LOOKING FOR A GREAT BEACH WITHOUT THE CROWDS? WE’VE UNCOVERED FIVE UNDER-THE-RADAR PLACES TO ENJOY THE SUMMER SUN AND SAND IN RELATIVE SOLITUDE.
Miami Beach, Ocean City, Daytona Beach. These are some of the most famous summertime beaches in America, but they’re also among the most crowded. What if you’re in search of a fun beach that not everyone knows about? We’ve rounded up a handful of great sunny places that are still under the radar. So pack up your beach bag and make plans to travel soon, because these amazing beaches won’t be secret for long.
1. West Beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Alabama may not immediately come to mind when thinking about states with great beaches. That probably explains why the excellent beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama haven’t quite caught on as a huge tourist destination. The lack of national attention is just fine with locals who enjoy the soft, white sand and warm water from the Gulf of Mexico. From the heart of Gulf Shores on State Route 182, head west a few miles to find West Beach, one of the least-crowded beaches in the area.
2. El Matador State Beach in Malibu, California
There aren’t many secret beaches left in Southern California, but El Matador State Beach qualifies as one of the most overlooked spots on the Pacific Coast Highway. Like many SoCal beaches, this one requires a hike from the road down to the beach, so those with mobility limitations won’t be able to visit. The beach gets a little busier on summer weekends, but even then you can find more isolated areas by walking along the shore.
3. Cumberland Island in St. Marys, Georgia
For a truly remote beach experience, take a ferry over to Cumberland Island National Seashore, a protected island tucked in the southeastern corner of Georgia. Visitors often find shark teeth along the 18 miles of undeveloped beaches. While you won’t have to share the sand with many fellow travelers – reservations are limited to protect the ecosystem – you will be surrounded by loggerhead sea turtles, wood storks and more than 100 feral horses. Be sure to pack efficiently since you’ll be far from the mainland. Find more information about how to make a reservation here: http://www.stmaryswelcome.com/cumberlandislandV2.html
4. Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi, Texas
Though its name is similar to that of the popular spring break destination South Padre Island, Padre Island National Seashore is the complete opposite of that party area. The 70-mile seashore is calm and remote, with white sands and clear water. Plus, according to the National Park Service, it’s the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. The paved road ends as you drive south on the island, but visitors are welcome to continue driving along the shore for miles.
5. The Beaches of Corolla, North Carolina
The number of “OBX” stickers on cars nationwide proves the popularity of the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a popular summer vacation destination. Yet, because of the time and effort involved in driving to the Outer Banks, the beaches there are not extremely crowded, even during the busy summer months. That’s especially true of the beaches at Corolla, which are more off the beaten track than other Outer Banks destinations, such as Kitty Hawk or Southern Shores. The Corolla beaches are clean and wide-open and remain somewhat secret to outsiders. To reach Corolla, follow NC Route 12 north until it ends.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.
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