comScore
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 clean 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.

Change Ranking

Explore More Rankings


#1 Hawaii - The Big Island

#1 in Best Beaches in the USA

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 inredible natural wonders. Hapuna, Kaunaoa and Kua Bay offer serene sands for your island getaway. Read More »

Rainbow Falls View 35 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#2 Maui

#2 in Best Beaches in the USA

Travelers flock to Maui 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. For calm waters and a quiet atmosphere, head to Napili Beach. Read More »

Hula Dancing View 44 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#3 Kauai

#3 in Best Beaches in the USA

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. Just make sure you plan a summer trip if you want to swim – Kauai's waters are dangerously rough in the winter. Read More »

Napali Coast View 38 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#4 Lanai

#4 in Best Beaches in the USA

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. For quieter waters that aren't hard to reach, try Hulopoe Bay. Read More »

Kaholo Cliffs View 25 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#5 St. Augustine

#5 in Best Beaches in the USA

This Florida city offers easily accessible, uncrowded beaches with calm waters ideal for families, especially St. Augustine Beach. 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
Belongs on List? Yes No

#6 Honolulu - Oahu

#6 in Best Beaches in the USA

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 Waikiki Beach. For a more tranquil atmosphere away from the resort crowds, try Lanikai Beach. Read More »

Wakiki Beach View 46 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#7 Outer Banks

#7 in Best Beaches in the USA

The beaches in North Carolina's Outer Banks span more than 100 miles, meaning there's plenty of room for you and your family to spread out. The shores at Hatteras Island are ideal for fishing and sailing. Meanwhile, the northern shores offer optimal conditions for water sports like surfing and skimboarding, as they see more waves than the southern beaches. Read More »

Outer Bank beaches View 24 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#8 Key West

#8 in Best Beaches in the USA

Home to the southernmost point in the country, the most well-known island in the Florida Keys offers a causal yet eccentric getaway (check out Mallory Square to see what we mean). 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 39 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#9 Monterey

#9 in Best Beaches in the USA

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

#10 Miami Beach

#10 in Best Beaches in the USA

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). After the sun sets, follow the buzzing nightlife to South Beach. Read More »

Ocean Drive View 31 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#11 Hilton Head

#11 in Best Beaches in the USA

The sand that comprises Hilton Head, South Carolina's wide shorelines is fairly hard-packed, making it perfect for long beach bike rides. Though it's often overflowing with crowds, Coligny Beach remains one of the area's most popular thanks to its ample amenities. If you're seeking a local gem, try Driessen Beach – most commonly referred to as Bradley Beach. Read More »

Aerial Harbour Town View 22 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#12 Martha's Vineyard

#12 in Best Beaches in the USA

This New England island is known as a choice getaway for the rich and famous. And while the price tag might deter some visitors, the varied shorelines like South Beach and Lobsterville Beach, delectable seafood and easygoing vibe bring families (and celebrities) back year after year. For a break from the crowds, hop on the ferry to Chappaquiddick. Read More »

Sunset on Martha's Vineyard View 21 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#13 Boca Raton

#13 in Best Beaches in the USA

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. For a primer on the area's wildlife, pay a visit to the Gumbo Limbo Science Center, part of Red Reef Park. Read More »

Boca Raton Main View 16 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

#14 West Palm Beach

#14 in Best Beaches in the USA

To get a taste of how well-heeled celebrities, politicians and socialites 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
Belongs on List? Yes No

#15 Fort Lauderdale

#15 in Best Beaches in the USA

If you're on the hunt for an affordable, family-friendly Florida beach, Fort Lauderdale is for you. Its namesake shoreline is a must-see, but nearby Dania Beach or Hillsboro Beach are equally praised for their crowd-free sands and picture-perfect views. Read More »

Skyline View 24 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

Vote to Add

Cape Cod

Waves Crashing Along Cape Cod

Cape Cod

Belongs on List? Yes No

St. Petersburg, FL

Sunshine City

St. Petersburg, FL

Belongs on List? Yes No

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Belongs on List? Yes No

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island

Belongs on List? Yes No

Recommended Articles

Best Airfares