Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia (Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash)

The United States boasts an array of stunning coastal destinations that offer sun-soaked paradises for beachgoers of all preferences. With Hawaii as an iconic tropical haven full of legendary surf culture and breathtaking views and the rugged beauty of Cannon Beach, Oregon, visitors to American beaches can choose from a range of experiences. The country’s more than 95,000 miles of shoreline makes for some of the best beaches in the U.S. that are perfect spots to get your relaxation on!

Traveling, in general, is great for maintaining overall health, especially mental health. In a survey of 500 people, results showed people who regularly take trips of at least 75 miles from their home are about seven percent happier than respondents who rarely travel. Moreover, taking a vacation with your significant other can help reignite the sparks! According to one study, forty-two percent of Americans have fallen back in love with a partner after going on vacation together. This study of 2,000 adults looked at the magic of vacationing – especially with others – and found that seventy-seven percent of respondents believe vacations are great for those looking to keep the spark alive in their relationship.

Want to get away? Sometimes, any destination will suffice. However, according to another study, the best vacation spots are those filled with “blue spaces” and lots of sunshine! This study of more than 15,000 participants and 18 different countries found that children who visit coastal beaches and inland bodies of water often during childhood have better mental health throughout life. Additionally, sunshine offers an abundance of health benefits. From staving off dementia and even strokes, to reducing the risk of certain cancers like breast cancer and colorectal cancer, natural Vitamin D in sun rays acts as a therapeutic agent for the body!

With all the benefits that come with getting some sun, there’s no reason not to soak up some rays while enjoying the beautiful beaches that the U.S. has to offer. From the tropical paradise that is Hawaii to the beautiful, sandy bays of the East coast, America has no shortage of “blue” destinations. To find the perfect coastal getaways, we researched 10 expert travel sites, and determined the top five best beaches in the U.S. Don’t see your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

North Shore, Waialua, Hawaii (Photo by Sean Oulashin on Unsplash)

The List: Best Beaches in the U.S., According to Experts

1. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its incredible beaches, but if you’re looking for a beach that’s both beautiful and secluded, Hanalei Bay in Kauai is the perfect spot. With its crystal-clear waters and soft, sandy shores, it’s no wonder that Hanalei Bay has been named one of the best beaches in the U.S. This bay is surrounded by lush green mountains, making it a truly breathtaking sight. “Highlighted for its unforgettable mountain views from the water, Hanalei Beach sits at the mouth of the Hanalei River on the island of Kauai. The beach is popular for swimming and other water sports,” says Newsweek.

Hanalei Bay (Photo by Jason Weingardt on Unsplash)

TimeOut writes: “One of Hawaii’s lesser-visited islands, Kauai is home to stunning beaches. Located on the island’s north shore, Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on Kauai and offers more than two miles of soft white sand, a calm bay and a mountainous backdrop. The beach is rarely crowded, which means families will have plenty of room to spread out, and in the summer, the bay offers excellent mooring for sailboats, stand-up paddle boarding and swimming.”

Visitors can also enjoy snorkeling and surfing in the bay’s calm waters. Hanalei Bay is also home to several restaurants and shops, so you can easily spend a full day here. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike up to the Hanalei Valley Lookout for a stunning view of the bay and surrounding landscape. 

“Kauai’s many wild, untouched landscapes are ideal for travelers who are looking for a one-of-a-kind beach vacation,” says US News. “The crescent-shaped 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.

To conclude, The Travel adds: “Hanalei Bay is a postcard-perfect piece of the illustrious Kalalau Trail in the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park – a hike widely considered one of the world’s most challenging and dangerous on the planet; hence, as a trek, it’s only suitable for steppers with stamina. Thankfully, though, the bay isn’t just limited to hikers; many boat tour operators also offer this spot on explorations of Kauai Island by sea. Cementing its place as one of the most breathtaking places on the island, this three-mile bay features a half-moon shape of rich golden sands with a wondrous backdrop of emerald green mountains adorned by cascading waterfalls – the idyllic ingredients for a computer desktop background, but in real life, for all to witness. This divine area of pristine nature is a great spot for jumping into the water to cool off, and it’s also a good speck on the map for fishing. Last but not least, if beach-goers only do one thing here, it has to be tucking into a picnic on the pier, where uninterrupted panoramas of the whole bay and the ruggedly sculpted Nāpali Coast delivers an otherworldly exhibit of Mother Nature’s finest work – just don’t forget a camera for this one.”

While Hanalei Bay may not be as well-known as some of the other beaches on this list, it’s definitely worth a visit for its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. So if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, be sure to add Hanalei Bay to your list of must-see destinations.

2. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

If you’re on the hunt for the best beaches in the U.S., Coronado Beach in California should definitely be on your list. This stunning beach is known for its wide expanse of golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque views of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. 

Coronado Beach, California (Photo by Marius Christensen on Unsplash)

Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach explains why Coronado Beach is a must-visit destination! “Coronado Beach is the toast of Southern California; it is a veritable oasis by the sea that is hundreds of yards wide,” says Leatherman in a statement to Forbes.  

“Anchored by the grand Hotel del Coronado, this iconic white-sand beach is a SoCal gem that literally sparkles (it’s flecked with the gold-like mineral mica),” adds TimeOut. “Gentle waves encourage frolicking in the breakwater, while a vast sandy expanse—which never feels crowded—invites sandcastle-building and kite-flying. The beach was immortalized by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot and you can play the role of a starlet with a stay at ‘The Del’ which gains you access to retro, candy-striped loungers and swanky cabanettes on the sand. Navy SEALs can also sometimes be seen training at the north end.”

Travel & Leisure writes: “The warm, sunny weather is reason enough to visit San Diego. Coronado Beach, a mile-and-a-half stretch of golden sand sparkling with bits of the mineral mica, is just family-friendly icing on the cake. Swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers flock here by day, and stay well into the afternoon to witness the gorgeous sunsets. Visit the storied Hotel del Coronado for a bite and a tipple en plein air.”

Whether you’re looking to relax and soak up the sun or take a dip in the cool ocean waters, Coronado Beach has something for everyone. Plus, with a variety of restaurants, shops, and activities nearby, you’ll never run out of things to do. Take a leisurely stroll along the beach, rent a bike and explore the area, or try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the dolphins and sea lions that frequent the area. So, if you’re looking for a beach that has it all, head to Coronado Beach and see for yourself why it’s one of the best beaches in the U.S.

3. Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, Florida

If you’re looking for the ultimate beach experience in the U.S., then you need to visit Siesta Beach, FL. This beach is a true gem that offers everything you could want in a beach vacation. Siesta Beach boasts fine white sand that’s soft and cool to the touch, crystal clear water that’s perfect for swimming, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like volleyball, kayaking, and fishing

Siesta Key Beach, FL (Photo by Wren Meinberg on Unsplash)

Booking.com writes: “Often described as the best beach in Florida, Siesta Key is on a small barrier island off the Sunshine State’s west coast, not far from the city of Sarasota. The sand here is powder-fine, 99% quartz—meaning it doesn’t get too hot in the sun—and a white color that glimmers in contrast with the mint-green sea. The beach is long and wide enough to promise plenty of space to spread out. Spend the day playing beach volleyball and jumping through the waves. In the evening, drive to downtown Sarasota to check out its restaurant scene, such as Southern pecan-crusted trout with crawfish butter and shrimp jambalaya at Owen’s Fish Camp or the ceviche at Selva. Guests at The Capri at Siesta get to enjoy the property’s outdoor swimming pool while also being just a few steps away from the beach.”

Newsweek describes Siesta Beach as “a photographer‘s dream.” “Located in Siesta Key, a barrier island in southern Florida, adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, Siesta Beach was previously named the best beach in the U.S. in the 2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards,” says Newsweek.

Planetware adds: “Siesta Key Beach has been voted time and again as one of the country’s best beaches to visit. Clear blue water is highlighted by the type of turquoise that screams relaxation at this beautiful Sarasota spot. A beautiful gem, this tourist hot spot boasts two concession stands, year-round lifeguards, and facilities to make it easy to stay all day. Being shallow for a long way from shore, this is a perfect beach for families. Plus, the quartz sand stays cool (unlike its coral-based cousin), which means little (and big) feet will stay protected from the sun’s intense heat. Not a fan of biting into sandy sandwiches? Have lunch in the covered picnic area. You’ll be happy for a shady respite. Bored by lazing on a towel for hours? Siesta Key offers eight miles of luxurious sand to walk (or run) on, as well as tennis and volleyball courts to help while away the time.”

The beach is also well-equipped with amenities like showers and restrooms, making it an ideal spot for families and groups of friends. But what really sets Siesta Beach apart is its stunning natural beauty. The beach is surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife, and it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins and manatees swimming in the nearby waters. So if you’re looking for a beach that’s both relaxing and exciting, then Siesta Beach is the perfect destination for you.

4. Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

If you’re looking for a unique beach experience, Driftwood Beach in Georgia is a must-visit destination. This stunning beach is unlike any other in the U.S. due to its abundance of driftwood that has washed ashore over the years. The result is a hauntingly beautiful landscape that’s perfect for those who love to explore and take photos. The beach is located on Jekyll Island, which is known for its natural beauty and rich history. 

Driftwood Beach, GA (Photo by Elan Smith on Unsplash)

CN Traveler writes: “One of the Golden Isles along Georgia’s Atlantic coast, Jekyll Island is a seven-mile-long stretch of marshes and Spanish moss. One of its star attractions is the prehistoric-looking Driftwood Beach. As its name suggests, the site is dotted with gnarled and weathered trees that double as excellent photo backdrops—just be sure to visit at low tide.” And if you’d like to stay, consider Jekyll Island Club Resort which “was considered one of the most exclusive resorts in the world in the early 1900s (past guests included the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers), and it honestly still looks pretty darn great a century later.”

Booking.com describes Driftwood Beach as “an eerie yet beautiful place. Constant erosion has created a landscape of gnarled dead pine and water oak trees, bleached by the sun and scattered across smooth sand. Thanks to this backdrop of twisted natural sculptures, sunsets here are incredible. Walk to the end of the beach where it gets emptier and more otherworldly the farther you go. The tiny tidal pools forming around each oak tree’s remains are also worth exploring at low tide. Their clear waters are home to several species of crab, fish, and other sea creatures.”

“For the ultimate beach vacation, forget classic white sand and chase driftwood scenery instead. Driftwood Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the USA, thanks to its numerous driftwood trees,” says The Planet D. “The washed-up, desolate aesthetic draws in millions of visitors, most desperate to snap the iconic shot for social media. If a photoshoot is on your bucket list, Driftwood Beach is definitely one of the best beaches in the USA. Once you’ve snapped your shots, Jekyll Island State Park is yours to explore. Make sure to stop by Horton House, Indian Mound Cottage, and Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum. Jekyll Island is one of the USA’s most popular barrier islands, so make the most of your visit.”

In addition to enjoying the driftwood, visitors can also go fishing, kayaking, and even take a guided tour of the island. The beach is also pet-friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along for the adventure. Overall, Driftwood Beach is a hidden gem that’s perfect for those who want to escape the crowds and experience something truly unique. So, if you’re planning a beach vacation, make sure to add Driftwood Beach to your list of must-visit destinations.

5. Cannon Beach, Cannon Beach, Oregon

When it comes to the best beaches in the U.S., Cannon Beach, OR is a must-visit destination. This picturesque beach is known for its stunning views of Haystack Rock, a towering monolith that rises from the ocean. The beach itself is a wide stretch of sand that’s perfect for long walks, beachcombing, and building sandcastles. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, including surfing, kayaking, and hiking. 

Cannon Beach, OR (Photo by Rod M on Unsplash)

Planetware writes: “Few places can surpass the beauty of the Oregon Coast and its many outstanding beaches. Choosing the best isn’t hard, though, with Cannon Beach thrown into the mix. Sitting on the clean, soft sand overlooking Haystack Rock, you’ll feel as if you are transported somewhere more exotic-like Thailand, for instance. The 235-foot basalt sea stack was created by lava flows millions of years ago. During low tide, visitors can walk right up to the rock. That’s also the best time to look for intertidal sea creatures (like crabs, limpets, sea slugs, and starfish) in its tide pools. Be sure to keep an eye out for the tufted puffins, which are best seen when they’re nesting on the rock from April through July.”

“Cannon Beach is easily one of the best beaches in the USA. In fact, it made National Geographic’s top 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. This beautiful sand beach is identifiable by Haystack Rock, a dramatic rock formation that juts up from the shoreline and is accessible during low tide. If you want natural beauty, don’t read any further without jotting Cannon Beach down as an option,” adds The Planet D. “Despite its laid back appeal, Cannon Beach has plenty to see and do. Silver Point Interpretive Overlook is the best place for coastline views, while in the North of the city you’ll find a group of art galleries and, further North, Ecola State Park. Cannon Beach has a lot to offer.”

“Cannon Beach may just be the most beautiful place in all of Oregon—and one of the most beautiful places in the entire United States. The boulder-studded beach is an essential pit stop off Highway 101 (a road trip that rivals even California’s Highway 1), and seeing the 235-foot Haystack Rock protruding out of the water is worth the drive alone,” says CN Traveler.

One of the best things about Cannon Beach is its small-town charm. The downtown area is filled with quaint shops and restaurants, and the locals are friendly and welcoming. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Cannon Beach is the perfect destination. So if you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to add Cannon Beach to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations

About Study Finds

Study Finds sets out to find new research that speaks to mass audiences — without all the scientific jargon. Study Finds has been writing and publishing articles since 2016.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor