En español | These 10 beaches are usually wide-open and uncrowded enough to offer lots of room between sunbathers — always idyllic but particularly appealing in the COVID-19 era when social distancing is crucial. Just be sure to check for COVID-related closures and news and local rules, including quarantine requirements if you're from out of state, before you go.
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PHOTO BY: Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images
Anna Maria Island, Fla.
Hit the reset button on this peaceful, 7-mile-long barrier island an hour's drive southwest of Tampa. Stroll wide swathes of talcum-powder sand in a Gulf Coast hidden gem with that hard-to-find “Old Florida” feel and a refreshing lack of high-rise condos. Savor rosy-hued sunsets that often attract newlywed couples posing for photographers. Stay in a small, family-owned oceanfront inn.
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PHOTO BY: David Cardoza / Getty Images
Del Monte Beach, Calif.
Fans of Big Little Lies will enjoy walking or jogging to the sound of crashing waves on the dramatic, romantic Monterey Peninsula coastline, just as the characters in the TV series did. South of Houghton M. Roberts Beach in Monterey, Del Monte is popular with locals, who also enjoy the boardwalk path through the dunes. Whale watching is an attraction throughout the year.
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PHOTO BY: Christopher Price / Alamy Stock Photo
Kauapea Beach, Hawaii
Nicknamed “Secret Beach,” this palm tree-lined strand on the north coast of Kauai near Kilauea is accessible via a brief hike. You'll be rewarded with sparsely occupied stretches of sands, ebony lava rocks, tidal pools and even a waterfall. Some shed their bathing suits here, but if that's not your thing, there's plenty of room to unwind fully suited, enjoying your own slice of paradise.
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PHOTO BY: Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Pawleys Island, S.C.
The skinny barrier island boasting wide, serene sands is low-key compared with better-known Myrtle Beach 25 miles to the north. Connected to the mainland by two small causeways, Pawleys is nicknamed “arrogantly shabby” for its unpretentious oceanfront houses that can be rented for multigenerational getaways. For centuries, the area has appealed to low-key Southern gentry, including former vice president Al Gore. Summer residents and day-trippers get in their 10,000 steps striding up and down four miles of sand backed by dunes and sea oats. Take home a locally made rope hammock.
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PHOTO BY: Roschetzky/IstockPhoto
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
If you avoid spring break, when college students flock here, you'll find plenty of space to lounge in your beach chair on what's billed as the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world — encompassing 70 miles of Texas coastline. Enjoy camping and kayaking in the saltwater Laguna Madre or the chance to spot nearly 400 bird species.
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PHOTO BY: Troy Nelson / Alamy Stock Photo
Schoolhouse Beach, Wis.
Drive a car or RV onto a ferry at the tip of Door County in tiny Northport, about 200 miles northeast of Milwaukee, for the half-hour ride to Washington Island. Then marvel at one of the world's rare smooth limestone-pebble beaches. Snap photos of the gray-hued expanse and blue waters of Lake Michigan, make piles of glacier-buffed stones (but it's illegal to take one home) or take a dip in the crystal-clear water.
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PHOTO BY: Michael Orso/Getty Images
Montauk Point State Park, N.Y.
Worth the trek to the tip of Long Island, the easternmost point of New York State has the oldest lighthouse in the state (dating back to 1792), rocky beaches with postcard-perfect views of the Atlantic and Block Island Sound and plenty of room to spread your beach blanket on the park's 862 acres. Surf fishing is popular, as is watching the seals that play and sun on rocks.
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PHOTO BY: Charles Wollertz
Bandon State Natural Area, Ore.
Whimsical rock formations with names like Wizard's Hat and Cat and Kittens jut out of icy waters in this coastal gem that's less well known than other Oregon beaches. A four-hour drive southwest of Portland, it boasts crashing waves, towering bluffs and abundant wildlife. View it all from the privacy of your vehicle on Bandon's Beach Loop Drive.
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PHOTO BY: Spring Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Carova Beach, N.C.
You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to travel unpaved roads and cruise on unspoiled beach here, where wild mustangs roam. The 11-mile-long northern tip of the Outer Banks, just south of the Virginia border, is a peninsula that's also home to the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. It's a magnet for bird-watchers, and where endangered sea turtles find refuge. Currituck also has ramp access for beach wheelchairs, which can be rented in the area.
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PHOTO BY: Courtesy Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
Roque Bluffs State Park, Maine
Diverse attractions distinguish this quiet coastal destination about 70 miles north of Bar Harbor. Swim in the Atlantic from a half-mile-long pebbly beach or in the warmer fresh water of Simpson Pond. Catch brown trout there during summer months. Hikers can stride miles of trails and snack on wild blueberries from local farms.
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