Summertime means kicking back, relaxing and making up for all those winter months by putting in some serious hours on the beach. While planning a little seaside getaway is fun, elbowing your way through crowds of people to stake your claim on the sand is not. And though it seems we’ve taken over every last untouched oceanfront spot, Yahoo Travel has discovered some hidden gems only the locals know about. From a purple beach in California to a hard-to-reach Hawaiian hideaway, these are 10 secret American beaches you have to add to your bucket list this year.
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Ruby Beach, Washington
Ruby Beach takes on a magical, eerie quality under a blanket of fog. (Photo: Scott Smithson/Flickr)
At Ruby Beach, situated inside three national parks and a bit more on the rugged side, you’re more likely to share the sand with a few critters than any beach revelers. Visitors come here for the unique tidal pools at low tide and beautifully eerie fog that makes for some incredible pictures. And the locals don’t want their secret getting out. “I almost don’t want to write this review,” one TripAdvisor commenter wrote. “Because I don’t want more people to know about this amazing place.”
Pfeiffer Beach, California
The iconic arch at Pfeiffer Beach. (Photo: Lisa Dearing/Alamy)
With purple sand and stunning rock formations, this piece of shoreline famous for its keyhole arch seems more like something out of Westeros than Northern California. Taking in a sunset here is nothing less than magical. Only four picnic tables and a small parking lot mark the hidden area, making it a bit tricky to find off the famous Highway 1. But, the extra effort is worth it; the almost always-empty cove is perfect for truly getting away from it all.
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Orient Beach State Park, New York
Orient Beach State Park is a great alternative to beaching in the Hamptons. (Photo: Elizabeth Glasgow/Stockimo/Alamy)
The Hamptons are overrated. Yes, the beaches are beautiful, but paying $40 for parking if you don’t have a mansion? No thank you. If you head just across the bay to the North Fork you can still get the white sand and ocean views without dropping some serious dough at this secluded spot on Long Island.
Roque Bluffs, Maine
Having few picnic tables and changing rooms means fewer crowds at this Northeastern beach set in a 270-acre state park. You can spend the entire day outdoors swimming in the warm freshwater lagoon or hiking on one of the five trails that connect to the Bluffs. You can even kayak out to the Roque Island archipelago, considered by some to be one of the most beautiful areas to explore on the Maine coast.
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Cow Yard Landing, Massachusetts
The Kennedy family adored Cape Cod for a reason — the beaches are simply perfect. But, with perfect beaches come lots of crowds, making it hard to find a hidden spot at the popular summer destination. Luckily, Cow Yard has somehow managed to stay a bit more under the radar. You get all the benefits of being near the historic (and adorable) town of Chatham with the added bonus of a hideaway beach.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Wild horse grazing on the beach of Cumberland Island. (Photo: Doug Anderson/Flickr)
Relatively untouched by civilization, this 18-mile stretch of beach might be home to more wild horses than people. Only accessible by a 45-minute ferry ride, visitors can camp beneath the oak trees or wander around the ruins of grand mansions that once stood along the shore. “The island is truly amazing,” noted one visitor. “Magical, even.”
Enderts Beach, California
Enderts Beach at sunset. (Photo: Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures/Corbis)
You’ll need to ditch the flip-flops to make it to this secret spot, as the trail that gets you to the beach is a bit tricky. But, it’s totally worth it. Your half-mile walk is dotted with wildflowers, ferns, and trees before you reach the hidden jewel. Be sure to head there at low tide, and you’ll get to see the starfish and giant sea anemones that fill the tide pools.
The bright red sand beach and cliffs of Kaihalulu. (Photo: Monica & Michael Sweet/Design Pics/Corbis)
Kaihalulu means “roaring sea,” scaring away potential beachgoers who are fearful of the powerful surf. If you’re not afraid of getting a little wet, what awaits you on the other side of a slightly treacherous trail is a breathtaking hidden cove complete with bright red sand. “Once we finally made it to the beach, I felt like I was looking at something from a movie, with the waves crashing on the rocks,” wrote one beach reviewer.
Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
Beautiful, tropical, secluded Caladesi Island. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
With its crystal blue waters and unique shells along a 3.5-mile-long barrier island, Caladesi is a small slice of the Caribbean in America. After only a 20-minute boat ride, you’ll feel miles away from civilization as you roam the still-wild beaches and trails where you might see armadillos, rabbits, turtles, and raccoons.
Carova Beach, North Carolina
Talk about off the beaten path; you actually need a four-wheeler to get to this stretch of the Outer Banks. With no roads, restaurants, or shops, wild horses roam the quiet shores of this secluded spot.
Check out our original adventure travel series, “A Broad Abroad.”