Whale Watching at Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach has seen a record number of humpback whales this winter. Hop onboard for a cool winter wildlife show: whales lunging, breaching, tail-bobbing and flipper slapping next to your boat.

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Golden Gate National Rec Area, California
Golden Gate National Rec Area, California

Golden Gate National Rec Area, California

Go for the majestic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, stay for the people watching. Surfers, dog walkers, fishermen and moms with jogging strollers are all drawn to the beach at former airfield Crissy Field. 960 1280

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Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

Float down the Merced River when temps soar in the summer and pull off for a picnic at one of the 2 main beaches, Cathedral or Sentinel. 960 1280

  

Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands

Turquoise water and gleaming white beaches at a national park? That's what you'll find if you venture outside of the US. The Virgin Islands National Park is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Trunk Bay. 960 1280

Ben Whitney, Wikimedia Commons  

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

It's not easy to get to most Colorado River beaches, but consider a several-day rafting trip the highlight of your trip. Before you dive in you should know the water rarely gets above 60 degrees, but you probably won't mind in 100-degree heat. 960 1280

Al_HikesAZ, flickr  

Santa Monica Mountains National Rec Area, California

Santa Monica Mountains National Rec Area, California

Just 10 miles up the coast from Malibu, you'll find surfers, sunbathers and sea caves tucked along the rocky coasts and sandstone cliffs. 960 1280

Doug Dolde, Wikimedia Commons  

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Get lost exploring Point Reyes's narrow stretches of sand and over 1,500 protected species of plants and animals. 960 1280

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Glen Canyon National Rec Area, Utah/Arizona

Glen Canyon National Rec Area, Utah/Arizona

Set among the red rocks, Lake Powell is perfect for water sports and cruising around coves in your boat. 960 1280

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Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington

If you're not blown away by the rocky sea stacks at the Point of Arches, at low tide check out the glowing tidal pools full of neon pink anemones and orange sea stars. 960 1280

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Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Filled with lighthouses, quaint towns and picturesque beaches, Cape Cod is postcard-ready -- the only thing missing is you. 960 1280

Anne Homyak, flickr  

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Home to the tallest US mountain on the Atlantic, the rocky coast of Maine lures people to hike granite peaks, observe the wildlife, bike historic carriage roads or simply relax in the resort town of Bar Harbor. 960 1280

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Assateague Island, Maryland

Assateague Island, Maryland

Assateague Island conjures up images of wild horses, salt marshes and sandy beaches -- and because it's a protected national seashore that's exactly what you'll find. 960 1280

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Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Most of Hawaii's national parks protect volcanoes, but Haleakala or "House of the Sun" also features a beach of basalt stones and breathtaking waterfalls. 960 1280

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Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park, California

A herd of Roosevelt elk is often seen in the meadow near the Gold Bluffs Beach campground in a 10-mile stretch of northwestern California beach and sand dunes. 960 1280

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Biscayne National Park, Florida

Biscayne National Park, Florida

Biscayne is for serious water lovers since it is made up of only 5% land -- mostly coral reefs and shoreline. 960 1280

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Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park, California

Getting away from it all will take roughly an hour on a catamaran from the Southern California mainland, but then you'll be free to kayak, snorkel or swim to your heart’s content. 960 1280

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Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

Cumberland Island is the largest sea island and home to the ruins of Dungeness Manor, originally constructed in 1803. 960 1280

Jon Dawson, flickr  

asilomar bike trail
asilomar bike trail

asilomar bike trail

Marianela is ready to unwind riding the bike trails of Asilomar Beach on the Monterey Penninsula. 960 1280

  

state park conservation

state park conservation

Asilomar is not only a fun cycling spot, but also a state park working to conserve its beach habitats and wildlife. 960 1280

  

dune restoration

dune restoration

Birds fly over the park’s dunes, which have been restored to a pristine state. 960 1280

  

beach edge

beach edge

The bike trail drops you off right at the edge of the beach. 960 1280

  

white quartz sand dunes

white quartz sand dunes

Loop through the 26 acres of rare white quartz sand dunes along the path. 960 1280

  

plant rehabilitation

plant rehabilitation

To preserve the park’s beauty, sections are closed off to the public for plant rehabilitation. 960 1280

  

white sand

white sand

Marianela gets her hands dirty the best way possible -- playing in the sand. 960 1280

  

mile long beach

mile long beach

Marianela observes the gorgeous mile-long stretch of beach. 960 1280

  

boardwalk

boardwalk

The boardwalk leads visitors right to the quiet coast. 960 1280

  

beach activities

beach activities

Visitors can take a romantic stroll, play football with the family, or surf on the perfect rolling waves. 960 1280

  

preservation

preservation

Asilomar Beach has made environment preservation a top priority since it was established in 1951. 960 1280

  

little refuge

little refuge

A “little refuge by the sea,” Asilomar Beach lives up to its name. 960 1280

  

beach trees

beach trees

The sand and beach sagewort have created unique soil conditions, allowing these trees to thrive near the coastline. 960 1280

  

Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach

A woman takes a stroll along Carolina Beach. The beachside community is located in the southeastern portion of North Carolina, and offers mild temperatures and warm waters (from mid-April through November) due to its location 30 miles from the Gulf Stream. The climate makes Carolina Beach a great location for water sports such as pier fishing, deep-sea fishing and body surfing. 960 1280

NC Tourism - Bill Russ  

Corolla Beach

Corolla Beach

Kick back in a vacation rental home like this along Corolla Beach, located at the northernmost end of the Outer Banks. Corolla attractions include shopping (almost all shops are locally owned and operated), fishing (including puppy drum, sea mullet and croaker), and wild horse and beach jeep tours. Other beach attractions include Whalehead Club and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, one of 7 North Carolina lighthouses. 960 1280

Cody Knewstub, flickr  

Topsail Beach

Topsail Beach

Take the boardwalk down to the ocean at Topsail Beach. This quiet beach community of 500 residents is located on the southernmost tip of Topsail Island, a 26-mile barrier island off North Carolina’s coast. The beach comes with a laidback vibe (high-rise development is prohibited here). It’s also a great place to find some of the best conch seashells on the East Coast that wash up after a storm, particularly in the late summer or early fall. 960 1280

Bill Russ - VisitNC.com  

Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout

See wild mustang horses at Cape Lookout National Seashore. The protected area comprises 3 barrier islands -- on Shackleford Banks is where you’ll see the horses. Take a ferry from nearby Harkers Island, and explore the undeveloped islands that await. In addition to horse watching, enjoy fishing, shelling, camping, climbing Cape Lookout Lighthouse and touring historic villages (Cape Lookout and Portsmouth Village). 960 1280

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Oak Island

Oak Island

Enjoy a stroll along a fishing pier on Oak Island. The seaside town, on a barrier island near the southeastern tip of North Carolina, has 65 public beach accesses, as well as many other access points to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Davis Canal, makking it a great location for fishing, boating and kayaking. Golf lovers can swing by Oak Island Golf Club, built by golf course designer George Cobb in 1962. 960 1280

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Holden Beach

Holden Beach

No building can be taller than 35 feet on Holden Beach. That spells a more relaxed vibe in this seaside town, located on the southern tip of North Carolina. Visitors can enjoy shell hunting, golf (more than 100 golf courses lie within an hour’s drive), water skiing and boating, as well as popular local events such as the North Carolina Oyster Festival. 960 1280

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Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach

Beachgoers read notes placed in the Kindred Spirit mailbox. In 1981, an artist planted this mailbox on the west end of Sunset Beach, a small beach town in the far southern portion of North Carolina. In the years since, travelers have placed their thoughts, prayers, poems and drawings in the mailbox. Some see it as a place to purge their thoughts and start anew; others as a way to connect with strangers. 960 1280

Steve Hutchinson, flickr  

Hammocks Beach State Park

Hammocks Beach State Park

At twilight, the sky turns purple at Hammocks Beach State Park -- 1,145 acres of land that consists mainly of Bear Island along the Southern Outer Banks. Take a 15-minute ferry ride or kayak over to the state park, pitch a tent behind the dune line, and enjoy time to yourself, as well as ample opportunities for fishing (puppy drum, flounder, trout and blue fish are frequent catches). 960 1280

NC Tourism - Bill Russ  

Kure Beach

Kure Beach

Colorful homes line the seaside town of Kure Beach, on the southern tip of North Carolina’s Pleasure Island. Kure Beach is big on family-entertainment: Swing by the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for live exhibits on bamboo sharks, loggerhead sea turtles and an albino alligator named Luna; and discover Civil War history at Fort Fisher State Historic Site, where the war’s largest land-sea battle occurred. 960 1280

Wilmington and Beaches CVB/ Chip Henderson  

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

You’ll find Indian Beach in the Southern Outer Banks (aka Crystal Coast). Tucked within lush maritime forests, the laid-back beachside community has 92 residents, and plenty of opportunities to see marine wildlife: turtle hatchlings of leatherback, green and loggerhead species on the shore; out to sea, sightings of bottlenose dolphins, sometimes up to 20 in a pod. 960 1280

Keith Allison, flickr