-facing beach too.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Although Alabama only has 60 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, Orange Beach takes full advantage of the white sand beach for sunbathing as well as active adventures, such as parasailing and paddleboarding. You’ll also find the largest artificial fishing reef in the country.

Ogunquit Beach, Maine

Maine may not be the first place you’d think of when it comes to the best beaches in America but this 3.5 mile stretch of sand actually translates to “beautiful place by the sea.” Due to its northern location, it’s best to visit during the summer months to take full advantage of its beauty.

There’s no doubt many other coastal hot spots that could be added to this list of best beaches in America but if you’re searching for the best beach vacation in the country, these 12 adventure trip beach destinations should set you on the right path to finding the oceanfront active adventures that you seek.

Need help deciding what to pack on your adventure trip? Take a peek at Active Traveler’s list of handy travel accessories.

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