Daydreaming about beaches with crystal clear water and soft white sand? With the help of other travel experts, I’ve put together this detailed guide on the most stunning white sand & clear water beaches in the US perfect for your next vacation — be it a romantic getaway, an adventurous solo trip, or a fun-filled family excursion.
In this guide, you’ll not only learn about the best things to do at each of these beaches; you’ll also get helpful insider tips on things to look out for during your visit, facilities available at each beach, and more. You’ll also find that many of these beaches are truly epic hidden vacation spots.
If you’re planning a trip to one of these white sand beaches in the US, indulge in some inspiring beach quotes to fuel your anticipation. Without further ado, here are the most beautiful beaches in the US with clear water and heavenly white sand.
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🏝 The Best Clear Water Beaches in the USA
24. Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
Explored by Luke of Wild About BC
🚗 How to get there: 30 mins by car from Honolulu, HI
Lanikai Beach is often regarded as the best beach on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a palm-tree-lined, fine white sand beach with crystal clear water and an incredible view out to the Mokulua Islands just a few hundred metres from shore.
Located on the east side of Oahu, Lanikai Beach doesn’t get many waves, making it the perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. There are also some sections of reef that you can snorkel around — try to spot some green sea turtles!
Complete the Lanikai Pillbox Hike along Kaiwa Ridge to get an amazing aerial view of this beach and its surroundings. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a kayak from Kailua Beach Park and paddle all the way to Moku Nui, one of the stunning islands of Mokulua.
There are no public parking lots, lifeguards, or facilities at Lanikai Beach, and it can only be accessed by a few walking paths between the houses that sit on the beach. You won’t need more than a few hours to enjoy this beach, but can easily spend a whole day unwinding here.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Halepuna Waikiki (⭐️ 9.1) | Waikiki Beachcomber (⭐️ 8.7)
23. South Beach (Miami Beach), Florida
Explored by Claire of Stoked To Travel
🚗 How to get there: 15 mins by car from downtown Miami, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, picnic pavilions, playground, wheelchairs
Miami’s world-famous South Beach is renowned for its party scene, but it’s actually a beautiful beach in itself and well worth a visit on any Miami itinerary for glistening white sands and turquoise waters.
Access to the beach is free, and the main section in front of Lummus Park has plenty of space to pop your towel down. There are different sun loungers and umbrellas that belong to hotels — you’ll need to check which ones welcome day guests. Make sure to snap a photo with one of the famous colored beach huts!
Ocean Drive is the lively road that backs South Beach and is lined with iconic Art Deco hotels, such as the Clevelander and the famous Villa Casa Casuarina. Take a local tour of these unique historical buildings with a guide from the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL).
At the northern edge of South Beach is Española Way, an awesome Latin-American-inspired street, where flamenco dancers perform each evening under the twinkling fairy lights, and where you can enjoy some excellent vibrant restaurants and bars.
You can stay right in the heart of South Beach, or just a little further along at Mid Beach, which has a few more affordable hotels.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: 1 Hotel South Beach (⭐️ 8.9) | Loews Miami Beach Hotel (⭐️ 8.7)
22. Honeymoon Island State Park, Florida
Explored by Paula of Paula Pins The Planet
🚗 How to get there: 45 mins by car from Tampa, FL and 2 hours by car from Orlando, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, beach wheelchairs, picnic pavilions
Florida is home to some of the most beautiful white sand & clear water beaches in the US, but if you’re looking for a less touristy option, then look no further than Honeymoon Island State Park. This island is located in the Tampa Bay area and is made up of North Beach, Oasis Beach, and Dog Beach — where you can bring your furry friend with you.
Spanning the island are 4 miles of pristine white sand beaches and a 3-mile hiking trail through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests. Spend a day enjoying the scenic beaches and enjoy a picnic in one of the designated areas. If you have more time, rent a kayak and visit Caladesi Island, which is only 15 minutes away.
Honeymoon Island is the perfect place for outdoor lovers, who can enjoy a plethora of fun activities such as kayaking, swimming, fishing, biking, and hiking. It is also one of the best places in Florida to observe wildlife like dolphins, manatees, turtles, and armadillos. The beaches here are extremely well-preserved, meaning the wildlife lives undisturbed.
There are two cafes on Honeymoon Island serving food and beverages. While there are no accommodations on the island, it is only a 20-minute drive from Clearwater and a 15-minute drive from Dunedin, where you can find several cozy accommodations.
The admission fee to the island is $8 per car and $4 per person.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Fenway Hotel (⭐️ 9.3) | Sonesta Simply Suites Clearwater (⭐️ 8.7)
21. Flamenco Beach (Culebra), Puerto Rico
🚗 How to get there: 45 mins by ferry from Ceiba, which is a 1-hour drive from San Juan, PR
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, lifeguards, camping area, food stands
It’s no doubt that Puerto Rico is home to some of the clearest water in the US, and there’s no better place to enjoy that than at Flamenco Beach on the island of Culebra. Getting to this beach requires some planning, but it’s completely worth the visit.
If you’re staying in San Juan, you’d first have to grab a taxi to Ceiba, where you can then take the ferry to Culebra. Be sure to book your ticket in advance on PORFERRY as there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to purchase it on the spot.
The ferry ride is approximately 45 minutes long, but be sure to get to Ceiba’s ferry terminal an hour before it departs. After a scenic ferry ride, it’s time to enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the US!
To say that Flamenco Beach is postcard-perfect is an understatement. Its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters will take your breath away. There are practically no waves at this beach, and it’s the perfect spot for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing.
There’s also an iconic landmark parked on the sand: an old navy tank — a reminder of when the US Navy used the island as a gunnery range.
There’s no shortage of delicious food at Flamenco Beach either — you’ll find tons of delicious Puerto Rican street food at the food stands by the beach. There are also tons of outdoor activities to do in other parts of Culebra, such as diving and turtle-watching!
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Aleli Cottages (⭐️ 9.2) | El Navegante de Culebra (⭐️ 8.3)
20. Waimea Bay Beach Park, Hawaii — One of the Most Beautiful Beaches in the US
🚗 How to get there: 45 mins by car from Honolulu, HI
🏖 Facilities: Free parking, showers, restrooms, picnic tables, lifeguard on duty
Waimea Bay Beach Park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the USA. Located on the stunning North Shore of Oahu, this beach is very famous for its 30-foot waves in the winter. In fact, it’s a hotspot for some of the best and bravest surfers on earth.
During the summer, though, the waves go flat and the water is crystal clear, making it the perfect vacation hub for snorkeling, diving, and swimming. The underwater landscape at Waimea Bay is truly breathtaking; you’ll come across tons of large rocks that’ll make you feel incredibly tiny, as well as lots of gorgeous fish and sea turtles.
A popular (and thrilling) thing to do is to climb the big 30-feet-high rock that sits on the shoreline and to take a leap of faith into the water below. While this sounds incredibly fun, it can also be dangerous, so do take precautions.
You can easily spend a whole day relaxing, snorkeling, or surfing at Waimea Bay. Don’t miss out on the gorgeous sunset from the beach. There are also tons of food trucks just a few minutes away. If you’re happy to go a bit further, stop by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck to taste their famous local garlic shrimps!
Waimea Bay is only one of the many beautiful sights on the North Shore of Oahu. You can do an entire day tour of the North Shore and Hanauma Bay. You can also easily see the North Shore on a day trip from Waikiki.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Courtyard by Marriott North Shore (⭐️ 8.4) | Turtle Bay Resort (⭐️ 8.5)
19. Calusa Beach (Big Pine Key), Florida
🚗 How to get there: 2.5 hours by car from Miami, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, picnic pavilions, sunbeds, gear rentals, grills
Nestled inside Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys is the pristine Calusa Beach, known for its soft white sands and is definitely one of the best beaches in the US with clear water. This beach is very family and child-friendly, as the water is calm and shallow.
There are plenty of fun activities to do at this beach, including snorkeling, swimming, and wading. You can also do a short hike up to the top of the bridge by the beach and get stunning panoramic views of the ocean from there.
Just south of Calusa Beach is Loggerhead Beach, another stunning beach with clear water and gentle waves. Loggerhead Beach is also a great place to catch the Milky Way at night as it’s far enough from any city lights.
There are also plenty of other activities to do around Bahia Honda State Park, including biking, camping, fishing, hiking, geocaching, and scuba diving. This park is also home to over 150 species of flora and a variety of birds, including shorebirds, wood warblers, and endangered white-crowned pigeons.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Sunshine Key Travel Trailer (⭐️ 9.0) | Deer Run on the Atlantic (⭐️ 9.8)
18. Huntington Beach, California
Explored by Olivia of Girl With Blue Sails
🚗 How to get there: 1 hour by car from Los Angeles, CA
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, beach wheelchairs, bike rentals, beach bonfires
Located on the coast of sunny Southern California, Huntington Beach is definitely one of the best clear water & white sand beaches in the US. This surf town is a hotspot with plenty to offer. Visitors can enjoy strolling the pier after brunch and walking on the sand at sunset.
While the warm sand and cool waves of the beach are undoubtedly Huntington’s major attractions, this town offers many other fun activities, too, such as beach volleyball, rollerskating, and surf competitions.
The beach is open to visitors year-round with no entrance fees and free parking. There are restrooms on-site, as well as public showers for rinsing off after playing in the waves.
Be sure to take a stroll along the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Offering beautiful clear views of the coast, the pier stretches far into the ocean, giving you a great view of the surfers below.
At the very end of the pier is the perfectly located Ruby’s Diner, a classic 50’s style diner serving burgers, shakes, and an unbeatable view.
In the heart of town, you’ll find some amazing accommodation options, all with similar gorgeous views of the beach. Highly recommended is Paséa Hotel & Spa. This upscale beachfront hotel offers amazing views of the shore and extremely luxurious amenities.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa (⭐️ 9.0) | Paséa Hotel & Spa (⭐️ 8.5)
Read more: 51 Most Tropical Places in the USA
17. Marquette (Lake Superior), Michigan
Explored by Kiki of BookRetreats
🚗 How to get there: 4 hours and 45 mins by car from Milwaukee, WI
Marquette is the perfect place for a fun weekend getaway. It’s settled right on the beaches of Lake Superior, which is reminiscent of a warm East Coast beach during the summer.
The local university brings a vibrant energy that fuels local bars, restaurants, and outdoor spaces. Just outside of town is the cutest Airbnb called “The Point of the Point”. This photo-worthy cabin is tucked behind some trees on a rocky beach, making it the perfect getaway from the buzz of Marquette.
When you’re ready for warm white sand beaches, take a scenic drive back to town and grab a bite to eat before heading to the beach. If you’re looking for a more active getaway, then hike up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for epic views. It takes just 15 minutes to get there.
Divers would love the 24 miles of shoreline that the Marquette Underwater Preserve offers. You can also grab a paddleboard and explore the surface of the lake on calm days. Marquette packs all the best parts of city life, outdoor adventures, and warm beaches in one tiny town.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hampton Inn Marquette (⭐️ 8.8) | Country Inn & Suites (⭐️ 8.8)
16. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, Florida
Explored by Emma of Journey Of A Nomadic Family
🚗 How to get there: 15 mins by car from Key West, FL and 4 hours by car from Miami, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, free beach wheelchairs, cafe, kayak launch
The 54-acre Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West, Florida is the US’s southernmost state park. It’s also home to one of the best white sand & clear water beaches in the US. This stunning beach is located on a historical fort, so it’s a great place for both nature and history lovers.
The old, red-brick fort predates the Civil War and houses the largest cache of armament in the world. With its gently-lapping turquoise waves and long stretch of spectacular white sand, Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and paddling.
The waters are calm enough and you can see tons of tropical marine life such as parrotfish, yellowtail snappers, lobsters, and various corals. Once you’ve dried off, take a walk around the wooded nature trails to discover more of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
You can easily spend all day in this park swimming, exploring, and learning. Alternatively, you can just pop in for a quick swim or sunbathe. Key West is a fun and lively place to stay in.
Be sure to watch the sun go down from Mallory Square and have your photo taken at the Southernmost Point of the Continental US. For local food, head to the funky Date & Thyme Cafe or the Sugar Apple Organic Cafe & Market. Both serve deliciously fresh food.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hyatt Windward Pointe (⭐️ 9.3) | Barbary Beach House (⭐️ 8.9)
15. Kailua Beach, Hawaii
Explored by Noel of This Hawaii Life
🚗 How to get there: 30 mins by car from Honolulu, HI
🏖 Facilities: Free parking, showers, restrooms, bike path, payphones, picnic pavilions
Located on the eastern side of Oahu, Kailua Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in Hawaii. It’s only a half-hour drive from downtown Honolulu, but you can also easily get there via public transportation.
This beach is not only a local favorite but has also become a must-see attraction for visitors. In fact, soaking up the sun there is one of the top things to do in Kailua. At this beach, you can enjoy kayaking, surfing, boogie boarding, and windsurfing.
Be sure to also take a stroll on the soft and powdery white sand set against the clear blue water. If you want to sit down and relax, go underneath the large ironwood trees by the parking lot; they’ll protect you from the scorching hot sun.
With free parking areas, showers, and lifeguard stations located throughout the beach, you’ll be fully covered for a day of epic beach fun. You can even kayak all the way to the stunning Mokulua Islands with a guided kayak tour and snorkel with green sea turtles there!
Kailua Town itself has a lot to offer as well. Spend some time there exploring the variety of hip bars, craft beer breweries, art galleries, trendy boutiques, and fine dining venues.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Waikiki Beachcomber (⭐️ 8.7) | Halepuna Waikiki (⭐️ 9.1)
14. Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida — One of the Cleanest Beaches in the US
Explored by Daniel of Layer Culture
🚗 How to get there: 20 mins by car from downtown Fort Lauderdale, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, picnic tables, basketball court, grills
Fort Lauderdale Beach should be at the top of any sun-seeker’s bucket list and is definitely one of the best white sand & clear water beaches in the US. Just a short car ride from downtown Fort Lauderdale, this super clean beach offers plenty of space for relaxation.
This beach is not only warm in the summer, but also a great spot to catch the winter sun. It’s also home to various local amenities such as restaurants, food trucks, and bars. The Rendezvous Bar & Grill is a popular waterfront dining venue that offers delicious food.
The boardwalk area is especially safe and even offers some exuberant nightlife options. Remember to carry some travel bug spray for those pesky mosquitos during the evenings. This beach also offers many amenities, such as places to wash sandy feet at the many exits.
There are plenty of things to do around the beach, too. The NSU Art Museum is just 25 mins away by car, and it exhibits the work of some of the world’s most famous artists, including a collection of ceramics by Pablo Picasso.
All in all, Fort Lauderdale is a great location for anyone looking to enjoy the same luscious white sands found in Miami Beach, but with fewer crowds.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hyatt Centric Las Olas (⭐️ 8.8) | Conrad Fort Lauderdale (⭐️ 9.1)
13. Myrtle Beach (The Grand Strand), South Carolina
🚗 How to get there: 2.5 hours by car from Charleston, SC
Myrtle Beach is a stunning coastal city located in northeastern South Carolina. This town sits at the center of a 60-mile stretch of stunning white sand beach known as “The Grand Strand”. You can easily spend 3 days to a week in this area enjoying all kinds of outdoor and cultural activities — it truly has something for everyone.
Outdoor lovers and adventure seekers will love the variety of water activities that the Grand Strand offers. Enjoy kayaking, parasailing, fishing, surfing, jetskiing, and more. For a different kind of adventure, go horseback riding on the white sand or along a nearby forest trail to explore various plants and birds in the area.
There are also plenty of family-friendly activities to do at Myrtle Beach, such as arcades, pirate-themed adventures for kids, rollercoasters, aquariums, art galleries, and museums.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to party on your holiday, you’ll find your haven here as well; there are plenty of dance clubs, beach clubs, and lively beachfront bars around.
Be sure to stop by Melting Pot Myrtle Beach for some of the best food in town, and don’t leave without strolling the 1.2 mile-long oceanfront boardwalk.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Sheraton Broadway Resort (⭐️ 9.0) | Hilton Ocean Enclave (⭐️ 9.3)
🏖 The Best White Sand Beaches in the USA
12. Cape Kiwanda, Oregon
Explored by Xin of Xinventure
🚗 How to get there: 2 hours by car from Portland, OR
🏖 Facilities: Parking, and restrooms + foot wash station at the nearby Pelican Pub
Cape Kiwanda is one of Oregon’s most underrated attractions. While it’s frequently overshadowed by the more popular Cannon Beach nearby, locals and visitors rave about Cape Kiwanda’s haunting beauty, and some would even declare it to be the crown jewel of Oregon’s coastline. In fact, it’s definitely one of the best stops on an Oregon road trip.
Cape Kiwanda is the southernmost cape in the Three Capes Scenic Drive and is surrounded by miles and miles of white sand beaches. It is located in Pacific City, a quaint fishing town that prides itself on its humble origins and maintains an undeveloped feel.
You must climb the giant sand dune at Cape Kiwanda — it is quite the workout, so don’t be afraid to take breaks. At the top, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the surrounding area. In the summer, you might even see whales breaching!
After exploring the cape, spend time at the beach picnicking, flying a kite, checking out the tide pools during low tide, and admiring the beauty of Haystack Rock and the sandstone cliffs. For the more intrepid, Cape Kiwanda is also a popular place to surf and hang glide.
Cape Kiwanda is oftentimes visited as a day trip from Portland. To stay overnight, there’s a wide range of accommodations in Pacific City, including boutique luxury hotels, modest inns, RV parks, and multiple campgrounds. It is $10 to park in the official lot near the Pelican Pub and Brewery, which also has a restroom and foot wash station.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Surf & Sand Inn (⭐️ 9.0) | The Anchorage Motel (⭐️ 8.7)
11. Crandon Park Beach, Florida
Explored by Claire of Stoked To Travel
🚗 How to get there: 15 mins by car from downtown Miami, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, beach wheelchairs, picnic pavilions, cabanas
Crandon Park Beach is located in the beautiful island paradise of Key Biscayne, just a short drive from downtown Miami, but a world away from the hustle of the city. Key Biscayne was once a coconut plantation but has been developed into a true tropical oasis. While there are several beautiful beaches there, Crandon Park Beach definitely stands out.
This beach is home to an expansive 2-mile stretch of white sand with typically calm, aquamarine sea lapping the shoreline. From the beach, there are plenty of watersports on offer, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and kiteboarding.
There’s also a golf course, a tennis center, a marina, and tons of nearby wildlife to spot. Alternatively, you can relax at your own brightly colored beach cabana. For some adventure, dive and snorkel at the coastal barrier reef here, which is home to the only underwater archaeological trail in the US.
At the nearby Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, you can hire bikes to explore the whole area at your leisure. The admission fee for Crandon Park Beach is based on the mode of transport, so if you drive, parking is $8 per vehicle, and for pedestrians and cyclists, it is $2.
Although there are a few lovely hotels in the area, including the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, it’s best to visit Crandon Park Beach on a day trip from Miami and stay either downtown or at Miami Beach, two of the best neighborhoods in Miami.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Lennox Miami Beach (⭐️ 8.9) | Faena Hotel Miami Beach (⭐️ 8.9)
10. Gulf Shores Public Beach, Alabama
Explored by Catalin of Travel Trained
🚗 How to get there: 1 hour by car from Pensacola, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, wheelchairs, picnic pavilions, gear rentals
Alabama is known for its several beautiful beaches characterized by the warm waters of the Gulf and unique ivory sands. Out of all of them, the Gulf Shores Public Beach is considered the best one thanks to its sparkling quartz-grain sand. This beach is the perfect spot for a laid-back and family-friendly getaway.
There are tons of fun things to do at this beach to keep you busy. Enjoy swimming, windsurfing, parasailing, kayaking, and a variety of other water sports. There are also beach volleyball nets on site and tons of picnic pavilions to relax in.
Be sure to bring some good beach shoes to make it easier to walk on the sand and water. A bike would also be handy to have as there are tons of nice trails on the Gulf Coast.
A 12-minute drive away is Orange Beach, another great adventure spot. From there, you can even take an unforgettable Gulf Coast dolphin cruise. A half-hour drive from the Gulf Shores Public Beach is Alligator Alley, a sanctuary that rescues alligators from dangerous places.
There are plenty of nice accommodations at the Gulf Shores Public Beach, such as The Lodge at Gulf State Park. Don’t leave without tasting the delicious seafood in the area. The nearby Gulf Shores Seafood offers some of the freshest ones.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Lodge at Gulf State Park (⭐️ 8.9) | Hotel Indigo (⭐️ 8.8)
9. Pacific Beach, California — One of the Prettiest Beaches in the US
Explored by Adria of The Emerald Palate
🚗 How to get there: 15 mins by car from downtown San Diego, CA
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, lifeguards, beach wheelchairs, restaurants
Pacific Beach, or “PB” to locals, is located along a stretch of beautiful white sand coastline that includes three beaches: Tourmaline State Park, Pacific Beach, and Mission Beach. Tourmaline is known for surfing, and Mission Beach can get rowdy with the younger crowd drawn to the nearby bars and nightlife, but Pacific Beach is just right.
Pacific Beach is completely free to access and features the 3.2-mile paved Ocean Front Walk, which is perfect for strolling or biking between all the beaches. Even if you only have one day in San Diego, plan to spend at least a few hours at Pacific Beach.
During your time there, go on a fish taco crawl along Mission Boulevard. Don’t miss La Perla Cocina for the best shrimp tacos and Oscars for fried fish tacos. You can also try the delicious carne asada California burrito from Taco Surf.
Since Pacific Beach is a lively area of San Diego, there are a lot of nearby amenities. Lifeguards are on duty during daylight and there are bathroom and shower facilities too.
Parking can be a challenge at Pacific Beach, especially on weekends from April through October. Your best bet is trying to snag free street parking before 10 am. There are also small parking lots on Tourmaline Street, Grand Avenue, and Pacific Drive, some of which are paid.
If you have more than one day in San Diego, stay overnight in Pacific Beach so you can make the most of the area. With the extra time, walk along the bay via Bayside Walk. You can even rent stand-up paddleboards and enjoy the view of locals running along the path!
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Pacific Terrace Hotel (⭐️ 8.9) | Tower 23 Hotel (⭐️ 9.3)
8. Smathers Beach (Key West), Florida
Explored by Lori of Travlinmad
🚗 How to get there: 15 mins by car or bike from downtown Key West, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, jet ski rentals, beach volleyball nets
Florida has some of the most spectacular white sand beaches in the US, and the beaches of southwest Florida are definitely among the best in the Sunshine State.
The beaches of Key West weren’t always beautiful, though. Originally a mangrove island, the white sands have formed from decades of storms and hurricanes, creating wider and more tropical beaches along its shores.
Smathers Beach in Key West is among the island’s only public beaches, and it’s completely free to access. Located at the south end of Key West, this beach is still an easy car or bike ride from most places in the Old Town.
Grab a shady spot under a palm tree and enjoy the quiet side of the island. The water is clear and calm, and the sandy bottom is soft on your feet. You can also rent paddleboards and kayaks or enjoy other water sports such as parasailing along the beach.
One interesting tip, if not a bit macabre, is to keep an eye out for cow teeth in the sand. Smathers Beach was a processing site for cows brought over from Cuba, and teeth can sometimes still be found washing up in the surf.
Whether you’re driving or riding bikes, be sure and stop in Louie’s Backyard on your way back to the Old Town — it’s a Key West institution and always a great idea for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon drinks overlooking the water.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Truman Hotel (⭐️ 8.8) | Rose Lane Villas (⭐️ 8.9)
7. Assateague Island, Maryland
Explored by Denise of Chef Denise
🚗 How to get there: 3 hours by car from Baltimore, MD or Philadelphia, PA
With white sand beaches spilling into the Atlantic Ocean, the barrier Island of Assateague stretches 37 miles long and is part of two states: Maryland and Virginia. The Assateague Island National Seashore has an entrance in each state. The Northern one, just a 10-minute drive from Berlin or Ocean City, Maryland is open year-round with a 7-day pass for $20.
Assateague Island is most famous for its wild horses that roam freely, making wildlife viewing and photography very popular activities here. Horse sightings can happen anywhere on the access roads, on the trails, on the dunes, and if you’re lucky, right on the beaches, too.
Be sure to read the rules and keep a distance of at least 40 feet from these creatures. Assateague is also one of the most popular birding destinations in the US, boasting over 300 types of birds including falcons, eagles, and herons.
The pristine shore here extends as far as the eye can see. In addition to the typical beach activities like surfing and swimming, Assateague offers hiking, biking, fishing, crabbing, and kayaking. It also has a zone for OSV (over-sand vehicles, where you can 4-wheel drive on the beach with a special permit.
With so much to do, you can easily spend the day at this beautiful beach, or reserve one of the 300 campsites and spend a leisurely week. If you don’t want to camp, stay at one of the many hotels in Ocean City. Don’t leave without feasting on some Maryland blue crabs at some of the locals’ favorite restaurants: Waterman’s and Harborside.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Cambria Hotel Ocean City (⭐️ 9.3) | Aloft Ocean City (⭐️ 9.0)
6. Pensacola Beach, Florida
Explored by Dymphe of Dymabroad
🚗 How to get there: 3 hours by car from Tallahassee, FL or New Orleans, LA
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, beach wheelchairs, gear rental, restaurants
Situated on the western tip of Florida, stunning Pensacola Beach on the Gulf Coast is home to gorgeous sugar-white sands and crystal clear waters. Spending a day here is the perfect way to relax and enjoy some fun-in-the-sun.
Some of the best things to do on Pensacola Beach include swimming, parasailing, surfing, and snorkeling. There’s also a mini-golf center, a fishing pier, a fun dolphin cruise to take, and many events that take place there throughout the year.
Near the beach, you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants. Enjoy delicious food and a brilliant seafront view from Flounder’s Chowder House or The Grand Marlin. If you’re a fan of crabs, don’t miss out on Crabs on the Beach!
There is no admission fee for entering the beach, and you can find lots of umbrellas, sunbeds, and showers once you’re there. There are also plenty of great places to stay near the beach, such as the Hampton Inn.
Alternatively, if you prefer to base yourself in a larger city, one of the nearest ones is photogenic New Orleans. While the main beaches on the Gulf Coast are lively and busy, there are also some quiet, secluded ones in the area, such as the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Margaritaville Beach Hotel (⭐️ 9.2) | Hampton Inn Pensacola (⭐️ 8.4)
5. Coronado Beach, California
Explored by Trijit of Budget Travel Buff
🚗 How to get there: 12 mins by car from downtown San Diego, CA
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, lifeguards, pets, picnic tables, restaurants
If you want to enjoy one of the best white sand beaches in the US with your four-legged friends, then look no further than Coronado Beach, located just 6.7 miles from downtown San Diego on Coronado Island.
Coronado Beach is one of the best dog-friendly beaches in San Diego. Here, you can let your dog go off-leash and watch it play in the water. Some of the main highlights of this pet-friendly beach are the pristine white sands, the small dunes, and the clear blue waters.
This is also a very family-friendly beach and there are plenty of spots for kids to build sandcastles. Take a walk along the 1.5-mile stretch of sand, or simply relax and sunbathe. Alternatively, you can also swim, surf, enjoy beachcombing, and play beach volley.
Coronado Beach is very close to the picturesque Hotel Del Coronado, which has a private beach itself. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful resorts in the area and a perfect place to treat yourself to a luxurious stay. It’s also a great place to grab food near the beach.
To get to Coronado Beach, either drive across the Coronado Bridge from San Diego or take a ferry ride. Free parking is available along Ocean Boulevard, but it fills up fast during weekends and public holidays, so try to get there as early as possible. This beach has public restrooms and shower facilities near the Lifeguard Tower, and there are no entrance fees.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Marisol Coronado (⭐️ 9.4) | 1906 Lodge (⭐️ 9.5)
4. Pass Christian to Biloxi, Mississippi
Explored by Charles of McCool Travel
🚗 How to get there: 1.5 hours by car from New Orleans, LA
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, jet ski rentals, chair rentals, restaurants
The 26-mile stretch of coastal Mississippi beach between Biloxi and Henderson Point in Pass Christian is the largest man-made beach in the US. It is also one of the most beautiful and convenient ones to visit, with plenty of free parking spaces only a few steps away from the sugar-white sand.
Visitors can spend anywhere from a few hours to several nights here enjoying stunning nature and fun outdoor activities. The east end, Biloxi Beach to Gulfport, is the busiest area, featuring many wonderful casinos, small harbors, and restaurants.
Two of the best places to eat at in the area are White Pillars and The Chimneys. You can also visit the Mississippi Aquarium if you’re a fan of sea life. Don’t miss the West Biloxi Beach Boardwalk either; it’s a stellar setting for spectacular sunsets and shark sightings.
The western portion of the coastal Mississippi beach — from Long Beach to Henderson Point — is one of the most scenic US coastal drives as it’s made of 13 miles of nearly continuous and uninterrupted white sand views.
Take advantage of frequent free parking, especially in Pass Christian, and sink your feet into some of the softest and most soothing white sand along the entire Gulf Coast. Enjoy fish and shrimp tacos at Sea Level in Pass Christian.
Nature-lovers should allow time to stop at the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Long Beach and visit the phenomenal southern live oak trees — including the over 500-year-old Friendship Oak.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Grand Centennial Gulfport (⭐️ 9.0) | Harrah’s Gulf Coast (⭐️ 8.5)
3. Clearwater Beach, Florida — One of the Most Famous Beaches in the US
🚗 How to get there: 12 mins by car from downtown Clearwater, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, picnic areas, beach wheelchairs, cabanas
Clearwater Beach is definitely one of the most dream-worthy white sand beaches in the US. Located on a barrier island, this beach features a gorgeous 2.5-mile stretch of white sand. It is also connected by a short bridge to Sand Key, another barrier island in the south.
Adventure seekers will love the wide range of thrilling water activities on offer at this beach, such as jet-skiing, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding. For something more relaxing, enjoy unique dolphin-sighting boat tours in the Gulf waters.
This turquoise beach is characterized by calm, shallow, and beautifully clear waters, and is overall an amazing playground for families and kids. Children would especially love the pirate-themed cruise ships that are on offer, and there are also plenty of party buffet cruises.
To relax and sunbathe, rent a cabana or beach umbrella and chair from a local vendor. You can simply just pick one, settle down, and wait for someone to come by to collect payment. Don’t leave this beach without catching a sunset at Pier 60. There’s a vibrant festival there every night featuring tons of street performers and artisans, too.
Clearwater Beach is also home to a beachfront promenade that’s perfect for cycling and rollerblading. Plus, it is lined with tons of restaurants, shops, and cafes.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Wyndham Grand (⭐️ 8.8) | Edge Hotel Clearwater Beach (⭐️ 8.6)
2. Carmel Beach, California
Explored by Dhara of Roadtripping California
🚗 How to get there: 2 hours by car from San Francisco, CA
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, pet-friendly
Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Central California Coast is a charming little village, but adding to its popularity as a getaway destination is its pristine, crescent-shaped white sand beach. In fact, Carmel Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the northern half of the Golden State, you can easily spend half a day unwinding there.
Be sure to stroll Carmel Beach’s sandy expanse. You may also see shorebirds playing at the waterline and whales out in the water in season. This beach is very dog-friendly: dogs are allowed off-leash as long as they are under voice command, so it’s a great place to relax with your pooches.
Carmel Beach is also a very scenic photo spot, especially with the ancient cypress trees on the land end of the beach forming a frame for the water. You can also enjoy a spectacular sunset here on good weather days. Surfing and beach volleyball are other Carmel Beach activities to enjoy.
This beach is free to visit. Restrooms and parking are available by the beach but parking can get full, so arrive early. Bring a blanket and a picnic (or wine and cheese) from Carmel Village to enjoy on the sand. If you like Italian, Little Napoli is a great place to eat in the village.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Candle Light Inn (⭐️ 9.2) | Tradewinds Carmel (⭐️ 8.9)
1. Miami Beach, Florida
Explored by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
🚗 How to get there: 20 mins by car from downtown Miami, FL
🏖 Facilities: Parking, showers, restrooms, picnic pavilions, playground, wheelchairs
Miami Beach is the name of an entire island in Miami, which has a large stretch of beach along its eastern coast. While the beach is divided into segments of South Beach, Mid Beach, and more, it’s technically one long beach.
Florida is known for its stunning clear-water and white-sand beaches, and Miami Beach is one of the best ones. While the area is known for its wild nightlife and beachfront parties, there are also quieter stretches perfect for those who want to relax and unwind.
You’ll love the great selection of restaurants, bars, and beach clubs that sit right on the beach. Miami Beach is also fantastic for shopping, so once you’ve had enough of swimming and relaxing, why not buy yourself a new summer outfit?
Definitely head to South Pointe Park in the early evening for a cocktail and a walk along the pier. This spot marks the southernmost end of Miami Beach and is especially beautiful.
Miami Beach is free to access and you’ll find public bathrooms and showers at multiple points. Since there’s a lot to see and do in the area, you can easily spend an entire day there.
🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Lennox Miami Beach (⭐️ 8.9) | Faena Hotel Miami Beach (⭐️ 8.9)
Planning Your Trip to the Prettiest Beaches in the US
- ✈️ Find the best flights around the US with Skyscanner or Kiwi.com
- 💸 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- 🚖 Book your private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Expedia
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com or Expedia
- 🧔🏻 Get the best tour guides via Get Your Guide, Tiqets, or Viator
- 🚗 To rent a car for road trips, get great deals on Rentalcars.com
- 🎒 Pack a bathing suit cover-up, water-proof phone case, and a picnic cooler bag
- 📚 Read Lonely Planet USA and some dreamy beach quotes for more inspiration
- 📸 Bring the best photography gear (including these must-have Sony lenses!)
Final Thoughts on These Beautiful US Beaches
I hope these pretty beaches in the US have inspired you, and that this guide has helped you plan your next beach getaway! If you have any questions at all, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try my best to help you! 🙂
I hope you were inspired by these white sand & clear water beaches in the USA!
For more travel inspiration for the US, discover:
🏝 51 Most Tropical Places in the USA to Vacation in
☀️ 31 Best Warm Winter Vacations in the US: Magical Getaways
🇺🇸 60+ Best Vacation Spots in the US: Top Bucket List Places
🏙 40+ Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the US
🛂 37 Epic Places to Travel to Without a Passport for Americans
⛅️ 33 Best Cool Weather Summer Vacations in the USA
💎 37 Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the US to Visit
🗽 32 Best Things to Do on the East Coast of the US
🎃 40+ Best Warm Places to Visit in October in USA
🍂 33 Best Warm Places to Visit in November in the USA
🎆 36 Best Warm Places to Visit in January in USA
I love this so much! So many gorgeous white sand and clear water beaches to visit in the USA. Living in Florida, going to the beach is my routine, and now, I found out more gorgeous places I need to visit around the US.
thanks for this great list with photographs. Some places to visit, some to avoid!
would love to know which places should be avoided!
I would have to say that Trunk bay and or Maho Bay USVI should have been on that list
Thank you for the suggestions! 🙂