Explore the top east coast beaches for your next beach vacation ☀️🏖 From the Outer Banks to Cape May, discover the best beaches on the east coast 🌊

The East Coast of the United States spans over 2,000 miles of coastline, offering incredible beach destinations for vacationers. From the rugged cliffs of Maine to the warm sands of Florida, the diversity of landscapes along the Eastern seaboard provides beachgoers with ample options to explore. The clear waters, scenic views, historical attractions, and family-friendly amenities at these beaches make them some of the best coastal destinations in the country.

What’s the Prettiest Beach on the East Coast?

When it comes to natural beauty, many consider Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts to be one of the prettiest beaches on the East Coast. Located about 60 miles southeast of Boston, the protected Cape Cod National Seashore stretches over 40 miles and encompasses pristine sand dunes, salt marshes, woodlands and extensive beaches along the Atlantic Coast. Some of the most notable beaches here include Coast Guard Beach, known for its dramatic scenic views, and Race Point Beach, a serene escape with plenty of sand. The Cape Cod National Seashore offers scenic hiking trails, historic lighthouses, and abundant opportunities to observe diverse coastal wildlife. The unique windswept landscape dotted with historic architecture makes this one of the most picturesque beach destinations on the East Coast.

Where is the Bluest Water on the East Coast?

Many travelers rave about the vibrant blue waters of Destin, Florida as being some of the clearest and bluest on the East Coast. Located along Florida’s Emerald Coast in the panhandle region, Destin is known for having soft white sand and calm emerald green waters perfect for swimming, fishing, and snorkeling. The sand here is made up of finely ground quartz crystals that give the water its distinctive blue-green shimmering color. Destin offers plenty of scenic beaches to take in the breathtaking waters, like Henderson Beach State Park, Miramar Beach, and Holiday Isle Beach. Nearby Clearwater Beach and Panama City Beach also frequently rank as having some of the brightest blue beach waters along the East Coast.

What is the Most Secluded Beach on the East Coast?

For travelers seeking an isolated and undisturbed beach getaway, East Beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore offers 3.5 miles of seclusion and serenity. Located on the cape’s outermost arm, the remote barrier island beach has no paved roads, concessions, flush toilets, trash cans, or running water available to the public, ensuring the landscape remains pristine. Beachgoers must hike in from a parking area over sand dunes to access East Beach. While its remoteness requires effort to reach, it provides an unspoiled refuge with plenty of room to spread out on the sand. Other notably secluded beaches on the East Coast include Cape Lookout in the Outer Banks, North Carolina and Watch Hill in Rhode Island.

Best Beaches on the East Coast for Families

Many outstanding beach destinations on the East Coast cater to families with amenities, attractions, accommodations and gentle surf. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is one of the most family-friendly beaches on the coast, offering miles of sand, beachfront hotels, restaurants, amusement park rides, mini golf courses and an oceanfront boardwalk. The beach has designated areas for swimming without strong waves or undertow.

Ocean City, Maryland has 10 miles of free public beach great for family vacations. The boardwalk features arcades, parks, shops and eateries to keep all ages entertained. Nearby, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware also offers a mile-long boardwalk, kid-friendly restaurants, amusement parks, and a shallow swimming area.

In Florida, Destin has emerald green waters that are calm and clear, perfect for younger swimmers. The town offers fishing charters, dolphin cruises, water parks and other activities kids love. Clearwater Beach provides a tranquil shoreline and Pier 60 park with nightly sunset celebrations.

Amelia Island’s Seaside Hideaway in Florida

Just north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island offers a tranquil stretch of coastline along Florida’s northeast shore. The island contains 13 miles of relatively undeveloped Atlantic beaches with abundant space to spread out on the sand without crowds or highrise hotels in sight. State parks like Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island contain scenic walking trails through maritime forests and salt marshes. For great shelling opportunities, head to Peters Point Beach where shark teeth are also a common treasure. The Victorian-era downtown of Fernandina Beach delights visitors with historic architecture, boutiques and restaurants housed in colorful storefronts. With abundant natural beauty and old-world coastal charm, Amelia Island is a memorable seaside escape.

Popular Beaches Along North Carolina’s Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina comprise 100 miles of barrier islands off the coast, providing some of the most scenic and popular East Coast beaches. Known for their pristine shorelines and small coastal towns, the Outer Banks contain beach gems like Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island. Visitors can spread their towels on miles of spacious sand dunes with few crowds or obstructions in sight. Must-see attractions include Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes and the site of the Wright brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk. The small villages scattered throughout the islands allow beachgoers to sample the area’s unique history, culture and local cuisine. With secluded escapes as well as developed areas with rental homes, restaurants and shops, the Outer Banks offer something for every type of East Coast beach trip.

Best East Coast Beaches in Virginia

Virginia Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the East Coast, known for having the “world’s longest pleasure beach.” Situated in the coastal city of Virginia Beach, this beach destination offers 35 miles of sandy Atlantic shoreline along with a lively three-mile oceanfront boardwalk filled with restaurants, shops, hotels and summer events. Families will find no shortage of ways to stay entertained between playing at the beach, riding the amusement park rides at Ocean Breeze Waterpark, or taking in the sea life at the Virginia Aquarium. The Resort Area at the boardwalk provides easy access to the crowds and excitement of the beach scene, while the North End’s beaches are more peaceful and secluded. Overall, Virginia Beach offers the quintessential combination of soft sand, warm waters and fun seaside amenities for an unforgettable East Coast beach vacation.

Ocean City’s Free Public Beach in Maryland

At around 10 miles long, Ocean City Beach provides Maryland visitors with ample space to spread out on the sand for a day of swimming and sunbathing. The beach is free and open to the public, running parallel to the Ocean City boardwalk and bustling downtown area. Here you’ll find no shortage of beachside bars, restaurants, arcades, mini golf courses and shopping centers to enjoy when taking a break from the water. The beach tends to be crowded during the summer months but provides swimming areas cordoned off by lifeguards and large parking lots with easy boardwalk access. Visitors can also drive along the beach strip and find parking in less congested areas further from the downtown attractions. With free entry, clean sand and refreshing Atlantic waves, Ocean City Beach is among the best beach destinations on the East Coast for an affordable coastal getaway.

Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and Boardwalk in Delaware

Located along the Delaware coast, Rehoboth Beach provides the quintessential charming seaside escape. The beach area stretches for 1 mile along the Atlantic Ocean, with the iconic Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and Boardwalk serving as the central hub of activity. Families will love strolling the boardwalk’s lively mix of restaurants, amusements, shops and arcades. After working up an appetite, beachgoers can dine at one of the many restaurants along Rehoboth Avenue. Off the boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach offers a variety of accommodations from hotels to rental homes, many just steps from the sand. With plenty of free parking and a beautiful stretch of beach, Rehoboth Beach has become a beloved East Coast vacation spot for all ages.

Scenic Sands Along Bethany Beach, Delaware

Bethany Beach in Delaware entices travelers with its family-friendly seaside amenities and pristine sandy shores. At the heart of town, a wide boardwalk overlooks the beach and Atlantic Ocean beyond. Featuring restaurants, shops, recreational rentals and seasonal events, the boardwalk area provides vacationers with plenty of entertainment options when taking a break from the waves. Leisurely activities like yoga on the beach, Nature Center programs exploring the coastal habitat, and ice cream from mom-and-pop shops encapsulate the relaxing Bethany Beach lifestyle. Annual events like the Bethany Beach Fireworks displays, Bonfires on the Beach nights and Fourth of July Parade make this a beloved destination for seaside traditions. With sparkling water and soft sand that slopes gently into the ocean, Bethany Beach offers an ideal coastal retreat.

Best Beaches on the Northeast Coast

The northeastern coast has a diversity of excellent beach options spanning from Massachusetts down to Virginia. In Massachusetts, the beaches of Cape Cod combine with charming New England villages. Coast Guard Beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore is renowned for its dramatic scenic beauty. Outside of Boston, small coastal towns like Manchester-by-the-Sea offer more low-key beaches.

Heading south, Rhode Island’s Narragansett Town Beach is a popular family-oriented beach with a classic New England vibe. The white sand beaches on Martha’s Vineyard island are also scenic northeast escapes.

The Hamptons on Long Island, New York contain some of the most exclusive beach communities in the country, like Southampton and East Hampton. Nearby Fire Island offers tranquil isolated beaches, mainly reachable by ferry.

In New Jersey, the Jersey Shore is dotted with developed beach resort towns and boardwalks, like Atlantic City and Ocean City. Island Beach State Park on the Barnegat Peninsula is a natural oasis with 10 miles of pristine shoreline.

The beaches of Rehoboth, Bethany and Dewey in Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland combine family fun, beach amenities, coastal charm and numerous dining and lodging options.

The 35-mile expanse of the Virginia Beach oceanfront contains lively resort areas as well as peaceful sanctuaries further from town. The three mile boardwalk and summer outdoor events make it a popular destination.

Family Friendly Beach Vacations on the New Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore contains over 140 miles of coastline with numerous family-oriented beach towns and resorts. Wildwood Crest offers plenty ofkid-friendly attractions like amusement and water parks, mini golf courses and bike rentals along its mile-long boardwalk. Point Pleasant Beach provides a wide sandy shoreline by the Manasquan Inlet with a lively boardwalk containing rides, arcades and beachfront dining options. Further south, Atlantic City has glittering casinos, luxury hotels, a bustling boardwalk and ample family entertainment. Meanwhile, resort towns like Cape May provide a quainter, more low-key shoreline retreat. The Jersey Shore beaches typically provide discounted seasonal lodging, free public beach access, on-site parking and plenty of family-focused entertainment.

Relaxing Beaches on Rhode Island’s Coast

From historic Newport to the island shores of Block Island, Rhode Island is filled with quintessential New England beach towns. Narragansett, South Kingstown and Charlestown all contain popular saltwater swimming holes where the freshwater of the Atlantic Ocean mixes with the saltwater of inland bays and inlets. East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown is renowned for its sandy shores, fishing opportunities and windsurfing. Meanwhile, Roger W. Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett provides a scenic bayside escape popular with families. For peaceful island getaways, Block Island contains over 30 miles of relatively secluded beaches and bluffs accessible by ferry from Point Judith. With a diversity of shorelines and attractions, Rhode Island’s beaches are perfect for sampling authentic New England coastal charm.

Cape Cod’s Scenic National Seashore

Located just southeast of Boston, Cape Cod juts out into the Atlantic Ocean in iconic New England fashion. The Cape Cod National Seashore stretches over 40 miles of the peninsula’s coastline, offering pristine beaches, lighthouses, marshes, ponds and forested areas to explore. Popular seashore beaches include Coast Guard Beach, known for dramatic seaside cliffs and bluffs, and Race Point, a more remote escape on the outer cape. The protected lands of the Cape Cod National Seashore contain walking and biking trails past quintessential coastal scenery. Meanwhile, charming towns like Hyannis, Falmouth, Provincetown and Chatham beckon visitors with fine seafood restaurants, galleries, theaters and America’s oldest fishing windmill. With picturesque scenery and quintessential New England beaches, Cape Cod is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beach destinations on the East Coast.

Seaside Charm in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

As the largest oceanfront town in New Hampshire, Hampton Beach offers seaside fun and charm just a few hours north of Boston. The main strip of Ocean Boulevard contains a lively mix of restaurants, shops, arcades and hotels with beach access. Families especially love the sandy shores of Hampton Beach State Park, which features a boardwalk, playground, outdoor movie nights and summer concerts at the seashell stage. The iconic Hampton Beach Casino complex houses a ballroom, indoor pool, restaurant and museum chronicling the area’s history as a lively 20th century resort destination. With ample parking, seasonal events and kid-friendly vibes, Hampton Beach is among New England’s most popular seaside escapes.

Block Island’s Secluded New England Vibes

Accessed by ferry from Rhode Island, Block Island transports visitors to a remote island oozing with charm and natural beauty. With over 30 miles of relatively secluded beaches and bluffs, Block Island offers a peaceful escape surrounded by the open Atlantic. The island contains a diversity of spectacular shorelines, from busy swimming beaches to rocky stretches perfect for wildlife viewing. Inland from the beaches,Block Island provides scenic grassy dunes, freshwater ponds and low rolling hills for scenic island hikes and bike rides. The main village of New Shoreham charms visitors with historic architecture, quaint shops, seafood shacks, ice cream parlors and boutique accommodations. For an authentic taste of coastal New England away from the bustle of the mainland, Block Island is a one-of-a-kind retreat.

Acadia National Park’s Rugged Maine Coast

On Mount Desert Island in Maine, Acadia National Park protects a spectacular stretch of Atlantic shoreline dotted with granite cliffs and rocky headlands. Sand Beach offers one of the park’s only sandy expanses, tucked between forested slopes and the crashing waves just beyond. Thunder Hole similarly intrigues visitors as waves collide dramatically with the rocky coastline. Along the 27-mile Park Loop Road, stunning overlooks provide breathtaking vistas stretching from the shoreline out towards the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay. The rugged terrain calls out to be explored on scenic coastal hikes and carriage roads originally built by the Rockefellers. With quintessential Maine scenery found along the pristine protected shoreline, Acadia National Park is one of the most stunning coastal destinations in the Northeast.

With breathtaking coastlines spanning nearly the entire Eastern Seaboard, the East Coast offers no shortage of outstanding beach destinations for travelers. From the white sand shores of Florida to the rocky cliffs of Maine, beachgoers can find their perfect coastal escape somewhere along the Atlantic Coast. With incredible scenery, family-friendly amenities, recreational opportunities and charming seaside villages, the best beaches on the East Coast have wide-ranging appeal. Whether you desire remote island isolation, lively boardwalk excitement or family fun at the shore, the diversity of East Coast beach vacations offers an unforgettable seaside experience for any traveler.


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