We scoured the US in search of the perfect beach and quickly realized one thing: All beaches are not created equal. Sure there’s the point where the water meets the shoreline, but aside from that, the beaches on this list couldn’t be more unalike. Each of our picks are unique in their own way. Here are our TOP 5 BEACHES YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF.
1. Fort Pickens (Pensacola, Florida). In 1559 the Spanish landed on this beach and called it home for a few months (before being wiped out by a hurricane). This lovely stretch of sugar white beaches and emerald green waters are sandwiched between two sections of national seashore. The beach is also home to the Blue Angels air show which takes place every July. To avoid the crowds (and hurricanes), but still take in the sunshine, it’s best to visit this beach October – February.
Sunset on a white sand beach near Fort Picken’s, FL.
A great blue heron takes flight near Fort Pickens, FL.
2. Cape Alava (Coastal Washington). Rocky shorelines, dense temperate rainforests, and high tidal fluctuations make this beach one of the most unique on the list. Situated on the northern Washington coast in Olympic National Park, Cape Alava beach requires a 3 mile hike in. It is great for an adventuring couple looking to spend the evening tide pooling for critters and gazing up at the stars. Be sure to pitch your tent at a safe distance from the water and check the tide charts before you go. To beat the summer rush, it’s best to visit this beach Mid-September – October; April – June.
Cape Alava at sunset and low tide.
3. Olowalu (Maui, Hawaii). Roosters, picturesque mountains, turtles, and coral reefs make this one of the most unique spots in all of Hawaii. Not to mention the fact that Camp Olowalu has tentaloos with private roof-less showers for rent – this place is all sorts of amazing. It’s like a honeymoon, but mega-affordable (if you do it right). Best time to visit: summer and fall. If you visit in the fall, there’s a great chance you’ll have the beach to yourself. Don’t forget your snorkel gear and hammock!
Olowalu Beach has incredible coral reefs for snorkeling ~300m offshore.
At $80/night for a “tentaloo,” Camp Olowalu might offer the cheapest bed in Hawaii. Tent camping runs $40/night. Snorkeling is free. Kayaks and paddle boards are available for rent.
4. Scripps Beach (La Jolla, Southern California). Maybe the most well-known beach on this list, we selected Scripps for its iconic pier and leopard sharks. Don’t let the word “shark” scare you, this species of shark is mild-mannered and harmless. Don’t forget your surfboard. The beach also has amazing tide pooling on the north side to boot! If you venture past the tide pools, you’ll eventually hit Blacks Beach – San Diego’s famous nude beach and surf spot. Best time to visit: year round.
Scripp’s Pier, La Jolla CA #bringahammock.
View from above Scripp’s Beach.
5. Muskegon State Park (Western Michigan). Sharks and salt not your thing? Lake Michigan offers beautiful freshwater beaches without any lurking creatures of the deep. While Muskegon does have its own small airport, it might be best to fly into Grand Rapids, a booming beer and art city only 30 miles away.
Muskegon State Park Beach. Perfect sand and clear fresh water. Photo by Kristy G on Tripadvisor.com