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5 Summer Beach Destinations for Every Type of Beach Lover

image of Honey Good heading out of her front door, suitcase trailing behind her ready for her summer beach destinations vacation.

Who’s ready to get out and explore these summer beach destinations?

Summer’s finally here, my dear readers! The sun is warming our skin and the siren song of the beach beckons. While exotic locales might top your bucket list, there’s a treasure trove of incredible beach destinations right here in the US, waiting for you to explore. Take your picks of these hidden gems offering (in some cases) budget-friendly, requiring minimal travel time (there’s bound to be one within a day’s drive of you!), and offer something unique beyond the usual sunbathing.

My 5 Picks for Summer Beach Destinations in 2024

Pack your bags, grab your girlfriend, family, pooch (here are my tips on traveling with your dog), or even hit the road solo – here are five unforgettable beach holidays to add to your summer itinerary!

The Big Island of Hawaii for Volcanic Wonders, Ancient History, and World Class Fishing 

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is an incredible summer beach destination

Add the sacred and historic Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park to your summer beach destinations list. Credit: NPS

As you know, I lived in Hawaii for years and it is my personal recommendation that you spend at least two days on the Big Island.  – it offers a taste of authentic Hawaiian culture and breathtaking natural beauty. Sure, beautiful white sand beaches are always stunning, but what about black sand beaches?! Punalu’u Beach Park is a must-see, but venture beyond the usual tourist spots and visit the sacred sanctuary of Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (City of Refuge). Steeped in Hawaiian history, this spot was once a safe haven for those who broke kapu (ancient laws). As you explore the reconstructed temples and imagine the lives of those who sought refuge here centuries ago.

Another must visit is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a vast 330,000-acre park that is full of life! Hike through towering hapuʻu fern forests, where tiny nananana makakiʻi spiders might surprise you with their cheerful faces. Keep an eye out for the ʻapapane, a vibrant honeycreeper that isn’t found anywhere else on Earth. It even has carnivorous caterpillars. Sadly, many species here are rare or endangered, including the majestic honuʻea (hawksbill sea turtle) that nests on the park’s beaches. Thankfully, the summit area of Kilauea is accessible by car, so even if you are mobility impaired, you can see the heart of this volcanic wonderland.

Are You Up For an Adventure?

I can not recommend deep sea fishing enough — charter a fishing boat if you can. It is the Marlin Capital of the world. We owned a deep sea fishing boat and moored it on the Big Island. We fished the waters where my late husband caught a 600 pound Marlin and a world record Tiger Shark weighing over 1,000 pounds! I was with my husband on both occasions. My late husband, Michael, gave the jaws to the Waikīkī Aquarium. After several years it was used in classrooms in Honolulu as a teaching tool.

Honey’s Tip: Head further south to experience the magic of Ka Lae o Kahakai National Historic Trail. This coastal path offers stunning ocean views and a chance to spot ancient Hawaiian fishponds, hidden away along the rugged coastline. This off-the-beaten-path adventure is a true gem for nature lovers and history buffs (which is me in a nutshell, darling!).

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Nantucket Island, Massachusetts for Quaint Charm and Pristine Shores 

image of a beach in Nantucket with turquoise waters off in the background.

If you are anywhere near the east coast, Nantucket should be at the top of your beach holiday list. Credit: Jack Cohen, Unsplash

Nantucket Island isn’t just about cobblestone streets and fancy boutiques, darling (though those are two good reasons to love it!). This charming escape offers some of the most beautiful beaches on the Eastern Seaboard. Sink your toes into the soft sand of Cisco Beach, a local favorite known for its gentle waves and relaxed atmosphere. Rent a kayak and explore the hidden coves with their turquoise waters, or simply relax and soak up the quintessential New England charm.

Honey’s Tip: Beyond the beach, delve into Nantucket’s rich whaling history at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. But for a truly unique experience, take a bike ride to Coskata Beach and explore the Coskata Hut, a historic life-saving station turned art gallery. This hidden gem offers stunning ocean views and a glimpse into the island’s past.

Coronado, California for Beach Bliss and Pooch Paradise

image of Coronado Beach in Southern California with a lifeguard tower off in the background, the perfect summer beach vacation spot.

Bring your pooch along and head to the dog-friendly Silver Strand State Beach! Credit: Marius Christensen, Unsplash

Nestled on a peninsula in San Diego Bay, Coronado offers a quintessential California beach experience. While Coronado Beach is a haven for swimmers, surfers, and sunset chasers, don’t miss the offbeat charm of the Silver Strand State Beach. This unique barrier island boasts miles of pristine coastline, perfect for long walks and wildlife spotting. Here’s the best part – it’s also a designated dog beach! Let your furry friend roam free and enjoy a fun day at the beach with your pup by your side.

Honey’s Tip: After a day of beach fun, explore the historic Coronado Ferry. This iconic vessel offers stunning views of the San Diego skyline and a charming way to experience a piece of Coronado’s past. History buffs can also visit the magnificent Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-era landmark steeped in local lore and rumored to be haunted (perfect for a spooky story after a day of sunshine!).

Cape May, New Jersey for Seaside Nostalgia and Vintage Victorian Views

Image of a lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey which is a beach destination that gets overlooked

Visit the Cape May Lighthouse in this often overlooked summer beach destination. Credit: Steve Adams, Unsplash

Cape May isn’t just about pristine beaches—it’s a walk back in time. This historic seaside resort boasts a charming Victorian district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore the Cape May Lighthouse, a testament to the town’s maritime heritage, or take a trolley tour and soak up the Victorian architecture.

Pro Tip: History buffs will love a visit to the Emlen Physick Estate, a beautifully preserved Victorian mansion showcasing the opulent lifestyle of the 19th century. But for a truly unique experience, take a ghost tour through the historic district after dark. Hear chilling tales of the town’s haunted past and add a touch of spooky suspense to your summer adventure.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina for Untamed Beauty and Wildlife Encounters 

image of summer beach vacation spot Cape Hatteras, NC at sunrise

Be sure to catch a sunrise on the beach in Cape Hatteras, NC. Credit: Joe Dudeck, Unsplash

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a haven for nature lovers. Stretching for a whopping 72 miles along the Atlantic Coast, this barrier island boasts dramatic sand dunes, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife. Climb the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest brick lighthouse in the US, and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views.

Pro Tip: Go on a kayaking adventure through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and explore the island’s intricate network of waterways. Keep a look out for dolphins, sea turtles, and a variety of birdlife – a true treat for us nature enthusiasts.

Find the Hidden Gems with Local Secrets for Your Summer Beach Destinations

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While these destinations offer something for everyone, the true magic lies in uncovering hidden gems that most tourists miss. Here’s how to tap into local knowledge and craft a truly unforgettable beach experience:

  • Talk to the locals: Strike up a conversation with friendly shopkeepers, restaurant owners, or B&B proprietors. They’ll be full with insider tips on secret beaches, charming cafes, and must-see natural wonders.

  • Hit the Farmers Market: Immerse yourself in the local scene and chat with vendors at the farmer’s market. They’ll likely have recommendations for unique local experiences, from kayaking tours to hidden hiking trails.

  • Look beyond the guidebooks: Travel guides are a great starting point, but don’t be afraid to delve deeper. Search online forums, beach bum blogs, and local social media groups for off-the-beaten-path recommendations. And, if you can, book through a travel agent who has actually spent time at the location you’re traveling!

  • Embrace spontaneity: Sometimes the most amazing experiences happen unplanned. Leave some room for flexibility in your itinerary and be open to exploring unexpected detours or hidden coves you stumble upon during your adventure.

By incorporating these tips, you’ll transform your beach vacation from a typical tourist experience into an extraordinary adventure filled with local flavor and hidden delights.

This is just a taste of the incredible beach adventures waiting for you in the US, darling. So grab your swimsuit, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to experience the magic of the American coastline!

What’s your favorite US beach? I’d love for you to share with me in the comments!

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July 9, 2024

Travel

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  1. Carlene says:

    Sounds wonderful!! I’ll go pack ….

  2. Claudine says:

    I’m happy the summer weather is already here!

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