There’s something special about a beach. The travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor recently released its Travelers’ Choice awards for Beaches, anointing 343 beaches worldwide based on users’ ratings and reviews.
“The 2016 Travelers’ Choice Beaches’ award-winners will inspire many to book their next getaway, knowing that these beautiful spots are the very best from the TripAdvisor global community,” says TripAdvisor’s chief marketing officer Barbara Messing.
The US state with the most beaches in the top 10 is Florida, with six beaches. Hawaii came in second with three top sands and California came in third with one beach.
While you won’t find your favorite hidden hideaway on this list, you will discover frequently visited sands that users’ like for various reasons. Sometimes the destination rates for its sugar soft sands, its striking, off-the-beaten path black sand beach, or its proximity to bustling bars and nightlife.
I disagree with two of the findings. For me, Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach is too crowded, narrow, and near a shopping mall, but that’s what others like about the area. Panama City Beach, FL, while long, also draws throngs of spring-breakers and festival-goers. Many people visit Panama City Beach for its party atmosphere. Before booking a stay at any of these beaches, make sure the destination fits your idea of fun.
1. Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL
Stroll along 2.5 miles of powdery soft sand and splash in relatively calm water along the Gulf of Mexico. During the day people fish from Pier 60 and at sunset magicians, stilt walkers, and other street performers entertain.
2. Lanikai Beach, Kailua, Oahu, HI
Thirty-five minutes from busy Waikiki, Lanikai Beach, in Kailua, on Oahu’s Windward Coast, rates high for snorkeling.
3. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, FL
In 2011, Dr. “Beach,” a.k.a. Dr. Stephen Leatherman, rated Siesta Beach, on the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota County, as the No. 11 beach in the US. A great family beach, Siesta has year-round lifeguards, shallow water close to shore, a shaded playground, as well as tennis and volleyball courts.
4. Saint Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL
In 2012 TripAdvisor’s users voted St. Pete Beach as the No. 1 beach in the US. Now rated No. 4, St. Pete combines a plethora of watersports—parasailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding—with a range of nearby hotels and resorts.
5. Wai’ānapanapa State Park, Hana, Maui, HI
Located off the winding Hana Highway, 122-acre Wai’ānapanapa State Park features a small black sand cove beach, rocky slopes, and lush greenery.
6. Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui, HI
Stretching for three miles, Ka’anapali Beach, according to TripAdvisor “boasts panoramic beauty just steps from the quaint shops at Whalers Village.” The shore is pretty, but the beach is narrow and crowded. Vendors sell watersport outings and tickets to island events along the walkway. With 90 stores, Whalers Village is more busy than quaint; currently the outdoor mall is undergoing renovation. Come here if you like to be near restaurants and shops.
7. Pensacola Beach, Pensacola Beach, FL
The Pensacola Beach Pier, at 1,471 feet long, is one of the longest piers in the Gulf of Mexico. Sunbathers, swimmers, and strollers enjoy the emerald green waters and the soft sands.
8. La Jolla Shores, La Jolla, CA
This mile-long southern California beach attracts families who come for the relatively gentle waves, playground, picnic area, and year-round lifeguards.
9. St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine Beach, FL
Four-mile-long St. Augustine Beach, has a pier, a playground, a splash park for kids, plus volleyball courts.
10. Beach at Panama City, Panama City Beach, FL
Panama City’s beach stretches for 27 miles. The sand is fine, the water emerald-colored and usually calm. The beach offers plenty of nearby restaurants, bars, and hotels. Panama City Beach, a prime spring break destination, attracts some 300,000 students for six weeks in March and April. The rest of the year Panama City Beach offers a variety of festivals.
What are your favorite US beaches? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.