The Top 10 Beaches in America, According to Travelers

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The beach at La Jolla Cove in California
Ronnie Chua /

Planning a trip? It’s hard to resist the pull of a beach paradise, where you trade the hubbub and crowds of major tourist attractions for relaxing waves and soft sand.

Travel site Tripadvisor recently released its Travelers’ Choice Awards for beaches. The results are based on an analysis of all the reviews left on Tripadvisor globally for beaches over one year. Its goal is to reveal the highest-rated beaches by real people who recently visited.

The U.S. winners span from sun-soaked Florida to the Pacific shores of Oregon. To no one’s surprise, California, Florida and Hawaii each landed two beaches in the top 10.

Here are the top beaches in the U.S., beginning with No. 10.

10. Ocean City Beach

Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland
Yeilyn Channell /

Location: Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City offers 10 miles of pristine sand and surf. If soaking up the sun feels too lazy, there’s swimming, surfing, fishing and kayaking as more active options. The beach also features a classic wooden boardwalk with rides, bike rentals, restaurants and shopping.

9. Coligny Beach

Coligny Beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina
Helioscribe /

Location: Hilton Head, South Carolina

Golfers know South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island well, thanks to its over 26 championship courses. But you don’t have to know an eagle from a birdie to enjoy vacation time on Hilton Head’s Coligny Beach. Beach activities include sandcastle building, seashell collecting, pelican watching, a kid-friendly splash pad and a boardwalk.

8. Driftwood Beach

Couple at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia
Margaret.Wiktor /

Location: Jekyll Island, Georgia

The weathered driftwood that gave Driftwood Beach its name lends an otherworldly feel to this family and pet-friendly beach. Visit at low tide for your best selfie opportunities, as that’s when you’ve got the most space to explore the gnarled limbs and branches. Visitors can collect shells and sand dollars, but are prohibited from removing the famed driftwood itself.

7. Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach, California
Natalia Macheda /

Location: Santa Monica, California

TV watchers know Santa Monica State Beach very well. It’s showed up as the backdrop for everything from the “Three’s Company” opening credits to home to the Beverly Hills Beach Club on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Smack in the middle of the 3.5-mile-long sandy beach is the famed Santa Monica Pier, which features amusement park rides, an aquarium, restaurants, and the famed Ferris Wheel that looks out over the gleaming Pacific Ocean.

6. Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Sharon Eisenzopf /

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.

5. La Jolla Cove

Beachgoers at La Jolla Cove in California
Ronnie Chua /

Location: La Jolla, California

Striking La Jolla Cove, surrounded by sandstone cliffs, is a small beach, but it remains a San Diego treasure, with calm waters that encourage diving and snorkeling. It’s known for the large colonies of sea lions that lounge and play there. Admire them, snap a photo, but please, leave the animals alone. Watch them from a distance, and keep this highly rated beach open as a result.

4. Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach in Hollywood, Florida
Kamira /

Location: Hollywood, Florida

Hooray for Hollywood — no, not the California movie-star Hollywood, but the Miami suburb. Here, travelers will find a beach straight from Central Casting. There’s sun and sand aplenty for those who want to relax, and active types can kiteboard, surf, and paddleboard. A brick-paved boardwalk attracts walkers, joggers, cyclists and inline skaters.

3. Poipu Beach Park

Poipu Beach, Hawaii
EJ Nickerson /

Location: Poipu, Hawaii

It makes sense that breathtaking Hawaii would land two of the list’s top three beaches. Poipu Beach Park is located on Kauai’s southern coast, and in addition to sunbathing and swimming, offers plenty of sporty activities, including snorkeling, surfing and bodyboarding. But you can also soak up nature sightings. Hawaiian monk seals — one of the most endangered seal species in the world — occasionally make appearances, and you might spot humpback whales in the distance.

2. Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, Florida
Suncoast Aerials /

Location: Siesta Key, Florida

Siesta Beach is special, and so too is its sand. The white, powdery sand is 99% quartz crystal, prized by sand collectors. (They exist!) This special sand makes for a soft walking or lounging surface for visitors, who also enjoy swimming in the clear turquoise water, and searching for shells and even shark teeth.

1. Ka’anapali Beach

Ka'anapali Beach on Maui, Hawaii
Manuel Balesteri /

Location: Lahaina, Hawaii

Ka’anapali Beach, once the getaway choice of Hawaiian royalty, tops the list. Three miles of sparkling white sand and crystal water offer a travel magazine-quality escape.

If you can stir from your lounger, 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.

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