Not far from the new-hotel construction zone in the middle of Jekyll Island, this secret shore on the northern tip offers solitude and haunting beauty. Ghostly tree-skeletons rise from the sand, overlooking the St. Simons lighthouse across the St. Simons Sound. These trees died from erosion that has taken place over the last hundred to two hundred years.
When you dream of an island getaway — the kind that comes complete with glittering hotels along a white-sand beach — you've got Honolulu in mind. Oahu's largest city and the state capital, Honolulu is home to many top attractions: sample a great dim-sum lunch in vibrant Chinatown or check out Aloha Tower, the city's landmark harbor-side clocktower surrounded by a marketplace brimming with shops and popular restaurants. Honolulu is also home to famed Waikiki Beach, located between the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Diamond Head. Just as you've seen in countless postcards, Waikiki's Beach's white sand runs along a 2-mile stretch of coast, flanked by dozens of high-rise hotels. The area is popular for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, body-boarding, picnicking, and outrigger canoeing. At the end of the beach is Diamond Head, one of the world's most famous volcanic rings. Although no diamonds were ever found here, the calcite crystals in the lava rock sparkle in the bright Hawaiian sunshine.
A popular spring break destination, South Padre Island can be touristy, but it’s not without its charms. Snag a table on the patio at The Café on the Beach to tuck into fresh shrimp tacos, crab cakes, grilled snapper and tortilla soup, or opt for a grab-and-go meal at Ceviche Ceviche (the mahi mahi with fresh mango and avocado is to-die-for). When you want to venture outdoors, there’s the boardwalk along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, the beachfront Isla Blanca Park (a popular picnic spot), and the 70-mile Padre Island National Seashore, the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island, just three hours away. The Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island is steps from the beach and offers spacious rooms from $130/night.
This is one for people who really want to switch off. In fact, there isn’t even a paved road to Carova. You won’t find any hotels here, just quiet, comfortable vacation rentals where you’ve got the whole home to yourself, and probably most of the beaches too. Spend long lazy days on the sands feeling more like yourself every minute, interrupted only by wild horses enjoying the surroundings just as much as you are.
The area of South County, Rhode Island, consists of more than just picturesque beaches where swimmers and sports enthusiasts can enjoy over 100 miles of coastline: The county also has tons of cultural offerings. With art showings, antique stores, and musical events in the works all year round, South County offers visitors cultural experiences paired with a breathtaking landscape. The area also isn’t short on great libations, and local breweries and wineries can be found on almost every corner. For visitors who want to experience the outdoors, sporting activities like biking, boating, golfing, and surfing are a great way to enjoy the county’s lovely scenery.
We’ve never found a beach we didn’t love, so to help us narrow down the list, we asked Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach, to lend us his expertise. Every year, he picks America’s top 10 beaches after considering factors such as sand softness, water temperature, pollution, and views. Dr. Beach is currently the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, but when he isn’t working, he retreats to his favorite seashore, Cape Florida State Park.

This charming beach town is super accessible, particularly for Houstonians who only have to drive 45 minutes to get there. And once you arrive, you can get just about anywhere by foot, so there's no need for pricey cabs or rental cars. Learn about the historic island city, one of the country’s leading ports in the 19th century, at Moody Mansion, the former home of one of Galveston’s founding families, or at the East End Historical District, where you’ll find a dazzling string of restored Victorian landmarks. From there, tuck into a diet-busting feast of hush puppies, corn on the cob, and three-pound platters of steamed crawdads at Benno’s on the Beach, a casual waterfront hang with an outdoor patio and wallet-friendly prices. Your Victorian-inspired digs at the Tremont House are the perfect place to kick back and relax after a long day of exploring.
Opened by former travel writer Uschi Wetzels, this two-story plantation-style hotel on Barbados’s windswept eastern coast has hammocks on the wide verandas and sweeping ocean panoramas. But it isn’t for everyone. There's no air-conditioning in the Main House (it is available in the 3-room Cottage, however) or television, guests share a single phone, and mosquito repellent can come in handy at sunset. Easygoing Americans and Europeans guests who seek out this place get to know each other over family-style meals.
Whether you're into surfing, sailing or touring Gilded Age mansions, Newport is a beach vacation destination with a star-spangled pedigree. Its largest beach, Ruggles, is sweeping crescent of sand favored by surfers, while its historic Thames Street is lined with antique shops, pubs and seafood restaurants. Choose from an array of romantic inns (The Chandler at Cliff Walk and Forty 1 North, for instance) or full-service hotels (Newport Marriott or Hotel Viking). For active sightseeing, stroll or jog the scenic 3½ -mile Cliff Walk with grand mansions on one side and the sailboat-studded waters of Narragansett Bay on the other.
The 17th-century pilgrim settlement of Eastham makes a tranquil Cape Cod getaway. Wander the paths along the shore taking in sweeping views of the dunes and marshes. To really get away from it all, turn off your phone, pick up your book, and make your way to Dyer Prince Beach. It’s only accessible via a rather overgrown pathway, making it a bit of a hidden gem. Here you’ll find a small beach edged with calm waters.
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