These Top Beaches in North America Will Have You Dreaming
Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? At these gorgeous North American beaches, it’s hard to tell.
The Best Beaches in North America Will Have You Dreaming
With access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans as well as the Caribbean Sea, North America has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches in the entire world. From soft sand that reaches out to turquoise water to rocky black-sand beaches hidden between seaside cliffs, the continent has a beach for every type of traveler.
But if you only want the crème de la crème from your experiences, you'll want to make it a point to visit each of these 10 best beaches in North America. They stretch from the Caribbean to Hawaii and go from touristy to rugged, but they're all worth a plane ride.
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10. Flamenco Beach
Location: Culebra, Puerto Rico
The Isle of Enchantment has beautiful beaches to spare, but none compare to Flamenco Beach. You'll find it on the small island of Culebra, once used to test military weapons. Don't worry; its testing days are over, though you'll still find abandoned tanks on the sand of this beach.
Besides cool pictures, you'll get the calm, pale blue Caribbean Sea, which is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. And since this beach isn't on Puerto Rico's main island, you won't have to share it with as many people.
Where to stay: El Navegante de Culebra
Note: Rankings come from The World’s Best 50 Beaches2023 report, which involved input from more than 750 of the world's leading travel influencers and experts.
9. Meads Bay Beach
Location: Long Bay Village, Anguilla
Anguilla is one of the least-visited places in the world. The British territory is but a dot in the Caribbean, and its remoteness keeps it from the overtourism that plagues other countries in the region.
In this magnificent hidden gem, you'll find Meads Bay Beach, famed for its soft sand and light-blue water. This is the Caribbean at its best — and while you'll have access to facilities like a restaurant overlooking the water, crowding is never a concern.
Where to stay: Frangipani Beach Resort
8. Lanikai Beach
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Forget Waikiki Beach, and head to Lanikai for a more relaxed Oahu beach experience. Located on the eastern side of the island, you won't get many waves — which is a good thing for those who want to swim but a downside for surfers. If you're keen on doing watersports, kayaking and paddleboarding are great activities to enjoy here.
Stay until late to do as the locals do and watch the moonrise. Yes, this really is a popular thing to do here, and it's very much worth it. Oh, and if you're visiting from May to September, keep an eye out for nesting green sea turtles.
Where to stay: Hawaii's Hidden Hideaway Bed & Breakfast
7. Seven Mile Beach
Location: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Perhaps the most famous beach in the Cayman Islands, Seven Mile Beach is as long as its name suggests. The crescent-shaped landmark is completely public, but it's dotted with resorts, restaurants and shops. If you like a beach experience that's more lively, you'll love sipping rum-based cocktails next to the sea.
The beach is also very family-friendly, as it's known for its calm, shallow water and lack of strong currents.
Where to stay: The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
6. McWay Beach
Location: Big Sur, California
OK, so this is a beach you won't actually be able to walk along. But it is so absolutely out-of-this-world that people are content with seeing it from afar.
What exactly makes it so enchanting? A trail along Big Sur leads to a viewpoint overlooking gorgeous cliffs that create a cove around the sea. The highlight is an 80-foot waterfall that falls right onto the sand before flowing into the sea. To protect this natural treasure, the beach has been deemed off-limits. But no visit to Big Sur is complete without a mandatory stop to see it.
Where to stay: Alila Ventana Big Sur
5. Grace Bay Beach
Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
Famous around the world for its barrier reef, Grace Bay Beach also extends 7 miles. Though it's located in Princess Alexandra National Park, it's easy to access from many of the island's best hotels.
Activities are as varied as parasailing, jet skiing, swimming, boating and horseback riding.
Where to stay: West Bay Club
4. Pipe Creek Beach
Location: Exumas, Bahamas
The Exumas in the Bahamas are best known for Pig Beach, where travelers can swim with island piggies. But if you're more interested in seeing an elusive beach untouched by overtourism, set your sights on Pipe Cay.
At certain times of day, the tide lowers enough for an elusive sand bar to appear. This creates an impermanent beach completely surrounded by blue water. Since the water is shallow, you won't see large boats at this popular spot, though you'll likely share the limited sand space with several other small vessels.
Where to stay: The Heart of Paradise
3. Balandra Beach
Location: La Paz, Mexico
Los Cabos gets most of the tourist love, but if you want to experience Baja with fewer crowds, head to Balandra Beach. It's about 30 minutes away from La Paz, another famous tourist spot in this Mexican state.
The beach is crescent-shaped and surrounded by cactus-filled desert hills. The abundance of water set next to an arid landscape is a feast for the senses. As the cherry on top, there is also a mangrove forest teeming with aquatic life.
Where to stay: Club Hotel Cantamar by the Beach
2. Honopu Beach
Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Of course, Hawaii had to have more than one beach in the North American top 10. Honopu is probably one of the least accessible beaches you'll find in Kauai, and that's exactly what makes it so alluring.
You won't be able to trek, walk or drive here, as it is hidden deep within the rugged Honopu Valley. Instead, you'll have to swim here. The sea won't cooperate — this is Hawaii, after all, and waves are what the islands are known for. But if you're a strong swimmer and someone who loves a challenge that rewards you with unspoiled nature, you should certainly try it. Otherwise, you can see the beach from a boat, which is still quite an experience.
Where to stay: The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
1. Trunk Beach
Location: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
While many Caribbean beaches have azure water and white-sand beaches, few are set within protected land. Trunk Bay in St. John is within the incredible Virgin Islands National Park, one of the least-visited national parks in the United States.
This is great news for those who make it here since you'll enjoy the coral sand without the interruption of expensive beach chairs or loud music from bars and restaurants. Instead, you'll get to enjoy a pristine natural setting beyond your wildest dreams.
Where to stay: The Westin St. John Resort Villas