The East Coast has a lot of beaches worthy of visiting. After all, it is a coastline with thousands upon thousands of miles of tidal shoreline, each one more distinct than the last. And though there are plenty of well-known beaches to explore up and down the eastern seaboard this summer, why not try something new? Here are seven under-the-radar beaches to visit that will make you feel like an East Coast insider.
East Matunuck State Beach, Rhode Island
The Ocean State is home to more than its fair share of spectacular beaches, including popular spots like Bristol, Newport, and Narragansett. But, if you’re looking for more local flare, head to East Matunuck State Beach, a stunning stretch of sand in the southern half of the state. The beach is home to more than 140 acres, providing plenty of space to stretch out. It’s also right down the block from the famed Matunuck Oyster Bar, which is the ideal pit stop on the way out for a sunset cocktail and a dozen oysters. There are no hotels in the neighborhood, but there are plenty of vacation rentals to go around.
Bethany Beach, DE
Bethany Beach is a slice of pure East Coast Americana. It’s home to a wide boardwalk for strolling, adorable boutiques to shop in, and an ultra-wide stretch of sand so you can always find a sunny spot all to yourself. Come explore all the boardwalk has to offer, and if you can, plan a visit around the Summer Concert Series on the bandstand. Again, there are few hotels in the area, but plenty of stellar vacation rentals to book.
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Atlantic Beach, located in Northeast Florida, is as laid-back a destination as they come. Though it’s in close proximity to Jacksonville, the beach feels worlds away from the hectic city scene. It’s a place where surfers, beachcombers, and sun-seekers alike can find their perfect respite. And, at the end of a sand-filled day, check into the One Ocean Spa at Atlantic Beach, a resort located just steps from the shore that will fulfill your every wellness desire in its well-appointed spa.
Barnegat Light, NJ
The term “hidden gem” doesn’t really do Barnegat Light justice. Located on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, Barnegat Light is an extremely small town known for its towering lighthouse. Visitors can climb the steps to the lighthouse, then spend the rest of the day picnicking at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, casting a line to see if they can catch a fish or two, or just lounge until the day is done while listening to the waves lap against the shore. Make it a family affair by inviting your crew to stay in one of the area’s delightful vacation rentals.
Westbrook Town Beach, CT
Located just south of Old Saybrook, visitors to Connecticut can find the quiet beach of Westbrook. The beach faces the Long Island Sound and provides unobstructed views of Menunketesuck Island, Duck Island, and Salt Island. The shorefront is rather lengthy, making it a great place for a long sunset stroll. Then, head into town for a New England-style meal filled with lobsters, oysters, and more clam cakes than you could imagine, and hit the hay in one of these beachside rentals.
Bald Head Island, NC
Don’t let the Outer Banks have all the fun in North Carolina. Get a little adventurous and head to Bald Head Island, an island that’s only accessible by boat, making it a great place to leave the crowds in your dust. The island comes with plenty of beaches to roam, but if you get tired of the sand, you could climb Old Baldy, a 200-year-old lighthouse that provides impressive views from the top. And, you guessed it, hotels are rare here, but vacation rentals are aplenty.
Sandy Beach, Maine
Maine may not be the first place you think of a warm day on the shore, but Sandy Beach proves the northern state punches well above its weight when it comes to seaside escapes. The beach, located inside Acadia National Park, is a delightful patch of sand tucked between the granite mountains and the ocean. Visitors can either hike or drive to the beach, which also comes with changing rooms and bathrooms available. Just be warned, if you do venture into the water, you’ll be in for an icy dip as the ocean temperature here rarely gets above 55 Fahrenheit. Find some luxe vacation rental accommodations near the beach here.