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50 Best US Beach Destinations For A Warm Winter Getaway

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When the cold winds begin to howl, and snow and frost make you shiver, where can you go in the United States for some warm sun and a sandy beach? You love the idea of the Caribbean, Mexico or beyond, but this year, you prefer to keep the flight short and leave your passport behind. You crave the simplicity of a beach holiday in a beautiful American destination where the sun shines bright and warm air engulfs you. Lucky for you there are lots of destinations in the United States that offer you a winter escape. Here are over 50 of the best US beaches in winter that will have you tossing your boots aside and reaching for your flip flops.

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Why Warm Beach Destinations Are Ideal In Winter

There are deep psychological reasons why beaches are the preferred break to refresh your soul.

  • Meditation in a landscape – the far horizon, the color palette, and the sounds of the beach all add to a calming, soothing, and spiritual experience without you even realizing it.
  • Fun – water sports, beach combing, sunbathing, and exploring rock pools are enjoyable. Regardless of age, beaches are amazing places to hang out.
  • Invigorating – the air around a beach is different. It gives you extra energy and creates positive vibes.
  • Inspiring – beaches nudge artistic impulses from a beautiful photo to actual painted art or sculptures.

Other US Destinations

Not sure about visiting one of the best US beach destinations for a warm winter getaway? For other fantastic destinations in the USA offering city or nature escapes, please see:

For a discussion of some of the best US cities to visit in the USA with the best times to go or avoid, pro tips for how best to enjoy your time, and hotel recommendations, please see 20 Best Places To Cities To Visit In The USA.

Best US Beaches In Winter

In the following article, I provide a description of over 50 of the best beaches in the United States in winter. They are found in 7 states – South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, and Hawaii – and one US territory – Puerto Rico. All of them boast winter temperatures over 60oF, with many consistently reaching 70Fs and even 80Fs. They offer a selection of airports that make them easily reachable and excellent hotels, mostly steps to the beach. In addition, there are countless other activities found nearby for those looking for fun and excitement.

best US destination for a beach holiday in winter
Puerto Rico (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Lizardo from Unsplash)

Puerto Rico: Best US Destination In Winter For A Beach Holiday

If you want one of the best US destinations in winter for a beach holiday, Puerto Rico offers 270 miles of beaches. Spanish is the dominant language in this area, and the beautiful architecture reflects its’ Spanish influence.

Weather

Tropical weather means an average year-round temperature of 80˚F. January is the coldest month, with the possibility of it dropping to 70 degrees as a low, but still plenty warm with average highs of 83 degrees. Hurricane season runs from June to the end of November, and the driest season is December to March. If you are looking for the best beaches in the USA in winter, Puerto Rico is an excellent choice. 

Directions

Puerto Rico is an island so flying into Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan and renting a car is your best option. Public transport is unreliable, and taxis are expensive. You can also fly directly to regional airports of Ponce and Aguadilla from many US Cities. 

Map

Ocean Park Beach, San Juan

If you prefer a less crowded beach, this mile-long wide sandy beach with a few palms and almond trees is one of the best US beaches in winter. You can dip a toe or more in the Atlantic Ocean or enjoy the refreshing deep blues, shading to dazzling aquamarine. In addition, you can indulge in the usual water sports of paddle boarding, windsurfing, and kite surfing. 

In the evening, you can explore the bioluminescence in the bay with a night-time glass-bottomed kayak tour. Although the amount of bioluminescence each night can’t be guaranteed, it is an incredible experience. 

Other Attractions

  • Condado beach is a forty minute walk away if you want more than one destination for a beach holiday in winter.
  • Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum holds lots of large entertainment and sporting events. It is worth checking out on your vacation. 
  • San Juan Cathedral is the oldest church on US soil and is a magnificent building. 
  • Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico displays exhibitions of artworks and holds occasional events. 
  • Guided snorkel tours open up the wonders of ocean. 
  • San Juan National Historic Site, the only National Park in Puerto Rico, is only 15 minutes away by car.

Hotel Recommendation

Numero Uno Beach House is a beautiful hotel with an excellent location. If you love to be next to real local restaurants and bars and wake up to the ocean at your feet, this is the place for you.

best beaches in USA in winter
San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo courtesy of Wei Zen from Unsplash)

Isla Verde Beach, San Juan

Voted best urban beach by USA Today readers, you get the pleasure of a beach holiday with all the comforts of staying in a city. In addition, you have easy access to the capital and the main international airport. 

Opting for this beach, you get three beaches in one:

  • Carolina Beach – best for swimming and families.
  • Alambique Beach – best for food, hiring a sun lounger, and water sports.
  • Pine Grove beach – calmest waters for water sports and snorkeling.

The top activities on one of the best beaches in the USA in winter include:

  • Parasailing, jet-ski, and boating.
  • Scuba diving.
  • Bike rental or hiking.
  • Visit the San Juan casino. 

Other Attractions

Hotel Recommendation

San Juan Water and Beach Club is an excellent hotel with an outdoor pool and two restaurants. It is affordable and on the Isla Verde beachfront for easy daily access to the sand and sea.

best US beaches in winter
Rincon, Puerto Rico (Photo courtesy of Harry Gillen from Unsplash)

Rincon Beach, Rincon

The town of Rincon sits where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, the sunsets are fabulous and colorful at one of the best US destinations for a beach holiday in winter. The many beaches offer all the water sports that you could want, and for a change of pace, you can enjoy trails on horseback or mountain bike.

The lighthouse gives you a landmark and a place to sit and whale watch. Telescopes are available to provide you with a close view of the humpback whales while they migrate from December to April. 

You get eight miles of sandy beaches for some of the best US beaches in winter. Those include:

  • Sandy Ceach which is close to bars and restaurants.
  • Antonio’s Beach that offers a little more seclusion.
  • Rivermouth Beach with calm tidal pools ideal for children.
  • Domes Beach which is near the lighthouse and excellent for surfing.
  • Maria’s Beach for those looking for excitement with plenty of pro-surfing competitions in the winter months.

In addition, there are amazing beaches in the marine reserve, but high waves mean no snorkeling in winter. 

Other Attractions

  • Visit the technological museum at Dome beach. Its opening times are sporadic, but you may get lucky during your stay. 
  • Try some deep sea fishing. It is available all year round, but the seas are livelier in winter.
  • Explore the Surfing Museum and check out the vintage surfboards.
  • Enjoy humpback whale watching. 
  • Horseback ride on the beach.
  • Take a yoga class on the beach.
  • Sample all the food trucks. 

Hotel Recommendation

Coconut Palms Inn is off the main road, on the beach and very quiet. Yet several eateries and a grocery store are all within a few blocks.

El Tuque Beach, Ponce

El Tuque Beach offers a family recreation center with a sandy beach near Ponce. You can have picnics on the beach and plenty of fun activities in the water park complex. As well as fun in the water, you can enjoy white water rowing, hiking, snorkeling, diving, and swimming on one of the best American beaches in winter. 

Other Attractions

In the nearby Ponce International Speedway Park, there is drag racing for the speed demons in the family. There are over 18 beaches in the area, so in theory, you can visit a different beach every day of your vacation. 

Ponce is the second biggest city in Puerto Rico. There are ferry trips to some of the uninhabited islands nearby. Of course, that means even more beaches and water sports. Alternatively, visit the dry Gaunica State Forest, or nature spot on land and sea in the La Parguera Nature reserve.

The old town is colorful and rich in historic buildings like the 17th Century Ponce Cathedral, a survivor of numerous earthquakes. 

Hotel Recommendation

Holiday Inn Ponce is the closest to the beach, but you will still need to drive to reach it. This hotel also puts you in an excellent location to enjoy the city and its many attractions.

best beaches in the United States in winter
Florida (Photo courtesy of Igor Oliyarnik from Unsplash)

Florida: Best Beach Getaways For A Winter Escape

Florida is sometimes known as the amusement park destination in the world with Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. However, it is so much more.

It is one of the top ten US states for the best weather and as for sunshine, it is known as the sunshine state. In addition, it has plenty of gorgeous beaches but the Gulf Shore (on the Gulf of Mexico) with sandy white tropical beaches is considered among the world’s best. With all of its amenities, amazing restaurants and hotels, Florida is one of the best US destinations for a beach vacation in winter.

Weather

Winter temperatures don’t normally drop below 75-80 degrees, so Florida is an excellent option if you want a winter beach holiday. The water temperature, even in winter, is comparable to a warm bath.

Directions

Florida has dozens of international and regional airports. Once you figure out your dream beach destination, you can easily find the closest international or domestic airport that best suits your airline choices.

Map

Miami Beaches

Miami has 20 miles of stunning coastline with Florida’s trademark fine sands and warm water. If you want a family holiday without hiring a car and one that is less than 10 miles from Miami International Airport, stay in South Beach. Once you have unpacked your suitcase, you have some of the best US beaches in winter within walking distance:

  • Miami Beach – 100 yards.
  • Lummus Park Beach – 150 yards.
  • South Pointe Park Beach – 1,400 yards.

If you don’t mind a slightly longer walk, you can visit Fisher Island Beach at 1.7 miles.

Other Attractions

Jungle Island (formerly Parrot Island) offers shows, interactive exhibits, and a fun and educational experience with animals to photograph, including a Liger (a cross between a lion and a tiger) called Hercules.

Miami has all the big city attractions of shops, theatres, a zoo and plenty of museums and galleries. The Art Deco District offers pastel buildings, retail, and delicious places to eat lunch or an evening meal.

If you want to add some culture, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens offers an enjoyable day out. Events like the farmer’s market in the nearby village provide the option of some hand-crafted gifts.

In line with the coastal theme, one of the most popular attractions is the Miami Sea Aquarium, where you can get close to large marine animals (swim with a dolphin) and learn about their work to support the manatee. 

For a more natural connection to marine life, you can check out Biscayne National Park an hour away. This National Park is 95% underwater. Alternatively, head over to Everglades National Park to experience swamp life including alligators, crocodiles, dolphins and manatees.

Hotel Recommendation

For a gorgeous hotel a short taxi ride to the airport and only steps to the beach, consider the Betsy Hotel.

best US beaches in winter
Miami, Florida (Photo courtesy of Antonio Cuellar from Unsplash)

Sunny Isles Beach

A bit further north from Miami near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (ten miles), you have another amazing winter beach escape, Sunny Isles Beach with easy access to:

  • Haulover beach – 1,350 yards.
  • Golden Beach – 1.8 miles.
  • Bal Harbor Beach – 2.2 miles.
  • Surfside Beach – 3 miles.

Other Attractions

The historic Newport Pier is worth a walk around, and other attractions in the area include:

  • Golf with Greynold’s golf course as the closest. 
  • Tidal Cove Water Park with water rides for big and little kids.
  • Spanish monastery.
  • Mardi Gras casino.

While you are in the area, consider driving to Fort Lauderdale for the museums, art galleries, beaches, water canals, and a ride on the Sun Trolley.

Hotel Recommendation

Stay at the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort, and you have your own private beach. If you enjoy sampling lots of different beaches, the resort is in a great location, and you can take the hotel shuttle service to Miami airport.

best warm beaches in US in winter
Key West, Florida (Photo courtesy of Frank Mckenna from Unsplash)

South Beach, Key West

Hawaii may be further south, but Key West South beach has the monument stating that it is the most southern point in continental USA. This concrete block monument in the shape of a buoy is 90 miles from Cuba, and when you see it, you know you can expect one of the best beach destinations in America in winter.

In Florida, where you find one spectacular beach, there are usually several more nearby. Within easy walking distance, you can visit:

  • Fort Zachery Taylor Beach – 950 yards.
  • Higgs Beach – 1,150 yards.
  • Rest Beach – 1,550 yards.
  • Simonton Street Beach – 1,700 yards

You can plan lazy days on the sun-warmed sand or an action-packed series of adventures, including:

  • Diving in wrecks or reefs in warm, clear waters.
  • Snorkeling in beautiful crystal clear waters, accessible to the whole family. 
  • Water tours via catamaran, kayak, or a sunset sail on a schooner. 

Other Attractions

Away from the beach, you can walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Robert Frost. In addition, Key West has museums, galleries, theaters, shops, and fun places to eat.

For an adventure, consider taking the ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles to the west of Key West. You can explore the Civil War era Fort Jefferson, the extensive bird life, and the dazzling snorkeling in clear turquoise water.

Directions

The Key West International Airport is the airport of choice and only 2.5 miles from to South Beach.

Hotel Recommendation

Douglas House is 400 yards from South Beach and an easy walk to Duvall Street, where you find other attractions. Almost everything you need for a relaxing winter break is within walking distance of the hotel, making it feasible to go without a car for your holiday.

Booking.com

Best Floridian Beaches In The Gulf Of Mexico

Florida has 1,197 miles of coastline, and that adds up to a lot of amazing winter destinations. A couple of the less well known beaches to consider are on the Gulf Of Mexico near Sarasota.

Lido Key

Lido beach offers sunset cruises, deep-sea fishing, sailing, surfing, and dolphin watching on a pristine beach with eco-friendly credentials. The seafood is fresh and delicious, and nearby St Armand’s shops are happy to offer souvenirs, gifts, and general retail therapy. If you want to see the marine life up close, visit the Mote Marine Aquarium.

Other Attractions

Directions

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is the closest but Tampa International Airport is only an hour drive.

Hotel Recommendation

Captains Quarters is a lovely holiday home only 450 yards to the beach. 

best warm beaches in the America for a winter escape
Lido Key, Florida (Photo courtesy of Nathan Mullet of Unsplash)

Venice Beach

Venice Beach is one of fourteen miles of some of the best beaches in winter in the USA. In addition, it offers a variety of water sports and activities.

Looking for a found memento? Spend some time running the sand through your fingers, and you may find a fossilized shark’s tooth. 

The average water temperature (year-round) is 76˚F so swimming as well as boating is a popular pastime on these beaches. 

Other Attractions

  • Walk around Venice and admire the architecture
  • Watch out for alligators at Venetian Waterway Park.
  • Explore local history at Venice Museum.
  • Take a lovely walk and view pretty fountains at Centennial Park.

Directions

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is the closest airport.

Hotel Recommendation

Inn at the Beach is located right on the beach within walking distance to other beaches such as Caspersen, Nokomis, and Manasota. 

Booking.com

Turtle Beach

If you visit Turtle Beach in the winter months, you will miss the sea turtles laying their eggs (May through to October), but you may be in time to watch the hatching take place. Sea turtles hatch 55 days after laying. 

Other Attractions

There are plenty of other beach activities to amuse you, and the beach has showers and picnic spaces.

Hotel Recommendation

Turtle Beach Resort is a 2.5-minute walk from Turtle Beach. If the weather is too cool for you to enjoy an ocean dip, a hot tub on every patio will give you the chance to unwind with an excellent view. You also get free use of fishing equipment, bikes, and kayaks, which significantly saves money. An outdoor swimming pool means you can swim every day if you aren’t in the mood for an ocean swim. 

Booking.com

Texas: Best Warm Beach Destinations For A Winter Vacation

Texas has a temperate winter, and snow is a freak occurrence. Hiking, enjoying the beach, and picnicking are all pleasant activities even in the winter months in Texas. The last significant snowfall on the coast in Texas was in 2004. Typically you can expect winter weather that allows you to wear your shorts. 

Weather

The Texas coastline is on the Gulf of Mexico, the temperature may be high forties at night, but your daytime temperatures rarely drop below 64 degrees.  

Directions

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is a large hub and only a 1 1/2 hours to Galveston. William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) is a smaller domestic airport only an hour away.

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Padre Island

If you are a nature lover, a vacation exploring this barrier island is a delight. This undeveloped island has 130,000 acres of mixed coastal habitat. The Malaquite Visitor Center will arm you with nature notes, and you can hire adapted beach wheelchairs for the less mobile members of your party. 

Pack your binoculars and camera and prepare to do some intensive birding as 350 species stop off during the great migration. Sub-tropical temperatures in the winter months mean you can expect temperatures above 65 degrees.

Staying here gives you access to some of the best US beaches in winter. Those include:

  • Padre Island Seawall Beach – 300 yards.
  • Whitecap beach – 350 yards.
  • South Packery Channel Beach – 1000 yards
  • Padre Island Balli Park – 1,050 yards
  • North Packery Beach – 1,650 yards
  • Padre Island National Seashore Beach – 1.8 miles.

Other Attractions

Padre Island is remote, but it’s worth making time to visit Bob Hall Pier and Mustang Island State Park.

Directions

The closest airport is Corpus Christi International Airport, only a 40 minute drive.

Hotel Recommendation

Leeward Isles Condominium includes free parking, a pool and easy walking distance to beaches.

warm beach holiday in US winter
Padre Island, Texas (Photo courtesy of Joshua Cotten from Unsplash)

Galveston Island

32 miles of coast and warm winter weather mean this is one of the best US destinations in winter for a beach holiday.

You have plenty of choices:

  • Stewart beach is one of the best for families with plenty of amenities and sports.
  • East Beach is still suitable for families, but it is one of the few beaches where you can enjoy an alcoholic drink with your meal.
  • Seawall Beach is ten miles long (longest continuous sidewalk in the US) and packed with entertainment, shops, and restaurants.

Other Attractions

Galveston embraces the winter holiday season; typically, there are around 50 seasonal events.

If you are thinking of a winter beach break in Galveston, book early. The Holiday in the Gardens is a stunning display of lights and animatronics in Moody Park.

If Dickens is more your style, take a trip to The Strand Historic District in December, where the streets come alive with your favorite Dickens characters.

Directions

The closest domestic airport is William P. Hobby Airport in Houston. It is only a 40 minute drive. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is also in Houston and around 1 1/2 hours away.

Hotel Recommendation

Galveston Ocean Front Hotel gives you walking access to the Seawall and West beach. Other beaches in the area include Bermuda, Palm, and Poretto Beach.

Arizona: Best US Beaches For A Winter Getaway

Can you have a beach holiday in a landlocked state? If you classify a beach as any sandy area with water for swimming and sport, then Arizona has some of the best US beaches in winter.

Weather

You can expect low 70s in Yuma, and plenty of sun and high 60s in Cattail Cove State Park and Patagonia Lake State Park.

Map

Playa Linda, Yuma

Playa Linda is a man-made beach with sand dredged from the Colorado River in 2018. Spend a vacation here, and you will never believe it was once the city’s dumping ground. The beach is sandy and accessible to all. Plus, you get a grassy area for sitting and picnics, and when you tire of sunbathing, you can explore the trails (on horseback or foot) or take a one-hour float trip with Yuma River Tubing. 

Other Attractions

The beach sits in the West Wetlands Park, and other attractions include the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, Solar Demonstration Garden, and habitat for burrowing owls. The well-stocked lake is ideal for angling (license required), and a children’s play area features zip lining and climbing structures. 

Other attractions in Yuma include:

Directions

The nearest airport is General Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada International Airport which is 36.4 miles away.

Hotel Recommendation

Coronado Motor Hotel is pet friendly, comfortable, clean and has a heated, outdoor swimming pool.

best beaches in United States when cold
Lakefront (Photo courtesy of Yan from Unsplash)

Cattail Cove State Park, Parker

White sand and blue water are all the ingredients of a warm beach destination at Cattail Cove State Park. There is a roped area for safer swimming and a dedicated beach for your canine companions. You can also access the trails for some enjoyable walks before or after a beach picnic. 

You can camp inside the park or visit for the day. Most people come for the fishing – largemouth bass, striped bass, flathead catfish crappie, and bluegill. The lake facilitates exploring by boat and picnic in quiet coves or water sports like jet ski or water skiing. 

Other Attractions

Other places to visit are Buckskin Mountain State Park (which also has lake beaches) and Parker Dam.  Vacationing here in the winter is about enjoying warmer weather, the lakes and mountains. 

If keen to visit Joshua Tree National Park, it is just over a two drive away.

Directions

The nearest airport is the Parker Municipal Airport, owned by the Colorado River Tribes. 

Hotel Recommendation

Harbor Inn Parker is ideal for access to mountains and lakes and within driving distance to the park.

Booking.com

Patagonia Lake State Park

The desert has plenty of sand but little water. However, this artificial lake (265 acres) allows swimming, boating, and fishing creating one of the best warm beach destinations in the United States in winter.

People come to Patagonia Lake for fishing (Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Catfish, and Trout), boating, and wildlife. You may spot hummingbirds, Inca Dove, and the black vulture along the Creek trail. 

Other Attractions

In Patagonia, you can visit:

Directions

The nearest airport is Tuscan International Airport, 41 miles away. You will want to hire a car to get around. 

Hotel Recommendation

Patagonia Lake State Park is seven miles south of Patagonia. If you don’t want to camp in the park (camping bungalows are available), you can stay in a B&B in Patagonia. Stage Stop Inn offers a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool if you want to relax in comfort after a day on the beach.

California: Best Warm Beaches In United States For A Winter Holiday

California has hundreds of beaches. It may be chilly in the Pacific Ocean for a swim, but there are plenty of other beach activities. Unsurprisingly, in the winter, the southern beaches are much warmer than the north. 

Weather

Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, Venice Beach in Los Angeles, and Coronado Beach in San Diego all have average winter temperatures around 66oF and are some of the best US beaches to escape the cold.

Map

Coronado Beach, San Diego

Tiny pieces of mica in the sand mean this beautiful beach sparkles in the sunlight. The tide pools at low tide team with life – hermit crabs, small fish, and gently waving sea anemones. The Sandcastle Man may have already built a fantastic sculpture to see on the beach. In addition, you can book a lesson to learn how to build your own fantasy sandcastle. 

A walking tour introduces and explains the history and the culture of the Coronado area. The watersports are plentiful and varied – kayaks, paddleboards, yachts, and surfing. You can opt for a water tour or explore with a hired bike. 

Other Attractions

Other places to see while in the area include:

San Diego offers fantastic city attractions, museums, restaurants, cultural tours, and nightlife. 

Directions

San Diego International Airport is a 15 minutes drive.

Hotel Recommendation

Staying at Lowes Coronado Bay Resort puts you close to the beach (1.4 miles) and offers a choice of three pools and other facilities. The Silver Strand beach is only 500 yards away and offers an alternative beach experience.

best US beaches for a beach getaway
San Diego, California (Photo courtesy of Frank Mckenna of Unsplash)

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Venice Beach has everything – surfing, sand sculptures, amusement park on a pier, people watching, entertainers, a drum circle on weekends, and so much more – making it one of the best beach holidays in the United States in winter.

As well as having sand and sea, Venice Beach provides entertainment and spectacle. The canals and authentic Venetian gondolas make it amusing to explore. The shopping is extraordinary, and the stunning boardwalk makes it fun in the sun every day. 

Other Attractions

You have everything that Los Angeles has to offer from theme parks to museums, and fantastic restaurants.

If you are keen for a spectacular beautiful day trip, take the one hour ferry to Channel Islands National Park.

Directions

Venice Beach is 5 miles away from Los Angeles International Airport.

Hotel Recommendation

Samesun Beach Hostel is on Venice Boardwalk, and the world-famous Muscle Beach is a few minutes away.

Booking.com
best winter escape in the USA on a beach
Venice Beach, California (Photo courtesy of Josh Hild of Unsplash)

Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County

The central coast is warm enough in winter for beach fun with the added benefit of whale spotting. There are plenty of places to eat and shop, plus the Point San Luis Lighthouse looks great in holiday snaps. In addition to Avila Beach, you can easily walk to Olde Port Beach, Pirates Cove beach, and Fisherman’s Beach.

Directions

The closest airport is San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. It is between Los Angeles International airport and San Fransisco International Airport at 194 miles and 220 miles away respectively.

Hotel Recommendation

Inn at Avila offers excellent accommodation and access to free bikes as well as water sports facilities. The hotel is ideally situated to give you walking access to many beaches.

Hawaii: Best US Beaches In Winter To Escape The Cold

There are four main islands that service the bulk of visitors to Hawaii. They are Hawai’i (or Big Island), Kaua’i, Maui, and O’ahu (Honolulu). Each of them produces guaranteed warm weather in all seasons. They offer some of the best beaches in the USA in winter.

Weather

Daytime temperatures are in the low 80s, but you may want to pack a light jacket for night-time when it can drop to high 60s.

best US beaches to escape the cold
Kauai, Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Karsten Wiegeart from Unsplash)

Explore Kauai – Rugged And Beautiful

If you want to visit some of the lesser populated parts of Hawaii, try Kauai with its amazing beaches. You can either walk along the shore, access hidden beaches by helicopter or boat, or follow a trail to find a hidden gem. In Kauai, you will find some of the best US beaches in winter.

Map

Directions

The main airport is Lihue Airport. Many airlines offer direct flights. Alternatively, you can fly to Honolulu International Airport and pick up a local flight lasting around 25 minutes. To get around the island, you are best renting a car. 

Hotel Recommendation

You can opt for your preferred accommodation in:

Hanalei Beach In The North

At Hanalei Beach, you get two miles of pristine sand with mountains as a backdrop. The waters are calm, and the ocean is still warm in winter if you want to try some boogie boarding. If you enjoy a beach walk, walk down to the next beach Makua (Tunnels) Beach, where the surf is rougher and louder. Both are fantastic options and some of the best beaches in winter in the United States.

Hanalei beach was the backdrop for the film South Pacific and is as beautiful in person as on the screen.  Winter is when you get the best surf, but the beach is gorgeous and fun at any time of year. 

best destinations in US for a beach holiday
Hanalei Bay, Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Bergkinder from Unsplash)

Ke’e Beach In The North

This beach is popular for snorkeling and is easy to access at the end of Highway 560. It gives you views of the Napali Coast, and the trip to the beach is part of the experience. On the way, you can see the Maniniholo Dry Cave and visit the Limahuli Garden and Preserve. 

Although this is a popular snorkeling beach, it is for the experienced and strong swimmer – there is a severe rip tide. This beach is best enjoyed from the shore for the average family, but a lifeguard is on duty. The Kalalau Trail starts at this beach, but plan to be back for sunset with your camera at hand. Have you heard that the last light of the setting sun is a green flash? This is the beach that proves the legend is true. 

Poipu Beach In The South

The water is clean and award-winning. The swimming is safe, and the wildlife shares the beach, but please leave the seals alone.  

The spectacular natural feature to observe (from a distance) is the Spouting Horn – a natural blowhole on the lava shelf that can project the seawater up to fifty feet. Try and photograph it at sunset when the colors are fresh out of a child’s paintbox. The water spray draws the attention but listen because another blowhole in the area sucks in air, producing a strange groaning sound. 

The Mahaulepu Heritage trail will delight naturalists, geologists, and those who love to explore other cultures – an excellent way to get some exercise and learn something along the way. 

Explore Oahu

If you want to go to an island with the most cosmopolitan feel, then go to Oahu. The city of Honolulu is there with all the trappings of city life (with stunning views of beaches and the ocean). You find more remote areas and more traditional Hawaiian living in other parts of the island. Like all the Hawaiian islands, you can find some of the best American beaches to escape the cold.

Best winter beach destination in US
Waikiki, Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Aussie Active from Unsplash)

Waikiki

Waikiki beach is famous as the birthplace of modern surfing with Duke Kahanamoku. It is the most popular beach in Hawaii because of the surfing, white sands, warm waters, and historic appeal. For many people, Waikiki Beach is Hawaii.  

Time and erosion mean that Waikiki beach is not one beach but eight:

  • Duke Kahanamoku Beach
  • Fort DeRussy Beach Park
  • Gray’s Beach
  • Royal Hawaiian Beach.
  • Prince Kuhio Beach
  • Queen Kapiolani Beach.
  • San Souci beach
  • Outrigger Canoe Club Beach

The beach started as a natural two-mile expanse of sand, but now sand is brought in to replace sand lost to the ocean. The reef stops the giant surf from hitting the beach (most of the time) and creates a natural swimming pool for the enjoyment of visitors and locals. 

The surf on Waikiki beach is beginner-friendly and one of the best locations to get started in this fun sport. The sunsets are spectacular and for those nervous of ocean predators – in 150 years, there have been no recorded shark attacks on Waikiki Beach. The winter weather is warm and rain is brief.

Other Attractions

Aside from shopping, you can enjoy walking or cycling in Kapiolani Park (500 acres), visit the Waikiki Aquarium, or the Honolulu Zoo. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a must-see experience for visitors to appreciate the horrors of the Japanese attack on the USA on December 7, 1941 which killed 2400 American soldiers, injured countless others, and destroyed several navy battleships.

Directions

Honolulu Airport is a 40 minute drive to Waikiki.

Hotel Recommendation

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani puts you within walking distance from the beaches, the zoo, and other attractions. The hotel can signpost you to plenty of Hawaiian cultural activities so that the whole family can enjoy the experience.

Oahu’s North Shore – Best For Surfers

The winter months (November to March) see the giant waves. If you are not a top professional and just learning to surf, head to the southern beaches instead. However, if you want to be awed by what the best can do, check out the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing with your camera ready. In November, this high-profile surfing competition attracts the best from around the world.

The North Shore offers more than one beach –51 of them along 11 miles of coastline. The top three are:

  • Sunset Beach – longest surf ride.
  • Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline).
  • Waimea Beach.
best us beaches in winter
Maui, Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Rascoe From Unsplash)

Explore Maui

Maui is the second-largest island in Hawaii and is popular with families for the beaches, hiking, food, and culture. It is home to Haleakala National Park, only one of two national parks in Hawaii, and one of the best US destinations for a beach holiday in winter.

A winter visit to Maui is best for:

  • Surfing -but be careful where you do that if you are a beginner.
  • Boogie boarding.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Whale watching from land or sea.
  • White sand and sunshine.

Directions

The main airport on Maui is Kahului Airport. You can fly direct or opt to fly into Honolulu International Airport and then take a thirty-minute island hopper to Maui. 

On the island, you can use public transport and tour buses to see the sights and visit the beaches, but a rental car is the best option if you want to manage your own schedule. 

Map

Makena State Park

You get the option of the Big or Little Beach and enjoy all the usual water activities: swimming, bodyboarding, skimboarding, and if the waves are calm, snorkeling. Little Beach is the safest for swimmers as you can get rogue waves on the Big Beach.

The volcano in the center of the park is dormant and attracts hikers. One word of warning, nude sunbathing is tolerated on Little Beach.

Directions

Makena State park is 40 minutes from the airport.

Hotel Recommendations

Makenna Surf Resort  gives you plenty of facilities and walking access to numerous beaches:

  • Po’olenalena Beach – 50 yards.
  • Makenna Landing Beach Park – 700 yards.
  • Palauea Beach – 1,150 yards
  • Maluaka Beach – 1,400 yards.
  • Polo Beach – 1 mile
  • Oneuli Beach – 1.3 miles.
  • Wailea Beach – 1.4 miles
  • Makena Little beach – 1.8 miles.

If you are not in the mood for the beach, you can enjoy a swim in the heated swimming pool.

best beaches in United States in winter
Makena Beach, Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Luca Bravo from Unsplash)

Baldwin Beach Park

This beach in North Maui has plenty of facilities for showering and bathroom breaks; unsurprisingly, it is one of the best and most popular beaches. There are plenty of activities (swimming, snorkeling, cruising, parasailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding) and you are close to the historic town of Paia.  

The best (and safest) areas for swimming are at either end of the bay – Baby Beach and Baldwin Cove. In the center, the breaking waves are stronger, so pay attention to the waves and maybe have a word with the lifeguards stationed on the beach on how the ocean is behaving on the day you visit. 

Other Attractions

Paia town is charming, and you can go gift shopping or find somewhere to eat. The Paia Stupa (consecrated by the Dalai Lama in 2007) is a landmark worth a visit. Visitors are welcome to admire the 27 feet Stupa and turn the Mani prayer wheel. There is a regular meditation program that you can book if you feel like resting your mind. 

La’akea Farm run by a vocational community, supports learning challenged adults and children. It hosts a farmer’s market and craft studios. It’s a beautiful place to visit, and your support helps keep it running. 

Directions

Baldwin Beach Park is 15 minutes from the airport.

Hotel Recommendation

Try the Paia Inn for proximity to Baldwin Beach Park and walking access to the historic town and these excellent beaches:

  • Paia Bay Beach -50 yards.
  • Paia Secret Beach – 550 yards.
  • Baldwin Beach Park – 1,050 yards.
  • Sprekelsville Beach – 1.7 miles.
  • Ho’okipa beach – 1.9 miles

You are close to shopping, restaurants, and beaches without needing a car if you prefer to have a quiet, relaxed winter beach vacation. 

Georgia: Best Warm Beaches In US In Winter

Georgia (the home of Coca-Cola) has some of the best beaches in the US in winter. In addition, January and February are low season and very affordable.  

Weather

The coldest month is November, and the daytime temperature can drop below 50 degrees. October, December, January, and February all have daytime temperatures above 60 degrees. You might not want to go swimming, but you can enjoy water sports and other beach activities.

Map

Tybee Island or Savannah Beach

You get a city on an island with a pirate’s past. The sand is smooth, you can bike around town, and the seafood is fresh and delicious. It is a haven for nature lovers (Turtles and Osprey) with the added attraction of water sports and historic buildings (Civil war fort and Tybee Lighthouse).

The lighthouse is the oldest and tallest in Georgia. The exhibits in the nearby cottages cover the history of Fort Screven, the Euchee tribe, and island history.

You can take classes in sea kayaking or rent a sea kayak if already proficient. Winter isn’t peak dolphin season (although there are one or two), but you can still take a Captain Mike Tour to see the lighthouses (Tybee and Cockspur) and Fort Pulaski from the water. 

Most people enjoy using a bike to see the island because the roads are bike-friendly, and the island has plenty of scenic trails. 

Other Attractions

There are other attractions in the area, but they are all over ten miles away. If you enjoy getting out and about, other places to visit are:

  • Marinas – Savanah Bend, Tidewater Boatworks, Bahai Bleu, and the Isle of Hope. 
  • Isle of Hope Historic District – a hundred years of occupation with an eclectic mix of architectural styles.
  • Bonaventure Cemetery – famous for its role in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. This is a must-visit for lovers of the book or film. You won’t see the Bird Girl (relocated to a museum in Savannah), but the trees and bird life are astounding.

Directions

The nearest airport is in Savannah. The Hilton Head Airport is about 21 miles away (a 45 minute drive). 

Hotel Recommendation

The Admiral’s Inn on Tybee Island comes with a swimming pool and Tybee Island Beach is a short walk of 300 yards.

best warm beach destinations in America in winter
Jekyll Island, Georgia (Photo courtesy of Philip Arambula from Unsplash)

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island offers a paved causeway and a host of activities with guided tours, a water park, and trails. 

Driftwood Beach attracts photographers as the driftwood is huge. You see a mixture of upright and fallen trees with that evocative driftwood patina achieved by sea polishing and aging. The trees did not drift in but are a result of the erosion of the land over the past 500 years. You see whole trees, including the roots. You can swim here, but there are no facilities to shower or have a bathroom break. This is an ideal choice for a beautiful warm beach in winter in America that connects you to nature.

Other Attractions

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center lets you see any current patients and provides exhibits about sea turtle conservation. If you visit the center, make time for a walk around the Jekyll Island Historic Landmark District. 

The Summer Waves water park will keep the big, and little kids in your party entertained – but check opening times. 

Bike trails are a popular way to visit the island’s many historic features:

  • Horton House (ruins of Georgia’s first brewery), 
  • St Andrews Beach (outdoor installation showing the history of a slave ship), 
  • Historic Wharf and Mosaic the island Museum showcasing the rich and famous overwintering on Jekyll Island back in the early 1900s. 

Cumberland Island National Seashore is less than an hour away, shorter by boat.

Directions

The closest airport is Jacksonville International Airport (about 63 miles), and you will need a car to get here. 

Hotel Recommendation

The Seafarer Inn has a swimming pool, and you can walk to these beaches:

  • Jekyll Island Oceanview Beach Park – 200 yards.
  • Great Dunes – 900 yards.
  • Driftwood beach – 1.7 miles.

South Carolina: Best US Destination For A Warm Winter Beach Vacation

The southeast of South Carolina has 2,876 miles of sea coast with some of the best US beaches in winter.

Weather

The coastal areas are mild, and the daytime temperatures rarely fall below 60 degrees. The night-time temperatures can be significantly cooler. You can still wear light clothing throughout the winter, but pack a warmer layer.

The winters are dry, and by visiting in the winter months, you miss both hurricane and tornado season. 

Map

Hilton Head

There is a selection of beaches, including the popular Coligny Beach Park, and while you are on the island, you can enjoy luxury spas, golf, and tennis. There is a wide range of beach activities, including canoeing and windsurfing. You can explore the trails by foot, bike, or horse. 

Directions

The nearest airport is Hilton Head Airport which is centrally located. 

Hotel Recommendation

Sonesta Resort is practically on the beach. Within walking distance, you can access these amazing beaches:

  • Hilton Head Island beach – 200 yards
  • Coligny Beach Park – 1.1 miles.
  • Hilton Head Island Beach South – 1.8 miles.

This hotel is pet-friendly, has a restaurant on-site and a swimming pool. 

best us beaches in winter
Hilton Head, South Carolina (Photo courtesy of Amber Faust from Unsplash)

Sullivans Island

A small island (only three miles across) and the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe’s short story – The Gold Bug. White sand and great water sports make this one of the best US destinations for a beach escape when it’s cold. 

Other Attractions

Sullivan Island Lighthouse has a unique triangular shape and an elevator to cut out climbing the stairs to the lantern room. You can’t tour the lighthouse (they used to get visitors to sign a document acknowledging the risk of injury), but it is an ideal subject for a photograph or sketch. 

If you enjoy historic forts, you can visit Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumner. These fortifications have a fascinating history from the wars of independence, civil wars, and World War II. Part of the less savory history is the international slave trade, and there is an exhibit outlining Sullivan Island’s involvement. 

If you are a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, then a visit to the library in a converted bunker near Fort Moultrie is a pleasant hour. Poe did his military service on the island. 

If you enjoy taking home unusual gifts, drop into the Sandpiper Gallery where there are regular exhibitions of modern artists and a sculpture garden. As well as art to hang on your wall, you can browse for jewelry, ceramics, and glass. 

For outdoor activities, you have plenty of choices – kiteboarding and electric bike tours, as well as water sports.

Directions

The nearest airport is Charleston international Airport which is a 25 minute drive.

Hotel Recommendation

Flag Street 1851A hotel has an ideal location. It is only 200 yards from the beach and offers most home comforts. 

Huntington Beach State Park

This is one of the smaller of the best beaches in the US in winter. Hungtington Beach State Park only offers only three miles of beach. However, there is plenty of wildlife to see, and interesting history.

You can fish and enjoy trail walking as well as hanging out on the beach. The beach is wide and sandy but has few visitors. You can tour Antalya Castle, the former winter home of the sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington, but most people come for the wildlife and the trails. 

Other Attractions

Nearby Brookgreen Gardens has plenty of winter events, including the Nights of a Thousand Candles (from the end of November to the beginning of January) and gothic folk tales around Halloween. The regular attractions are American sculptures, Lowcountry Zoo, and the botanical gardens. 

You can enjoy a varied program of water tours from the Crazy Sisters Marina and enjoy the spectacular views from the Murrays Inlet Marsh walk. Lee’s Farmers Market gives foodies local produce and Italian products (over 100 authentic products shipped in from New York). The market supplies local restaurants with the finest ingredients, but you can fill a shopping bag with delicacies to take home or eat for a picnic lunch. 

The area has plenty of beaches in addition to Huntington Beach:

  • Murrells Inlet Beach – the marsh walk is enchanting and lets you see nature from a different angle.
  • Garden City Beach – friendly atmosphere with water sports, crabbing, and fishing.
  • Surfside Beach – pier, boardwalk, and a water park nearby.
  • Litchfield beach – quiet and relaxing, surf, swim, or collect shells. Learn about the former rice plantations at the Gullah O’oman shop. 

Congaree National Park is just under 3 hours away.

Directions

The closest airport is Myrtle Beach International Airport, a 25 minutes drive.

Hotel Recommendation

A friendly and comfortable hotel is Hampton Inn Murrells Inlet. In addition, it is very close to the beach.

Last Word

Unlike wildlife, most families don’t migrate to warmer climates to escape the winter weather. Still, you can opt to enjoy a few days or weeks topping up your vitamin D levels the natural way – by refreshing yourself on a warm beach in the sun. There is lots of amazing beaches in the USA waiting for you to discover to escape the cold.

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