During peak holiday season, finding a beach that isn’t teeming with sun loungers can be quite a challenge. Here we present seven delightful, lesser known seaside destinations for you to explore and enjoy.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
At seven miles long and one and half miles wide, this compact, tranquil barrier island off the Georgia coast is home to 10 miles of unspoilt shoreline and 1,000 acres of maritime forest. Hire a bike to explore over 20 miles of trails and the island’s scenic historic district. Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a rehabilitation facility for endangered sea turtles. Enjoy birdwatching, spot dolphins on a guided kayak excursion, and explore the striking sun bleached driftwood effigies along the shores of stunning Driftwood Beach.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Accessed via a road bridge from bustling Fort Myers, Sanibel Island sits facing the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s southwest coast. Enjoy shelling, swimming, boat excursions, dolphin watching and legendary sunsets. Cycle or take a tram ride around the island’s JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This 6,000 acre mangrove ecosystem supports manatees, otters, crocodiles, and turtles as well as over 245 bird species. Check out sleepy Captiva; Sanibel’s neighbour offers a charming blend of restaurants, independent shops and music bars. Hop on the ferry to Cayo Costa State Park, where you’ll discover nine miles of blissfully unblemished white sand beaches.
Bandon is a small, charming seaside town on the southern Oregon coast, where the Coquille River meets the Pacific Ocean. In the scenic old town you’ll discover excellent seafood and vegetarian restaurants, art galleries and quirky shops. Visit Bandon’s iconic lighthouse, and enjoy the sea and sands at Bullard’s Beach State Park. Here you can camp in a yurt amidst pine woodlands, ride horses on the beach and hike to dramatic Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint to watch the sunset.
The community of Lewes dates back to 1631 and this tranquil town offers a relaxing array of bespoke shops, museums, bars and restaurants, plus some lovely unspoilt beaches. Visit the distinctive Zwaanendael Museum (modelled on Hoorn town hall in the Netherlands) to learn about the town’s history and Dutch legacy. For glorious beaches, bird sanctuaries and hiking trails drive 10 minutes to nearby Cape Henlopen State Park. This gloriously pristine six mile stretch of shoreline backed by sand dunes, is where the Delaware Gulf flows into the Atlantic. Join a kayak excursion, boat, fish, and swim. The park was formerly a key coastal defence site and you can climb to the top of Tower 7, a strategic World War II observation tower, to gain fantastic panoramic views.
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
A true retreat, Bald Head Island is accessible only by ferry or charter boat. The island is a designated car-free zone, leaving you free to explore it via bike, golf cart or on foot. The diverse terrain spans maritime forest, sand dunes, salt marshes and 14 miles of superb beaches. Visit the island’s iconic lighthouse, Old Baldy, and climb its 108 steps for splendid views across to Cape Fear River. Enjoy walking tours, kayak excursions, bird watching, fishing and golf. The island has several restaurants, whilst accommodation ranges from beach rentals to cosy guesthouses and harbour side hotels.
Scenically located on a peaceful bay, Capitola, the oldest seaside resort on the Pacific, is a delightful mishmash of colourful Mediterranean style houses, beachside eateries, galleries and boutiques. Enjoy swimming, kayaking, SUP and fishing from the town’s sandy beach. The bay’s gentle waves are ideal for novice surfers. Take a picnic and enjoy an evening concert or an outdoor film screening at Esplanade Park. Indulge in wine tastings at the vineyards which dot the hillside above the town. If you’re a fan of vintage, head to historic neighbouring Soquel, where you can browse for a bargain amongst the numerous antique shops.
20 minutes south of its bustling neighbour Mystic lies the picturesque and serene maritime village of Niantic. A short walk from the beach you’ll find the town’s traditional main street lined with plenty of restaurants, bars and boutiques. Wander the mile long beach boardwalk from leafy Cini Park and enjoy spectacular views across Long Island Sound: you may spot seals swimming out in the bay. The gently sweeping white sand beach has a fishing jetty and two volleyball courts, and is the perfect spot for swimming, kayaking and sunbathing.
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