8 East Coast Beaches You Must Visit This Summer

While the West Coast has so far gotten the crown for having the best beaches in the country, East Coast beaches are not far behind in terms of their natural settings and activities. And we’re not just talking about Florida here! Some of the East Coast beaches are jewels for those who like ‘the beach life!’

Let’s take a look at the top East Coast beaches worth visiting this summer.

Top East Coast Beaches You Must Check Out This Summer:

1. Sand Beach – Maine

The Sand Beach in the Acadia National Park is like a little paradise you stumble upon in the midst of the pine-laden cliffs of the Appalachian. This small inlet nests between the granite mountains and rock shores of the Acadia. And this beach has gained fame for being one of the top East Coast beaches because of the nature of its sand – If you look closely, you can make out that the entire beach is made up of fragments of shells, not sand alone.

east coast beaches

This 290-yard long beach has cool waters all through the summer, with water temperature rarely exceeding 55 degrees.

Traveller tip: Get the best view of the Sand Beach from the Great Head hiking trail.

2. Cape Cod – Massachusetts

Cape Cod and the Islands is a geographical area cut off from the south-eastern Massachusetts mainland by a canal. The beaches of Cape Cod have been known to have some of the most pleasant sunsets.

Best places to see sunsets in Cape Cod are the May beach and Lieutenant Island in Wellfeet, Rock Harbour in Orleans, Herring Cove in Provincetown and the Millway beach in Barnstable.

east coast beaches

The shorelines of Cape Code region have risen to fame for its mix of good lobster, oyster and other seafood with a laid-back and charming atmosphere. The beaches are less crowded all through the year when compared to other East Coast beaches.

warm winter destinations

One of the things Cape Cod is most famous for is its whale watching tours. From the months of May to July, cruises and tour operators offer packages to see the whale migration in the Atlantic Ocean. Sighting whales is almost guaranteed as the region thrives with these finned mammals during the summer months. Tours range from $40-70 per person. If you’re planning to book a whale watching cruise, make sure you account for seasickness and take a jacket, just in case the wind chill on the waters (yes, even during the summer months!) becomes a bit too much.

Other things to do on the beaches of Cape Cod include:

  1. Explore the Town Neck beach broadwalk in Sandwich – a grassy waterfront area great for nature walks.
  2. Watch sandbars rise and drown with the tides at Chatham from the air – by means of an aerial tour.
  3. See the vacation homes of celebrities, artists and presidents at Martha’s Vineyard along with locations where the Steven Speilberg film ‘Jaws’ was filmed.
  4. Enjoy the old-age charm of Nantucket, wrapped up in its own private slow life.

3. Atlantic City – New Jersey

east coast beaches

Atlantic City is often coined as the rich man’s Vegas of the East. This uber-happening place is a hot spot for legalized gambling and its casinos are famous throughout the US. Most of the major casinos are within walking distance of the Atlantic City broadwalk. The broadwalk is another major tourist magnet with lots of eateries and souvenir shops. Must try foods include funnel cakes, custard sweets and salt water taffy treats.

While there, also explore the:

  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum
  • Dolphin watching tours (at a 50% success rate of seeing dolphins unfortunately)
  • DO AC Sand Sculpting World Cup – which takes place from mid-June to July on the beach at Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Parasailing options

4. Assateague Island – Maryland

The tranquil beaches of Assateague Island have been a refuge for humans and animals alike, and more so for the wild roaming herds of Spanish horses, abandoned on a shipwreck in the early 1800s. A holiday on the shores of the Assateague Island allows for quiet and secluded relaxation on wilderness beaches lining the cool Atlantic ocean waters. You can get vast expanses of oceanfront sand banks all for yourself and enjoy activities like beach camping and bird watching.

wildlife viewing

Read our detailed guide on the Assateague Island here and watch the following video to know more on the park’s various activities:

5. Virginia Beach – Virginia

The eastern shore of Virginia boasts of many splendid commercialized beaches which have gained name for their activities and broadwalks. Virginia beach is one of them. Not just is its location ideal to explore the Cheseapeake Bay area; it’s also in the range of several state parks (like the First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park) that allow visitors to experience the best of natural coastal environments. So you can plan a day lounging at the beach and the second one exploring the coastal trails and marshes when heading out for a weekend in the Virginia beach area.

east coast beaches
The Neptune statue on the Virginia Beach broadwalk

Best things to do at and around Virginia beach:

  • Go dolphin-watching – There’s almost a sure shot of getting sights of dolphins way way out into the ocean at this beach.
  • Check out the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel, a 17.6 mile bridge-cum-tunnel that weaves in and out of the waters of the Chesapeake. It spans from Virginia beach to Delaware over 4 manmade islands.
  • Check out the maritime center of Norfolk.

Virginia beach is one of the most family-friendly of all East Coast beaches. The shores have plenty of activities to explore and do if you’re travelling with kids or family. Suites and accommodation is easy to come across if you’re not booking at exactly the height of summer.

6. Outer Banks – North Carolina

east coast beaches
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – America’s tallest lighthouse

If you want a mix of seclusion, worthy beach activities and good food as well, the best bet for a weekend away would be Outer Banks. This huge stretch of coastal paradise is known for having the highest concentration of sand dunes on the East Coast. It’s also home to numerous kite festivals and is the birthplace of civil aviation – The Wright brothers flew their first flight right on these shores and they have erected an entire memorial to celebrate their achievement.

east coast beaches
The Wright Brothers Memorial

Best things to do in Outer Banks:

  • Visit America’s tallest lighthouse, one that was physically moved on a set of wheels and a platform from one spot of the beach to another – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
  • Lounge in the many miles of secluded beaches (beware of rip currents!) and find skeletons of shipwrecks strewn all across the coast.
  • Book a bioluminescent kayaking tour in the salt marshes of the bay.
  • Explore new islands formed overnight due to the quick motion of tide and sand.

Traveller Tip: Outer Banks is often subjected to heavy storms and intense flooding. So you might want to keep checking the weather and be alert for any major weather activities affecting the area when planning your vacation.

7. Kiawah Island – South Carolina

Just 26 miles from the capital city of Charleston, Kiawah Island is a predominantly private beach, but the reason why it’s so loved is because it offers total seclusion and its home to a blossoming wildlife habitat. A must-do activity on this island is watching the loggerhead sea turtles hatch between the May to October month of the year. It’s also a sanctuary for bobcats and alligators.

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Here’s our handy guide to safe animal viewing in wildlife sanctuaries, parks and other wilderness areas – Click here.

8. The Key Largo Beaches – Florida

While Miami is the best bet for those who love a good party, the set of beaches comprising of Key Largo in Florida hold tourist and local’s fascination alike with their amazing family-friendly snorkeling activities.

east coast beaches

Apart from shipwrecks like that of a Navy ship at Spiegel Grove, there’s also a rusted statue of Christ that’s sunk into the clear blue waters. Snorkel around the coral reefs to see this wonder titled ‘the Christ of the Abyss.’ Also, the fishing charters in this beach area are known for reeling in some pretty large fish like the wahoo, sailfish, marlin, mahi-mahi and kingfish.

So there you have it! The best East Coast beaches you head to this year. Each one of these beaches have their own personality so you can pick and choose what type of adventure you want. Beach season wraps up real fast. So don’t wait! Slather on some sunscreen, get your beach blanket out and indulge in some quality beach time at these top East Coast beaches!

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