Life’s a beach for those lucky enough to live close to sun themselves on golden sands or swim in cobalt-blue waters.
While many U.S. beaches are considered world-class, their nearby towns have become holiday hubs in their own right.
Stretching from coast to coast, these beach towns cater to every conceivable taste, from quaint coastal communities for culture vultures, to action-packed subtropical climes for adrenaline junkies.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
This barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast is quaint, uncrowded and uncluttered, presenting excellent opportunities for soaking up some sun in space.
Visitors to Anna Maria Island can shop at one of the state’s largest discount malls, sample fresh Florida seafood prepared with local flair and relax in local parks and preserves where the wildlife-viewing is unparalleled.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
The famous Jersey Shore is lined with sandy beaches and quiet towns, such as the small seaside community Asbury Park.
But there is more to the town than its Instagram-able beachside, as Asbury Park also boasts a vibrant art and music scene and an assortment of independent boutique shops.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is the picture-perfect coastal city, perhaps best known for its long and pristine sandy shore.
Tourists have the opportunity to spot tufted puffins on Haystack Rock jutting out of the ocean, while the headland to the north presents romantic views of small coves and the local lighthouse.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is the quaint beach city on California’s Monterey Peninsula known for its Point Lobos Natural Reserve, majestic views of the coast and—further inland—redwood forest.
California’s rich, anything-goes culture is perhaps best embodied by Carmel-by-the-Sea’s community famed for showcasing its rich artistic heritage.
With a pair of nationally protected areas close by, Chincoteague has long been known as a mecca for nature lovers.
The 14,000 acres of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge offers superb opportunities for birdwatching and fishing while the nearby Assateague Island National Seashore is home to herds of wild horses.
Folly Beach, South Carolina
Visitors to Folly Island are spoilt with access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River.
The intersection of the two waterways created six miles of broad beaches around the island’s perimeter, allowing tourists the opportunity to surf, fish and explore the 1km-long Folly Beach Pier.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Alabama’s 30 miles perfect beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are an ideal scene for holidaymakers.
And in addition to the area’s wide white sandy beaches, the Gulf Shores are a short hop to New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville, making these towns an excellent addition to a regional tour.
Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii
Packed with Hawaiian history, Haleiwa is widely recognised as the social and artistic hub of the North Shore.
And no trip to Hawaii’s laid-back North Shore is complete without an ice shave at Matsumoto or a bite at one of Haleiwa’s famous shrimp trucks.
Lewes is found where the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet at Cape Henlopen and locals claim the area is among the most beautiful in the entire state.
This pedestrian-friendly town features a small historic district, and an easy-going atmosphere certainly suitable for those eager to avoid the hustle and bustle of busier beach towns.
Despite—or perhaps because—Matlacha lacks the pulling-power of other Florida beach towns, a select few consider this place paradise.
Gallery: Incredible aerial photos of the world (Photos)
The place is extremely popular among visitors for its glorious beaches, nightlife, nature parks, rainforest, and beautiful mountainous islands. The magnificent scenic shorelines of the South are defined by the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand.
San Blas Islands, Panama
The archipelago in the Caribbean sea has more than 300 islands and numerous exquisite beaches. Sailing is the easiest way to move around from one island to another. One of the most-visited white sand beach in San Blas is Isla Perro, which offers an incredible snorkeling experience..
Dunvegan Castle, Scotland
Located on the Isle of Skye, this castle serves as the ancestral home of MacLeod clan’s chiefs for 800 years. Its outer beauty is well-defined by its glorious surroundings, which includes gardens, woodland walk, mountains and the sea. The inner walls are decorated with beautiful paintings, and preserves various antique heirlooms such as Fairy Flag and Sir Rory Mor’s ceremonial drinking horn.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The world’s largest intact caldera is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The conservation region includes highland plains, savanna woodlands, and forests. It is a paradise for animals such as leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hyenas and critically endangered black rhinos.
The ancient villages of Romagna hold unique characteristics including strongholds, castles, noble palaces, and towers among other specialties. The region offers an exquisite experience of its well-preserved cultural heritage, covering hills as well the sea.
Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, Canada
The picturesque town is located on Avalon Peninsula’s eastern shore. A perfect place for nature lovers, the town has plenty of treats such as Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, coastal cliffs and fjords.
Andøya Island, Norway
The scenic beauty of this far north island in the Vesterålen archipelago lies in the white sandy beaches, rugged mountains and the vast expanse of the ocean. For people who enjoy cycling, it provides a path that offers magnificent views. It also has a hiking route to the popular peak Måtinden from where you can admire the beautiful sunset.
Located in the Lima province, Miraflores district is famously known as the “Heroic City” as it was the site of the battle between Peru and Chile during the War of the Pacific. The suburb attracts tourist with its beautiful gardens, coastal views and nightlife.
Wetlands in Higashitagawa County, Japan
A stunning aerial view of the wetland region located in the Yamagata Prefecture. The distinct ecosystem is known for different functions such as water storage and home to multiple plants and animals.
Rice terrace of Tokamachi, Japan
Also known as “thousand-fold rice fields,” this popular tourist spot offers gorgeous scenic views. The vast terraces produce the Uonuma Koshihikari rice. Till today most of the farming work is done traditionally because it is challenging to operate farming machinery here.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Situated on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the Bay of Islands is a region encompassing 144 islands. The pristine blue waters are home to some amazing marine life and a variety of water activities here makes this place a popular holiday destination.
Nusa Dua, Indonesia
A popular resort area, Nusa Dua is tucked away in the southern part of Bali. Stunning beaches and turquoise waters make this place a paradise for beach lovers.
Akvaryum Bay, Turkey
Located on the southern coast of Turkey, where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean in the Datça Peninsula, this beautiful bay is known for having clear waters that present guests with a chance to view vibrant underwater life.
Segla mountain, Norway
The spike-shaped Segla mountain on Senja island stands nearly 2,100 feet (639 meters) high. The summit is a steep hike from the fishing village of Fjordgård, but the views from the peak are simply breathtaking.
Nā Mokulua, Hawaii, US
Nā Mokulua, also known as Mokulua, are two small islands off the windward coast of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. These beautiful islands are protected seabird sanctuaries and only one of them is open to the public for sightseeing.
Mount Sinai, Egypt
An aerial view of the summit of Mount Sinai at sunrise. This rugged peak stands tall in the stunning Sinai Peninsula, which serves as a land bridge between Asia and Africa.
Romsdal fjord is among the longest in Norway and this wide-angle view shows the beautiful natural wonder in all its early morning glory.
Lake Thun, Switzerland
This serene alpine lake’s shore is dotted with picturesque towns, stunning churches and, as seen here, verdant vineyards.
Channel Country, Australia
A pastoral region of outback Australia, Channel Country is known for its stunning landscapes. This photograph captures Channel Country’s braided channels that are a treat to watch from the air.
Weybridge, Vermont, US
A stunning bird’s-eye view where we see the shadow of a maple tree in spring in Weybridge, Vermont, U.S.
Wailua Falls, Hawaii, US
On the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the Wailua River (said to be the only navigable river in the Hawaiian islands) plunges over a rainforest cliff and drops at least 80 feet (24 meters) into a large pool below. During an especially wet rainy season in Wailua River State Park, these two falls can merge into one.
Tumpak Sewu waterfall, Java, Indonesia
In Javanese, this waterfall’s name translates to “a thousand waterfalls.” It is dominated by the active volcano Semeru, which is also one of the highest mountains in the Indonesian province.
Sumilon Island, Philippines
The island is Philippines’ first marine protected area that was established in 1974. It is known for its crystalline waters, boasting a coral reef system.
The Pilbara, Western Australia
Some of the world’s oldest surface rocks can be found in Pilbara. Every year, the region faces some of the world’s hottest weather and is ravaged by cyclones that sometimes flood the landscape.
Goat Island, Leigh, New Zealand
The island, also known as Te Hāwere-a-Maki in Māori, is situated within New Zealand’s first marine reserve called Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve. The area is popular among snorkelers and scuba divers, where crystal clear water provides glimpses of snappers, sea urchins and stingrays.
Great Bahama Bank, the Bahamas
The archipelago is home to two main limestone plateaus — the Great and Little Bahama Banks. The Great Bank features a thick layer of limestone that is deposited in the shallow water.
Dugi Otok, Croatia
The island, which is around 27 miles (43 kilometers) long and 3 miles (5 kilometers) wide, is also known as the “Long Island” and is one of Adriatic Sea’s largest island.
Bungle Bungle Range, Kimberley, Australia
Also known as BIFs (banded iron formations), the range is situated in the Purnululu National Park. The formations featuring gray and orange stripes, only became known worldwide in 1982.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Autumn in Lithuania
Autumn is the best time to visit the European country. The leaves turn yellow, red and brown before slowly falling off their branches.
Tulip fields, Sassenheim, Netherlands
Elevated rail tracks, Vancouver, Canada
Fields outside Toledo, Spain
The patterned landscapes show the vivid colors of fields around Toledo. In 1986, the Spanish city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located on Iceland’s South Coast, the spectacular waterfall drops around 200 feet (60 meters). There is a hidden path behind the waterfall that allows the visitor to enjoy a 360-degree view of the fall.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
One of the most famous natural attractions of Ireland, the cliffs reach about 702 feet (214 meters) over the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point.
Lotus Temple, Delhi, India
One of the most-visited sites in the world, the Lotus Temple was designed by architect Fariborz Sahba and opened to the public in 1986. Open to all religions and cultures, the temple is spread over 26 acres with pools and gardens.
Palouse, Washington, US
It is one of Washington’s most serene wonders, formed due to glacial floods that roughed up the region’s terrain, leaving a layer of fertile sediment. The region is perfect for agriculture and production of mainly wheat and legumes.
Ewaso Ng’iro River, Kenya
The river flows down from Mount Kenya to water the dry plains, stretching east from Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. At the banks of the river are several wildlife reserves such as Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
Okavango River, Botswana
The Okavango River flows southeastward for 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from Angola toward the Kalahari desert in Botswana. It serves as a life support system for a wide array of wildlife.
Pretty pastel-hued homes and galleries mingle with fishing boats and nature lovers, lending Matlacha plenty of charm for those who love waterfront living.
Nags Head, North Carolina
Stretching almost the entire length of the coast of North Carolina is a string of beach communities and untouched natural landscapes known as the Outer Banks.
Nags Head is a particularly popular vacation spot due to the town’s beaches and the attractive sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Despite being America’s smallest state, Rhode Island is framed by hundreds of miles of coastline filled with cultural richness and natural beauty.
Visitors to Narragansett can expect to discover some of the area’s best surfing, while the nearby Newport is known as the sailing capital of the world.
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
The charming town of Ocean Springs, with many shops and restaurants dotting the tree-lined streets, is a great place for a relaxing visit along the Mississippi coast.
And in addition, the Riviera of the South is within easy reach, meaning visitors can mix dolphin watching with maritime history.
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City presents a compelling case for being the quintessential American beach town.
The locale boasts a modern boardwalk, a beach offering a wide range of exciting activities and an enviable reputation for some of the best marlin fishing in the U.S.
A former turn-of-the-century artists’ colony, the sleepy beach town of Ogunquit is a place where wildflowers bloom along the coast.
The village is packed with cottages and old clapboard buildings sitting beside the sea, offering views of meandering sailboats and the lighthouse.
Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Old Saybrook was settled in 1635, making this site where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound one of Connecticut’s oldest towns.
And found only an hour and a half from New York City, this coastal town has a wealth of historical and cultural sites to offer against the bucolic backdrop of a peaceful marina.
Paia, Maui, Hawaii
The historic town of Paia offers quirky shops heavily influenced by hippies and surfers.
The beach town is also the perfect place to explore Maui, the Hawaiian island associated with gorgeous beaches, some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses and awe-inspiring waterfalls.
Lying a little outside the mouth of the Delaware Bay on the Atlantic Ocean’s shore, Rehoboth Beach has been a popular vacation spot for generations.
A particular highlight is Rehoboth Beach’s boardwalk, a hub of activity named in the Top 10 boardwalks in the U.S. by National Geographic.
Rincón, Puerto Rico
Found in the Porta del Sol region of western Puerto Rico, Rincón has been a mecca for surfers ever since the 1968 World Surfing Championships put it on the map.
Domes, Indicators, Spanish Wall and Dogman’s are among the beaches where tourists can watch in awe as surfers crest seven-meter swells in winter.
Santa Barbara, California
Situated between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean on the Central Coast of California, Santa Barbara presents sweeping ocean panoramas paired with Spanish-style architecture less than 100 miles from LA.
Pixels of red tile roofs punctuate the landscape of lush green rolling hills that sweep down into stunning sandy beaches and a working harbor.
Saugatuck and Douglas, Michigan
Perched upon the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, Saugatuck and the immediate adjacent Douglas are towns rich in both character and culture.
Saugatuck and Douglas are therefore ideal destinations for those looking for a beach town offering both adventure and relaxation.
Shi Shi Beach, Washington
Ignoring the fact Shi Shi Beach is located within Olympic State Park instead of a beach town, this public shore practically becomes its own city with the number of visitors attracted by some of the best ocean views in the U.S.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island is a coastal escape featuring sandy beaches, a fishing pier and Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse.
This tiny attractive island also boasts a laid-back vibe and the Fort Pulaski Civil War monument that can be explored on bike or foot.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Only hours from Washington D.C., Virginia Beach is a quintessential coastal city.
The area includes three diverse beaches, a pair of state parks, excellent eateries and a wide variety of east coast culture and nature.
Wellfleet and Provincetown, Massachusetts
Wellfleet and Provincetown offer excellent access to Cape Cod, a breezy peninsula jutting out like a curved arm into the Atlantic Ocean.
This bucolic stretch of Massachusetts coast has remained almost untouched by the development that has transformed the Cape into one of the busiest summer beach destinations in New England.
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