The 10 Most Haunted Beaches in America
Higbee Beach, Cape May, New Jersey
In 1879, Thomas Higbee died and was buried, at his request, in a marble tomb by his hotel, The Hermitage, on Higbee Beach overlooking Delaware Bay. But when his heir died in 1937, she requested that he be buried next to her in the Cold Springs Presbyterian cemetery in Cape May. It seems that Mr. Higbee’s spirit wasn’t too pleased about the move. (We kinda get it… who’d want to leave the beach?) Ever since, there have been stories of a ghostly man wandering Higbee Beach, sometimes walking a large black dog. Other stories speak of the ghosts of local tribespeople in the area, too.
Manzanita Beach, Oregon
In the 16th century, Spanish sailors were supposedly shipwrecked close to Manzanita Beach, which is about 15 miles south of Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. They carried a chest of Spanish gold up Neahkahnie Mountain to bury it. Rumor has it that the sailors murdered a man and buried the body with the treasure to try to stop others from stealing it. Some people say that more than one person was killed by the sailors, and that their ghosts still haunt the trails. Down on the beach, piles of stones are often found in the sand, seemingly built up overnight — but no one has ever seen who (or what) makes them. Creepy!
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
The story behind the haunting of Pawleys Island varies. Some say that the ghost, known as the Gray Man, is the spirit of a young man who was bucked from his horse and drowned in the surf on Litchfield Beach on his way to visit his fiancé back in 1822. Others say he got trapped in quicksand as he and his horse went through the marsh. And still others say the man in question was actually Edward Teach—that’s Blackbeard!
The legend goes that after his death, the Gray Man saved the woman he loved and her family by warning them of a coming storm. Since then, he’s appeared to warn locals before several major hurricanes. People who’ve seen the Gray Man describe him as a mysterious figure dressed (obviously) all in gray, who wanders the beaches the night before a major storm or hurricane.
Long Beach, California
A haven for surfers and spirits alike, this Southern California town has been the permanent resting place for the R.M.S Queen Mary—a luxury ocean liner-turned-World War II warship—since the ‘60s. The ship, which carried celebrities and dignitaries in its heyday, is rumored to harbor the ghosts of those who died aboard, including a young man who was crushed by a door in the engine room and a crew member who was murdered in a third-class cabin. (Brave souls who want to connect with this spirit can stay overnight in the haunted cabin aboard Queen Mary, now a hotel.)
Teach’s Hole, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
In the early 1700s, legendary Blackbeard the pirate plied the waters from the Caribbean to the mid-Atlantic, robbing ships until he met his demise in a small inlet along Ocracoke Island. According to lore, the battle ended with Blackbeard losing his head (literally). Today, visitors to the channel known as Teach’s Hole report seeing a strange light moving beneath the water and, on stormy nights, the sound of a pained human’s voice bellowing “Where’s my head?”
Moss Beach, California
According to one of California’s most famous ghost stories, the friendly spirit—known as the Blue Lady—that lurks along this rugged shoreline is the result of a love affair-gone-wrong. In the 1920s, a young, married woman frequented a speakeasy atop the bluffs (now the Moss Beach Distillery) to visit with her lover, said to be the bar’s piano player. Then one night while walking along the beach with her lover, she was murdered (and the husband was never seen again). Today, the Moss Beach Distillery and surrounding land is a hot spot for ghost hunters; the restaurant’s staff and patrons also report strange events and spirit sightings.
Kaupoa Beach, Hawaii
With a name that translates to “Place of Thieves,” one can expect to feel a little uneasy in this stretch of Hawaii shoreline on the quiet island of Malokai. According to legend, the spot was once a hideout for the island’s law violators. In more recent years, the beach was part of the Malokai Ranch resort. Since its closing, the resort’s village has sat abandoned and the tops of its palm trees have been cut off (for insurance reasons), lending the spot an especially eerie vibe. Today, visitors report feeling anxious and afraid when they visit the beach.
St. Petersburg Beach, Florida
For many, a trip to this Gulf coast town isn’t complete without a visit to the stately Pink Palace—the nickname for the opulent ’20s-built Don CeSar Hotel. Yet few know the tragic story behind its existence. As legend has it, businessman Thomas Rowe built the hotel as a tribute to his long-lost love, a Spanish opera star named Lucinda, whose parents forbid their relationship. When Lucinda passed, Rowe spent the rest of his years heartbroken. Today, staff and guests report sightings in the hotel and on the beach of a young gentleman sporting an old-fashioned Panama hat and white suit, sometimes along with a woman wearing a traditional Spanish peasant dress. Thomas and Lucinda reunited at long last?
Mackinac Island, Michigan
It may be one of Michigan’s most touristy islands, but beneath Mackinac’s idyllic existence are some spooky tales. The spot of land is home to a Native American burial ground and “The Drowning Pool,” where seven suspected witches were murdered. Park yourself on the west side of the island and you might see an apparition of one of the Great Lakes’ sunken ships, many of which foundered in the treacherous Strait of Mackinac just offshore and were never found.
Sutro Baths, San Francisco, California
Once a grand complex of public saltwater baths, all that remains of the 1800s-built Sutro Baths are graffitied ruins strung out along the beach within the Golden Gate Recreational Area. The baths were reduced to rubble after they were mysteriously burned to the ground in the ‘60s. Today, visitors to the haunting display say candles are strangely blown out or tossed into the ocean when lit; others report seeing people dressed in old-timey bathing garb.