15 Stunning Beaches That Are Surprisingly Close to the United States

You don’t have to go far from home to find some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. These 15 stunning beach destinations are closer to the United States than you might expect, boasting white sand shores, clear waters, and everything you need for a dream beach vacation.

Tulum, Mexico

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Tulum has stunning beaches along the Riviera Maya, with powdery white sands and clear turquoise waters. Explore ancient Mayan ruins overlooking the sea, snorkel in cenotes, or simply relax in a beachfront cabana with a refreshing margarita. Stay at Lula, a boutique property newly added to the Colibri Boutique Hotels group of “barefoot chic” properties offering conceptual luxury experiences in Mexico. With its new international airport its now easier to reach than ever from the United States.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Just south of Cancun, Playa del Carmen offers a vibrant beach scene with beach clubs, water sports activities, and a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare known as Fifth Avenue. Dive into the colorful underwater world of the Mesoamerican Reef, or simply soak up the sun on its beautiful shores; it’s one of Mexico’s most well-connected destinations and is home to some of the country’s most impressive resorts.

Negril, Jamaica

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Famous for its Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica is a laid-back paradise with soft sandy shores and crystal-clear waters. Experience cliff diving at Rick’s Café, sample authentic jerk cuisine, or dance to reggae beats on the beach as the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea.

Varadero, Cuba

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Stretching along Cuba’s northern coast, Varadero Beach is a postcard-perfect destination with pristine white sands and still waters. Relax in all-inclusive resorts, explore coral reefs on snorkeling excursions, or take a vintage car tour to discover Varadero town and its proximities. Fly into the airport just a few minutes from the beach, or make the two-hour drive from Havana for easy access to what is known as one of Cuba’s best beaches.

La Paz, Mexico

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La Paz, Mexico, tucked along the Sea of Cortez side of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, is home to one of the most stunning beaches in the country: Balandra Beach. Crystal-clear waters with stunning shades of azure, turquoise, and aqua meet soft, white sands surrounded by impressive cliffs. Thanks to the well-served La Paz airport, it’s more accessible from the United States than you’d think.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

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Located within Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Manuel Antonio offers a unique blend of lush rainforest and pristine beaches. Hike through the park’s trails to spot wildlife such as monkeys and sloths, then cool off with a swim in the Pacific Ocean surrounded by natural beauty.

Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

best beach in costa rica
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Known for its unique crushed seashell sands, Playa Conchal is a hidden gem on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Snorkel among colorful marine life in the protected bay, tee off at nearby championship golf courses, or simply unwind in luxury at one of the beachfront resorts.

Playa Jacó, Costa Rica

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Known for its consistent surf breaks and lively atmosphere, Playa Jacó in Costa Rica is a popular beach destination for surfers and party-goers alike. Learn to ride the waves with expert instructors, zip line through the nearby rainforest, or simply soak up the sun and enjoy the laid-back vibe.

Caye Caulker, Belize

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This laid-back island off the coast of Belize offers a relaxed Caribbean vibe with sandy streets and colorful beach bars. Snorkel with nurse sharks at the famous Hol Chan Marine Reserve, dive the Great Blue Hole, or simply sway in a hammock with a cold Belikin beer. It’s a backpacker favorite destination anyone will love.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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As one of Costa Rica’s most popular surf destinations, the Pacific coast town of Tamarindo attracts surfers of all levels with its consistent waves and lively beach scene. Explore nearby estuaries on a kayak tour, spot nesting sea turtles at Playa Grande, or enjoy a beachfront massage as the sun sets over the Pacific as some of the best things to do at this unforgettable beach destination.

Roatán, Honduras

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Located on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the tiny island of Roatán boasts some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean. Swim with dolphins at Anthony’s Key Resort, explore underwater caves at West End Wall, or simply relax on the soft sands of West Bay Beach at what is considered one of relatively few hidden gems still remaining in the Caribbean.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Belize’s largest island offers a perfect blend of Caribbean charm and natural beauty. Snorkel or dive into the nearby Belize Barrier Reef, explore ancient Maya ruins on the mainland, or indulge in fresh seafood and tropical cocktails at beachfront restaurants at Ambergris Caye – there’s plenty to choose from.

Carlisle Bay Beach, Antigua

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The island of Antigua is known for having exactly 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – though few are as nice as Carlisle Bay Beach. Set deep within a protected bay, this powdery-fine white sand beach has glassy water and gorgeous views. It’s easier than ever to access Carlisle Bay Beach and the other 364 beaches on the island with the recently-added flights to Antigua offering travelers more options for travel.

Provindenciales, Turks and Caicos

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With its stunning stretch of powdery white sand and calm turquoise waters, Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos is a true Caribbean gem, considered one of the best beaches in the world. Providenciales is packed with impressive resorts to choose from or catch a quick flight to nearby islands offering even more seclusion, like the luxurious Ambergris Cay, an exclusive private island resort.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

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Nestled along Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Escondido is a haven for surfers and beach lovers seeking a laid-back atmosphere. Catch a wave at the famous Zicatela Beach, swim in the natural pools of Carrizalillo, or release baby turtles into the ocean at Mazunte’s turtle sanctuary. The town has its own airport, though many visitors access if via Oaxaca, about three hours north.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.