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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Beaches in the USA

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

To help you choose which sandy spot to travel to on your next vacation, U.S. News considered factors like smooth sands, pleasant waters and high-quality attractions to bring you the list of best beaches in America. Cast your vote for your favorite stretch of coast below to help determine next year's ranking.

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#1 Honolulu - Oahu

#1 in Best Beaches in the USA

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

Wakiki Beach View 27 photos
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#2 Maui

#2 in Best Beaches in the USA

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

Hula Dancing View 44 photos
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#3 Kauai

#3 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: Perfectly suited for nature enthusiasts, Kauai offers a more laid-back atmosphere than neighboring islands. For stunning photos ops, hike to Hanakapi'ai Beach or Lumahai Beach. More interested in taking a dip? Visit the popular Hanalei Bay or Poipu Beach. Read More »

Lighthouse at Sunset View 19 photos
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#4 Hawaii - The Big Island

#4 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: Hawaii's Big Island is called "the 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 and Kua Bay offer serene sands for your island getaway. Read More »

Hawaii - The Big Island View 18 photos
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#5 Miami Beach

#5 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: Miami Beach, Florida, caters to both party-hungry and relaxation-seeking beachgoers. 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). Read More »

Ocean Drive View 23 photos
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#6 Lana'i

#6 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: If you're looking to go off the beaten path, Lana'i is the Hawaiian island for you. For seclusion, head to the northern coast of the island to Shipwreck Beach. But remember, you'll need four-wheel drive to reach this isolated shoreline and swimming is not advised. Read More »

Hulopoe Bay View 15 photos
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#7 St. Augustine

#7 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: This Florida city offers easily accessible, uncrowded beaches with calm waters ideal for families. After you spend a few days splashing around, take a stroll down the historic St. George Street or soak up the city's Spanish heritage at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Read More »

City Hall View 19 photos
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#8 Monterey

#8 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: Removed from the hustle and bustle of southern California beaches, Monterey offers an easygoing spirit and plenty of coastline to choose from. Carmel Beach is one of the best in California, but the scenic beauty and diving opportunities at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve are not to be missed, especially for first-timers. Read More »

Monterey View 19 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#9 Atlantic City

#9 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: While the casinos may have seen better days, Atlantic City still offers the quintessential Jersey Shore vacation and is an especially affordable option. Every summer, the wide beaches fill up with sunbathers while the 4-mile boardwalk offers endless entertainment off the shore. Read More »

Atlantic City Boardwalk View 15 photos
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#10 Santa Barbara

#10 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: Known as America's Riviera, Santa Barbara welcomes travelers with a casual yet elegant atmosphere. And the beaches are no different. There are plenty of sandy strips to choose from, but many travelers say East Beach is the best shoreline in town thanks to its clean, uncrowded oceanfront. Read More »

View from the Courthouse View 14 photos
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#11 Biloxi

#11 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: About 90 miles northeast of New Orleans, Biloxi is the ideal destination for an affordable beach vacation on the Gulf Coast. Catch a ferry to Ship Island to hang out along the white sand before strolling along the boardwalk and taking a tour of Fort Massachusetts. Read More »

Beach Time View 16 photos
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#12 Boca Raton

#12 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: A member of the famed Palm Beaches, Boca Raton, Florida, features plenty of upscale resorts and outdoor pursuits for visitors. Swim and snorkel at Red Reef Park or join the locals at South Inlet Park Beach. Read More »

Boca Raton Main View 16 photos
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#13 West Palm Beach

#13 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: To get a taste of how the rich and famous live, travel to West Palm Beach, Florida. Though the beaches are located in neighboring Palm Beach, there's plenty of white sand to choose from, including the man-made Peanut Island where JFK's Cold War bunker is located. Read More »

West Palm Beach Skyline View 20 photos
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#14 Martha's Vineyard

#14 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: This New England island is known as a getaway for some of Hollywood's most elite. And while the price tag might deter some visitors, the varied beaches like South Beach and Lobsterville Beach, delectable seafood and easygoing vibe bring families (and celebrities) back year after year. Read More »

Sunset on Martha's Vineyard View 21 photos
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#15 Key West

#15 in Best Beaches in the USA

Why go: Home to the southernmost point in the country, the most well-known island in the Florida Keys offers a causal yet eccentric getaway. The cleanest beaches can be found at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park, but for more people-watching check out Smathers Beach. Read More »

Busker View 22 photos
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