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A Traveler’s Guide to Off-the-Beaten-Path Beaches

When one thinks of vacation, beaches are one of the very first things that come to mind.  White sands, crystal blue waters, and warm sun on your skin.  However, picking the best beach can be troublesome. 

For context, the United States alone has over 5,525 public beaches and spans 5,000 miles of sandy coastline.  That’s equivalent to about 284 football fields. That’s a lot of beach and not a lot of you. Still, too many beaches to choose from is a good problem. Here are some of the most underrated beaches in the United States that deserve your vacation time.

How to find hidden beaches in the United States

Everybody knows how to get to places like Miami Beach and the Florida Keys, but it takes a bit more work to find these off-the-beaten-path beaches. 

Use online travel blogs and guides

Start by researching online platforms dedicated to travel and exploration. Websites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, and Travel + Leisure often feature lists and articles highlighting hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations. If a list features beaches you’ve never heard of, then that’s a good start. 

Follow social media influencers

Follow travel bloggers, influencers, and outdoor enthusiasts on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Many travelers share their experiences and discoveries, including hidden beaches, through stunning photographs and detailed captions. Engage with these posts, ask questions, and gather recommendations from fellow travelers.

Talk to friendly locals

One of the best ways to uncover hidden beaches is by speaking with locals in the area you’re visiting. Strike up conversations with residents at local cafes and chat with hotel staff. Remember, locals often have insider knowledge about lesser-known beaches. Take care to keep the secrets they share close to your chest. Locals value the privacy of these sanctuaries,  so ensure them you have no plans of broadcasting the beach’s location to thousands of people online. 

Explore the region yourself

Many hidden beaches only reveal themselves to intrepid explorers. Try hiking or exploring nature trails, especially ones leading to coastal areas.  Inquire about guided tours offered by local outdoor adventure companies. Remember to stay satiated with sandwiches and lunch meats for a safe hiking experience in these fascinating new places. 

10 hidden gem beaches in the USA

Now that you know how to look for off-the-beaten-path beaches, here are some lesser-known beaches you can look for in the United States. See which ones fit your personal beach tastes. 

Cannon Beach – Oregon

This hidden paradise boasts the iconic Haystack Rock and breathtaking coastal panoramas. Its vast shoreline invites leisurely walks, beachcombing adventures, and exploration of tide pools. Visitors can also engage in activities like kite flying and picnicking while savoring the stunning scenery of the Pacific Northwest.

Gulf Shores – Alabama

These sandy white shores along the Gulf Coast are the perfect getaway from bustling crowds. The tranquil retreat provides a serene setting for sunbathing, swimming, and fishing.  There are also wonderful nature reserves for the hikers to explore. Families also have plenty of beautiful Alabama beach houses to rent along the coast for extended stays but we recommend Solstice OBA a beautiful 3-bedroom luxury beachfront condo!

Wilmington – North Carolina

Wilmington is home to charming coastal communities like Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. These lesser-known destinations feature uncrowded shores perfect for surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Visitors can also discover historic landmarks, scenic boardwalks, and vibrant waterfront districts dotted with shops and restaurants.

Carmel – California

Carmel Beach offers a picturesque setting with soft sand and a rugged coastline. Dog-friendly and serene, this coastal gem provides opportunities for beach strolls, beachcombing, and panoramic ocean views. Nearby attractions include quaint art galleries, boutique shops, and scenic hiking trails.

Treasure Island – Florida

Treasure Island provides uncrowded beaches, waterfront dining, and stunning sunsets. This tranquil getaway invites visitors to swim, shell, and play beach volleyball, as well as fish from its historic pier.  To enhance your experience, consider staying at a luxurious resort in Kissimmee, conveniently located a few miles away from Treasure Island. This way, you can easily take a day trip to explore more hidden gems. 

Crane – Massachusetts

Crane Beach by the North Shore is a secluded haven with miles of pristine shoreline and unspoiled natural beauty. The cove is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and wildlife watching. All the while, this coastal gem is surrounded by salt marshes and dunes. Hiking trails offer scenic vistas of the coastline and opportunities for birdwatching.

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes – Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features towering dunes, secluded beaches, and crystal-clear waters along Lake Michigan. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking and dune climbing amidst breathtaking scenery and diverse ecosystems.

hilton head island beach

Hilton Head – South Carolina

Hilton Head Island is known for its laid-back ambiance and picturesque beaches. Visitors can make a splash with various water sports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and parasailing, along its pristine shores. Nature preserves and golf courses offer additional recreational opportunities amidst lush coastal landscapes.

Read More: Hilton Head travel guides

Cumberland Island – Georgia

Cumberland Island is a secluded barrier island accessible only by ferry. This coastal treasure boasts pristine beaches, maritime forests, and historic ruins, offering a remote wilderness experience for camping, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can explore secluded coves, ancient oak trees, and the island’s rich cultural heritage.

Stinson Beach – San Francisco

Stinson Beach is renowned for its wide sandy shores and scenic coastal vistas. Surrounded by Mount Tamalpais State Park, this tranquil escape invites visitors to surf, beach comb, and picnic amidst stunning natural beauty. Hiking trails provide access to panoramic viewpoints and lush coastal landscapes.

Final Thoughts 

These are only ten of a thousand beaches dotting the United States coastlines. They also happen to be great baselines of what to look for in beaches not covered in mainstream thought. If you want to expand your horizons, then beach exploring is a fantastic and memorable way to do so.