15 Best Tropical Beaches in the USA

Updated: March 30, 2019 | Bucketlist

When you think of the USA, it’s hard to imagine there being any tropical beaches.

However, there are surprisingly some beaches that will remind you of the Caribbean.

Here’s a list of the 15 best tropical beaches in the US.

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Crystal Sands Beach – Destin

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Located along Florida’s Emerald Coast, this beach is known for its stunning turquoise waters and sugary-white sand.

People from all around the world visit this beach because of its tranquility.

If the weather isn’t good in Destin, there’s plenty of shopping opportunities, like the Destin Commons.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach florida
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Tucked away on the westernmost part of the Florida panhandle on Santa Rosa Island – Pensacola Beach is one of the region’s most popular Gulf Coast destinations. In addition to the crystal clear waters and soft sand, Pensacola Beach delivers the perfect balance of activity and privacy.

Designated as the country’s longest stretch of protected seashore, Gulf Islands National Seashore can be accessed through Pensacola Beach. This national park is an ideal place to snorkel, bike, or swim. Those looking for a more intimate experience can escape to the secluded areas of sand hidden by the wispy seagrass while those travelers looking for more action can head to the lively boardwalk. This area provides a myriad of shops, restaurants, and bars, that have amazing views of the coastline.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park
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Enjoy the beauty of the Florida Keys with a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. This cluster of islands is located at the end of the strand of the keys about 70 miles west of Key West. This remote location can only be reached by boat or seaplane, adding to the overall seclusion of the destination.

The hassle to get there is well worth the time and effort. It’s common to go snorkeling with the green sea turtles and other marine life. Outdoor enthusiasts will also appreciate the opportunity to camp and truly connect with Mother Nature.


Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

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This idyllic paradise is located off of the famous Highway 1, approximately 40 miles south of Carmel. The area is best known for McWay Falls, cascading 80 feet into the ocean from the towering hillside. The park stretches across four miles of wooded areas and coastline, giving a varied experience at every turn. In addition to the beach areas, the park also features a vast network of hiking trails climbing over 3,000 feet above the shores. The challenging hikes are worth it once you reach the top and are rewarded with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.

The park offers picnic areas and camping spots, making it a one-stop-shop for outdoor recreational opportunities. Scuba diving is also permitted at Partington Cove, although you must have a permit to participate.

Crystal Cove State Park

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One of Southern California’s most revered gems, Crystal Cove State Park is the pride of Orange County. Located in the quaint town of Laguna Beach, this area features 3.2 miles of sandy beach partnered with gentle tidepools and wooded canyons. The beach is an urban oasis and the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Southern California.

Don’t be deterred by the common foggy mornings. The fog will slowly begin to burn off throughout the morning hours, leaving sunny skies and warm temperatures in its wake.

The staff is known to conduct a variety of educational programs throughout the year, including geology lectures and guided hikes through the deep canyons and wooded areas. History aficionados will appreciate the Crystal Cove Historic District. This 12.3-acre site boasts a number of rustic coastal cottages, showcasing the history and tradition of California’s rich culture. Visitors who plan ahead can even choose to stay the night at one of these historic cottages, truly making the most of their time at Crystal Cove State Park.


Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach Hawaii
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Located in Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu, Waikiki is arguably the most famous beach in the world. It’s where you want to head if you want to experience the glitz and glamour of Hawaii. The vibrant landscape is dotted with everything from five-star restaurants to food trucks serving up some of the island’s best shrimp plates and shaved ice. The shopping opportunities will keep visitors so busy that they won’t even feel the need to step into the water. Surfing opportunities abound in the waters and a plethora of other activities are available to meet every personal need and preference. From jet skiing to whale watching to parasailing, there is something for everyone at Waikiki. While not the place to be for peace and solitude, the energy of Waikiki Beach is something that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Beach Oahu
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This beach and recreation area truly has it all. The turquoise blue waters lap up against three miles of sandy shore with the distinctive ironwood trees standing guard.

The trees provide an abundant amount of shade, making this place a good beach to visit when looking to get out of the sun while still enjoying the warm waters. Although many people flock to the more popular Waikiki Beach nearly 45 minutes away, Waimanalo carries the distinction of being the longest uninterrupted white-sand beach on Oahu.

Waimanalo Beach is located on Windward Oahu, making it somewhat breezy at times. The wind can also bring a slight chill to the air during the winter months, so plan accordingly.

This beach is an ideal place to bodyboard since the waves are not as high as other areas in Oahu and break closer to the shore. During the week, the beach can be a place to escape the crowds of Oahu, however, Waimanalo can get crowded on the weekends when the locals come out to enjoy the area.

Poipu Beach

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The rainy island of Kauai is not exactly a place that most people travel to for sun and surf. However, the southern portion of the island is known for its bright and sunny weather. It is within this pocket of sunshine that Poipu Beach is located. Some of the island’s most exclusive resorts are located along this stretch of sandy beach. A protected cove is ideal for young children, as the calm waters allow them to splash around without fear of big waves crashing on to the shore. Combined with the exceptional weather, a host of nearby restaurants and shopping options make Poipu Beach an ideal home base when exploring the garden island of Kauai.

Makena Beach

Makena Beach Maui
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As one of the longest and most undisturbed beaches in Maui, Makena Beach is a haven for both tourists and locals. This beach is popular for its vast swimming, snorkeling, and fishing opportunities. The 2/3-mile patch of sandy beach is positioned between two black-lava outcroppings. This unique location offers protection from the island’s tradewinds. On a clear day, visitors will be able to witness the sweeping views of the islands of Molokini and Kahoolawe. The beach is separated into Big Beach and Little Beach. The Big Beach offers more amenities such as lifeguard and food concessions.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay Oahu hawaii
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There is no better place to snorkel than at the famed Hanauma Bay State Park and Nature Preserve. In 1967, Hanauma Bay was declared an official protected marine life conservation area and underwater park. Since that time, the area has been attracting a multitude of visitors each year in search of spotting some of the most diverse marine life in the waters of Hawaii.

A marine education center helps visitors to understand the importance of conservation and sea life preservation. All visitors are required to watch a 9-minute video at the center prior to entering the park. Hanauma Bay is an ideal place to take novice snorkelers and children because of the calm and protected waters. Admission to the park is cheap and is closed every Tuesday.

United States Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay

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Trunk Bay is St. John’s most photographed beach for good reason. This stunning piece of island coastline is known for its soft white sand and aqua blue waters. The self-guided 650′ Underwater Snorkeling Trail is a great introduction to the sport of snorkeling.

Trunk Bay is conveniently located within the perimeter of the Virgin Islands National Park and is the only beach in St. John that charges an admission fee. A multitude of facilities and amenities make spending the day at St. John enjoyable and convenient.

Guests will appreciate the showers, restrooms, souvenir shops, lifeguards, snack bar, and more. Because it is such a popular destination for passengers on visiting cruise ships, it’s recommended to pick a day that does not have a lot of boats in port.

Maho Beach

Maho Beach USVI
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As one of the best tropical beaches in the US, Maho Beach enjoys a loyal following of both locals and tourists looking to escape reality. The towering coconut trees form a protective barrier to the sandy shores and the light surf makes it a perfect choice for families with young children.

Maho Bay Beach is a short drive from many of St. John’s most popular resort areas. Like most beaches in St. John and the Caribbean, visitors will enjoy the superb snorkeling opportunities. Snorkelers should not be surprised to come face to face with sea turtles and stingrays making their way through the tranquil waters. Restroom facilities and a covered picnic area make this an amazing place to spend an afternoon.

Scott Bay Beach

Scott Bay Beach USVI
Fred Hsu / Wikipedia

As part of the Caneel Bay Resort, this private beach offers a secluded experience to its visitors. Unless you are a guest at the resort, arrivals are only allowed via the water.

However, once visitors arrive, they will have a great amount of privacy and tranquility. If you’re looking to suntan, you should visit during the morning, but if you prefer more shade, then you should go during the afternoon.

Located just to the left of Turtle Bay, this beach provides exceptional snorkeling opportunities in a much more secluded place.

Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach Culebra Puerto Rico
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Located on the obscure island of Culebra, it is no wonder that most people have not heard of Flamenco Beach. As part of Puerto Rico, Culebra is only a short 20-minute ferry ride or flight from the main island, making it a perfect day trip. The crescent-shaped beach is cradled by the iconic rolling green hills.

The crystal waters are known for their ability to change hues of blue depending on the angle and strength of the sun. From baby blue to turquoise to more azure shades, visitors are always in for a spectacular show of color on the waters when spending time at Flamenco Beach.

Because the island is not commercialized like many areas of the Caribbean, guests will truly feel like they have been transported to another time and place. It’s hard to leave once the feelings of Flamenco takes hold.

La Chiva

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Also known as Blue Beach, this idyllic setting has captured the heart of many travelers due to the brilliant shades of blue exhibited in the pristine waters.

The shallow waters hold various grass beds, attracting all types of marine life and providing a stunning backdrop for any snorkeling adventure. During the winter months, the calm waters provide a perfect place for small children to play along the shore.

The longshore makes it ideal for a nice walk or a run along the beach. This beach is located within the perimeter of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, positioned on the south side of Puerto Rico.

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