15 Best Atlantic Beaches

The Atlantic Ocean boasts some of the country’s most gorgeous beaches. From Maine beaches all the way down to Florida’s coastline, we’re going to share the top East Coast beaches below.

15 Best East Coast Beaches

We’ve created our list based on activities, cleanliness, scenery, and overall experience. Best of all, there’s something for everyone! From secluded seaside destinations to bustling beach towns, there’s a perfect place for every kind of vacationer. Best of all, they’re all beautiful beaches!

We’ll also share other notable beaches for family vacations, fun beach trips, and romantic getaways. Then, we’ll answer some common questions about the best East Coast beaches so that you can plan your perfect trip.

1. South Beach, Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island is a beautiful barrier island great for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing near Savannah, Georgia.
Tybee Island is a beautiful barrier island great for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing near Savannah, Georgia. (Credit: Drone Stock Pros/Shutterstock)

Tybee Island is situated about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, GA, and has been a popular vacation getaway since the late 1800s. It’s known for its expansive, sandy beaches, including South Beach.

Savannah, Georgia, is already a favored tourist destination. So, if you’re planning a trip to the south and want to include a beach day, we highly recommend adding Tybee Island to your itinerary. In fact, it’s a great place even to spend a few days for a quiet summer vacation.

Tybee Island is home to vast, pristine beaches with warm and peaceful waves. It offers a relaxing atmosphere and fun beach activities. Beachgoers most enjoy surfing, swimming, and sunbathing on Tybee beaches.

On the southern tip of Tybee Island, South Beach is adjacent to the busy and exciting Tybrisa Street area offering a lot to see and do during your trip. Visitors can shop for local treasures and enjoy delicious food at local restaurants.

Tybrisa Street is also an excellent location to book your accommodation to be in close proximity to restaurants, shops, and the beach. You can find various hotels and inns to fit your needs and vacation style.

Other attractions close to the beach include Fort Screven, a 19th-century concrete gun stronghold, and the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum with an 18th-century lighthouse that has been rebuilt and still operates.

Parking: ample paid parking spots with kiosk or smartphone app; most parking is $3.50 per hour.

Fees: no fee to access the beach.

2. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May is a quaint beach town and resort located at the southern tip of New Jersey's Cape May Peninsula. 
Cape May is a quaint beach town and resort located at the southern tip of New Jersey’s Cape May Peninsula. (Credit: FotosForTheFuture/Shutterstock)

Cape May is New Jersey’s southernmost point, a seaside resort, and a picture-perfect coastal town. It’s known for its elegant Victorian houses and is home to some of the best beaches in the East Coast region.

Cape May has several beach entrances, denoted by the street running perpendicular to the beach. This provides visitors with plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the scenic beaches.

If you love beach activities, you’ll love Cape May. Beachgoers enjoy swimming, skimboarding, surfing, fishing, kayaking, and playing beach volleyball. Be sure to check out where these activities are permitted.

Families especially love visiting Cape May beaches. Amenities such as showers, restrooms, and lifeguards make it easy to spend the day here.

The two-mile promenade is fun for strolling and appreciating the scenery, too. Beach Avenue also runs along the beach, where you can find many restaurants and accommodations.

Accommodations can be found at hotels, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds, so there’s something for every kind of traveler! There’s also plenty do to away from the ocean to enjoy your beach getaway, too. Around Cape May, you can enjoy top-notch restaurants, year-round festivals, and excelling birding.

Parking: various paid parking; arrive early for the best spots.

Fees: day or seasonal beach tag required; learn more here.

3. Jetties Beach, Nantucket, Massachusetts 

Jetties Beach, MA attracts swimmer, kayakers, windsurfers, and sunbathers.
Jetties Beach, MA attracts swimmer, kayakers, windsurfers, and sunbathers. (Credit: TeBe Photographs/Shutterstock)

In addition to pristine beaches, Nantucket offers visitors the chance to explore restaurants, high-end boutiques, and beautiful architecture. Additionally, the Whaling Museum recounts the island’s pivotal role as a 19th-century whaling crossing. 

Nantucket has North, South, and East shore beaches, all of which are beautifully unique. However, our favorite is Jetties Beach, one you may have seen in movies set in Nantucket!

Jetties Beach is one of the best East Coast beaches for swimming due to its gentle waters. It’s a short bike ride from town, and there’s also convenient parking by the beach. With lifeguards, changing rooms, a playground, restrooms, and showers, it’s the ideal spot for a family beach day.

Along with swimming, Jetties Beach is also great for windsurfing and kayaking. You can even rent beach gear along the shore. You can also take lessons for windsurfing, boating, and kayaking.

We especially appreciate that the beach offers easy access for everyone, as it’s handicap accessible and beach wheelchairs are available.

While you can’t find many places to spend the night right by Jetties Beach, you can find various hotels and inns just a few minutes drive away in downtown Nantucket. This area is an excellent place to spend a few days as you can find various activities within walking distance.

Parking: ample parking near the beach.

Fees: fee required to drive on the beach.

4. Coquina Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Coquina Beach is one of the most beautiful and fun Outer Banks beaches.
Coquina Beach is one of the most beautiful and fun Outer Banks beaches. (Credit: Tom Worsley/Shutterstock)

Coquina Beach is an undeveloped section of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, located in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It’s known for its white-sand beaches and fun beach activities.

If you’re looking to enjoy stunning views, Coquina Beach won’t disappoint. It’s also a great place to relax and get active on the water.

Water activities include surf fishing, snorkeling, surfing, bodyboarding, and swimming. Wildlife enthusiasts also enjoy spotting sea turtles and birds. You can also find sand dollars and colorful coquinas and moon snails along the shore.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, there are lifeguards on the beach. Other amenities include showers, changing rooms, and restrooms.

If you’re looking to spend your beach vacation here, there are many options for places to spend the night. Some beach houses even offer private beach access.

Check out our full Coquina Beach guide here!

Parking: free parking lot by the beach, paid parking on the sand.

Fees: fee required to drive on the beach.

5. Crescent Beach, Block Island, Rhode Island

Crescent Beach is a beautiful sand beach off the coast of Rhode Island.
Crescent Beach is a beautiful sand beach off the coast of Rhode Island. (Credit: Ellen McKnight/Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for one of the best hidden gem East Coast beaches, look no further! Crescent Beach is one of the most breathtaking beaches in Rhode Island.

It’s situated off the coast of mainland Rhode Island on Block Island, and it’s only accessible by ferry and well worth the trip over. Once you arrive, you can rent a bike or moped to explore the island. With that said, Crescent Beach is within walking distance of the ferry landing.

Around Block Island, you can find 17 miles of immaculate beaches that are protected by bluffs and lighthouses. Around the island, visitors enjoy riding around and exploring winding paths and rolling roads.

Crescent Beach offers 2.5 miles of Block Island coastline, where you can play in the waves, appreciate the picturesque views, and sunbathe. It’s also fun to watch the ferries dock on Crescent Beach.

There’s also a pavilion with concessions and beach gear rentals during the peak season. On the beach, you’ll also find lifeguards and restrooms.

Tip: Stick around for sunset to catch a breathtaking panorama!

Parking: ample free parking.

Fees: no fees.

6. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York

Main Beach is a beautiful, upscale beach that offers a tranquil atmosphere.
Main Beach is a beautiful, upscale beach that offers a tranquil atmosphere. (Credit: Tim_Walters2017/Shutterstock)

Main Beach in East Hampton should be at the top of the list for anyone looking for quiet beaches on the East Coast. At Main Beach, you can expect solitude with the crowds of other vacation destinations.

You can also find pristine sand and water, crashing waves, and gorgeous views. The beach is so incredible that even celebrities enjoy visiting it. Not only is it easily one of the best beaches in New York, but it was also named one of the best beaches in the country a few years ago.

Concessions and restrooms are convenient for those who want to spend the day relaxing by the shore. If you’re looking to spend the night, there are several upscale accommodations nearby, too.

While the beautiful shoreline is East Hampton’s biggest attraction, you can also find delicious food, unique history, various shopping, and outdoor activities around the town.

Parking: parking lot for pass holders.

Fees: daily, monthly, or seasonal pass required; learn more here.

7. Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah Island is a slice of South Carolina paradise with private beaches and golf courses.
Kiawah Island is a slice of South Carolina paradise with private beaches and golf courses. (Credit: Matthew Kazmierski/Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for a private East Coast beach, you’re going to love Kiawah Island! This stunning barrier island is one of our favorite beaches in South Carolina. It’s about fifteen miles south of Charleston and is a popular spot for many celebrities, locals, and vacationers.

Most of Kiawah’s shoreline is private, so you’ll have to rent a vacation home or stay at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. However, you can also find public access at Beachwalker County Park, located on the island’s West end.

The island boasts ten miles of wide sandy beaches, where you can unwind and find untouched beauty. It’s the perfect couple or family vacation destination if you’re looking to enjoy nature. From ocean scenery and marshes to lush green golf courses and outdoor activities, it’s a slice of natural paradise!

Nearby, you can visit the cultural city of Charleston, where you can find award-winning restaurants, shopping, and local events.

Parking: most beach access is private to accommodations; public parking lot at the county park.

Fees: $5 – $15 (depending on season) honor system at the county park.

8. Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport, Maine

Goose Rocks Beach is a gorgeous, quiet beach and sits at the northernmost point of the East Coast.
Goose Rocks Beach is a gorgeous, quiet beach and sits at the northernmost point of the East Coast. (Credit: Amy Newton-McConnel/Shutterstock)

Maine beaches are some of the best in the Eastern US, and Goose Rocks Beach is one-of-a-kind. It’s the largest beach in the state is sits at the northernmost tip of the East Coast.

If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you’re sure to find it here. In fact, it’s tucked away and doesn’t often see many visitors. The best part is that the expansive shoreline offers plenty of space to hang out and enjoy the full experience!

Visitors from all over enjoy going to Goose Rocks to enjoy sunbathing, relaxing, and strolling along the white sands. Its calm waters are also great for swimming.

We definitely suggest bringing your camera along as this is one of the most picturesque beaches in Kennebunkport.

Fun fact: Goose Rocks Beach is one of Maine’s essential habitats for endangered Plovers and Terns. Because of this, some areas of the beach are protected, offering an unmatched slice of natural paradise.

While this area is serene and not too trafficked, there are some accommodations if you need some respite. There are also hiking trails and a campground in Kennebunkport.

Parking: various parking lots near the beach.

Fees: fee to park during peak season; learn more here.

9. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach is a lively coastal town with fun beach activities and a boardwalk.
Hampton Beach is a lively coastal town with fun beach activities and a boardwalk. (Credit: Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock)

Are you looking for a bustling beach vacation? Hampton Beach offers just that! This popular beach resort is home to miles of sandy beaches and year-round recreation. It’s the perfect area for a beach getaway, with tons of accommodations and a campground at the local state park.

For a memorable beach experience surrounded by fun activities, we recommend visiting Hampton Beach State Park. This park on the Southern tip of the barrier island offers swimming, fishing, and campgrounds. The white, soft sand also has shallow tide pools at times, perfect for little beachgoers.

On the beach, you can find amenities, including restrooms and a snack bar. There’s also a lively boardwalk that boasts restaurants, ice cream shops, arcades, and opportunities for shopping.

Check out deep sea fishing and whale watching tours with Al Gauron for a special activity.

Since Hampton Beach is a popular vacation spot for locals and tourists, it’s dotted with hotels and inns, many of which are near the ocean. You can also camp at the state park.

Parking: $1 – $2 (depending on the season) to park per hour.

Fees: no fee for beach access.

10. Palm Beach, Florida

Palm Beach in South Florida is known for its vast estates and beautiful, fun-filled beaches.
Palm Beach in South Florida is known for its vast estates and beautiful, fun-filled beaches. (Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

Florida is one of the top beach destinations in the United States and its list of amazing East Coast beaches is endless. However, Palm Beach is one of the leading ones, especially if you’re looking for a luxurious beach town.

Not only is Palm Beach home to pristine beaches, but you can also find resorts and historical landmarks. Beachgoers enjoy sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and diving along Palm Beach’s shoreline.

One of the best parts about visiting Florida beaches is that it’s sunny almost every day, and the weather is nice all year!

If you hope to enjoy world-class shopping and dining on your beach vacation, you’re in luck! It’s also one of the greatest golf destinations along the East Coast.

Parking: free and metered parking near the beach.

Fees: free to access beach.

11. Oak Bluffs Town Beach, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Oak Bluffs Town Beach is a gorgeous beach with calm waters just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Oak Bluffs Town Beach is a gorgeous beach with calm waters just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (Credit: CJ Larsen/Shutterstock)

Martha’s Vineyard is a Massachusetts island nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Nantucket Sound. It’s a magical place to visit as it’s bursting with unspoiled, picturesque beaches like Oak Bluffs Town Beach.

Just steps from the Ferry Terminal, Oak Bluffs Town Beach is a peaceful slice of paradise with shiny clear water awaiting you. It’s the ideal place to kick back and relax or stroll the shore and hunt for seashells. If you’re looking to play in the calm waters, it’s also a great place to snorkel and swim.

To explore more, Joseph Sylvia State Beach is just across the way and offers more natural beauty. The entire area also offers amazing food, historical sites, and unique shops.

With various inns and bed & breakfasts, there are many places to spend the night close to the beach and activities.

Parking: limited free parking near the beach; arrive early if possible.

Fees: no fees.

12. Oceanfront, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Oceanfront Virginia Beach is a vibrant area surrounded by so many fun things to see and do.
Oceanfront Virginia Beach is a vibrant area surrounded by so many fun things to see and do. (Credit: Jay Yuan/Shutterstock)

Virginia Beach is a coastal town in Southeastern Virginia that sits where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay. Miles of beaches, hundreds of hotels, and countless restaurants make this an exciting trip to the shore.

While there are almost 38 miles of shoreline along Virginia Beach’s coast, we definitely recommend visiting the bustling Oceanfront Virginia Beach. Here, visitors enjoy building sandcastles, taking surf lessons, and relaxing on the expansive shoreline.

You can also find amenities, including showers, restrooms, and lifeguards.

The three-mile boardwalk is a favorite at Oceanfront Beach, too. It’s filled with street performers, food vendors, and shops surrounded by gorgeous scenery. You can also find cafes and shops within walking distance of the beach.

We recommend checking out First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach for the ultimate day of adventure outdoors. This waterfront park boasts opportunities for hanging out on the beach, canoeing, and hiking.

Pet owners especially love Virginia Beach as leashed pets are welcome on the boardwalk all year. You can also bring your dog to the north end of the beach year-round and other beaches during spring and fall.

Around the energetic city, there are more fun things to enjoy. Visitors like hanging out at local parks, checking out the local food and drink science, and attending events.

You can find countless accommodation options to fit your needs to spend the night.

Parking: ample paid parking lots and meters; prices vary.

Fees: free to access beach.

13. Crescent Beach, St. Augustine Beach, Florida

Crescent Beach is a pet-friendly, low-key beach with soft white sand and stunning views.
Crescent Beach is a pet-friendly, low-key beach with soft white sand and stunning views. (Credit: Kim Lewis Photography/Shutterstock)

St. Augustine is the oldest city on the coast of Northeast Florida and one of the oldest in the country. Not only is this small, historic town filled with interesting facts, but its shoreline is beautiful. Crescent Beach is one of the most peaceful East Coast beaches.

Crescent Beach is in the southern corner of town, away from the happening downtown area (which is also well worth checking out). Its shoreline offers a sense of tranquility and incredible scenery.

The beach is filled with soft white sands, tide pools, and unique sea creatures. It’s a great place to swim, collect seashells, and sunbathe.

For a memorable experience, you can also go horseback riding on the beach from November to March.

You can also drive a 4×4 onto the beach with a beach driving pass.

The park is also an excellent place to take a break from the beach. It has a volleyball court, a playground, and a children’s splash pad. There are also restrooms and showers.

You can find a seafood restaurant, ice cream cafe, and a surf shop within walking distance.

Parking: parking on the beach and nearby.

Fees: beach passes for $5 – $10.

14. Hollywood Beach, Florida 

Hollywood Beach offers an energetic vibe and it surrounded by everything you need for an exciting beach day or vacation.
Hollywood Beach offers an energetic vibe and it surrounded by everything you need for an exciting beach day or vacation. (Credit: Trifonov Igor/Shutterstock)

For a more happening Florida beach, Hollywood Beach is the place to go. It’s nestled between the popular towns of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, so it’s the perfect destination for a lively vacation.

Hollywood Beach has a traditional Florida vibe and attracts beachgoers from all over. Along the beach, you’ll find tons of parking, bars, and restaurants.

The Hollywood Beach Boardwalk is also a go-to spot for locals and travelers alike to walk, cycle, and skate. You can also find tiki bars, seafood restaurants, and hotels on the boardwalk.

On the palm-lined beach, beachgoers enjoy going for a bike ride and seacombing. You can also play beach volleyball, sunbathe, and swim.

Since the beach is large and very visitor-friendly, there are ample amenities and conveniences. There are restrooms, showers, and lifegaurds. You can also find a playground and a beach park with a fountain. If you need beach equipment or even want to rent a bike, several rental shops are available along the beach.

Parking: various free and paid parking near the beach, $0 – $3 per hour.

Fees: no fee to access the beach.

15. Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Florida Keys, Florida

Sombrero Beach is a pet-friendly beach with a sandy shoreline, fun activites, and amentities in the middle of the Florida Keys.
Sombrero Beach is a pet-friendly beach with a sandy shoreline, fun activites, and amentities in the middle of the Florida Keys. (Credit: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock)

The Florida Keys are a chain of thirteen islands that boasts stunning beaches and something for everyone. At Sombrero Beach and its park, you can find a white sandy shoreline, fun activities, and lots of amenities. It’s in the city of Marathon, a family-oriented community with 10 miles of beautiful East Coast beaches.

One of the most iconic attractions at Sombrero Beach is its amazing snorkeling experiences. Sea creatures, including tropical fish, are easy to spot in the sparkling clear waters. Anglers also enjoy surf fishing at the beach.

One thing that makes Sombrero Beach unique is its sea turtle. You can enjoy spotting sea turtles, especially during nesting season from April to October. Beachgoers can also swim, sunbathe, and seacomb along the palm tree-lined shore.

Amenities at Sombrero Beach include picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. It also offers total handicap accessibility.

If you’re looking for a pet-friendly beach in the Keys, this is it! Leashed pets are welcome at all times.

As far as where you stay overnight in Marathon, you can find various hotels and resorts just a couple of miles away from the beach on Highway 1. If you’d prefer to stay closer to the water, there are a couple of vacation rental homes along Sombrero Beach.

Parking: ample free parking.

Fees: no fees.

Other Mentionable East Coast Beaches

With thousands and thousands of miles of coastline, there are certainly more than 15 beaches well worth visiting! The ones above are the best of the best, but here are some other favorite beach spots.

For a family vacation:

  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Isle of Palms, SC
  • Ocean City, MD
  • Rehoboth Beach, DE
  • Old Orchard Beach, ME
  • Nags Head, NC
  • Amelia Island, FL

For a lively, fun-filled beach trip:

  • Folly Beach, SC
  • Miami Beach, FL
  • Siesta Key, FL
  • Atlantic City, NJ
  • Kill Devils Hill Beach, NC

For a couple’s getaway:

  • Sullivan’s Island, SC
  • Bar Harbour, ME
  • Chincoteague Island, VA
  • Vero Beach, FL
  • Jekyll Island, GA

FAQ

Do you have a few more questions as you plan your next East Coast beach vacation? We’re happy to answer them!

Which beach has the clearest water?

Sombrero Beach in the Florida Keys has the clearest water along these East Coast beaches. In fact, currents and the bay’s position make for clear waters at most of Florida’s beaches. With that said, the Keys are known for their stunning waters perfect for snorkeling and diving.

What is the least crowded beach on the East Coast?

Kiawah Island in South Carolina is the least crowded. Most of the shoreline along Kiawah Island is private access only from beach homes. You can actually rent a vacation home or stay at the local resort. This privacy comes with fewer crowds, perfect for rejuvenation.

Other quiet beaches well worth visiting include South Beach, Tybee Island, GA and Main Beach, East Hampton NY.

Which destination is the most affordable?

While all destinations can be affordable depending on how you spend your vacation, Cape May, NJ is known for being budget-friendly. Several accommodation options allow you to choose one in your price range. There are also many free activities to enjoy around the city and at Cape May beaches. Beach entry requires a small free, but weekly passes are available.

Which destination is the most luxurious?

If you’re looking to treat yourself or you’re taking a fancy honeymoon, Main Beach in East Hampton, NY offers a luxurious vacation. The beach itself is gorgeous and tranquil. The community also boasts upscale hotels, inns, resorts, and restaurants.

Kiawah Island, SC is also a luxury beach destination, where you can find a beachfront resort and private beaches.

What is the nicest beach on the southern East Coast?

This one is tough because there are quite a few! But if we had to pick one, we’d go with Crescent Beach in St. Augustine, Florida. It boasts beautiful white sands and breathtaking scenery. Its tranquil environment also adds to its beauty.

But, to be honest, all of the best East Coast beaches in the south are very nice. On this list, that includes Crescent Beach (St. Austine, FL), Kiawah Island (South Carolina), Palm Beach, Hollywood Beach, and Sombrero Beach (all in Florida).

What East Coast beaches are good pet-friendly?

The best pet-friendly East Coast beaches are Sombrero Beach and Crescent Beach, both in Florida. Leashed pets are welcome year-round. You can also take leashed pets to Virginia Beach’s boardwalk and to some beaches nearby.

Which beach is best for surfing?

Coquina Beach in the Outer Banks, NC is the best surfing beach on the Eastern coastline. In fact, the Outer Banks are known to best some of the country’s best surfing beaches because it’s uniquely situated to get swells from all directions.

Other good surfing beaches on the East are South Beach, Tybee Island (GA), Cape May (NJ), and Virginia Beach (VA).

What’s the best beach on the East Coast for a family vacation?

Several beaches on the East Coast are wonderful for a family trip, depending on what you’re looking for. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Cape May, New Jersey: a coastal city and scenic beach with small-town vibes and fun activities.
  • Jetties Beach, Nantucket, Massachusetts: apopular beach with many amenities and clean, gentle waters.
  • Kiawah Island, South Carolina: a tranquil, upscale beach destination with vacation homes that offer private beach access.
  • Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Florida Keys, Florida: a family-friendly beach community with endless ocean activities.

Enjoy East Coast Beaches

From quintessential New England beaches to the clear water beaches in South Florida, the best beaches along the East Coast offer something for everyone! From tranquil spots and lively destinations to endless beach activities and local events, it’s easy to find your ideal beach vacation spot.

The best part is that you can find something to fit exactly what you’re looking for in each state along the coast. Enjoy an affordable solo getaway, a luxurious couple’s trip, or a fun family adventure.

We hope we’ve inspired you to hit one of the many incredible beaches on the Eastern coastline!

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