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Travel Rankings & Advice

Best Beaches in the USA

We've narrowed down the field of the diverse and abundant beaches in the United States to help you choose the spot best suited for your next vacation. In addition to user votes and expert opinion, U.S. News considered which beaches boast smooth sand, pleasant waters and high-quality tourist attractions to bring you this list of the best beaches in the U.S. What's your favorite sandy spot in the country? Cast your vote below to play a role in determining next year's ranking. 

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#1
Maui
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1436 315

Why go: Travelers flock to Maui for its diverse attractions and unforgettable geography, but its bountiful beaches are another major selling point. Be sure to check out the burgundy-hued sands of Kaihalulu, and if you want to try your hand at surfing, visit Ho'okipa Beach. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Maui

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1294 312

Why go: Big Island is called "Big Island" for a reason: Its offerings are abundant, and so are its beaches. Here you'll find some geologic oddities — ever been to a beach with green sand? — and awe-inspiring natural wonders. Hapuna, Kaunaoa or Kua Bay offer serene sands for your island getaway. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Hawaii - The Big Island

Belongs on list?
1115 303

Why go: Oahu is the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii and its sprawling, white-sand beaches are to thank. Scattered throughout the island's coastline, you'll find several highly praised shorelines, including the resort-heavy Waikiki Beach, where the safe swimming conditions cater to families. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Honolulu - Oahu

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1158 332

Why go: This Caribbean getaway has everything you'd want in an American beach destination. The island of St. Thomas has a shore for every beachgoer, plus access to plenty of water sports. St. John's beaches are harder to reach, but you'll be rewarded with fewer crowds. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in U.S. Virgin Islands

#5
Destin
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538 198

Why go: The sand at this waterfront locale isn't your ordinary ground glass. Instead, the beaches of Destin are made up of pure Appalachian quartz, making the shores bright white. For some of the best views, visit Henderson Beach State Park just east of Destin's airport. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Destin

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1381 591

Why go: OBX's largely undeveloped landscape means you'll have plenty of unobstructed photo ops. While many beaches lack lifeguards, the surf is usually calm enough for swimmers of all levels. (Always check swimming conditions before entering the water.) Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Outer Banks

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640 478

Why go: With its pristine beaches, this South Carolina retreat attracts East Coasters looking for golden sands with a hint of luxury. Coligny Beach touts a shopping area and plenty of dining options, but you'll find fewer crowds and better swimming conditions at the calmer Alder Lane. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Hilton Head

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1063 760

Why go: Miami Beach caters to both the party-hungry and the relaxation-seeking beachgoer. You can spend your days soaking up the rays at Lummus Park in South Beach or lounge on the quieter sands of Haulover Beach Park (but beware, this stretch of shoreline is clothing optional). Come nightfall, you can revel in seaside entertainment. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Miami Beach

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912 714

Why go: Some travelers consider Fort Lauderdale a laid-back alternative to Miami Beach. Stretching across 23 miles, Fort Lauderdale Beach boasts plenty of relaxing real estate to go around. Should you crave a more rowdy night scene, South Beach is just a quick drive down Route 1A. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

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343 310

Why go: Beachfront hotels and affordable nightlife make South Padre Island a go-to spot for 20-somethings on spring break in March and early April. But for the rest of the year, SPI's sparkling ocean water and wide beaches beckon calmer crowds. Kiteboarding and windsurfing are two of the most popular ways for visitors to get out on the water. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in South Padre Island

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