10 Best U.S. Beaches To Be A Recluse

  • Channel Islands National Park–Ventura, California

    The five pockets of land that make up California’s Channel Islands are only accessible by plane or boat. Santa Cruz is the easiest to get to (about an hour boat ride with dolphin and whale spotting almost guaranteed along the way), and is home to the second-largest ocean cave in the world (a draw for divers). Around the island, hike rocky cliffs for expansive vistas, meet the island foxes and find a spot to camp overnight (permit required). Keep in mind, there are no shops, hotels or modern facilities on the site, so preparation is key (food, sweaters and plenty of hand sanitizer).

    Photo courtesy of Chetan Kolluri via Flickr

  • Little Palm Island–Little Torch Key, Florida

    This one is a splurge, but totally worth it if you can swing it. With only 30 bungalow suites outfitted with plush king beds, outdoor showers, soaking tubs and sitting rooms, you’ll hardly see another soul during your stay at this island off the Florida Keys. Recreational activities include kayaking, snorkeling and dinner for two on the sand at the resort’s restaurant. For those who can’t book a room, plan to visit for Sundays brunch.

    Photo courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

  • Perdido Key State Park–Pensacola, Florida

    On the opposite end of Florida from Little Palm Island, Perdido Key is the laid-back, welcoming cousin to Orange Beach’s party and 30A’s see-and-be-seen spots. The park has four miles of coastline, where you can camp, surf, fish and collect seashells. If you’re lucky, you might even see Pensacola's hometown heroes, the Blue Angels, soar through the sky on practice runs.

    Photo courtesy of Stephanie Granada

  • Hatteras–Outer Banks, North Carolina

    North Carolinians hide out in the Outer Banks. Tracing 200 miles on the Atlantic Ocean, these barrier islands offer the kind of romantic landscape you’d expect from a Nicholas Sparks novel: sea grass-dotted dunes, wild waters, storied lighthouses. Hatteras is among the quietest and is home to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the largest stretch of undeveloped beach on the east coast. Bring a kite; the coastal winds offer the ideal setting for taking flight.

    Photo courtesy of Aaron Tuell/Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

  • Chincoteague Island–Chincoteague, Virginia

    Located an hour drive from the Ocean City boardwalk, Chincoteague makes up part of Assateague Island National Seashore. The main attraction here is the wild horses that roam the shoreline on nearby Assateague Island. As the story goes, the ponies are descendants of a pack of survivors from a Spanish shipwreck in the 1700s. The only time to expect a crowd is on the last Wednesday of July, when the town hosts its annual Pony Swim: 150 horses crossing the Assateague Channel onto Chincoteague.  

    Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region

  • Block Island–Rhode Island, New York

    Rent a bike or moped and explore the rugged terrain in this quaint New England town. Sure, there’s a community with shops and restaurants, but with 17 miles of pristine beaches there’s plenty of space to find solitude. Climb to the top of Mohegan Bluffs for a birds’-eye view of the Atlantic, then descend an 140-step staircase to the beach where you can take a swim. But, be careful these seas are choppy. 

    Photo courtesy of Block Island Tourism Council

  • Wildcat Beach–Point Reyes Station, California

    The 5.5 miles hike to get to this unspoiled beach on the Southern tip of the Point Reyes National Seashore, keeps the visitor count low. Currents are strong so you won’t be doing much swimming, but in the summertime hikers cool off at the nearby Bass Lake (bonus: it has a rope swing). For Instagram fodder, trek to Alamere Falls, a waterfall that drops dramatically onto the beach and flows into the Pacific. Camping passes are available for overnight stays and include bathrooms with running water.

    Photo courtesy of National Park Service

  • Cumberland Island–St. Marys, Georgia

    To protect the wildlife and its habitat, Cumberland limits the number of visitors allowed on the island to 300 people per day. This stretch of the Golden Isles, with its marshlands, mansion ruins and oak-lined dirt roads, was once the vacation spot of choice for the illustrious Carnegie family. The Greystone Inn (their 1900s summer home-turned-inn) is the only hotel on-site, and while it’s certainly nice, most prefer camping along the beach ($4 per person). A ferry departs from downtown St. Marys to Cumberland three times a day in the summer months.

    Photo courtesy of Jon Dawson via Flickr

  • Bull's Island–Awendaw, South Carolina

    Just off the coast of Charleston, this tiny barrier island is one of the only beaches in South Carolina you can camp on, and it has some of the best fishing in the area, to boot. You won't find a lick of development here; Bull's Island is totally untouched, which means zero hotels or restaurants, and plenty of gators, bobcats and loggerhead turtles roaming freely. 

    Photo courtesy of fran.trudeau via Flickr

  • Meyer's Beach–Bayfield, Wisconsin

    The Great Lakes is the Midwest's solution to the landlocked blues. Here, rolling waves, distant horizons and crystal-clear waters, give the freshwater bodies a sea-like appeal.  Among the most beautiful of these waterways is Apostle Islands National Lakeshore off Minnessota’s coast. Head west to the dog-friendly Meyer’s Beach, where a two-mile hike reveals eight water caves hollowed out of sandstone cliffs. Rent a kayak; the best way to take in the view is from within. How’s that for a good hiding spot?

    Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources via Flickr