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What Are the Best Beaches on the East Coast?

March 25, 2022 6 min read

Tropical getaways and the California sun get a lot of attention, but East Coast beaches are wonderful in their own right. There are many spots along the Atlantic Ocean that stand out as destinations you might want to consider for your next beach trip.

Something you might notice about these suggestions is that many of them are not only beaches but whole islands. This isn’t so common on the West Coast, so the Eastern side of the US wins when it comes to island options.

From Maine to Florida, here are the top East Coast beaches to add to your travel bucket list.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket is immediately set apart because the entire town has been marked as a National Historic District. There’s plenty of history to learn about and walk through as if no time has passed.

The cobblestone streets and unpainted shingled buildings will transport you back to the 1850s when it was a whaling hub. You can learn about these treacherous sea tales in the Whaling Museum that pays homage to this part of the island’s history. If that inspires you, check out the fishing charters to take you out to sea.

If you’re not the whaling type, there’s plenty more to enjoy during your stay at Nantucket. Renting a bicycle will allow you to tour the entirety of the small town, and there are even free audio tours for bikers who want to learn as they ride.

Shopping, eateries, museums, and of course, beaches are waiting for you as well.

Love Massachusetts? Add Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod (especially the Cape Cod National Seashore) to your bucket list.

Newport, Rhode Island

A vibrant arts community, Newport celebrates the fun and the creative. Summertime in Newport It’s home to legendary jazz and folk music festivals, both of which have been running annually since the 1950s.

If that sounds like you, it’s plenty enough reason to plan a trip to Newport this July when the festivals go down.

Newport is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Tennis fans can tour the HOF to see iconic tennis history unfold through stories and memorabilia dating back to the origins of the sport. It’s also the sight of a professional tournament played on grass courts each July.

But really, you don’t have to plan much if you’re headed to Newport. There’s always something happening. Just take a look at their exciting event calendar and see how fun it looks.

Definitely plan on spending time at the beach. Easton Beach is a favorite to many for its surf-worthy waves, snack bar, carousel, and proximity to the Cliff Walk. Stroll along the Cliff Walk to take in scenic views of massive old houses along the cliff, overlooking the ocean.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach is a popular East Coast destination. The 60-mile stretch of sandy waterfront is home to numerous resorts that attract those looking for fun and relaxation. You’ve probably seen someone donning the name Myrtle Beach on a t-shirt—evidence that people love the place. 

If you’re a fan of watersports, this main beach has got it all: surfing, fishing, boating, parasailing, etc. But of course, you don’t have to be hardcore about your watersports– try an inflatable FUN SKI for a fun and relaxing jetski experience that everyone can enjoy.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with the whole family. There’s a classic boardwalk, complete with a colossal Ferris wheel, known as the SkyWheel. You can go on a pirate ship cruise, race go-karts, hit an amusement park, and play mini-golf at 50 different mini-golf courses.

Looking for more? How about Kiawah Island? Or, try Folly Beach in Charleston, SC.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach is a quaint beach town that offers all you’d normally expect from a beach town. Fresh seafood, fun water activities, boutiques, and gift shops galore. In addition to these favorites, there are a few things that set Hampton Beach apart.

If you’re into gambling, Hampton Beach has several charitable gambling spots. Charitable gambling allows you to play the same slot machine and card games to win money, only instead of the money going to a privately owned casino, it’s directed towards charity organizations.

In the summer, Hampton Beach hosts nightly concerts. Like, every single night, as long as it’s not raining, free live music. And it’s not the same act night after night; there’s actually a new band every night to enjoy.

Hampton Beach also hosts a $25K sand sculpting eventeach summer. If you practice your local sandbox every day until then, maybe you can bring home first prize!

Block Island, Rhode Island

If you’re looking for a summer vacation that will whisk you away from your busy routine and into a quiet and relaxing beach town, Block Island might be the place for you.

Unlike many beach towns that are crowded with people during the summers, Block Island is laid back and low-key. This is because over 40% of Block Island is left undeveloped. That leaves space to find some peace and quiet, slow down for a while, and enjoy beautiful beaches and green scenery.

Include some reading material and a journal in your beach tote and unwind at a quiet beach on Block Island.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head is another East Coast island destination to consider this summer for its robust representation of nature, endless outdoor activities, and family-friendly entertainment.

Sea turtle and dolphin tours sound more like something you’d do on a tropical getaway, but you can actually experience that at Hilton Head. You can see other types of wildlife at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge or the Sea Pines Forest Preserve.

When’s the last time you saw a dolphin and a fox on the same day?

Biking, tennis, and golf are also popular activities on the island. Throw in a meal from an elite restaurant and enjoy the nightlife that matches your vibe. From the taproom to tequila lounge to the rooftop bar with live music, the fun doesn’t stop with your daytime adventures.

And, of course, 12 miles of beach offer an array of sand and water activities. Hop in a kayak and laugh when someone tips over, try paddleboarding, waterski, and sail by the wind to your heart's content.

South Beach, Miami, Florida

South Beach is a popular location on the southern part of Miami Beach, a nine-mile-long island acting as a barrier along the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

You’ve seen it in movies. It’s where people on rollerblades zoom across a backdrop of pastel art deco buildings and palm trees. Just make sure that your beach towel will match the art deco style of the city.

It’s where shiny, muscley, incredibly tanned people are flexing on beachfront workout equipment. It’s home to the rich and famous, to trendy nightclubs, luxury hotels, and celebrity chef restaurants.

This beach vacation will not leave you wanting for more (except for more vacation days).

If you love Florida, you might also get a kick out of Daytona Beach

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

Sand Beach is a unique beach experience that you won’t forget. As a part of Acadia National Park, there’s no shortage of beauty on this beach or the surrounding area.

It’s a small beach, less than 300 yards long. On three sides, it’s surrounded by evergreen trees and walls of granite protruding out of the ocean. The sand is composed mostly of fragmented shells that are a result of the pounding waves.

This unique landscape makes for a serene view and a dream-like feeling. The water stays a cool 55 degrees throughout the summer, making for a sure and quick way to cool off when it's hot out.

Acadia National Park also caters to those looking for a good hike or bike ride, fishing, and even carriage rides. It’s close to Bar Harbor, so you can enjoy other beaches and entertainment along with your time in the park. Just make sure you don’t miss out on Sand Beach.

The Best East Coast Beaches: Paradise

Perhaps you’re closer to the East Coast. Or maybe you really have a thing for sunrises. You’re not gonna see those on left-coast beaches (not over the ocean, anyway).

If you’re looking for an island vacation, there are several options on the East Coast that might be a lot more accessible than Hawaii or the Bahamas. East Coast beaches have it all: white sand, rolling sand dunes, and even wild horses.

When you consider the beaches listed above and all their unique characteristics, it’s easy to see why even someone living in an ocean city like San Diego or LA might travel across the country to visit an East Coast beach.


Newport RI Events | Discover Newport

Sand Sculpture Event | Hampton Beach

Chincoteague Ponies | The Chincoteague Vacation Guide

Nantucket Historic District, featured in Maritime History of Massachusetts | National Park Service

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