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Pick Your Perfect Summer Getaway from These 8 Unique Beaches

Whether you want to enjoy family activities, take a romantic trip or relax away from the crowds, we’ll help you find a beach that suits your style.

North America is blessed with an abundance of beaches. With so many to choose from, how do you pick one that matches your idea of paradise?

We found 8 very different beaches with 8 very different personalities. With all they have to offer, one is sure to match your idea of the perfect getaway.

If you want to enjoy local culture…

Head to Jamaica, if you like to mix laid-back beach time with lively local culture, consider Jamaica. With G Adventures’ Jamaica Encompassed, you’ll enjoy ample time relaxing on the island’s famed white sands, along with visiting a rum distillery, a Rastafarian indigenous village, a coffee plantation, the Bob Marley Museum and more. You’ll discover a country as alluring and exotic as a thumping reggae backbeat.

If you want a romantic getaway…

The gracious Southern city of Savannah, Georgia isn’t exactly beachfront—you’ll need to scoot across a couple of bridges to the sandy shores of Tybee Island for that. But Tybee’s broad golden beaches and waving sea oats more than make up for the slight detour. So do the enchanting Southern charms of downtown Savannah, which seems custom-made for couples. In this antebellum waterfront city, you can stroll among the Spanish moss-draped oaks and historical homes, linger over Low Country candlelit dinners and discover nightspots tucked in the old cotton warehouses along the Savannah River.

If you’re looking for superior snorkeling…

About the only thing that can match the Aloha State’s dazzling tropical landscape is the equally dazzling world below the waves. Set sail for Maui, Hawaii, grab a snorkel and mask and marvel at fields of coral blooming like underwater wildflowers, twitching schools of Technicolor fish and sea turtles drifting past. Maui offers plenty of healthy reef and protected coves. Did we mention the average water temperature is in the upper 70s year-round? Tours like Trafalgar’s Hawaiian Explorer will get you there pronto.


If you need to please the kids…

Even the most stoic teens will be wowed by the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, rising hundreds of feet above the Caribbean-hued waters of Lake Michigan near the delightful resort area of Traverse City. Trails guide you through the rolling sand hills and out to beaches that seem to stretch on forever. Lake Michigan’s waters along this scalloped shore are sun-warmed, swimmer-friendly and as clear as a windowpane. If the kids still have energy to burn, let them run wild on the Dune Climb, a barren 130-foot dune perfect for trudging, sliding, whooping and hollering.

Lesson Plan Destination: Learn more about dune geology and the natural history of the area at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center.

If you want lots of water sports options…

The long and lanky barrier island of Padre Island, Texas stretches south from Corpus Christi along the Gulf of Mexico for 100 miles. Much of it is pristine national seashore, where warm waves wash on near-empty sands favored by birds and beachcombers. Beyond the national seashore and separated by the Mansfield Channel lies the more developed south end with 34 miles of uninterrupted beach. It seems everyone finds a way to play in the sun-kissed waters here. South Padre Island offers ideal conditions for learning how to stand-up paddleboard, surf, kiteboard, windsurf and parasail. The South Padre Island Visitors Center can direct you to local businesses offering lessons, rentals, guided fishing tours and dolphin watches.


If you long for unspoiled vistas…

A 1-hour ferry ride from the mainland, Block Island, Rhode Island greets visitors with sturdy New England charm. Clapboard homes, farmsteads and ancient stone walls stand tall along its wave-washed shores. Crescent Beach begins right near the ferry dock, earning its name with a 2.5-mile-long sweep of sand. For wild beauty, head southeast on the 7-mile-long island to Mohegan Bluffs. Green clay headlands rise 200 feet above the Atlantic like the emerald cliffs of Ireland. Take in the grand views, then descend the long staircase to a swath of beach that wraps along the cove and continues out of sight.


If you want to dig your toes into the softest sands…

Even in a state amply endowed with lovely beaches, the barrier island of Siesta Key, Florida, 60 miles south of Tampa, is a standout. You’ll understand why when you cross the bridge from Sarasota and kick off your shoes on its Gulf of Mexico shore. Siesta’s nearly pure quartz sand hardly feels like sand at all: It’s brilliant white, squeaky as cornstarch and soft as sifted flour. Siesta Key’s wide public beach stretches on for miles, so let those sands sift through your toes as long as you’d like, distracted only by stalking shorebirds and dolphins wriggling through the aquamarine waters.


If you’re intrigued by a beach with a backstory…

Don’t let the name dissuade you: Nothing is disappointing about Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington, the nearly 30 miles of broad tawny beach that unfurl north from this headland jutting out into the Pacific. Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery culminated their grueling 29-month exploration of the West near this point in 1805. The excellent Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center tells the story of their journey. Other park attractions include 2 lighthouses, miles of hiking trails, campgrounds and 28 miles of that seemingly endless sand beach, ready for your own discovery.

Lesson Plan Destination: Along with the interpretive center, learn more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition at nearby Fort Clatsop, which re-creates the Corps’ winter encampment.

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