Some of the Best Secret Beaches in the USA

Waikiki gets all the people and press; the North Shore, the fame for big waves. But locals head to Oahu’s little-trafficked windward coast. And even fewer make it to this neighborhood beach near Kailua. Bask on sloping white sand bordered by palm trees, t
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Nothing compares to a relaxing day at the beach. Especially if you can find an uncrowded stretch of smooth sand. If your notion of an ideal beach holiday is visiting a hidden beach and basking in the magnificent seaside isolation of it all, this is the list for you. While beaches everywhere are becoming increasingly popular, some remain obscure and relatively well-hidden. This list will show you sandy (and pebbly) shores from sunny California to the humid South to the cooler Northwestern and Northeastern coasts. As long as you're willing to hike, sail, or fly to a secret beach, you can seize the chance to enjoy the surf with as few people around you as possible. The quiet, the exclusivity, and the peace are well worth the trip and the planning. Keep these secluded destinations hush-hush and enjoy the scenery without the crowds—no passport required.

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1. Lanikai Beach, near Kailua, Hawaii

Waikiki gets all the people and press; the North Shore, the fame for big waves. But locals head to Oahu’s little-trafficked windward coast. And even fewer make it to this neighborhood beach near Kailua. Bask on sloping white sand bordered by palm trees, t
hipho/Getty Images

Waikiki gets all the people and press; the North Shore, the fame for big waves. But locals head to Oahu's little-trafficked windward coast. And even fewer make it to this neighborhood beach near Kailua. Bask on sloping white sand bordered by palm trees, then wander to the water. The gentle waves are perfect for an ocean dip.

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2. Bahia Honda State Park, Florida

USA, Florida, Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda State Park, White
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Despite all their fame, the Florida Keys are not known for their beaches—except for this slip of a state park. Just before Big Pine Key, pull over for a sublime beach with balmy breezes, coral reefs, and stunning sunsets. The gentle slope and bathwater-temperature seas of Bahia Honda State Park invite wading and world-class snorkeling. You may be in the States, but it sure feels like the Caribbean.

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3. Bahia Súcia, Puerto Rico

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Go play at "Dirty Bay." Don't worry, the beach's name is just a local reference to the seaweed that washes up during storms. Visitors will find nothing but beige sands and blue skies on the remote southwest coast along Highway 301. Bahia Súcia has a classic Caribbean feel, with scruffy brush giving way to sloping sands running down to azure waters.

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4. Indian Beach, Oregon

Indian Beach
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On a summer weekend you'll see lines of cars parked along Cannon Beach. Keep on driving. Head north into Ecola State Park, and follow a winding road through a Sitka spruce forest. Turn the corner and discover a secluded crescent beach and the Pacific beyond. Great for strolling, finding pretty pieces of driftwood, and checking out tide pools.

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5. Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA

Nothing about Ocracoke is easy. Fans like it that way. Get to the Atlantic and you still need to take a ferry across Pamlico Sound to one of the outermost of the Outer Banks islands. The reward is a summer idyll on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Drive out past the salt marshes on two-lane Highway 12 and find your own bit of sun and sea among the dunes.

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6. Bound Brook Island, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Dunes on Bound Brook Island, Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, USA

Down a sandy back road in a hidden corner of Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet lies a quiet beach with towering dunes, Atlantic views, and little else. Head toward the historic Atwood-Higgins House, then about a mile to a small parking lot. You'll have to walk the last several hundred yards, but when you hit the beach, you'll see it was worth the effort.

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7. Montaña de Oro State Park, California

Montana de Oro State Park, California
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Wander among some of California's most stunning coastline at this often overlooked state park in San Luis Obispo County. Visitors find secluded coves, pounding surf, and sweeping bluff views along seven miles of shore. And now a new path from the state park's southern boundary leads to remote Coon Creek Beach.

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8. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Florida

Green Canoe and family at Florida's Panhandle white sand beaches

You don't have to give up beauty to find an out-of-the-way beach. St. Joseph Peninsula has one of the prettiest shorelines in the nation, but its sugar-sand dunes are practically empty compared with Panama City, Destin, and other busy Sunshine State locales. Let's just keep that our secret.

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9. Lumahai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii Kauai Lumahai Beach overview w/ people, turquoise ocean, framed tree branches

Everybody seeks a stretch of sand hidden from the masses. To reach Lumahai Beach on Kauai's wild and wet North Shore, stop on a bend in the road just up from Hanalei Bay. Follow the steep path down through the trees. The trail ends at a small crescent of sand with a large rock outcropping. It might look familiar. The "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" scene from the movie South Pacific was filmed here.

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10. Windansea Beach, San Diego, California

Families on the beach on a summer afternoon

San Diego has 70 miles of beaches (and not a bad mile in the bunch), but Windansea gets our nod. It's a scenic strand with a lyrical name. Smooth sandstone rocks offer private spots to lounge. It's close enough for a quick trip from downtown, but far enough from the Sea World-fueled hubbub of Mission Bay not to feel touristy.

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11. Cumberland Island, Georgia

Sunset at Cumberland Island, Georgia.
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This 18-mile stretch of largely uninhabited wilderness in Georgia's barrier isles is accessible by ferry from the coastal town of St. Marys. Cumberland Island is a vision of rolling sand dunes, relics of Spanish mission churches, and untamed horses roaming the land. It also home to an endangered species, loggerhead sea turtles, which come ashore to nest May through September.

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12. Bandon State Natural Area, Oregon

Bandon Beach, Oregon, USA
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Believe it or not, Oregon's Bandon State Natural Area is home to an ocean oasis. It's a perfect place for beachcombers and sight seers. Here, you can have tranquility while you fish, hike or bike the scenic trails, or watch for wildlife—like whales and sunbathing seals.

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13. Carmel Meadows Beach, California

Figures walking in the distance/pathway on Carmel Meadows/cloudy skies/Carmel river beach on the side.
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As a large coastal state, California has a lot of beaches that draw millions of vacationer and visitors year-round. Carmel Meadows Beach is a less-known, secluded are that doesn't get nearly as much traffic. With its steep cliffs and lichen-covered rocks on either side of the inlet, this secret beach has all the beautiful Pacific Coast charm you're looking for, minus the swarms of tourists. These rocks and cliff also offer both beautiful scenery and a challenging hike for more adventurous visitors.

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14. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

florida beaches look like caribbean
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A secluded beach that can only be reached by seaplane or ferry is sure to be less crowded than your typical spot that can be accessed much easier. Dry Tortugas National Park ensures that its beach remains an exclusive paradise by only allowing 60,000 visitors per year on its shores. Whether you make a day-trip or reservations to spent a few nights at Dry Tortugas, there is plenty to be explored, including camping and kid-friendly activities. There, vacationers have ample opportunity to watch for tropical birds and experience colorful reefs, sunken ships, and legends of lost treasure while snorkling and touring.

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15. Secret Beach, Oregon

Secret Beach,Scenic view of sea against sky at nigh
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It's true. Secret Beach is a bit on the nose. But don't let that deter you from considering this secluded spot while planning your next trip to the Northwest. Getting there necessitates effort and forethought, as you should only go at low tide and must follow specific directions in order to find the entrance. However, this location on Oregon's lovely coast boasts breathtaking scenery that is well worth all the effort, and the fact that it is off-the-beaten-path is a major part of its charming appeal.

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16. Edisto Island, South Carolina

Edisto Beach, South Carolina
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Edisto Island, which has been immaculately kept since the turn of the century, offers tranquil isolation and a pristine landscape. This lovely seaside village is less than 50 miles outside of Charleston, SC and has a few secluded, beautiful white-sand beaches where you are likely to spot dolphins and can collect sea shells. Aside from these little hideaways, Edisto Island also offers much to do and experience. There are winding intercostal estuaries, a local serpentarium, and a variety of nature-based activities—like crabbing, shrimping, and bird watching. Beyond that, you can go on eco-tours, sunset cruises, or boat excursions conducted by expert local captains through local streams and marshes. Rent kayaks or paddle boards to explore the waters independently. Or go hunting for fossils in one of the island's parks.

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17. duBois Beach, Connecticut

High grasses and jetty at duBois Beach, Stonington, Connecticut, USA. This is an authentic New England shoreline town in the southeast corner of Connecticut with panoramic views of CT, RI and NY.
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duBois Beach in the picturesque village of Stonington, Connecticut is secluded, scenic, and charming, and has been named on Boston Globe's list of the top 20 best beaches to visit in the New England area. The beach is located at Stonington Point, at the southernmost tip of Water Street, with a spectacular view of Stonington Harbor, Fisher's Island Sound, and Little Narragansett Bay. It also offers calm waters, a shady pavilion, an anchored dock, and crabbing jetties.

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18. Roque Bluffs State Park, Maine

Beach cobble, Rogues Bluff, Maine, Roques Bluff State Park
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The 274-acre Roque Bluffs State Park on the Downeast coast of Maine is a site that is not widely known about, overlooking the Englishman Bay and includes Simpson Pond. Here, you'll fine both freshwater and saltwater beaches overlooked by scenic cliffs with fascinating glacial striations and idyllic hiking trails. In particular, the sand/pebble beaches are a unique geologic feature, having been formed by a build-up of silt eroded from a significant glacial moraine nearby, and this evidence of glacial history has made it a stop on Maine's Ice Age Trail. There even is a bedrock outcrop at the beach's eastern end where visitors can see the glacial striations up close. Visitors can also travel offshore to see the still-active Libby Island Lighthouse at the entrance to Machias Bay.

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19. Assateague Island, Maryland

Wild and windy, this “civilized” stretch in the midst of the famed Assateague Island National Seashore has 12 miles of drivable shoreline (with a proper OSV permit) and offers super crabbing, clamming, surf fishing, and escape, not to mention superb wave
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Assateague Island, a 37-mile barrier island on the coast of Maryland. For horseback riders and beach lovers alike, Assateague Island will be a serene and sublime retreat. Wild Beach is located there, which is only accessible by foot or boat, and—aside from the roaming wild stallions—is almost completely uninhabited. On the island is also Assateague State Park—the state's only oceanfront park, with two miles of beach bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Sinepuxent Bay on the west. There, you can experience beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing, and fishing. Secluded coves can be explored by canoe or kayak in the bay, and wildlife like deer, waterfowl, and wild horses can be spotted in or near the marshes.

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20. South Manitou Island, Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and South Manitou Island, Michigan, USA. South Manitou Island has boat service, and is part of the National Park.
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Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore coast has two islands that are part of an island chain that extends north to the Straits of Mackinac—with the Southern island having three miles of sandy beaches only accessible by ferry. There is plenty to do on South Manitou Island thanks to lightly traveled hiking routes, huge cedar forests, uncrowded campgrounds, and approximately 50 shipwreck sites. And you can do it all without having to wade through throngs of beach goers.

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