Beach Miscellany

8 Surprisingly Uncrowded Beach Vacation Spots in North America

At their worst, popular beaches are synonymous with expensive parking lots and crowded shorelines. But there are still stellar beach vacation spots that aren’t as crowded as you might think. So, if you have your heart set on the ocean but want to avoid the crowds, head to one of these eight surprisingly uncrowded beach vacation spots.

Ponce, Puerto Rico

ponce puerto rico beach.

Ponce is the second-largest city in Puerto Rico but often gets overlooked by tourists. The city has three beaches, including one, Caja de Muertos, that is located on an uninhabited island just off the coast and is known for wildlife sightings, including turtles.

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Leeward Coast Beaches (Westside), Oahu

leeward coast beach oahu hawaii.

Most tourists stay in Waikiki when they visit Oahu, but the rest of the island has plenty of uncrowded beaches just waiting to be discovered. On the island’s west coast, check out Depot Beach Bank, Makaha Beach Park, or Keawaula Beach, as well as man-made lagoons in the resort area (Ko Olina Resort and Marina).

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Carlsbad, California 

carlsbad california beach

The beach city of Carlsbad sits about an hour and a half south of Los Angeles and 30 minutes north of San Diego. Carlsbad’s stretch of sandy Pacific shoreline is divided into five beach areas: North Carlsbad Beaches, Carlsbad State Beach, South State Beach, South Ponto Beach, and Terramar Beach. Insider Tip: Terramar and South Ponto are locals’ favorites.

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San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

viceroy los cabos mexico.

Located closer to the Los Cabos airport than its sibling city Cabo San Lucas, the small city of San Jose del Cabo is sometimes known as “the other Cabo.” While it is a resort destination, San Jose del Cabo is much less crowded than Cabo San Lucas and has more secluded beachside resorts like the Viceroy Los Cabos. The small downtown is home to galleries, shops, and local restaurants, giving this beach vacation spot a laid-back feel.

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bermuda beach at sunset.

This island and popular beach vacation spot actually sees less than one million visitors per year, with around 700,000 annual visitors enjoying Bermuda’s beaches. Even its most popular beach, Horseshoe Bay Beach, has uncrowded areas nearby, like Port Royal Cove. Other less crowded beach options in Bermuda include Stonehole Bay Beach and Daniels Head Beach Park.

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Corolla, North Carolina 

corolla north carolina beach

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are notoriously busy over the summer, but instead of hitting the ultra-crowded central-area beaches, head a little bit north to Corolla. Here, you’ll still will find plenty of shops and dining options, just without the crowds.

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South Walton, Florida 

south walton florida beach

South Walton County caps the end of Florida’s Panhandle. The area has 16 different communities and 50 beach access locations, so if you find one area too crowded, you can easily go discover a different one. Check out Dune Allen for its miles of beaches plus three rare coastal dune lakes.

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Greater Fort Lauderdale 

fort lauderdale florida beach

Fort Lauderdale is a famously popular beach vacation spot, but did you know that there are some less-crowded beaches just outside downtown? Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale By the Sea Beach, and Deerfield Beach are all uncrowded but ideal beach vacation spots in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.

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What to Wear at the Beach

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

By Ashley Rossi

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

After interning at SmarterTravel, Ashley joined the team full time in 2015. She's lived on three continents, but still never knows where her next adventure will take her. She's always searching for upcoming destination hotspots, secluded retreats, and hidden gems to share with the world.

Ashley's stories have been featured online on USA Today, Business Insider, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, Jetsetter, and Yahoo! Travel, as well as other publications.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A reusable filtered water bottle—it saves you money, keeps you hydrated, and eliminates waste—win-win."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "A week in a bamboo beach hut on India's Andaman Islands."

Travel Motto: "Travel light, often, and in good company."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window—best view in the house."

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