Top 10 Beaches in America

Whether you’re going down the shore or riding the waves in Hawaii, the beach is always a popular destination. Visit the best beaches the US has to offer.

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Shoal Bay, Anguilla

Shoal Bay, Anguilla

Once a secret hideaway, Anguilla has come into its own as a Caribbean hot spot for Hollywood starlets and honeymooners alike. Filled with beautiful beaches, posh resorts and overall laid-back charm, Anguilla's popularity is certainly well-deserved. There are 33 beaches on this 16-mile stretch of island, and the best part is that they are all open to the public. Shoal Bay is among the most popular with 2 miles of pearly-white sand on the Atlantic side that has a convenient equipment rental on-site for visitors.

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Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

With miles of clean shores, tranquil waters and picture-perfect weather year-round, Aruba sees its fair share of tourism. Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with its wide swath of powdery sand and gentle surf perfect for swimming. The beach is a bit quieter than some of its neighbors, but still free to the public like all of Aruba’s beaches. Sleep across the street from these serene shores at the Dutch-influenced Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.

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Trunk Bay, St. John

Trunk Bay, St. John

Nearly 50 years after Laurance S. Rockefeller donated Trunk Bay to the National Park Service, the beach and offshore coral reefs remain among St. John's most breathtaking and well-preserved attractions. Trunk Bay's clear, warm waters and silky coral sands draw tourists in droves, and its well-maintained facilities include chair and snorkel equipment rentals and showers. Visitors can bask in the tropical sun, snorkel the 225-yard-long Underwater Trail of reefs, or try their hand at underwater photography -- the clean water and variety of colorful sea life promise spectacular photo opportunities.

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Crane Beach, Barbados

Crane Beach, Barbados

Barbados is a distinctive island, both in its natural beauty and fun-loving culture. This West Indies gem is actually a coral island. The sandy beaches are made up of pulverized coral, which makes for fine, soft sand. Just off the coast, there are coral reefs that tempt snorkelers and scuba divers with their exotic underwater life. Crane Beach is known for its great waves, and the waters are filled with surfers and even some body surfers, though the rough waters are appropriate only for strong swimmers.

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Palominos Island, Puerto Rico

Palominos Island, Puerto Rico

Palominos Island is a 100-acre private beach getaway off the coast at the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico. Adding to the island’s allure is its air of exclusivity as it’s only available to guests staying at the El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa. Those lucky VIPs board a fast-moving catamaran for an 8-minute ride to this retreat for a day of snorkeling, wind surfing or riding wave runners or embrace the island paradise by simply lounging in a hammock with a frozen cocktail.

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Philipsburg, St Maarten

Philipsburg, St Maarten

St. Maarten is a cosmopolitan beach destination with European flair on the Dutch and French sides of the island. Phillipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side and the island’s hub of activity with cruise ships coming and going and visitors strolling along the brick-lined Great Bay Beach Promenade. This busy beachfront runs for nearly 2 miles with colorful umbrellas dotting the wide sandy shores. For a completely different experience, head to Cupecoy Beach, a clothing-optional spot beneath golden sandstone cliffs.

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Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas

While Nassau’s beaches are certainly lovely, the allure for many is the spectacular diving just off the sandy shores where visibility can reach up to 100 feet. Explore the Blue Hole, a natural hole 100 feet across and 200 feet deep full of large schools of fish. Trinity and Piece of Cake caves both have openings large enough to swim through and are home to some large lobsters. There are also countless shipwrecks that have occurred along the reefs surrounding the islands of the Bahamas that make for some very exciting underwater adventures.

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Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are made up of a collection of smaller islands, each with its own unique topography and island vibe. Virgin Gorda, 1 of the largest islands, is a popular tourist spot with posh resorts, pristine beaches and great sailing. Virgin Gorda is probably most famous for the Baths, a unique national park on the island's southwest coast with white sandy beaches framed by gigantic granite boulders, some of these with diameters reaching 40 feet. Bring along your water shoes, a snorkel and a waterproof camera and explore the series of caves and grottos created by these irregular boulders.

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Karl Weatherly / Photodisc / Getty Images  

Harrismith Beach, Barbados

Harrismith Beach, Barbados

Spend the day like a castaway on the remote Harrismith Beach in the Parish of St. Philip in Barbados. Though it’s just a short walk from Bottom Bay, this sandy paradise is far removed from the resort scene at the more developed beaches. The beach is accessible by a flight of stone steps carved into a cliff overlooking the sea. The cliff-top ruins of an old plantation house add to the romantic air. After descending the steps to the shore, enjoy a picnic, search for shells or relax with a book—but swim at your own risk as there’s no lifeguard on duty at this hidden gem of a beach.

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Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

Bermuda's famous pink-sand beaches are considered some of the loveliest seaside retreats in the world, and the shores of Horseshoe Bay are no exception. Wide stretches of the pastel pink sand -- the result of crushed shells, coral and calcium carbonate -- offset by clear blue waves lapping at the shore, create an enticing lure for the scores of visiting beachgoers who descend each year upon the 21-mile-long island. Horseshoe Bay Beach's facilities, lifeguards and equipment rental shops have helped secure its ranking as Bermuda's most popular shore.

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Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Crowds swarm Martha's Vineyard during the summer months, but respite can be found in the Vineyard's far eastern reaches "up-island," as it's known locally, at Moshup Beach. Tucked beneath the infamous Gay Head Cliffs, Moshup Beach is accessible by a 10-minute walking trail, making it an isolated paradise (and unofficial clothing-optional destination.) 960 1280

E+ / Getty Images  

East Hampton, NY

East Hampton, NY

It’s easy to see why the picturesque town of East Hampton is a beloved vacation destination for New Yorkers. A-listers settle into sprawling mansions along Lily Pond Lane, but anyone seeking out white sands and scrumptious lobster rolls will find them on Main Beach (just beyond Main Street). Find out more about our recommendations for East Coast beaches to visit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Cape May, NJ

Cape May, NJ

Cape May, the crown jewel and southernmost point of the Jersey Shore, is dotted with gingerbread Victorian houses and colorful bed and breakfasts. Founded in 1620, this town -- the nation’s oldest seashore resort -- is one of few places where the sun both rises and sets over the water. 960 1280

iStock  

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket’s community of weathered grey-shingled houses, surrounded by wild roses, is postcard perfect. Thirty miles south of Cape Cod, the former whaling community grew rich in the 19th century and still attracts well-heeled vacationers from New York and Boston. 960 1280

istock  

Duck, NC

Duck, NC

Stretching for 130 miles along the Atlantic coast, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a skinny strip of barrier islands whose hallmark high, sandy dunes front frothy surf on one side and gentle sound on the other. Visitors looking for an old-school family vacation should check out Duck, an upscale residential rental community along the northern reaches of the Outer Banks. This town has no high-rise hotels, but it has rental homes. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

As the largest resort town along South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach has silky white sands that draw vacationers from up and down the East Coast. Its plethora of restaurants, live entertainment, amusement parks and water parks — plus more than 90 golf courses — make it a beacon for spring breakers, families and retirees alike. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Provincetown, MA

Provincetown, MA

Located on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is known for being the first landing place of the Mayflower Pilgrims in the New World. Since then it has become a distinguished art colony with a gay-friendly vibe and miles of galleries, shops and old mansions. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Southampton, NY

Southampton, NY

A charming village center, high-end shops and exquisite dining have made Southhampton a perfect blend of sprawling beaches, private estates and just enough places to “be seen” to satisfy the upper crust. Visitors looking to escape to the Atlantic are drawn to its 7-plus miles of unspoiled shoreline, windswept dunes and waving grasses. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Hyannis, MA

Hyannis, MA

Hyannis in Cape Cod is best known as home to the famous Kennedy family compound -- and more recently Taylor Swift. However, less-famous visitors are also drawn to Hyannis’ laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere and Kalmus Beach’s superior windsurfing. 960 1280

iStock  

Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Island, SC

Located just 15 miles south of Charleston, SC, Kiawah Island is a coastal island and golf resort loaded with 10 miles of pristine beaches, approximately 10,000 acres of natural woodlands and every amenity to meet the needs of the entire family. 960 1280

Bill Sutton  

2011 North American Sandsculpting Championship is the signature event of the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival. In 2011, a huge tent almost as large as a football field housed 22 sculptures. 960 1280

Virginia Beach Neptune Festival  

At the Concours de Chateaux de Sable participants can register for Family, Adult-Competition, Free Style or Business Challenge, but the rules are the same: Castles must be built solely of sand and water. 960 1280

The Concours de Chateaux de Sable  

At the East Hampton SandCastle Contest not only can you see stunning sculptures but you also can support a good cause, the Clamshell Foundation. 960 1280

The Clamshell Foundation  

Spectators of the Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampton Beach are limited to day-time visits, the 300 tons of imported sand is lit up for night viewing each year. 960 1280

John Kane  

Professional sand sculptures vie for the Master's title at the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, but amateurs can get in on the fun with street festival and other weekend activities. 960 1280

Brett Alan Photography  

It's written in the sand ' but the AIA Sandcastle competition is actually in Houston, not Venice Beach. 960 1280

AIA Houston  

Nebraska Children's Home Society 960 1280

Nebraska Children's Home Society   

A detailed shot of some of the corporate sponsors at the Canada Open Sand Sculpting Competition. 960 1280

Phil Whitehouse through Flickr Creative Commons  

Each year the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition is held in Parksville, BC. 960 1280

Craig Carmichael  

Sand Castle Days is one of South Padre Island's signature events now in its 24th year. 960 1280

Convention and Visitors Bureau of South Padre  

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