The 13 Best Beaches in the US for a Romantic Getaway
There's a reason it feels so good to stick your bare toes in the sand and breathe in the salty air. Beaches have an abundance of mood-boosting negative ions. If you're already riding the high of love, then a seaside escape to one of the best beaches in the US will only amp up the euphoria.
Luckily, you don't need to go far to find your perfect patch of sand. The country has one of the largest coastlines in the world, plus spectacular islands, ranging from the tropical, palm-shaded shores of Kauai to the dune-swept beaches of Nantucket. Whether you want to surf, snorkel, sip sunset cocktails, or just lounge in the sun, we're sure you'll find your dream beach getaway in one of these 13 US beach destinations (arguably, some of the best in the world).
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Prehistoric Haystack Rock, an Oregon icon, dominates this 4-mile swath of pristine sand and wild coastal bluffs and sea stacks. Summer is ideal for hiking, tide pooling, birdwatching and stargazing by the warmth of a beach bonfire. The quiet winter season is when couples can hunker down in a cozy cottage or inn and watch the region's famed storms.
Cape May, New Jersey
America's first seaside resort is the antithesis of the Jersey Shore portrayed on TV. Wide, sandy beaches, Victorian architecture and a historic lighthouse have long been the main attractions. Mini golf, ice cream shops and mom-and-pop businesses provide a dose of nostalgia, while farm-to-table restaurants, like Beach Plum Farm, and gorgeous tasting rooms, such as Willow Creek Winery, are always innovating. As the name suggests, Sunset Beach is where you should plan to end your day.
Over the years, creatives like writer Jack London and photographer Ansel Adams have been lured to this enchanting seaside enclave surrounded on the Monterey Peninsula. One of the Central Coast's prettiest stretches of sand and popular surf spots, Carmel Beach, sits at the foot of Ocean Avenue. Dip your toes in the powdery sand or take in views from above on the scenic 3.5-mile bluff path. It's worth the 20-minute drive south to visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve where you can walk the limestone point and scout for spouting gray whales (December through March) and blue (summer) whales, as well as sea lions and sea otters.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Adventurous couples will find plenty of action along Gulf Shores' soft, white-quartz sand. Hike or bike the 24-mile network of trails in Gulf State Park. Hit the waves on jet skis or a banana boat. Or, take to the sky on a parasailing excursion or on a ride in the Wharf's landmark, 112-foot Ferris wheel. Skip the summer crowds and visit in spring or fall, when the turquoise Gulf waters are still comfortably swimmable.
The Florida Keys offers Caribbean-like weather and beaches, no passport required. Islamorada, one of five regions that make up the 125-mile chain of islands, is known for its sports fishing, intimate upscale resorts and romantic restaurants like Pierre's, a French eatery housed in a darling plantation house on the beach. Visit Anne's Beach, which was used as a filming location for Bloodline, and charter a boat for the day so you can snorkel and sip cocktails at Islamorada's famous sandbar.
La Jolla, California
Located on the outskirts of San Diego, La Jolla offers the perfect mix of fantastic beaches, seriously great restaurants (reservations at George's at the Cove are a must), upscale boutiques and great art galleries. Couples looking for an adrenaline fix can go surfing at Windansea Beach or paraglide above the Pacific with Torrey Pines Gliderport. Shell and Wipeout Beaches offer spectacular tide pooling, with waters full of colorful, aquarium-worthy anemones and sea stars. Be warned: Clothing is optional at Black's, America's first legal nude beach.
With 82 miles of coastline, this tiny island has a beach suited to every interest and activity. The south shore beaches on the Atlantic side, like Cisco and Nobadeer, have chillier water and bigger waves for surfing. On the north shore, Dionis and Jetties beaches are both close to town and have calm waters and great harbor views. Head to Siasconset on the island's eastern tip to enjoy wide, empty beaches and the popular cliff walk. Madaket is the best sandy base to watch the sunset. Couples who like to be near the action should stay near the historic downtown, close to hit restaurants like Straight Wharf, shops and the must-see whaling museum. A network of bike trails makes it easy to beach hop.
This quaint seaside town in southern Maine checks all of the quintessential New England boxes with its rocky, lighthouse-dotted coastline, lobster boats and clam shacks. Its namesake, dune-swept beach—one of the largest sand beaches in Maine stretching 3.5 miles—rents umbrellas and chairs. Marginal Way is a must. The scenic 1.25-mile path starts at Shore Road and wends its way to the small fishing village of Perkins Cove, providing countless photo opps along the way.
Poipu Beach, Kauai
Located on the Garden Isle's south shore, Poipu is a string of golden, crescent-shaped beaches with protected, crystal-clear waters. The snorkeling is excellent here, with loads of colorful reef fish, including parrot fish and butterfly fish, sea turtles and even the occasional Hawaiian monk seal. In the winter months, it's common to see whales spouting offshore. At day's end, walk over to Honu Bar for Mai Tais.
Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington
Part of Olympic National Park, this natural gem is named for the glimmering garnet fragments that give its sand a reddish hue. This is a beach for exploring, rather than lounging. Flip flops or tennis shoes are advised when wandering the rocky, driftwood-littered shores. If you want to check out marine life, visit during low tide, when the tide pooling is at its best. The towering sea stacks make for even better Instagram inspo when set against a sherbet-colored sky at sunset.
South Beach, Florida
If the thought of being castaways on a deserted island sounds like a snooze, you're probably better suited to South Beach, the ultimate see-and-be-seen escape. Turquoise sea and talcum sand span from 1st to 192nd street and are set against a backdrop of glitzy hotels and pastel-painted Art Deco buildings. When the sun goes down, trendy restaurants, like Osteria Morini, and buzzy nightclubs, such as Treehouse, will keep you entertained.
Tybee Island, Georgia
This idyllic barrier island just outside of Savannah offers more than five miles of beaches along the Atlantic and plenty of Southern charm. Laidback North Island is known for its mellow, swimming-friendly waters and historic lighthouse, while South Island is home to a bustling pier and pavilion dotted with restaurants and shops. The best spot for sunset and dolphin sightings is Back River Beach.
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This manicured resort community on Maui's south coast boasts five golden-hued, crescent-shaped beaches and the resort that starred in the debut season of The White Lotus. Calm waters are ideal for snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding, and between November and May you can often glimpse breaching whales from the shore. A walking path hugs the three miles of sand and connects to top restaurants like Morimoto and sunset cocktail spots like Lehua Lounge. If you want to feel like you have the beach to yourself, drive 10 minutes south to Makena State Park, home to one of the largest undeveloped beaches in Maui.