All across the USA, people are heading to top beach destinations to enjoy a relaxing break in the sun.
Beating the summer crowds in the rush to the most popular resorts is just one of the advantages of a jaunt to some of America’s best shorelines. Now might be the best time to pack a towel and swimsuit and find the nation’s hidden coastal jewels.
Yet despite thousands of miles of sandy beaches to choose from, it is harder than ever to get away from it all and find peace and quiet, while at the same time enjoying the sand between your toes. Here, we list some of our top beach towns and their off-the-beaten track beaches.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Dramatic sea stacks and beautiful purple-tinged sand helps to make the Pfeiffer Beach one of the most relaxing spots on the Big Sur coastline. Add to that the distinctly chilled and retro vibe of the nearby Big Sur village and this could be the ideal beach on which to unwind between periods of gruelling study back in college.
It’s great for a weekend getaway and ideal for a quieter Spring Break than most. The fact that the north facing beach is secluded and harder to find than many nearby beaches is what, in our humble opinion, makes it worth a visit after one of the best scenic drives on the West Coast – along Highway 1. To get to the beach itself, you’ll need to turn off and head for two miles down the narrow Sycamore Canyon Road.
While there, make sure you’ve booked to eat at the restaurant in the historic Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, or visit neighbouring cities such as Carmel to the north. If you have the time, take a tour around Hearst Castle in San Simeon to the South. It’s the former home to newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, on which Xanadu was based in the classic film Citizen Kane and well worth a tour.
Have a Trtl Travel Pillow on hand for passengers who may want to take a nap during the long drive to Big Sur and on Highway 1, while you enjoy the incredible scenery on the way.
The Cove, Cape May, New Jersey
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The Jersey Shore is famous for its beaches and they’ve been attracting people out to relax and recuperate for centuries, none more so than those located in Cape May on New Jersey’s southernmost tip. In fact, Cape May is considered America’s first beach resort.
The nearby Congress Hall hotel was frequented by US Presidents, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Harrison. They all vacationed there. Harrison even made it his Summer White House. Add to that the beautifully preserved Victorian style homes and top class restaurants in Cape May and you really are in for a stunning escape. It’s also great for bird watching.
As far as choosing the best beach in Cape May, many locals would suggest The Cove, described as a case of now you see it, now you don’t. Its gentle curve is regularly washed away by the surging Atlantic tides and natural beach erosion. So it never quite looks the same from day to day. But with the lighthouse looming in the background and a cadre of quirky locals and long-time visitors, plus surfer dudes, frequenting this spot at the end of Cape May’s promenade, it’s one of the most beloved beaches on the Jersey shore.
While in Cape May, pop into Exit Zero Filling Station restaurant, which serves up great food and drinks and doubles as one of the hippest gas stations on the planet.
The Dry Tortugas, Gulf of Mexico, Florida
One for the birds, this small group of seven islands composed of coral reefs is located in the Dry Tortugas National Park in the Gulf of Mexico, 70 miles offshore from Key West, Florida. Due to its remote location, there are three main ways to get there.
- Yankee Freedom III Ferryboat
A daily ferry service that operates daily all year round except Christmas Day from the Key West Ferry Terminal. Check in at 7am for departure and return by 5.30pm. The 2.5 hour boat journey allows 4 hours at Dry Tortugas. Check prices and timetable in advance.
- Key West Seaplane Adventures
A private seaplane means arriving in style and will give you a bird’s eye view of the Dry Tortugas before landing.
- Private Boat
If taking a private boat, you’ll need a permit for your vessel and can moor in Key Garden.
Bear in mind that only three of the keys are open to the public. Starting at Garden Key, home to Fort Jefferson where political prisoners were kept in the 1800s, you can enjoy activities including kayaking (if you bring your own equipment), exploration and bird-watching. The frigate birds, with their seven-foot wingspans, are hard to miss. Nesting sites include 100,000 sooty terns and 300 species of birds.
Enderts Beach, Redwood National Park, California
With 37 miles of coastline fringed by towering 350-ft redwood trees, you’ll feel completely back to nature at as you head to Enderts near Crescent City. Park up on the bluff or Crescent Beach Overlook, which offers the nearest parking to Enderts. From there, start a half-mile walk that isn’t too difficult therefore not just for the outdoor types. Don’t mind hiking around endless driftwood and those tidal marshes that make up stretches of the coastline. It’ll be worth it.
The natural beauty is idyllic and good for the soul, perfect for sunset walks. By the time you descend to Enderts itself, located in a secluded cove, you may have spotted sea otters and other wildlife. Rangers often lead tidepool walks – details from the nearby visitors center – to see the pools inhabited by sea stars, urchins and giant green anemones. One word of warning. Be cognizant of incoming tides.
You’ll want to have a Trtl Travel Pillow on hand for passengers when making the road trip.
Fort Tilden, Rockaway, Queens, New York
You can shoehorn a New York City beach into your list of favourite secluded sand spots if you really try, but at a push. First, you have to discount miles and miles of incredibly popular and therefore jam-packed public beaches, or ignore the private beaches that compete for some of the best parts of the shoreline. Fort Tilden, on the other hand, is one of those beaches that you can access once you’ve made the journey without too much trouble. You may even be able to enjoy it and avoid much of the hassle we’ve come to expect of the better known New York beach resorts.
Fort Tilden is mouth-wateringly close to Manhattan, nothing more than a 50-yard stretch of beach that you could have all to yourself. This is partly because it is so difficult to get to. The nearest subway stop is at the 116th Street terminus of the A-train. Alternatively, drive to the southernmost tip of the Rockaways and park in the nearby lot. But that requires you to watch a video on marine life, buy a fishing license and a parking permit from the Fort Tilden Visitor’s Center.
Unfortunately, amenities are pretty much non-existent so take your own snacks and forms of entertainment. There are no restrooms located there either and no lifeguards on duty. Beware, therefore, of potentially strong currents. Stick to sand is our advice and take advantage, if so inclined, to the state law that permits topless sunbathing.
Let’s face it, we’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches here in the USA. There are thousands to choose from and they’re as popular as ever. Here, at Trtl, we’re still discovering new beauty spots we can’t wait to visit. Check back for more of our favourite travel destinations soon.