8 Best Secluded Beaches in North America

A secluded beach lined with palm trees

Joseph Mortimer / Shutterstock

For some people, a beach vacation is akin to prescription medication: It is a necessity if they want to maintain their sanity and well-being in the face of a long winter or a hectic work schedule. A few days with sand underfoot and the sound of waves nearby can cure the most advanced case of cabin fever or ease serious work-related stress.

Unfortunately, beaches are among the most desired destinations in the world, so the best stretches of sand are populated by thousands and thousands of sun-seekers who are all escaping the snow or the cubicle. The result is people who want a little peace and quiet might have a difficult time finding it in many popular beach destinations.

However, quiet, uncrowded beaches do exist. Postcard-like stretches of sand that have to be reached by foot or boat or even by swimming might not be completely deserted, but they are almost always delightfully uncrowded. Here are eight such beaches located in North America that are the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of crowds and your job.

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Carova Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Photo: Wendy/flickr

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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Wildcat Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Photo: Oleg Alexandrov/Wikimedia Commons

A few beaches at Point Reyes National Seashore can be reached by the driving masses, but the majority can be enjoyed only by people with a boat or who are willing to put in the work and 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 weeds out 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 1/2 miles long and boasts stunning features, including Alamere Falls, a beach-side waterfall.

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Awahua Beach, Molokai, Hawaii

Photo: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner/Flickr

Molokai is a Hawaiian island with a long history of isolation. It held a colony for lepers for more than a century and remains less developed than the 50th state's other islands. Framed by sea cliffs, Molokai's Awahua Beach is one of the most remote in the state. A trail leads to the beach, but visitors can access it only through a tour group because it passes through the remnants of the leprosy settlement, which was in full operation until 1969 (a few residents remain to this day). Strong currents keep it from being a swimming beach, but the black sand and amazing views of the cliffs and water make it a worthwhile trip.

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Owen Island, Cayman Islands

Photo: Sandarina/Shutterstock

Little Cayman is a quiet place compared to its oft-visited neighbor, Grand Cayman. However, the ultimate deserted beach in the Caymans is the uninhabited Owen Island, which 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 fine-sand beaches and uninhabited landscapes make this as close to idyllic as most people can hope to get in the Caribbean.

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Dry Tortugas, Florida

Photo: Linda Friar/National Parks Service/Wikimedia Commons

The Dry Tortugas are a collection of islands at the far end of the Florida Keys. These small specks of land lack fresh water sources, thus the "Dry" in their title. They get the second part of their name from the abundance of sea turtles discovered by early European explorers. The Tortugas are not a typical beach destination: They 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 will attract beach-goers, but these islands are highly regarded by bird-watchers and have great subtropical seaside scenery.

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Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Photo: Joseph Mortimer/Shutterstock

Little Corn Island sits off the eastern coast of Nicaragua. This island has more in common with the Anglophone Caribbean than mainland Nicaragua, and many visitors are surprised to find a laid-back vibe typical of many popular island destinations in the region. The tourism scene on Little Corn is still in its early stages of development and for now, it is best reached via a ferry ride from Big Corn Island. There is little to do on Little Corn besides enjoy its beaches, which are visited by locals and a handful of tourists.

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Roque Bluffs, Maine

Photo: Kim Carpenter/Flickr

Isolated beaches need not be located in the warm southern latitudes in order to be attractive. Take Roque Bluffs State Park in Maine, where trails lead to Englishman’s Bay and its pebble-strewn beach. The cool waters of the north 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 much warmer freshwater lake.

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Olympic National Park beaches

Photo: LDELD/Flickr

Olympic National Park has a diverse set of landscapes. Its coastal strip boasts miles and 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. One of the more scenic beaches does have a name, however. Ruby Beach (pictured) is a stretch of coastline that, like its nameless peers, is idyllic in the rugged and rocky sense, but not in the palm trees and soft sand sense. Ruby sits near the highway, but it still does not see a huge amount of visitors. Craggy rocks, tidal pools and nesting seabirds are some of this beach's most attractive features.