13 Beautiful Underrated Beach Towns in America

13 Beautiful Underrated Beach Towns in America

23 coastal states, America
has shores that stretch from charming New England to the
subtropical Gulf Coast. Is it possible to get a dose of vitamin sea
minus the crowds of Coney Island or price tag of Miami
? We’ve trodden lively boardwalks and unspoiled sands to
find some of the country’s best, overlooked seaside



It’s small wonder that “Ogunquit” translates from the Abenaki
Indian language as “beautiful place by the sea”. This former
fishing village on Maine’s southern coast is defined by its sandy
beaches and vibrant arts scene. Stroll Marginal Way that runs from
the harbour to Ogunquit Beach, passing grassy dunes, granite cliffs
and quaint New England cottages.

Cannon Beach


A 90-minute drive from
, Cannon Beach is tucked between the Oregon Coast Range
Mountains and 363 miles of secluded shores. The 235ft Haystack Rock
(of Goonies fame) is something of an icon here, but the hiking
trails of Ecola State Park, year-round art festivals, top-notch
seafood and local distillery means there’s plenty to keep visitors


Rhode Island

This New England town is famed for its sailing history and
Gilded-Age mansions – Newport was the
of the early 20th century. Pick out your future home
along Bellevue Avenue, hire a boogie board on Easton’s Beach or
trace the Cliff Walk coastal path. Gooseberry Beach is a private
club with public access, and among the best places for snorkelling
and kayaking.

Folly Beach

South Carolina

Twenty-minutes’ drive from
, this easy-going beach community boasts one of the
most consistent surf breaks (“The Washout”) on the Atlantic Coast.
When you’ve tired of the board shops, beachy cafés and late-night
pubs along Center Street, head to Bowens Island Restaurant for a
signature Lowcountry frogmore stew and a side order of sunset
dolphin spotting.



Part of the 14,000-acre Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge,
this island is famed for its wild horses – visit late in July
to see cowboys herd ponies across the Assateague Channel. Wander
hiking routes that thread through the archipelago; break off from
the Wildlife Loop and follow the Swan Cove Trail to Wild Beach for
complete seclusion. The town’s clams and oysters are of global
renown – taste some of the best at Bill’s
Seafood Restaurant



Time stands still on the southeastern “elbow” of Cape Cod, where
this beautiful, historic town dating back to 1665 is ideal for
escaping the crowds. Take in sweeping Atlantic views as locals go
clam digging, visit the 19th-century lighthouse and, come summer,
head to Kate Gould Park, where the town band plays each Friday



A stone’s throw from Santa Cruz (and a world away from the
city’s hustle and bustle), this quaint beach town proves that good
things come in small packages. Admire the pastel-hued homes along
the beach front, which comes to life during summer with outdoor
movie screenings and live music.

Cape May

New Jersey

Horse-drawn carriages and gingerbread Victorian homes are
perhaps not the first things that spring to mind when you think of
Jersey Shore. Dating back to 1611, Cape May is America’s oldest
seaside resort and a National Historic Landmark. Take a snap of the
“painted ladies” along the seafront, soak up ocean vistas from the
1858 lighthouse or spot whales and dolphins in Delaware Bay.

Rehoboth Beach


Imagine this nostalgic beach town as Coney Island minus the
crowds. Savour salt water taffy as you follow the mile-long
boardwalk past bars, restaurants, a bandstand, amusement rides and
Queen Street, one of the mid-Atlantic’s famously LGBTQ-friendly
destinations. Head inland to discover upmarket (and tax-free)
shops, galleries and a thriving dining scene – Dogfish Head Brewery
is a must for craft-beer enthusiasts.

Gulf Shores


On this sublime stretch along the Gulf of Mexico, white-sand
beaches glisten thanks to quartz grains washed down from the
Appalachian Mountains. Casting aside its “Redneck Riviera”
reputation, Gulf Shores offers beachside attractions (a waterpark,
a zoo, golf courses, cruises) with a good dose of natural beauty.
The calendar here is a full one – visit in May
for the three-day Hangout Music Festival, or in
for the National Shrimp Festival.

Key West


Thanks to its sun, sea and sand, Key West is far from an unknown
seaside destination. Yet between its candy-coloured conch houses,
thriving coral reefs, jazz bars and seafood restaurants, Florida’s
southernmost island benefits from a fun-loving, chilled out
attitude. After a day on a palm-shaded beach, applaud the sunset
from the carnivalesque Mallory Square – locals have been observing
this tradition since the 60s. For a more secluded slice of Florida,
head to Sanibel island to collect world-famous shells along
untouched beaches.



Dubbed the “Playground of the South” in the 1800s, Galveston
remains popular among travellers today. Get your beach-fix along 32
miles of shoreline – try Steward Beach, Seawall Urban Park or South
Beach – stopping by the historic pleasure pier before visiting
Moody Gardens, a botanical park in which tropical plants thrive
across the 10-storey Rainforest Pyramid. Architecture buffs will
adore Galveston’s Victorian and Civil War-era buildings.

Bald Head Island

North Carolina

Cars are banned on Bald Head Island; having taken the 20-minute
ferry from mainland Southport, visitors get about by foot, bike,
golf cart or the island tram. Climb the defunct 1817 Old Baldy (the
oldest lighthouse in North Carolina), reconnect with nature across
10,000 acres of untouched beach, marsh and maritime forest
preserves, or join a nightly Turtle Walk to witness the island’s
famous nesting sea turtles.