8 of the Best Secluded Beaches in North America

From Kauai to the Outer Banks, learn about some very special spots.

aerial view of bright white sand surrounded by shallow, blue and turquoise waters of one of the small islands of Dry Tortugas with two boats just offshore
One of the seven small islands west of Key West in Dry Tortugas National Park.

Xuan Che / Getty Images

For some people, a beach vacation is the best place to escape the stress of daily life. A few days with sand underfoot and the sound of waves nearby can restore and revitalize. Unfortunately, for this very reason, beaches are among the most popular destinations in the world.

If you’re looking for a quiet, uncrowded beach, they do exist. Some of these postcard-like stretches of sand have to be reached by foot or boat, and they might not be completely deserted, but they are delightfully less crowded.

Here are eight of the best secluded beaches in North America.

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Wildcat Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore (California)

Wildcat Beach on the Point Reyes National Seashore with a clear blue sky, rugged hills, and blue surf

Oleg Alexandrov / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The beaches at Point Reyes National Seashore are relatively secluded because most are not reachable by car. The majority can be enjoyed only by people with a boat or those who are willing to hike to the remote corners of the seashore.

Wildcat Beach, one of Point Reyes' headliners, is accessible only by trail. A hike of more than five miles eliminates casual scenery-seekers and pretty much assures that the beach will not be crowded. Bikers can also reach the campground near Wildcat but only after a seven-mile ride. Wildcat is 2.5 miles long and boasts stunning features, including Alamere Falls, a beach-side waterfall.

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Maha'ulepu Beach (Hawaii)

lush green foliage, clean sand, and blue water at Mahaulepu Beach, Kauai, with mountains, blue sky, and white, fluffy clouds in the distance

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A pristine, uncrowded beach on the island of Kauai, Maha'ulepu is located two miles east of the busier Shipwreck Beach on this picturesque island. Popular with windsurfers and kiteboarders, this remote stretch of sand is also favored by beachgoers who enjoy strolling and sunbathing on unspoiled land next to the Pacific Ocean. 

An easy hike along the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the island and possibly spot turtles, whales, or endangered hump seals along the way.

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Roque Bluffs (Maine)

Aerial view of a clear blue sky and bright blue water of Roque Bluffs State Park and beach in Maine

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Isolated beaches need not be located in warm, southern latitudes in order to be attractive. Take Roque Bluffs State Park in Maine, where trails lead to Englishman Bay and its pebble-strewn beach.

The cool waters of the northern Atlantic are definitely more biting than the Caribbean and West Coast swimming conditions, but the rustic New England beauty more than makes up for the need for a wetsuit. Swimmers aren't totally left out in the cold, however. Nearby Simpson Pond offers soaking opportunities in a warmer freshwater lake.

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Owen Island (Little Cayman Island)

View across the ocean of Owen Island-covered in green trees and white sand-on Little Cayman Island with blue sky and low, white clouds above

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Little Cayman is a quiet place compared to its oft-visited neighbor Grand Cayman. However, the ultimate deserted beach in the Caymans is Owen Island, an uninhabited landmass that sits about 200 yards off the southwestern side of Little Cayman.

Owen Island can be reached by kayak or sailboat, although strong swimmers have been known to swim the distance. The clear blue waters, almost-deserted beaches with fine sand, and uninhabited landscapes make this as close to idyllic as most people can hope to get in the Caribbean.

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Carova Beach (North Carolina)

one brown horse walking on a white beach with a blue sky and sand dunes of Carova Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina

Wendy /Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Carova Beach sits in the Outer Banks off mainland North Carolina. This is not a very remote place in a geographic sense, but the complete lack of paved roads and tourists makes Carova and its Outer Banks peers great places to enjoy some seaside peace and quiet.

Dunes, wide beaches, and good surf characterize this section of the Atlantic coastline. The sea and surf are the stars, but wildlife is also a part of the Outer Banks' charms. Wild horses roam around the dunes near Carova, and bird-watching opportunities are abundant.

Visitors who manage to get to the Outer Banks don't necessarily have to rough it since well-equipped rental houses are available.

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Dry Tortugas (Florida)

Turquoise blue water and white sand at Dry Tortugas National Park with Fort Jefferson just off the coast

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The Dry Tortugas is a collection of islands at the far end of the Florida Keys. These specks of land lack freshwater sources, thus the "Dry" in the title. The second part of the name, "Tortugas," comes from the abundance of sea turtles discovered by early European explorers.

The islands can be reached only by boat or plane, and since they are protected as part of Dry Tortugas National Park, the number of visitors is limited. This is not the kind of sand, sea, and sunshine destination that typically attracts beachgoers, but these islands—highly regarded by scuba divers and bird-watchers—have great subtropical seaside scenery.

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Little Corn Island (Nicaragua)

Tall palm trees, sand, and seaweed along the coastline of Little Corn Island

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Less than 50 miles off the eastern coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea, Little Corn Island offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing in addition to relaxing on the beach. Just over one square mile in size, Little Corn Island can be reached by boat from neighboring Big Corn Island, which is accessible by air or ferry. 

The highest point on Little Corn Island—Lookout Point—reaches a height of 125 feet and offers views of the island’s lush foliage, beach, and the Caribbean Sea.

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Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park (Washington)

Lines in the sand and sea stacks along the coast at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park on a cloudy morning

Lidija Kamansky / Getty Images

Olympic National Park has a diverse set of landscapes. Its coastal strip boasts miles of classic rugged Pacific Northwestern coastline. Many of Olympic's beaches can be reached only by hiking, but they are not necessarily the best spots for sun-, surf-, and sand-seekers. Although most of these lack names and are simply referred to by numbers (such as Second Beach), they are extremely scenic.

Ruby Beach is a stretch of coastline that is idyllic in the rugged and rocky sense but not in the palm trees and soft sand sense. Craggy rocks, sea stacks, tidal pools, and nesting seabirds are some of this beach's most attractive features.