An early morning beach walk or saunter down the sands at sunset is a restorative feeling no matter the season, and the USA’s ample coastline means access to beautiful beaches is never far away. For the best coastal walks in the country, these are the destinations to pay attention to.*
Rockaway Beach, Oregon
Don't miss a view of Rockaway Beach's twin rocks at sunset
Located on Oregon's sumptuous Pacific coast, Rockaway Beach is quieter, more removed and hidden than its Californian counterparts, especially when visited off-season. Here, wide sands are backed by grassy ridges, forested hills and hazy mountains. It’s a setting bound to unite both beach-lovers and avid hikers, and its signature Twin Rocks – a chiselled rock formation out at sea – looms like a gigantic sea dragon in the distance, providing the necessary amount of natural dramatic spectacle. A walk at sunset is the best way to capture both the beach’s beauty and a sense of isolation, before returning to the oceanfront Whale Watcher’s Perch.
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach is a long, slender stretch of sand
As a beach island, Wrightsville Beach is a town defined by its long stretches of sand. Jutting out into the sea and stretching for six kilometres in length, it’s primed for long walks. Starting at the Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier, you can choose to stroll towards the south end and the often-submerged jetty. Or, head north to the beach’s poignant 'mailbox' (it’s a one hour walk end-to-end), where passersby are supplied with pens and notebooks and are encouraged to leave a note or a thought. Head back to the beach’s centre, before a short bus ride to leafy Wilmington and the spacious Homewood Suites.
Desert-like landscapes can be found at Mandalay Beach
Oxnard’s appeal lies in the sheer number of beaches and amount of coastline you can choose from. Silver Strand beach is a mile-long crescent of white sands that’s popular with surfers and anglers, but its width and length make it well-suited for a day out walking. Neighbouring Hollywood Beach is slightly calmer and a little more peculiar – its name comes from the many films that used its desert-like landscape as their settings. Wander past the beach homes that line the sands and take some time to admire the varying architectural styles, from modernist glass houses owned by former Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to boxy wooden cabins partially obscured by pines. You’ll find a little dose of culture and history here, alongside the breezy atmosphere of the Southern California coast. Channel Island Shores are self-catered apartments only a few minutes' walk from Oxnard Beach.
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Find yourself a sheltered spot of sand to watch the sunset here
Though Isle of Palms is perhaps not as palm-fringed as you might expect, its walking possibilities are, however, practically endless. An 11-kilometre stretch, the beach is a slim strip of sand dotted with Lowcountry-style homes, complete with spacious terraces and gently swaying canopies. Stroll along past peach, mint and baby blue-coloured homes that paint a brilliant backdrop for any photo opportunities. It’s both an extremely family-friendly beach and a pet-friendly one, too (just keep your dog on a lead), meaning everybody’s welcome to dip their toes into the warm water. It's a place that's recognised for its cleanliness and abundant marine life, and you can spot dolphins and pelicans from the shoreline on a long afternoon walk. Isle of Palms is only a short drive from historic Charleston, so head to the French Quarter and design hotel, The Vendue.
York Beach, Maine
Nubble Lighthouse is York Beach's signature landmark
Maine is a state ruled and defined by the ocean, and York Beach is one outpost where you can experience its distinct rugged nature. Made up of two beaches, Long Sands and Short Sands, you can combine a trip to both of them for a bracing walk. In Long Sands, rocky pebble shores melt into wide sands as gulls glide overhead, while in Short Sands, historic buildings are jumbled together in the background while Nubble Lighthouse stands tall, completing a wonderful maritime picture. Catch your breath at the conveniently-close Stones Throw.
**The data scientists at Booking.com used internal data to uncover the top destinations for ‘beach’ and ‘beach walks’ in the USA, according to Booking.com customers.