The Best US Beaches In 2023

It's never too late to start planning for a sunny getaway and there are plenty of gorgeous beaches from sea to shining sea in the United States that offer the perfect vacation. With so many beaches to choose from, here is a selection of the best coastal and island beach destinations in the country. From the gorgeous and relaxing qualities of the beaches themselves to the general cost and variety of things to do in the immediate area, no sand-covered stone is left unturned to rank the best beaches in the United States for 2023.

The following beaches are divided by regions around the country, from the family-friendly coasts of Florida to the jaw-droppingly beautiful sights of Hawaii. With everything from the types of hotels and the beaches themselves along with the surrounding area, plenty of criteria went into account to determine the best of the best. Check out each of these beaches and the information behind them to plan the ultimate oceanside getaway throughout 2023.


On the Florida panhandle on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is Destin, a robust oceanside community that has steadily become one of the Sunshine State's more popular beaches. Boasting some of the whitest sand beaches in the country, Destin features everything from relaxing coastal activities to bustling boardwalk fun. Destin is a short drive from the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, which is serviced by major airlines including Delta, United, and American.

Destin features a mix of luxury resorts, chain hotels, and private vacation rentals ranging from condos to beachfront homes, all coming in a wide array of prices for the discerning tourist. For those looking for relatively free activities, the town has an impressive boardwalk while Crab Island is an underwater sand bar with crystal clear water and plenty of attractions to enjoy. Tourists looking to shell out a little extra can book a fishing boat, go on dolphin cruises, and more as they immerse themselves in all the Gulf of Mexico coastal town has to offer.


Of all the islands making up the Florida Keys archipelago just south of the Florida peninsula, Key West is the most notable locale of them all. The former stomping grounds of Ernest Hemingway and President Harry S. Truman, Key West blends Cuban and Bahamian cultures for a wholly unique Caribbean experience. Steeped in American history while boasting some of the best beaches in the Sunshine State, Key West is the ultimate vacation destination for those visiting the Florida Keys.

For those uninterested in making the drive from the Florida mainland, Key West does have its own international airport, with service through several major airlines including Delta, American, and US Air. There is a myriad of hotels available on the island, from affordable chains and private inns to ritzy resorts and luxury hotels to choose from. Similarly, there are activities throughout the island ranging from touring Key West's Old Town and free visits to Fort Zachary Taylor and its accompanying park and fishing opportunities. However, the most popular tourist attraction is the Hemingway Home & Museum, a converted residence of the celebrated author tucked away on the island.


Toward the southern tip of Florida is Naples, along the Gulf of Mexico coastline, and a full-on paradise for golfers and nature enthusiasts with its local sights and experiences. Naples is approximately a 45-minute drive south of Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, with Delta, United, and American Airlines among the major airlines providing service to the destination. Compared to other major tourist locales throughout the Sunshine State, Naples offers a quieter alternative to packed beaches and a party-driven social scene.

A dream destination for both seasoned golfers and avid amateurs to the sport, Naples boasts a number of excellent golf courses, including several resorts with their own golf courses included on the property. For those less inclined to hit the links, the warm gulfstream waters and white sand beach were declared the best in the United States by the Travel Channel in 2005. Naples offers a gorgeous pier and several state parks for wildlife-oriented travelers to enjoy, complete with hiking trails and their own private spots along the beach's 10-mile stretch.


Of the islands making up the Hawaiian archipelago, Kauai is known as the Garden Island and lives up to its moniker as a nature lover's lush, tropical paradise. As with Maui, there is no passenger ferry to travel to Kauai from the other islands but the island does have its own airport with Lihu'e Airport, with flights from other islands and the mainland. Compared to the tropical tourist fare of Oahu or the high adventure excursions of Maui, Kauai provides a much more tranquil and serene Hawaiian experience.

Many of the experiences offered on Kauai are free or relatively low-cost compared to the rest of the Aloha State, from the 17-mile stretch along the Na'pali Coast to the friendly and relaxing waters of Kalapaki Beach. Kauai has its own set of resorts and hotels and, in direct contrast to tourist hotspots like Maui, are considerably more affordable though far from cheap. Those looking for a more guided experience across Kauai can book snorkeling tours off the coast or get a pick-me-up at the local coffee fields for a coffee as fresh as it gets.


Perhaps the most well-known beach in the Hawaiian islands, Maui's reputation as a tropical paradise on Earth is well-deserved, though paradise does come at a significant price. Travelers can fly into Kahului Airport, either from the mainland or from the main Hawaiian island of Oahu, with Hawaiian Airlines, United, and Southwest among the airlines providing service. With plenty to do on sea, land, and air, Maui features some of the best sights and experiences that the Aloha State has to offer.

Maui boasts both a mix of private resorts and major luxury hotels on the island, with accommodations among the priciest of any entry in this article, starting at approximately $700 a night on the more frugal end. There are free beaches on Maui, including Ka'anapali and Wailea Beaches, along with Wai'anapanapa State Park, providing visitors with plenty of venues to relax and immerse themselves in Hawaii's gorgeous nature scene. In addition to the resorts and spas that dot the island, a popular tourist attraction is booking a helicopter tour to view Maui from the air, witnessing the full canvas of its tropical beauty.


Oahu is the main Hawaiian island, where the state's capital of Honolulu is located, and offers the most balanced vacation experience, blending natural beauty with expected tourist sights and attractions. The island's main airport of Daniel K. Inouye International not only offers a gateway from the mainland but serves as a hub to the other islands in the archipelago. With its affordable hotel options and plenty of things to do, travelers can much from a Hawaiian getaway just from Oahu alone.

Oahu boasts a number of stellar – and free – beaches, from the breathtakingly blue waters of Waikiki to the tucked-away refuge provided by Lanikai. Those looking to get off the sand can join in with the local surfing or snorkeling scenes while the expansive hiking trail at Koko Crater offers immersive alternatives. A well-rounded balance between tropical sights and a look into local culture, Oahu has taken on the de facto role as the face of the Aloha State.

MID-ATLANTIC: Assateague Island

Off the coast of Virginia and Maryland is Assateague Island, a barrier island serving as a state park and wildlife preserve. Accessible by road through Maryland's Verrazano Bridge, Assateague Island is approximately 6.5 miles from Ocean City, Maryland and a short drive by car. Unlike Ocean City, Assateague is much more tranquil and tucked away from the hustle and bustle of a typical beach boardwalk.

In addition to enjoying the serene getaway that Assateague presents, including scenic beaches and hiking trails, visitors can arrange for bike or horse rides or go crabbing off the coast for Maryland Blue Crabs. Due to Assateague's status as a protected wildlife preserve, the nearest hotels are in Ocean City, with plenty of accommodations to choose from. While Ocean City possesses a local airport, the closest international airport is Baltimore-Washington International (BWI), servicing flights nationwide. A quietly minimalist beach, with sandy shores and lush marshland, Assateague Island makes for a largely undisturbed retreat and nature lover's dream.


At the southernmost tip of New Jersey is Cape May, a peninsular beach community that offers a more relaxing and serene alternative to Atlantic City at the northern end of the Garden State. Founded in 1848, the beachside community retains much of its historical charm and architecture while offering plenty of modern amenities for those looking to enjoy and appreciate the destination. Cape May is approximately a 45-minute drive from Atlantic City and a two-hour drive from Philadelphia while a train from Newark is also available for those looking to avoid spending all their time on the road. A ferry is similarly available for those traveling north from the Delaware Peninsula to the sleepy New Jersey town.

One of the most striking things about Cape May is the surprising number of Victorian buildings converted into luxury hotels around town, underscoring the history behind the community. As an added bonus, many of these hotels are relatively affordable in contrast to ritzier resorts, making them all the more enticing to book for a visit. Beyond the white sand beach and storefronts along the Washington Street Mall, one of the more popular tourist attractions being the Emlen Physick Estate, showcasing the community's 19th century history. Celebrating its long history, Cape May is a quaint slice of Americana tucked away in an overlooked corner of New Jersey.


While tourists may flock to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, one of South Carolina's most underrated destinations is Hilton Head, an island off of the state's southern coast. For those flying in, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is approximately 35 miles away, with service through major airlines including Delta, United, and Southwest. The island itself is accessible by bridge, with the bridge about 30 minutes from Interstate 95 for those making the drive.

Hilton Head has a number of public beaches and free wildlife parks for tourists to peruse, free of charge, as they enjoy the secluded getaway spot. Within Hilton Head's gated resort community is the Harbour Town shopping district, complete with stores, restaurants, the island's iconic lighthouse, and seaside pier. Companies from Disney to Marriot have their own resorts throughout Hilton Head though there are also smaller and less lavish hotels for those not looking to splurge on accommodations while still taking in the sights.


Nantucket is one of the finest beaches in New England, as a beautiful island just off of the coast of Massachusetts. Approximately 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Nantucket retains much of its late 18th century/early 19th century architecture, making it the picturesque portrait of a classic New England coastal village. A popular tourist destination during the summer, Nantucket is a bit more relaxed than its similar counterparts of Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod.

With its seclusion owed to the fact that Nantucket does not feature bridges, visitors must access the town through a ferry from the town of Hyannis, Massachusetts though Nantucket also possesses a small airport. The island itself has a selection of hotels ranging from sleep bed-and-breakfasts to luxury resorts. Apart from checking out the beach and the island's lighthouse, local sights include a whaling museum examining the town's seaside history and Cisco Brewers, a local brewery, winery, and distillery all-in-one for thirsty travelers.


One of the most popular tourist destinations in North Carolina is the Outer Banks, a small set of islands and coastal splits just off the northern portion of the Tarheel State and southern Virginia. All the major islands in the region are connected by bridges, from Corolla to Hatteras Island, each offering their own places to stay and things to do. The closest major airports to the Outer Banks are Norfolk International in Virginia, approximately 80 miles north, and Raleigh-Durham International in North Carolina, approximately 190 miles to the west.

Many of the attractions throughout the Outer Banks are free, from the windswept beaches and rolling sand dunes, including the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum chronicling all the historical shipwrecks in the region. Paid attractions include a stunning number of golf courses, both miniature and professional, various breweries and outlet stores, and a memorial to the Wright Brothers where they completed the first successful manned flight. There is no shortage of places to stay in the Outer Banks, from everything from privately and corporately owned hotels to private vacation rentals all within walking distance of the region's beaches.

WEST COAST: Cannon Beach

The Pacific Northwest is far more than simply forests and mountains, with Oregon's Cannon Beach bringing a PNW twist to coastal beauty while maintaining nature-oriented sights for visiting travelers. A quaint seaside town nestled within the evergreen corners of the Beaver State, Cannon Beach juxtaposes the natural beauty of Oregon's rocky crags and luscious pine trees with serenely quiet and secluded beaches. The closest major airport is Portland International, approximately a 1.5-hour drive away, with Cannon Beach located just off of Oregon State Highway 101.

For tourists looking for a much more tranquil destination and one ensconced away from the hustle and bustle of busier tropical beaches, Cannon Beach truly lives up to the term getaway. There are plenty of cozy bed-and-breakfasts and private inns throughout the oceanside community, many of which offering reservations at affordable prices. While the Pacific waters itself run notably more on the chilly side, there are hiking trails and paid guided tours throughout the region covering local landmarks and whale-watching off the coast.

WEST COAST: Half Moon Bay

In San Mateo County, approximately 25 miles south of San Francisco, California is Half Moon Bay, an agricultural center turned into a seaside retreat for intrepid travelers. Boasting some of the most gorgeous coastal sights along the country's Pacific side, Half Moon Bay has a number of public beaches, Montara Mountain, and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, all accessible to tourists. Just off California's Highway 92, Half Moon Bay can be reached by car in less than 30 minutes to an hour from the major airports throughout the Bay Area.

There are a number of hotels to choose from in the area, from high-priced coastal resorts to smaller bed-and-breakfasts and chain hotels across a varying price range. Though Half Moon Bay's Pacific waters tend to run colder than most tropical beaches, the sand and coastal sights make up for the chillier surf. Befitting the community's agrarian origins, there are plenty of natural sights, outdoor hikes, and farms for visitors to check out offering a more rustic twist on the idea of a beachside getaway.


About 30 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains is Malibu, California, a coastal town renowned for its Mediterranean climate and the home to many a Hollywood star. Depending on traffic, Malibu is approximately a 45-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport and, given its proximity to the entertainment industry's elite, there are a number of affluent resorts and hotels in the area. More than just offering some of California's best beachfront sites and attractions, Malibu gives tourists a chance to see how celebrities play and participate accordingly.

Across the Malibu community, there are a number of pristine beaches, including El Matador, Pointe Dume State Beach, and Paradise Cove. Those looking to ride the waves can book a surf tour that travels throughout the community or go on a wine-tasting tour visiting a number of local wineries. Between surfing and checking out the local beaches, Malibu has a robust dining and nightlife scene, including numerous restaurants that won't break the bank over a plate of appetizers.

WEST COAST: Monterey

Set along a stunning 17-mile stretch on California's central coastline, Monterey is a beautiful refuge populated by quaint seaside towns and nature reserves that continue to positively astound tourists. Tourists can either fly into Mineta San Jose International Airport approximately 75 miles north or San Francisco International Airport 105 miles north and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. There is also an Amtrak station located in Salinas, approximately 20 miles away from downtown Monterey for those looking to avoid flying.

Monterey's sleepy coastal towns provide tourists with loads of fishing village charm, from the Old Fisherman's Wharf to the scenic town Carmel-by-Sea, with plenty of cozy bed-and-breakfasts to stay at. Beyond the seaside charms, visitors may want to hit up the golf course at Pebble Beach, visit the local aquarium, or relax at one of the spa resorts in town. After a rejuvenating visit, travelers should check at the shopping district on Cannery Row for stellar restaurants or to get souvenirs from the trip to this coastal California town.