There’s still over a month left of summer, which means it’s high time to take a domestic beach vacation while the ocean’s still warm and the air is still salty.
Despite the obvious reasons of wanting to take one last beach vacation before summer is over—the possible final moments of true relaxation and the like—a May 2016 research study from Michigan State University also reveals that taking a relaxing vacation down along the beach is beneficial for overall mental health.
The study says that living near a lot of “blue spaces,” such as a body of water, correlate with lower levels of “psychological distress” and promote mental relaxation.
So we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 domestic beaches across the United States, from East to West Coast. Where will you go next?
1. Siesta Beach – Siesta Key, Florida
This beach is No. 1 on the 2017 Travelers Choice by TripAdvisor showcasing the top 25 beaches in the United States. Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman—or Dr. Beach, as most people refer to him—is a professor and the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, and he listed Siesta Beach as the No. 1 Beach in America this year as well. The beach won this title in 2011 as well and took second place in 2016. Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, this beach offers pristine white sands as soft as powder, crystal clear and clean waters, and far-extending real estate. Plus, it recently expanded its parking spaces to accommodate more guests while continuing to preserve its beautiful natural environment, and also began incorporating a free trolley used to transport beachgoers.
2. Kapalua Bay Beach – Maui, Hawaii
This beach is one of the most premier spots on the island of Maui. Located in between two substantial lava rock outcroppings, this crescent-shaped beach protects visitors from the strong winds that are common to most other Maui beaches. Lack of wind makes this beach a prime location for picnicking, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling—and beach bums here can rent snorkeling gear right at the concession hut on the north end of the beach. Beachgoers can buy fish food at the hut, too, as corals situated at the ocean’s bottom attract colorful, tropical fish.
3. Coopers Beach – Southampton, New York
On the south shore of Long Island, Coopers Beach finds itself right in the middle of the Hamptons. With its white sand beach, azure waters and snack bar selling food and drinks, this might be the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy a nice buzz. The beach is a mere six minutes to the village of Southampton by car. The town has a cute strip of shops, boutiques and restaurants—not to mention some summertime markets which pop up pretty often—which are all fun to explore and indulge in once a day of soaking up the sun is through.
4. Carova Beach – Carova, North Carolina
Dubbed one of the most relaxing vacation spots in the States, this east coast beach town allows for the utmost amount of leisure on its 11 miles of secluded shoreline. Perfect for anyone who simply needs to get away—whether that be with close friends or family—there are games, surfing and even wild horses running along the shore to admire. Guests will feel especially at home here because there are no hotels or motels – only vacation rental homes. Websites such as Surf or Sound Realty and Twiddy & Company can be helpful when trying to find the perfect coastal home away from home, whether your ideal be cute, cozy cottage or spacious, deluxe mansion.
Coronado Beach // Photo by Ershov_Maks/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
5. Coronado Beach – San Diego, California
The U.S. News & World Report says that this is No. 4 on its "Best Things To Do in San Diego" list, but the No. 1 beach in the sunny, free-spirited south Californian city. The vibe here is particularly peaceful, as there are fewer sunbathers than most other San Diego beaches—and calmer waves to boot. If you feel like bringing your beloved pooch along for the vacation, there's Dog Run Beach on the north side, right in front of Sunset Park, where pups can roam leash-free. After all, who better to relax with than man's best friend?
6. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – Honolulu, Hawaii
Those staying at a Waikiki hotel can take a shuttle to this beach, but it is also drivable by car. Despite not being able to walk right out of your hotel to sunbathe here, the experience is well worth the trip. This is the best place to get friendly with the beautiful variations of Hawaiian aquatic life, as the bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and "underwater park" in 1967. Visitors here can snorkel to get a closer look at the array of fish and sea turtles, but the water is also clear enough to see for viewing from above water.
7. Coast Guard Beach – Cape Cod, Massachusetts
This New England beach holds quite a bit of history, having been through the Great Storm of 1978, which destroyed most of the coastline, having hosted guests as significant as Henry David Thoreau, who gave name to the beach's Great Beach, having been a graveyard to some 3,000 wrecked ships, and as one might assume, having previously served as a Coast Guard station. The former station is located on Nauset Marsh, which can be accessed by a pathway leading to a bicycle trail bridge and offers a stunning view down the bay. For those looking to relax, breathe and just be after a bike ride, this is the beach to bum on, as the bicycle is the recommended method of transportation to this location (there is limited parking for staff and disabled visitors only).
8. Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach, Virginia
One of the more active beaches on this list, this spot is perfect for a family vacation—and all 14 miles of public beach are free! There is a nearby amusement park as well as themed entertainment both on Atlantic Avenue. There are also several festivals and events that go on throughout the summer, including the Craft Beer Festival, Latin Festival, FunkFest and Festa Italiana. For extra family fun, there are rentable bikes and parasailing. For those looking to get away from all the action, there is still Chesapeake Beach—or as the locals call it, "Chick's Beach"—as well as Sandbridge, which sits only 20 minutes off the main resort area.
9. East Hampton Main Beach – East Hampton, New York
Another classic Long Island beach. It is known for its tranquility and seclusion, and what's more is beachgoers here need a permit—equaling even more time to relax and be alone with the few others who may also be dispersed somewhere along the shore. Like its sister town of Southampton, East Hampton has a slew of clothing and jewelry shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants.
10. La Jolla Cove Beach – La Jolla, California
This beach is tiny, which means needing to get here before the rest of the crowd. But the small size is part of the appeal. There is a grass park above with stairs leading down to the sand as well as rocky cliffs ideal for divers. With a location just north of San Diego, the agreeable temperatures coupled with the resident palm trees and cool, calm waters make for quite the domestic paradise.