The pandemic has put travel out of reach for so long. With more Americans getting vaccinated, travel to a beach paradise, where you trade the hubbub and crowds of major tourist attractions for relaxing waves and soft sand, is on many travel wish lists again.
Travel site Tripadvisor recently surveyed 2,330 consumers in six countries and found that 60% of travelers are “very likely” to take a beach trip this year.
This list of the site’s Travelers Choice Best of the Best Award for beaches is based on Tripadvisor users’ reviews, ratings and “saves” in 2020.
The pandemic is still affecting travel in a variety of ways, so these beaches may not be offering all their traditional amenities. Here are the top 10 beaches in the U.S., beginning with No. 10.
10. Kailua Beach Park
Location: Kailua, Hawaii
The tropical paradise of Hawaii takes up five of the 10 spots on this list.
Breathtaking Kailua Beach Park on the island of Oahu comes in at No. 10, and for good reason. The 30-acre public park offers a 2-mile-long sandy beach plus a grassy area for picnics, a public boat ramp, volleyball court and food stands.
Kailua Beach has been a favorite getaway for former President Barack Obama. A sprawling rental home near there was the Obama family’s “winter White House” when he was in office.
9. Madeira Beach
Location: Madeira Beach, Florida
Relaxed Madeira Beach is west of the St. Petersburg area, on the Gulf of Mexico.
The 2.5-mile beach is popular with sunbathers and strollers, and it’s a hot fishing spot. More grouper is caught here than in any other spot in Florida. In non-coronavirus times, the annual John’s Pass Seafood Festival rocks with music and serves up fresh seafood dishes.
8. Wai’anapanapa State Park
Location: Hana, Hawaii
Marvel at the black sands produced by volcanic activity at this remote and otherworldly beach on the island of Maui.
Several times a year, the tide pools here turn red. It’s caused by the arrival of small shrimp, but a haunting legend says it’s the blood of a murdered princess. Nothing like a spooky story to go with your suntan.
7. Ogunquit Beach
Location: Ogunquit, Maine
The word “Ogunquit” means “beautiful place by the sea” in the language of the native Algonquin people. The 3.5-mile beach offers soft white sands and gentle surf. At high tide, visitors can walk out hundreds of feet and still find themselves only in waist-deep water.
6. Napili Beach
Location: Lahaina, Hawaii
Back to the island of Maui again, this time for Lahaina’s Napili Beach, which features a small natural reef teeming with marine life.
Whale-watching cruises leave from Lahaina Harbor. Looking for a romantic spot to propose? This could be it.
5. Cannon Beach
Location: Cannon Beach, Oregon
Sprawling Cannon Beach’s impressive Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-high sea stack, is an Oregon landmark. At low tide, visitors can get up close and personal with its tide pools and sea creatures.
Need a break from the scenic beach? Take a day trip to cute Seaside, which has an aquarium, carousel and candy shops aplenty.
4. Wailea Beach
Location: Wailea, Hawaii
Wailea Beach, on the island of Maui, is flanked by impressive hotels and resorts, including the 40-acre Grand Wailea Resort.
The beach offers excellent swimming, sunbathing and a walkway that makes it easy to stroll to shops and restaurants, all while you soak up the scenic view.
3. Moonstone Beach
Location: Cambria, California
Moonstone Beach’s beautiful name isn’t all show. The beach in San Simeon State Park was named after the pearly moonstones that wash ashore.
There’s a mile-long boardwalk to stroll, whales, dolphins and otters to watch and tide pools to explore.
2. Ka’anapali Beach
Location: Lahaina, Hawaii
Maui makes the list once again with Ka’anapali Beach, once the getaway choice of Hawaiian royalty. Three miles of sparkling white sand and crystal water offer a travel magazine-quality escape.
If you can stir from your lounge chair, there’s surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching and zip-lining. You can watch the daily cliff-diving ceremony off Puu Kekaa, also known as Black Rock, which reenacts a famed feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.
1. St. Pete Beach
Location: St. Pete Beach, Florida
Here’s a beach straight from central casting. It’s no surprise this barrier-island stretch south of Madeira Beach tops Tripadvisor’s list.
You may have seen St. Pete Beach’s silky white sands and lapping warm waters in a friend’s wedding album. Brides and grooms flock here for beachside nuptials, often with the Moorish-style “pink palace” of the historic Don CeSar hotel in the background.
Soak up the rays. St. Petersburg’s 361 days of sunshine a year make every outdoor activity easy.