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While you might think you’d have to travel a long distance, perhaps to the Caribbean or South Pacific to find a beautiful white sand beach, there are many right in the United States. As one of the world’s top 10 nations when it comes to total coastline area, there are beaches to be found along the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and even in the picturesque Great Lakes. This results in some diverse stretches of sand, including some stunningly white sand beaches like these.
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Puerto Rico is, of course, a U.S. territory, which means no passport is required to enjoy its breathtaking Caribbean shores. Culebra Island is home to one of the world’s most beautiful white sand beaches: Flamenco Beach. There are no luxury resorts, casinos or upscale eateries here, but you can enjoy an especially tranquil experience without the traffic, crowds, or crime. Its silky soft, white sands stretch along the entire bay which boasts shallow turquoise waters that are ideal for snorkeling and swimming, making it one of the top beaches in Puerto Rico. As the U.S. military used it for decades, it kept developers away, while abandoned tanks now lie artfully decorated in colorful Caribbean patterns.
Pensacola is famous for its jaw-dropping beaches with bright white sand that can rival some of the best in the world. Located in the Florida panhandle, USA Today recently ranked Pensacola Beach as the No. 1 beach in the state, recognizing its stark white, powdery soft sands, noting, “Beachgoers enjoy clear, shallow waters and gentle waves, perfect for swimming, along with a relaxed old Florida feel.” The deep blue water that edges the shoreline ranges in shades from royal blue to turquoise and emerald. It’s also a great place to catch a colorful sunset and to snorkel among the marine life in a gorgeous underwater world.
The 1958 classic “South Pacific” was shot on Tunnels Beach, located near Hanalei on the beautiful island of Kauai. You’ll understand why it was chosen the moment you lay your eyes on this picture-perfect stretch of white sands that are backed by lush ironwood and palm trees, with steep cliffs beyond. Ideal for snorkeling or diving, its name comes thanks to the multiple lava tubes which form caverns under the water. The tubes create a perfect haven for tropical fish. If you’re visiting in the winter, you’ll likely have to stay on the shore and just enjoy gazing out at the water as conditions are hazardous during the season.
*This beach is currently closed after sustaining major flooding, please check with local guides prior to planning your trip. More information about the flooding can be found here.
Another one of Hawaii’s most stunning white sand beaches can be found on the island of Maui. Once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty, today the sugary sands of Kaanapali and its azure waters draw many to enjoy a variety of activities, from sipping cocktails to sunbathing, surfing, snorkeling and diving, stand-up paddle boarding and even cliff jumping. The north end known as Black Rock is an especially famous destination for snorkeling as well as hosting a cliff diving ceremony every evening at sunset.
The crown jewel of Coronado Island in San Diego is its mile-and-a-half-long beach that glitters like gold under the ever-present sunshine due to its high concentration of mica, a silver, pearly, mineral. Not only does it offer incredible scenic beauty, but a host of opportunities for both relaxation and active pursuits. Splash around, go boogie boarding or learn to surf – with the gentle waves, it’s an ideal place for beginners with the Coronado Surfing Academy offering lessons. Just before the sun goes down every evening, you can join the crowds to witness the beach’s famously spectacular sunsets.
Located in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s Clearwater Beach is famous for its pristine white sands and breathtakingly blue waters. Enjoy lounging under the sunny skies, searching for beautiful shells, or taking part in all sorts of outdoor adventures from parasailing and swimming to boat tours, all while keeping an eye out for the dolphins that frequently leap through the surf. After a day of play or relaxation, head to the Sunsets at Pier 60 Daily Festival, hosted 364 days a year, starting about two hours before until two hours after sunset, featuring street performers, artisans, crafters, and more.
There are more than 70 miles of wide, unspoiled and often practically empty white sand beaches on Hatteras Island, part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Thanks to the island’s proximity to the Gulf Stream, a warm water oceanic current rises from the Yucatan Channel to flow north, where it touches the mainland right here at Cape Hatteras, meaning you’ll find a mild climate all year long. With so much beach, it’s easy to find your own isolated spot in the dunes. Look forward to long beach strolls, flying a kite in the summer breeze, picnics, sandcastle building, wading in the surf or just relaxing on the sand.
Orange Beach enjoys an especially picturesque location in the Gulf of Mexico, with some nine miles of sand to enjoy. As the sand here is made up primarily of quartz, it results in a pristine white that sparkles under the sunshine. Toss a Frisbee, sculpt your perfect sandcastle, bathe in the sun or go deep-sea fishing. The beach is home to the country’s largest artificial fishing reef, making it ideal for deep-sea fishing excursions. You can rent a boat, book a charter or simply fish right from the pier. If you’ve always wanted to see dolphins in the wild, this is the place, with guaranteed sightings through Dolphin Cruises Aboard the Cold Mill Fleet.
The scenery never ends in Carmel, from the dolphins and sea otters that swim in the Pacific and the surfers that ride the waves to one of the most extraordinary scenic golf courses, the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright house and of course, beautiful beaches. Carmel Beach offers incomparable sunsets and also hosts a number of fun annual events, like the Great Sandcastle Contest.