Get us in your inbox

A photo over a sandy, secret cove in Oregon
Photograph: Shutterstock

11 secret beaches in the U.S. where you can soak up sun and solitude

If you’re craving a secluded stretch of sand, these secret beaches in the U.S. are up for grabs

Written by
Emilee Lindner
Advertising

When you think of secret beaches, your thoughts likely drift to some faraway tropical locale that’s flush with rainbow fish and lush palm trees. But believe it or not, you’ll find sandy hidden gems right here in the U.S., too. The roads and paths to these secluded locations may be a little rustic—sandals won’t cut it for some of these treks—but those who tough it out might just end up on a private stretch of sand.

These secret beaches may not offer the typical tropical vibe (if you can't live without a posh cabana, there are plenty of resort-style beaches in the U.S. worth visiting), but they’ll give you peace and quiet—oh, and the feeling that you’ve uncovered something all for yourself.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, try these secret beaches in the U.S., and get ready for adventure.

RECOMMENDED: secret islands in the U.S. 

Secret beaches in the U.S.

Secret Beach, OR
Photograph: Shutterstock

Secret Beach, OR

Despite the obvious name, Secret Beach, Oregon, is surprisingly hard to find. Nestled at the northern tip of Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, this oceanside escape is pure Pacific Northwest fantasy: towering spruces line black volcanic rocks that have carved into natural bridges and jagged bluffs by hungry waves. The beach can only be enjoyed at low tide, but even if you can’t sink your feet into its dark sand, the short (and steep!) hike to the spot is a tranquil event all on its own.

Tip: Hike a third of a mile south of milepost 345 on U.S. 101 in Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. There is a small gravel parking area that leads to the 3/4 mile trail down to Secret Beach.

Chimney Bluffs, Huron, NY
Photograph: Shutterstock

Chimney Bluffs, Huron, NY

This hidden gem in upstate New York is always changing. Hills along the shore of Lake Ontario have been shaped into bluffs with sharp pinnacles (shaped like chimneys) by wind, snow, rain, and waves. It’s a landscape in motion—the bluffs are still shifting and eroding. Chimney Bluffs State Park has dramatic views over the lake, picnic areas, hiking trails, and it’s also a popular beach destination for locals. You can stroll along the rocky beach and enjoy a swim in the lake, but the fragile bluffs can collapse if climbed (look, don’t touch!).

Tip: Skip the state park entrance and head to the unmarked parking lot on East Bay Road for beach access.

Advertising
Cumberland Island, GA
Photograph: Shutterstock

Cumberland Island, GA

Like something from a fairy tale, wild horses on Cumberland Island roam freely. What makes this remote, secret island even more enticing—as if you need a reason beyond wild horses—is the sprawling beaches that face both the Atlantic Ocean and St. Mary’s, Georgia. Better yet, the island can only be accessed by ferry, adding an adventurous trek to the whole experience. After you catch the boat, trudge past the island’s mature sand dunes, past the windblown sea oats, and out toward the smooth sand at low tide. Depending on when you visit, you may have the whole shore to yourself. But you’ll be in good company: keep an eye out for whelks, clams, and horseshoe crabs. If you focus, you might even be able to peep a whale out in the Atlantic.


Tip: Visit a Carnegie home, Dungeness mansion ruins, First African Baptist Church, an ice house museum and more while on the island—making a day of it or camping overnight. Just don’t miss the ferry!

Bowling Ball Beach, Point Arena, CA
Photograph: Shutterstock

Bowling Ball Beach, Point Arena, CA

Where does this beautiful beach get its name? Why, from the smooth, domed rocks that resemble bowling balls on the shore. At low tide, this location is a photographer’s playground. Snap a few pics and then stroll the sandy shore as cliffs tower above. Be sure to tread lightly on this hallowed ground—Bowling Ball Beach is part of Schooner Gulch State Beach, so the wildlife and geological phenomena are protected by California.

Find it: From the parking area—alongside Highway 1 across from Schooner Gulch Road—take the northern trail. Beware of erosion and prepare for trail closures.

Advertising
Dry Tortugas National Park, FL
Photograph: Shutterstock

Dry Tortugas National Park, FL

While Dry Tortugas certainly isn’t a well-kept secret—it’s a national park, after all—it’s not exactly easy to get to. Beachgoers must charter a seaplane or ferry to one of the park’s seven tiny islands. Since the park is only 1% dry land, it only makes sense that visitors make use of the Gulf of Mexico’s lively waters. Below the surface lies the Florida reef system—the third largest in the world. Those arriving on their own boat can bring snorkeling equipment and dive to see some truly spectacular underwater views. Snorkelers may come across shipwrecks, and, when swimming along the moat wall of Fort Jefferson, reef squid, cement barrels, nurse sharks, anchor chains, and hogfish. The wall can also be snorkeled at night, when octopuses and other shy creatures emerge from their hiding spots.


Tip: Plan your ferry trip first. There’s only one round trip boat per day, so make sure you book your journey well in advance.

Matoaka Beach, MD

Maryland has no shortage of beaches. But if you’re looking to escape the crowds, Matoaka Beach is a calming way to experience the Chesapeake Bay without all the people. Surrounded by lush trees and clay cliffs, this secret gem is tucked away behind a bamboo cove. It’s also a beachcombers paradise—bring a pouch for all the shark’s teeth and shells you’ll collect while walking along the rocky shore. You’ll need pay $5 in order to access to beach, but locals say it’s worth every penny. Looking to make a weekend of it? There are nearby cabins to rent, which means you can listen to the Chesapeake’s waves lapping against the algae-coated rocks all night. 

Tip: Just when you think you’re lost, you’ve found it. Matoaka Lane is a little rocky, but your destination lies at the end.

Advertising

Bound Brook Island Beach, Wellfleet, MA

Cape Cod is one of the top summer destinations on the East Coast, which means one big thing: the beaches can get busy. Even still, there are a few secret spots away from the crowds. Tucked away at the end of a dirt road, Bound Brook Island Beach is one of the best places for a quiet, uncrowded beach day on the Cape. While trekking to the beach, stop on the hill for panoramic views. At the beach, you can explore sandbars and tidal pools at low tide, catch a sunset over Cape Cod Bay, or just relax while soaking up the solitude.

Tip: It’s about a hundred-yard walk to the beach, so pack accordingly!

Kauapea Beach, Kauai, HI

The Hawaiian island of Kauai already feels like a secret—it’s visited by fewer tourists each year than Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. Kauapea Beach, on the north shore, is worth going the distance. The 3,000-foot-long beach is dotted by tidal lagoons (perfect for shell hunting at low tide) and a small waterfall of freshwater that can be used as your post-swim shower. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also an unofficial “clothing optional” section on the far east side.

Tip: It’s a 10-minute hike from the road to the beach, and the unmarked trail can be slippery and steep in both directions.

Advertising
Sandbeach Lake, Allenspark, CO
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sandbeach Lake, Allenspark, CO

When you finally find the trailhead to Sandbeach Lake within the Rocky Mountains, prepare for a 9-mile hike—there and back. Is it worth it? You better believe it. Hikers can kick off their boots and soothe their toes in the pristine, cool water. At 50 feet deep, Sandbeach Lake is considered one of the deepest lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Upon arrival, the views of Mount Copeland and St. Vrain Mountain may overwhelm you, but take some time to soak in the Colorado sun and soon, the mountains will seem like old friends. A little pro tip: the terrain is moderate (for the most part) but prepare yourself for some steep climbs on your way to the lake.

Find it: The trailhead can be found a fourth of a mile from the corner of Routes 115 and 84.

Carova Beach, NC
Photograph: Shutterstock

Carova Beach, NC

North Carolina is full of developed, crowded beaches, but Carova Beach is considered the last frontier. No joke—it can only be accessed by an all-terrain vehicle. There are no paved roads on the way to Carova (no hotels or motels, either) but if you have a four-wheeler, it’s all up for grabs. Once you’re there, enjoy the seclusion this beach has to offer. Soak in the rays, relax under an umbrella, and snap a few pics of the wild mustangs roaming the shore. This place truly is a romantic paradise, as you don’t mind getting dirty on the way there.

Tip: The closest stores, gas stations, and restaurants are about 30 minutes away, so pack plenty of food, water, and supplies. 

Advertising

Seawall Beach, Phippsburg, ME

One of Maine’s best-kept secrets awaits you at the end of this hike. The 30-40 minute walk on a paved trail takes you through the woods to the top of Morse Mountain and finally to Seawall Beach. Take a swim in the ocean, lie on the beach and watch for wildlife. The beach’s dunes are nesting sites for Least Terns and Piping Plovers, two endangered species of birds, while other birds can often be seen hunting for fish. 

Tip: Get there early. Although it’s a hidden gem, the small parking lot can fill up quickly.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising