Best white sand beaches in the U.S.

Last updated:
By David Em
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You don’t have to travel internationally for a white sand beach vacation. Instead, there are many destinations in the U.S. along the coasts.

White sand beach with clear water on a sunny day.

1. Siesta Key Beach, Florida

Two people sitting next to a tent on Siesta Key Beach.
Photo courtesy of Visit Sarasota.

Siesta Key Beach is on the western side of Florida. It’s about an hour south of Tampa and sits on the Gulf of Mexico.

Siesta Key Beach is consistently rated as one of the top beaches in the U.S. for its unique white quartz sand, which comes from the Appalachian Mountains.

2. Clearwater Beach, Florida

Palm trees and white sand at Clearwater Beach.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Clearwater Beach is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its laid-back vibe on a stretch of soft, white sand. The city maintains it well, so it’s in pristine condition.

During your time at the beach, you can enjoy stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, swimming, and jet-skiing. Be sure to stay for a stunning sunset.

3. Pensacola Beach, Florida

Lifeguard tower on a white sand beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Pensacola Beach is located on the northwestern tip of Florida. It’s known for the white sand beaches and emerald-green water.

During your visit, check out the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk and Pier. Compared to other beaches, it doesn’t get as crowded.

4. St. Pete Beach, Florida

Sunset at St. Pete Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

St. Pete Beach is located on the Gulf Coast, directly west of St. Petersburg. It’s set on a barrier island and is home to a well-known hotel, the pink Don CeSar. It’s a great destination for water activities and taking a relaxing stroll on the white sand.

5. Carmel Beach, California

Carmel Beach with Cypress trees in the background.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Carmel Beach is located in Monterey and is one of the most iconic beaches in California.

It offers spectacular views of Carmel Bay and you can’t miss the sunsets. You can surf, walk your dog, or sit on the white sand. It can be chilly, so dress warmly if you plan to sit on the beach.

6. Coronado Beach, California

Palm tree on a beach shore during a sunset.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Coronado Beach is located on Ocean Boulevard in San Diego. It’s known as an urban beach due to the views of the city in the background.

Since it’s close to the Gaslamp Quarter, you’re a short drive away from many restaurants, activities, and hotels.

If you want to stay in Coronado, Hotel del Coronado is a historic beachfront hotel that’s known for its location. It has also hosted many well-known people.

7. Orange Beach, Alabama

Aerial view of Orange Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Orange Beach is a small city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. It’s known as a water sports hub, has a fishing pier, and a beautiful white sand beach.

Being on the Gulf Coast, the shore is more white than others and the water has an emerald-green tint.

8. Lanikai Beach, Hawaii

Aerial view of Lanikai Beach with white sand and light blue water.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Lanikai Beach is located in Kailua and is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Oahu.

The water is crystal clear and warm. It’s the perfect white sand beach vacation in Hawaii because you can have a peaceful relaxation session, or have fun swimming.

9. Poipu Beach, Hawaii

Tree in front of Poipu Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Poipu Beach is located in southern Kauai. It’s near several resorts, dining options, and a few other beaches.

Poipu Beach has a shallow lagoon, which makes it great for families with young children. It’s where you’ll want to spend a beach day.

10. Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay), Hawaii

Aerial view of the teal water and white sand at Manini'owali Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Manini’owali Beach is a gorgeous white sand beach on the Big Island. It’s a small and secluded beach at Kua Bay, and you won’t find a lot of shade, so be sure to bring a hat or an umbrella. It’s also a great place to see turtles, tropical fish, and dolphins.

11. Hapuna Beach, Hawaii

Aerial view of the water, white sand, and greenery at Hapuna Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Hapuna Beach is a half-mile long beach on the Big Island. It’s one of Hawaii’s most expansive white sand beaches.

That’s why it’s popular among tourists and locals. It’s an excellent place for swimming, relaxing, snorkeling, and bodyboarding.

12. Sandbridge Beach, Virginia

Wooden pier at Sandbridge Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Sandbridge Beach is on the coastline in Virginia Beach. It offers dunes and more than six miles of beaches.

Being south of Virginia Beach, it’s an excellent way to escape to somewhere more peaceful and less busy.

On one side, you have the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other is the North Bay. If you travel south, you’ll visit Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.

13. Grand Haven State Park, Michigan

Beach at Grand Haven State Park.
Photo courtesy of Bob Peskorse/Visit Grand Haven.

Grand Haven State Park offers a beautiful white sand beach, scenic views of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven pier, and the lighthouse.

It’s located on the eastern side of Lake Michigan, less than an hour away from Grand Rapids.

14. Oak Street Beach, Chicago

Aerial view of trees and people at Oak Street Beach.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Oak Street Beach is an urban beach located right off of North Lake Shore Drive. It’s on the southwestern side of Lake Michigan and offers views of the Chicago skyline. Oak Street Beach is a white sand beach with city views.

15. Surfside Beach, South Carolina

Tall grass and a sunrise at Surfside Beach in South Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Surfside Beach is a white sand beach in South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach.

It’s also known as “The Family Beach” because of the clean, lifeguard-supervised, fun-filled beach. It also has accessible ramps, which allows people with disabilities to easily access the beach.

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Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Travel, the destination for travel advice and inspiration. He launched Nola & Luna Travel to share expert advice, useful tips, unbiased reviews, and inspiration about destinations across the globe.