5 Dazzling White-Sand Beaches in the U.S.
The Founding Fathers collaborated long and hard to give us that Declaration, and all that independence-building must've worked up quite a patriotic sweat. We think they had the right to "declare" some R&R afterward. Of course, we're not sure how they actually recuperated after the hard work was done, but whenever we need an escape, we head to one of these gorgeous beaches.
How many of these white-sand beaches have you visited?
July is a great month to visit this 28-mile-long island; a low of 72 degrees perfectly complements a swim in the clear gulf waters. The park offers nine miles of award-winning beaches, with four miles accessible only by foot or by permitted vehicles. Can't make it this month? The park holds its annual coastal clean-up in September. After all, the only thing better than enjoying this beach is doing your part to make sure that others can, too.
Take one look, and you'll quickly see why a section of this beach was once named by writer Henry David Thoreau as "the Great Beach." Its larger body, the Cape Cod National Seashore, covers 44,600 acres and contains over 450 different species of wildlife. The beach features six self-guided walking trails along the shoreline. When you've finished, cool off by taking a dip in the ocean's characteristically-warm summer waters.
3. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
Turns out Siesta is used to being up on the podium in lists like these. It was Dr. Beach's #1 Beach in America in 2011, and in 1987, this shoreline was honored for having "whitest and finest sand in the world" in the Great International White Sand Beach Challenge. It's practically a jewelry store as far as beaches go; roughly 99% of its sand is pure quartz. When you visit, go snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking — pretty much any -ing will do.
4. Waimea Bay Beach Park, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
What, you thought we'd forget about Hawaii? The North Shore might get knocked by some for being too popular or too crowded, but any well-framed picture shows the reason for all the hype. The beach stretches for more than seven miles and is an absolute icon in the surfing world. It hosts the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing — "the Super Bowl of Wave Riding" — every November and December. And it's okay if surfing isn't your thing. The Hawaiian Islands are always surefire beach picks because almost any Hawaiian beach could make our list. Just head an hour southeast to the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve, which is one of the premier snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii.
5. Coronado Beach, Coronado, California
Legend has it that this beach's historic Hotel del Coronado served as the inspiration for the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum's the Wizard of Oz. While there's not much visible green on the beach, there's plenty of glow from the sand's mica, a mineral that gives it its shine. This two-mile beach has four distinct sections, with some of them being popular training sites for Navy SEALS. You won't have to drop down and give an instructor 25, but you might want to spread out your beach towel and enjoy a good 25 minutes-worth of relaxation. Or 30. Or 45...
-images by iStockphoto/genstets, iStockphoto/kschulze, iStockphoto/morth, iStockphoto/jonsanjose, and iStockphoto/NatCHEZtheDog
Davis Jones is an editorial intern at Sierra. His love for the outdoors began when he stepped on a fish hook as a 12-year-old and cried, in a burst of epiphanic clarity, "I'm too young to die." He attends the University of San Diego and enjoys camping, hiking, backpacking, and other activities that more or less benefit the mosquito population.