21 Best Beaches

Get ready to dig your toes in the sand: From white strands to secret coves, we've found the ultimate spots by the shore, plus fabulous lodging so you can stay as long as you like.

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Ocracoke Beach, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Photo: Ocean/Corbis

Ocracoke Beach

Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Combine your sun and sand with arts and crafts on this funky island in the Outer Banks. The 16-mile-long beach stretches east toward Cape Hatteras, accessible via Highway 12 or, for those with a nose for adventure, by kayak along Pamlico Sound. Swimming, shelling, kite-flying, and wild-horse watching count among the beach activities.

Hotel Recommendation: Stay at The Castle at Silver Lake. Read our review.

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