When you want to get away from it all, what better place to do so than on a quiet beach? The wind in your hair and the surf at your feet feel like your own private pleasures when there are few other souls in sight. Check out these five secluded beaches that make for a peaceful summer getaway.
1. Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
Home of the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, Padre Island National Seashore is just the spot to escape the crowds. Beyond its sand and sun, the park is also known for the super-salty Laguna Madre, its population of endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles and its offshore shipwrecks — some Spanish and dating back more than 500 years.
2. Ozette Beach, Washington
Lace up your boots and take a 3-mile hike from the end of the road at Ozette Lake, and you'll find yourself on a rugged and wild beach that's part of Olympic National Park. Set up camp here amid the tide pools and driftwood at Sand Point or Cape Alava (generally considered to be the site of each day's last sunset in the Lower 48), then spend your days hiking up and down the coast.
See also: Island getaways
3. Gold Bluffs Beach, California
A seemingly endless drive down a rutted dirt road pays off in the form of Gold Bluffs Beach in Humboldt County. There are campground sites on the beach here and a network of trails that snake into the adjacent redwood forest, home to some of the world's tallest trees. On one lucky loop, you might glimpse a banana slug, a herd of elk or even a gray whale.
4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
With so many beautiful ocean beaches, it's easy to overlook those along the Great Lakes. Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore has some of the best dune specimens in the country — some loom 400 feet over Lake Michigan. It's also home to a number of uncrowded and unique pockets of wildlife along a shoreline that's dotted with forest and wetlands. Just inland, more than 20 additional lakes complement the great one.
5. Honeymoon Beach, St. John, Virgin Islands
St. John is ringed with so many picture-perfect beaches, it's hard to pick just one. But to find a stretch with a true dearth of crowds, follow the Lind Point Trail for about a mile to Salomon Beach or continue for about another half-mile to the even more secluded Honeymoon Beach. The trail offers views of the lush hills of St. John and the crystal-clear waters off the island's north shore. The coral reefs here are some of the best snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean — so pack your mask and flippers.
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