America's Best Beach Bars to Kick Back and Relax
You don't need much to enjoy the beach. A sand towel and some sunscreen are usually enough. But for times when you want a little bit more, there are beach bars.
Spanning everything from hole-in-the-wall joints to chic lounges, beach bars offer fresh seafood and cocktails with a side of the ocean breeze.
Ready to relax? These are the 10 best beach bars in the U.S., ranked.
10. Flora-Bama Lounge
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Flora-Bama isn't exaggerating with its name, as it literally straddles the line between Florida and Alabama. It's also representative of the Panhandle future both states share. By that, we mean a very typically American dive where the music is loud and the beer is dirt cheap.
The bar is also known for its annual Mullet Toss festival. And, yes, they really toss mullets across the state line to see who throws the farthest — it doesn't get any more American South than that. A giant party surrounds the competition.
9. Surf Bar
Location: Folly Beach, South Carolina
Located on one of the best beaches in South Carolina, Surf Bar brings the spirit of California to the East Coast. The exterior of the bar is lined with surfboards, and a skeleton attempts to jump off the roof from a skateboard. If that doesn't scream "SoCal," we don't know what does.
As you go in, you'll be greeted by even more surfboards as well as hanging bills signed by former patrons. Sit by the deck if possible, and enjoy ocean views as you sip an inexpensive beer.
8. Donovan's Reef
Location: Sea Bright, New Jersey
We don't know if the cast of "Jersey Shore" ever partied at Donovan's, but we can certainly imagine them doing so. Big and loud, you'll feel like it's Spring Break all summer long. Beach parties, cover bands, beer buckets and lots of fried food bring in the crowds as soon as the bar opens.
Arrive early, and be prepared to make a long line and pay a cover charge. Once you're in, you'll have access to seven bars, views of the beach and guaranteed fun.
7. Clayton’s Beach Bar
Location: South Padre Island, Texas
Not even Donovan's can compete with the sheer size of the party that Clayton's brings. This is Texas, after all, the state where bigger and louder is always better. The gigantic bar can hold over 5,000 people. Very often, it feels like there are about that many.
While prices aren't necessarily cheap, you won't really be thinking about that as you're swept into a chaotic atmosphere that's wild and fun. If you plan on coming on Friday or Saturday, grab a seat early and stay until late at night when the bar puts on its weekly fireshow.
6. Nikki Beach
Location: Miami, Florida
Nikki Beach is one of the original creators of the Miami beach bougie aesthetic. Way before Instagram made everyone want to filter their images to look soft, this iconic beach bar was using pastel colors, wood-based decor and hanging inspirational quotes from random places.
When they're not on the water, people spend their time lounging in comfortable chairs and sipping overpriced but delicious cocktails. At night, the crowd changes into beach-club attire as the bar transforms into an outdoor nightclub. Prepare to dance until morning, then chase the hangover off with a cold beer when the sun is out.
5. Pelican Brewing
Location: Pacific City, Oregon
It's almost impossible to get a seat at Pelican Brewing, as everyone wants the chance to see the giant boulders that protrude from the Pacific Ocean. If the stars align for you and you actually land a seat, hold onto it. This is a place where you'll want to spend a couple of hours.
Besides the astonishing views, the bar is known for its local brews and laid-back atmosphere.
4. Tamboo Tavern
Location: Rincon, Puerto Rico
Hovering over the appropriately called Sandy Beach, Tamboo Tavern is a perfect place for a seaside lunch. Order a piña colada — the island's signature drink — while enjoying views of one of Puerto Rico's most beautiful beaches. At the right time of year, you might even get to witness whales in the midst of their migration.
The best part of Tamboo Tavern is that you'll see more locals than tourists, an increasingly rare phenomenon in the world of beach bars.
Location: Malibu, California
When Moonshadows opened over 40 years ago, its main clientele was Malibu hippies looking for a chill vibe and the sound of waves. But, today, the only hippie thing left about the bar is its name.
Setting the standard for chicness and understated luxury, Moonshadows is favored by Hollywood darlings wanting to dine by the shore. Hanging over the Pacific, the outdoor patio is a prime spot to see the ocean crashing against cliffs with full force. The sound of the surf is lulling and relaxing, the food is up to LA's strict standards, and the drinks are probably more than you've ever paid before. For regular people, this is a great spot for a special day in Malibu.
2. Lava Lava Beach Club
Location: Big Island, Hawaii
Most beach bars are near a beach or over a beach, but few are literally on the beach. That's what we love about Lava Lava Beach Club. Here, the sand is the floor, so you can dig your toes in it as you dig into your plate of fresh seafood.
Stay for the sunset, and sip your drink slowly. No one will rush you at this perfectly relaxing bar. At night, live performers will contribute to the chill atmosphere that will have you wanting to come back every night you're on the Big Island. Just remember everyone else — both tourists and locals — have the same idea, so get here early.
1. Talon Beach Bar
Location: Sitka, Alaska
It may seem weird to say that the No. 1 beach bar in the entire country is in Alaska. But Talon Beach earns the crown simply because it's unlike any other beach bar in the country. To get here, you'll have to take a boat, as the bar is located on a private island, 15 minutes away from Sitka, one of the best small towns in America.
Once you land, you'll overlook Alaska's Inside Passage, a popular spot for cruise ships. Sip cocktails garnished with herbs from the adjacent hotel's gardens and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like bald eagles. This is the state's only open-air bar, and it has access to a rare sand beach.