Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, Maine

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, Maine (Photo by Allard One on Shutterstock)

Dreaming of salty hair, sun-kissed skin, and the sound of crashing waves? The East Coast has you covered! This massive coastline stretches from Maine’s rocky shores to Florida’s warm sands, offering a perfect beach for every beach bum, from hardcore surfers catching epic waves to total relaxation masters who just want to bury their nose in a book with the sound of the ocean as their soundtrack. We’ve narrowed it down to eight of the most stunning East Coast beaches, each offering a unique blend of beauty, fun, and relaxation. And, if the allure of these beaches feels like just a dream, research shows that beach getaways are a reality for many and can be for you too! StudyFinds put in the work to determine the most unforgettable beaches for your next East Coast adventure. So grab your swimsuit, your sense of adventure (or your favorite book!), and get ready to find your perfect beach escape! Your favorite East Coast destination not on this list? Let us know in the comments!

The List: Best East Coast Beaches, Per Travel Experts

1. Cape May, New Jersey

Lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey
Lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey (Photo by rod m on Unsplash)

Hanging out in Cape May, New Jersey, The Cove Beach is like a postcard come to life, offering up a sweet spot with super calm waters, perfect for families with little ones. The sand is nice and fluffy, just right for building epic sandcastles or just kicking back. And, Cape May’s got that old-school Victorian vibe going on, so you can stroll around, check out some cool historic buildings, and chow down on some seriously tasty seafood. What’s not to love?!

Step back in time at Cape May’s crown jewel and the nation’s oldest seaside resort. This charming, walkable town boasts a historic district designated a National Historic Landmark, with over 600 beautifully preserved Victorian buildings, adds U.S. News. While the year-round population is cozy at under 3,000, Cape May’s hotels and B&Bs overflow with visitors on summer weekends, welcoming upwards of 40,000 beach lovers!

And according to Town & Country magazine, though Cape May’s beaches are the best in New Jersey, this Jersey Shore gem isn’t just about the sand. Visitors from across the country flock to Cape May for its charming collection of Victorian bed and breakfasts, offering a unique and historic place to stay.

The Travel magazine sings the praises of Cape May’s beaches, calling them clean, quiet, and perfect for families. With powder-soft sand and stunning views, it’s no wonder they’re considered New Jersey’s finest. And if you’re looking for a taste of the local scene, Cape May is an official American Viticultural Area (AVA), meaning it’s a designated wine-grape growing region! Wine enthusiasts won’t want to miss Willow Creek Winery, a must-visit for those seeking a delicious sip alongside their seaside escape.

2. Tybee Island, Georgia

Lighthouse in Tybee Island
Lighthouse in Tybee Island (Photo by Linda Gerbec on Unsplash)

Just east of Savannah lies Tybee Island, Georgia, a barrier island beckoning with its laid-back vibe and stunning beaches. Barrier islands are renowned for their picture-perfect beaches. Imagine soft, white sand stretching for miles, clear turquoise waters lapping at the shore, and rolling dunes perfect for building sandcastles or simply relaxing. This is one of the draws of Tybee Island—whether you’re into swimming, catching rays, or hunting for shells, this beach destination has got you covered. Plus, Tybee Island boasts historic Fort Screven and a lively nightlife scene to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.

Nicknamed “Savannah’s Beach” for its convenient 20-minute proximity, Tybee Island offers a beach haven for city dwellers. Here, you can find five miles of pristine, powdery sand, divided into five distinct beaches, says Southern Living. Whether you prefer wide-open expanses for fat-tire biking or calm coves for leisurely strolls, Tybee has a beach for you. Plus, the invitingly warm waters make swimming a year-round delight.

According to Travellers Worldwide the North Beach is the “just right” beach on Tybee Island. It avoids the crowds of South Beach while offering more amenities and parking than the secluded Mid or Back River beaches. This gem, even considered one of their favorite East Coast beaches, boasts calmer waters, fewer people, convenient showers to rinse off the sand, and ample parking. It’s the perfect recipe for a relaxing and hassle-free beach getaway!

Wondering what there is to do on this island? ELLE Decor recommends renting a stand-up paddle board from North Island Surf & Kayak for a unique way to explore the island’s coastline. After working up an appetite, soak in the iconic views and local history with a visit to the Tybee Island Light Station. Finally, end your beach adventure with a delicious meal right on the water at North Beach Bar & Grill – the perfect way to unwind after a day of fun in the sun.

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach sunset in South Carolina
Sunset at Myrtle Beach (Photo by Kirk Van Nort on Unsplash)

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina attracts a multitude of vacationers drawn to its expansive sandy shores, top-notch golf courses, and abundance of amusement and water parks. The Myrtle Beach boardwalk stretches for over a mile along the oceanfront, offering a vibrant hub of activity with shops, arcades, restaurants, and live entertainment. Catering to a diverse crowd, from families with little ones to adventure enthusiasts craving excitement, Myrtle Beach offers something for everyone!

Travellers Worldwide crowns Myrtle Beach a top East Coast destination. This family-friendly haven boasts miles of sandy shores (part of the 60-mile Grand Strand) and endless activities. Beyond the beach, the lively Promenade offers Ripley’s, fishing piers, delicious eats, a giant SkyWheel, and surf shops. Water parks, mini golf, arcades, and more keep everyone entertained, making Myrtle Beach a non-stop vacation playground!

Like many East Coast beaches, this South Carolina beach haven has been welcoming visitors since its first hotel opened in 1901. Today, Myrtle Beach boasts a wide range of lodging options, from budget-friendly campgrounds and vacation rentals to luxurious resorts, catering to all types of travelers (U.S. News). Whether you crave oceanfront views from your room or prefer a relaxing stay with multiple pools, Myrtle Beach has the perfect accommodation for you. Take the Hampton Inn & Suites Myrtle Beach/Oceanfront for example – guests can enjoy beachfront strolls, lazy rivers, and a variety of pools, all within easy reach.

Attractions of America reminds us that while the main beach can get crowded in summer, a little further from the center offers peaceful stretches of sand. But no trip to Myrtle Beach is complete without experiencing the iconic Myrtle Beach Boardwalk! This lively area is perfect for grabbing a delicious lunch, enjoying a scenic sunset stroll, and snapping some postcard-worthy photos of the stunning coastline.

Looking for some active fun? Myrtle Beach offers fantastic water sports for all skill levels. Catch some waves, rent a paddleboard to explore the coastline, or grab a sea kayak for a unique perspective. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a serenity chaser, Myrtle Beach has something for you!

4. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach's shore at dusk
Virginia Beach’s shore at dusk (Photo by Daniel Halseth on Unsplash)

In Virginia Beach, Virginia, you’ll find a lively coastal community that has it all. With its expansive shoreline, ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, the beach itself is a major draw. But that’s not all—Virginia Beach also features a bustling three-mile boardwalk, packed with shops, dining spots, and entertainment venues to keep you entertained for days on end.

Steeped in history, Virginia Beach holds the Guinness World Record title for the “longest pleasure beach,” boasting over 35 miles of coastline to explore, according to Attractions of America. A must-visit spot is the Virginia Beach Boardwalk that winds its way past 59 blocks packed with entertainment options. This lively boardwalk offers something for everyone, making Virginia Beach a top vacation destination.

Town & Country magazine also sings the praises of Virginia Beach’s iconic boardwalk! This three-mile long marvel stretches a spacious 28 feet wide, offering ample room for both pedestrians and cyclists. Virginia Beach is a playground for all ages, according to Travellers Worldwide. Kayak with dolphins, race go-karts, explore pick-your-own farms or serene state parks. The Virginia Aquarium awaits for the curious or for those rainy days.

The boardwalk itself is lined with a tempting selection of restaurants, perfect for grabbing a bite or a refreshing drink while enjoying the beachside scenery. With a variety of restaurants, from fresh seafood to gourmet fare (think Chix and Catch31), there is something for everyone! Enjoy live music at King Neptune Park while savoring oceanfront views. If you’re craving tranquility, Secluded Sandbridge Beach offers a fishing pier and proximity to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge for birdwatching, hiking, and kayaking.

5. Cape Cod National Seashore, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod, Massachusetts beach entrance
Cape Cod, Massachusetts beach entrance (Photo by at on Unsplash)

Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts offers a unique beach experience with stunning natural beauty. This vast seashore encompasses beaches, rolling dunes, salt marshes, and ponds. Visitors can enjoy swimming, hiking, biking, and kayaking in this scenic setting.

Travellers Worldwide hails Cape Cod National Seashore as a hidden gem for those seeking a peaceful New England escape. The beauty here lies in crafting your own adventure. Unwind with lazy strolls along the shore, explore tidal pools teeming with life, or get your adrenaline pumping with water sports and hikes. Encounter diverse wildlife, lose yourself in endless stretches of sandy beaches backed by dunes, and be captivated by seascapes featuring lighthouses, swaying seagrass, and prime spots for swimming, fishing, and surfing. Spanning over 43,600 acres, this vast seashore stretches from Cape Cod’s tip all the way to Chatham, so there are numerous beaches to explore!

The Travel raves about Race Point Beach on Cape Cod, calling it a haven of serenity with breathtaking panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. While not ideal for shelling or bringing pets, this beach offers unparalleled sunsets that will leave you speechless – a memory that will last a lifetime.

While the pricier mansions line the shores of Cape Cod, budget-conscious travelers can find a haven on the quieter Outer Cape, near the Cape Cod National Seashore, according to U.S. News. These charming towns, like Eastham and Yarmouth, offer more affordable hotels and vacation rentals.

Looking for the perfect beach? Consider Coast Guard Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, a haven for birdwatchers and surfers. Or, for calmer waters and stunning sunsets, head to Mayflower Beach on Cape Cod Bay. For a touch of luxury on a budget, check out Sandcastle Resort and Club. This resort boasts a private beach and close proximity to the artistic town of Provincetown, accessible by ferry from Boston.

6. Sand Beach, Maine

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park during winter
Sand Beach in Acadia National Park during winter (Photo by Scott Canning on Shutterstock)

Sand Beach, Maine is a haven for those seeking a dramatic and secluded beach experience. This iconic beach features a long stretch of white sand backed by towering cliffs.

While Maine might not be the first destination that pops into your head for a classic beach vacation (The Travel acknowledges this), don’t let the cooler water temperatures deter you! The rugged beauty of the northeastern coastline creates a truly unique beach experience. Unlike crowded southern beaches, Maine offers a sense of serenity with light crowds and crystal-clear water. The fresh ocean air and breathtaking scenery will leave you feeling invigorated and rejuvenated.

Sand Beach is perfect for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Hit Acadia National Park’s trails in spring, summer, or fall (Travel & Leisure loves it!). Then cool off at Sand Beach (on Park Loop Road) – the water’s chilly, but the views are worth it!

Considering a vacation here? Though Bar Harbor has everything from budget-friendly options to upscale properties with amenities like spas, pools, fitness centers, and on-site restaurants, the charming town of Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island offers a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. Here you’ll find a good selection of hotels, ranging from cozy inns to boutique hotels.

7. Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

Another barrier island, Canaveral National Seashore is like a hidden gem with its awesome beaches and tons of wildlife. From swimming and surfing to chilling in the sun and fishing, this beautiful beach offers so many fun and relaxing outdoor activities. And don’t forget about the Kennedy Space Center nearby—it’s a cool spot to geek out about space stuff while you’re there!

Southern Living raves about Canaveral National Seashore, a 24-mile stretch of undeveloped paradise! This barrier island, tucked between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, boasts the longest stretch of untouched coastline on Florida’s east coast. Beyond stunning beaches, Canaveral is a haven for wildlife, including endangered species like sea turtles that nest on its sandy shores.

Download the National Park Service app and explore Canaveral National Seashore with a free, self-guided audio tour! This diverse barrier island boasts over 1,000 plant varieties and a staggering 310 bird species. Visitors often spot birds, alligators, and turtles while driving to Playalinda Beach, adds U.S. News. If you have kids though, you should be aware that Playalinda Beach has a clothing-optional section accessible from parking lot number 13.

Wondering where to stay? Titusville offers a variety of affordable options, from RV campgrounds to small motels. For those seeking more amenities, hotels like the Fairfield Inn & Suites Titusville Kennedy Space Center provide free breakfast, parking, pools, and Wi-Fi.

8. Nags Head, North Carolina

To end our list of the best East Coast Beaches, Nags Head, North Carolina is a popular Outer Banks destination known for its wide, sandy beaches and excellent surfing conditions. As another set of barrier islands, you can also enjoy fishing and kayaking in the sandy lagoons. If you are a nature enthusiast, consider exploring the nearby Roanoke Island National Wildlife Refuge. Complete with hiking trails and observation points, you can observe wildlife in their natural habitats and enjoy the scenic beauty of the island.

ELLE Decor says this historic beach paradise that’s been welcoming visitors since 1830 (the state’s first!). Boasting nearly 12 miles of pristine shores and almost 40 public beach access points, it’s no wonder this spot is a favorite on the East Coast. Plus, it’s dog-friendly! Just keep your furry friend leashed while enjoying the beach together.

The Travel highlights Nags Head as a haven for tranquility on the Outer Banks. Unlike some crowded beaches, here you can easily find a peaceful spot to unwind on the vast stretches of sandy shore. Beyond sunbathing, Nags Head offers a taste bud tantalizing seafood scene (fueled by its excellent fishing!), and there’s plenty to do off the beach as well. Explore the shops and restaurants, or get your adrenaline pumping with mini-golf or go-karting adventures.

Craving more adventure? Head to Jockey’s Ridge State Park and explore the largest active sand dunes on the Eastern seaboard! After a fun-filled day, unwind at the pier and grab a drink at Fish Heads Bar & Grill, a seasonal spot known for live music most nights. Early risers can’t miss the incredible deal: 20-cent steamed shrimp from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. at Fish Heads! Nags Head promises a relaxing beach experience with a side of Outer Banks charm.

From super-fun boardwalks to hidden beach gems and wild nature adventures, the East Coast has a killer beach scene for everyone. Historic vibes, cute towns, and amazing seafood – you name it, the East Coast beaches have it. So grab your swimsuit, sunscreen, and flip flops – your next awesome beach trip is a coastline away!

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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. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Amanda Christmas

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