Best Beaches in the U.S.

Dated: August 3 2022

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When you think of the beach, you might envision escaping to a far-flung destination, but there are countless beautiful beaches with scenic sea views and top-notch amenities in the United States. There are prime shorelines in Hawaii, California and Florida as well as scores of options located in between. So, how do you prioritize which beach (or beaches) to visit? To help you choose the sandy spot that's ideal for your next vacation, U.S. News considered factors like clean sands, pleasant waters and high-quality attractions to bring you the best beaches in the U.S. Cast your vote below for your favorite coastline to help determine next year's ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

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    #1 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    Travelers flock to Maui for its bounty of beautiful island beaches. The expansive shores of Wailea Beach and Kaanapali Beach are classics that shouldn't be missed, while smaller Napili Bay Beach and Hookipa Beach Park are better for those seeking a more low-key experience. Whether your beach style is big or small, you cannot leave this Hawaiian island without visiting Waianapanapa State Park, a protected area that boasts striking black sands and lush tropical foliage throughout.

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    #2 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    Kauai's many wild, untouched landscapes mean visitors can expect to enjoy unique beach experiences while on this Hawaiian island. For unforgettable views of the famous Napali coastline, hit up Polihale State Park, Tunnels Beach and Ke'e Beach. Hanalei Bay also offers excellent mountain vistas and is a prime resort area on the island, perfect for those who want direct access to amenities without sacrificing scenery. Consider planning a summer trip for the best swimming conditions, as Kauai's waters can be dangerously rough in winter.

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    #3 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    Situated on the Florida Panhandle, Destin boasts miles of picturesque white sand beaches. The Shore at Crystal Beach Park is a pristine spot for swimming and lounging, while Henderson Beach State Park and Grayton Beach State Park offer nature trails on top of beautiful white sand shores. Crab Island is a scenic and noteworthy slice of beach because it's a sandbar that's only accessible by boat. And thanks to a thriving underwater population of fish like grouper and snapper, Destin is often called the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village."

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    #4 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    The picturesque beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida, fit the bill, whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a nature-filled trip or a family vacation. Spend some time searching for seashells (or "shelling," as the pros call it) along Bowman's Beach, or visit Lighthouse Beach Park for access to nature trails and a scenic shoreline. There are also trails and picnic areas available at Gulfside City Park Beach. For superb swimming conditions, head to Tarpon Bay Beach.

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    #5 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    Hawaii is known for its pristine beaches and Oahu features some of the state's best options. Well-known Waikiki Beach, which is split into multiple sections for easy navigation, is always a great choice for its prime swimming conditions and convenient location – it sits just about 3 miles from downtown and is backed by plenty of resorts. Waimea Bay Beach, which is located on the island's northern coast, is popular among surfers for its 30-foot waves. For a calmer experience, head to Lanikai Beach for small waves that allow for kayaking, paddleboarding or just floating. Plus, it's considered by many to be the island's prettiest beach.

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    Malibu

    #6 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    This famously beautiful seaside city sits just about 20 miles west of central Los Angeles. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which beach to visit in this area. Zuma Beach extends for 2 miles and features strong surfing waves and whale watching opportunities. As the name suggests, Surfrider Beach is one of the most popular spots for surfing and is conveniently located near the Malibu Pier. Just north of Zuma, El Matador State Beach offers striking views of cliff formations. Point Dume State Beach is also a worthwhile stop; if you're in the area, hike the short trail at the Point Dume Nature Preserve for a picture-perfect vista of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding mountains.

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    #7 in Best Beaches in the U.S.

    This 3-mile beach, located on a barrier island in Clearwater, Florida, is ideal for active travelers and relaxation seekers alike. There are plenty of opportunities for paddleboarding, snorkeling, sunset cruising and sailing. By the sand, the water is warm and calm, and there are shaded cabanas available for rent. Plus, the shallow water and a playground area near the pier makes Clearwater Beach perfect for families with young children. Caladesi Island State Park, located off the northern coast and accessible only by boat, is worth visiting for its untouched shoreline, nature trails and pristine waters.

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    Half Moon Bay

    #8 in Best Beaches in the U.S.
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    Doris Carrillo

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