Top 5 loveliest beaches on the East Coast

Horses Prepare For Newmarket Handicap On Altona Beach
Horses Prepare For Newmarket Handicap On Altona Beach / Vince Caligiuri/GettyImages

The East Coast's beaches welcome the chilly Atlantic Ocean as it stretches forward, touching the sand. Every year, an estimated 180 million individuals in the U.S. head to the beach for vacation. That's a lot of people and explains why most beaches are so crowded. Luckily, there are roughly 30,000 miles of coastline for everyone to enjoy on over 2 billion trips to the beach. Just to put it in perspective, the West Coast only has 7,863 miles of coastline.

While many tourists enjoy peaceful beaches with little crowding, many others enjoy the beaches boasting the best activities and nightlife. Along the 30,000 miles of beautiful East Coast terrain, the sand, waves and quality of the locations change with every new adventure. Everyone has their favorite beach and can ramble on for some time about why they think their spot is the best. We've carefully gathered information on the best East Coast beaches and hope this inspires you to think of your own favorite beach.

Top 5 Beaches

Sunset on Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
Sunset on Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. / John Greim/GettyImages

1. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Bodie Island Lighthouse...
Bodie Island Lighthouse... / John Greim/GettyImages

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is possibly the most beloved seashore of all. It has so much natural beauty that it's hard not to find yourself filling your phone up with photos of it. The Outer Banks is home to the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which a big chunk of Americans have in the customary magnet form stuck to their refrigerators. Another perk is the vast array of quality seashells on these barrier islands. Another favorite is the many shades of sea glass that wash up, begging to be made into art. Amelie Earnhart first flew a motorized plane on these islands, and there is a monument and park to commemorate it. The barrier islands were among the first areas colonized by English settlers who brought horses for traveling. The settlers are long gone but some of the descendants of the horses run wild on Corolla, an island closest to the inland.

2. Cocoa Beach, Florida

A surfer and a windsurfer enjoy the rough waves at Cocoa...
A surfer and a windsurfer enjoy the rough waves at Cocoa... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Cocoa Beach is really well-rounded, calm, peaceful, and perfect for family vacations. The water is shallow enough that you can easily walk right out to where the waves are forming. This comes in handy for those trying to surf and is one reason many people rate this beach as their favorite. Another reason is the fun-filled 800-foot-long Cocoa Beach Pier. The pier is home to many surf, souvenir, and beachwear shops. Once you've had enough shopping, check out one of the pier's restaurants, like Atlantic Ocean Grille. Cocoa Beach is also home to the massive Ron Jon's Surf Shop. Overall, if peace and relaxation are what you seek, this is the beach for you.

3. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Assateague Wild Ponies Make Annual Swim To Chincoteague Island
Assateague Wild Ponies Make Annual Swim To Chincoteague Island / Mark Wilson/GettyImages

What could possibly be better than a beach that is also part of a national park? Assateague Island National Seashore is a magical place where visitors cruise past each other on kayaks, and the possibility of seeing the island's mustangs or wild ponies is decent on any given day. The overall vibe of the island is laid back. This is the place to go to unwind from your chaotic lifestyle. This is also a beach you can drive and camp on once you find the perfect secluded spot. While there, you can join some ranger-led programs to learn about this fantastic island.

4. Folly Beach, South Carolina

A Waxing Gibbous Moon Rises, The Night Before Blue Moon On Halloween Night
A Waxing Gibbous Moon Rises, The Night Before Blue Moon On Halloween Night / Michael Ciaglo/GettyImages

Folly Beach is located on Folly Island, just south of Charleston. Charleston is an old city with loads of charm piled up in the gorgeous Victorian mansions just behind the Spanish-moss-decorated oak-lined streets. The quaint southern area is an excellent place to explore after you've had your fill of the beach. Back on Folly Island, see if you can spot a shark from the 1,000-foot-long pier or look for souvenirs in the gift shops that line the main street in town. Visit the pelican rookeries within Folly Island County Park or go on a sea adventure by renting a kayak, paddleboard, surfboard, and more.

5. Race Point Beach, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Race Point Lighthouse...
Race Point Lighthouse... / John Greim/GettyImages

Last but not least on our list is Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where the views are marvelous and will make you feel a bit like you are starring in a movie on the Hallmark Channel. The actual island is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and there is no arguing that this beach isn't one of the best in the entire country. Everyone can enjoy the serenity that comes along with Race Point beach because beach wheelchairs are available to borrow.

The island and beach are part of Race Point National Park, with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Before heading to the beach for a swim, hike through the island and visit with the inhabitants. You are never alone with 450 amphibians, mammals, more invertebrates than anyone can count, reptiles, fish, and birds. There are 25 federally protected species of birds within the park, including the endangered piping plover. If you're lucky, you might get to witness some seals sunbathing on the sandbars; in the summer and fall, it's highly recommended to charter a boat or test your endurance as a paddleboard or kayak out into the sea and listen. You might hear a whale song, and you might also see the whale it belongs to. Wrap up the perfect beach day by visiting the Race Point Lighthouse as the sun sets. In the summer, the sun disappears behind the lighthouse with its reds and oranges, setting it ablaze with the soon-to-come autumn colors.

Respect our beaches

No matter where your travels takes you or what time of year the journey takes place, be sure to respect your environment and its inhabitants. Afterall, you are a guest in their house. There are so many ways to experience the beach discussed but there is no right way and every single step of the trip is solely up to you (and your spouse, partner, family, dog, kids, or friends) to navigate and make some of the best memories of your lifetime. We ll must look after these wonderful natural places so they stay as pristine and special as they are today. One way you can help is by bringing a plastic bag to put the trash you find in and disposing of it properly. Remember: Leave only your footprints.