Avoid the sun-seeking throngs at these under-the-radar seaside gems.
So you want to relax at the beach this summer without being crammed in next to hundreds of other beachgoers? It’s a reasonable request and one that (with some insider info and a little legwork) is actually attainable.
The one downside with most of the best beaches is that they often attract the largest crowds. But there are still some pristine places that aren’t completely clogged with people. Keep in mind that since a secluded beach usually means that it’s slightly more challenging to access, you should expect a bit of a shlep to some of these beauties. But, we promise it will be worth it.
Saco Bay, ME: Ocean Park Beach
Tucked away in the tiny village of Ocean Park, this seven-mile stretch of beach on tranquil Saco Bay is a true find. Historically a summer community of the Free Will Baptists, the area continues to be a dry district to this day, though nearby Old Orchard Beach does serve alcohol. Parking is quite limited within the town as the streets were not designed for cars and are extremely narrow. Don’t miss a visit to Ocean Park Subs and Grocery, which is well known for its delicious blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls.
Key West, FL: Dry Tortugas National Park
In order to protect Dry Tortugas National Park, the National Parks Service caps the visitor count to this small archipelago of coral islands in Key West, FL, at 60,000 people a year. Hop on a ferry or seaplane and be one of the lucky ones (you need to book tickets way in advance) to access a stunning tropical hideaway complete with colorful birds, coral reefs, tales of pirates and sunken gold, and natural beauty at every turn. The park’s central feature, Fort Jefferson, is one of the largest coastal forts ever constructed. Take a high-speed catamaran for a day or overnight camping trip or book a seaplane charter for the day.
Glen Haven, MI: Glen Haven Beach
Located in the historic village of Glen Haven, this quiet strip of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is nestled in between low-lying sand dunes and the calm, clear waters of Lake Michigan. Though no longer populated, the port village still houses a fully restored 1920s working blacksmith where visitors can pop in to see live demonstrations on their way to the lake. The general store is also open in the summer to grab some snacks and cold drinks.
Curry County, OR: Secret Beach
The name says it all. Hidden away in a tiny cove on Oregon’s breathtaking coastline, this glorious beach will not disappoint. Getting to Secret Beach requires some planning — you’ll need to time your visit with the tides, and there’s a 3/4 of a mile hike from the parking area down to the beach. But, after all your effort, you may very well be rewarded with some time alone (at least for a little while) in this idyllic locale.
Staten Island, NY: Wolfe Pond’s Park
New York City might not immediately spring to mind when you think of the most secluded beaches in the country — places like Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden fill up in a flash on a hot summer day. Though this small stretch of sandy oceanfront on Staten Island may not directly compare to some of the more exotic locales on the list, the tranquil spot is beautiful in its own right. Wolfe Pond’s Park is kept super clean and features picnicking areas, communal barbecues, and an excellent dog park.
Miami, FL: Virginia Key Beach Park
Just north of the lovely but very crowded Key Biscayne beach lie the white sands and turquoise waters of the less-frequented shores of Virginia Key Beach Park. Boasting the largest mangrove forest in Florida, this 863-acre barrier island is awash in natural beauty. The park also offers convenient amenities like a renovated bathhouse, kayak rentals, and concession stands. The history of the beach tells the story of an important milestone in the fight for racial equality in Miami. In 1945, when beaches remained segregated, commissioner Charles Crandon designated Virginia Key as the first beach in the county to allow black visitors.
Virginia Beach, VA: Sandbridge Beach
Located only 15 miles (but what feels like a world away) from the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach, this gorgeous gem boasts five miles of the most pristine sand dunes and calm Atlantic waters you’ll find. Most of the beachgoers here book a house along the Sandbridge Beach strip, keeping the numbers down and making it feel much more like a private beach. If you’re not renting a place close enough to walk to the beach, arrive early to get a spot in the parking lot as it fills up quickly. Better yet, have a car-sharing service drop you at the beach.