Best beaches in America

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America's beaches offer a wide variety of activities, from snorkling and swimming to watching wildlife and collecting unique sea shells
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From sugar sands to gold coins, America's beaches call to you.

A multitude of beautiful landscapes in our country have blessed us with varied and unique coastlines. Whether you love to swim in emerald waters, hunt for shells or soak up the rays, there's a scenic shoreline to suit any taste.


As different as the people who visit them, here's a small sampling of some of the best beaches in America. They all welcome your little sand-castle architect as most have picnic areas but some are not good for swimming.


Best Beach to Watch the Wildlife:

Goat Rock State Beach, Northern CA


With its wondrous landscape, Goat Rock Beach offers up geological wonders and its own colony of playful harbor seals. Massive stone outcroppings with towering arches rise up from the sea and break up the broad sands along this breathtaking shoreline.


During sunny afternoons there might be hundreds of seals and sea lions sunbathing throughout the bluffs. Hidden coves and grassy cliffs shelter the beach as well as deer, raccoons, rabbits and gray foxes. Overhead pelicans, cormorants and seagulls are among the many shore birds to watch as they fish for supper.


Best Beach for Surfing:

North Shore of O'ahu, Hawaii


In the summer months in O'ahu, the seas are calm and gentle. Happily for beached boardriders, they change in the winter (October to February) to serve up gigantic swells 20 feet or higher. If you're not ready to join the Association of Professional Surfers (ASP), you might want to leave the bigger tubes to the pros.


The Oahu Visitor's Bureau says that Hawaii's North Shore beaches provide some of the longest stretch of rideable surf spots in the world. Actually comprised of several beaches including the Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach, surfers ride breaks known as Boneyards, Back Doors, Off-the-Wall and the Pipeline.  


Best Beach to Take Your Sweetie:

Siesta Key, Florida


Take your picnic basket but leave your sandals. You won't want to have anything between your feet and the powdery white sands of Siesta Key. The sugary sand unlike most other beaches is 99-percent quartz crystal (instead of crushed shells or rocks). Your toes will delight in its always cool-to-the-touch softness. It has been called the best sand beach in America, according to the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce.


With its cozy beach cottages and intimate candlelit restaurants this silky shoreline is a lovely romantic getaway spot. Stroll beside tranquil blue Gulf waters, collect shells or relax at one of the beachside picnic areas to view amazing sunsets.


Best Beach for Hunting Treasure:

Vero Beach, Florida


Rich with legends, lore and buried treasure, Vero Beach on the Treasure Coast is the place to bring your metal detector or your love of exciting history. During a storm in 1715 a treasure fleet of 11 Spanish galleons carrying gold, silver and jewels crashed into the reefs and sank off the coastline. According to the Treasure Coast Almanac, only 30 percent of the treasure was recovered. The remainder is buried along the coast and pieces can still be found today.


The pirates Blackbeard, Kidd and Bonnett among other famous buccaneers are said to have stashed away their acquired bounties in this area after big battles. Many were captured or killed, leaving their lost loot to be found by someone else. Legend says they keep watch over their treasures to make sure you don't take too much. 


Best Beach Overall:

Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, North Carolina


Don't expect to golf, ride a wave-runner or see a condo at this Outer Banks remote location. But do expect to find an empty, secluded getaway spot that hasn't been spoiled by development and tourism. Once the stomping ground of Blackbeard (and where he met his death), Ocracoke is on an Outer Banks island to which you must travel by ferry.


Ocracoke was ranked as the best beach in America by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, known as Dr. Beach. Director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research, Dr. Beach issues a top 10 list each year based on stringent criteria including water and sand quality.


The List


Here are Dr. Beach's best beaches in America:


1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
2. Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater, Florida
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
4. Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
6. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
7. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
8. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
9. Lighthouse Point Park, Daytona Beach, Florida
10. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida


No matter where you decide to dip your toes this summer, contact the area's chamber of commerce or visitor's center for more information about beach conditions, restrictions and facilities.

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