The mountains are to your back, the ocean is in front, and in between is sand made for napping. In other words, you're at "Queens Pond"—just another average, amazing Kauai beach.
(Kevin Levesque/Lonely Planet)
Another perspective of Queens Pond.
There's plenty of room to spread your blanket on the sand at Queens Pond.
Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California is known for its gorgeous rock formations. In some places, the sand is a light shade of purple.
(H. Mark Weidman Photography / Alamy)
It can get windy at Pfeiffer Beach, but that's a small price to pay for paradise.
(Courtesy Brett L./Flickr)
Another perspective over Pfeiffer Beach.
Rugged yet serene, Ruby Beach in Washington feels almost mythical, especially at low tide and in the fog.
Perhaps the most enchanting time of day to experience Ruby Beach is at sunset, when an orange glow bathes the land.
Here's Ruby Beach in the fog. The rock outcroppings are eerie, but the tidal pools can be stunning, too.
South Haven is home to several celebrated (and crowded) spots on Lake Michigan, including Packard Park Beach, shown here.
(South Haven to Saugatuck)
Caladesi Island State Park in Florida is home to armadillos, gopher tortoises, and hundreds of species of birds nesting among the sunflower-flecked dunes.
We won't recommend swimming at Big Bay Beach in Wisconsin—even on a hot day Lake Superior is cold enough to freeze your @#*&%! off. But the sandstone cliffs and pristine woods enveloping this 1.5-mile pocket of beach make for a lovely hideaway.
Chatham is on the elbow of Cape Cod, which means that just about every beach view is drop-dead gorgeous—if you can see around all the people. Cow Yard is one rare spot where you'll be able to ditch those crowds.
Cow Yard Landing is also one of the better places on the Cape to launch a kayak, if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat.
Tucked behind the Barnegat Lighthouse, you'd never know that High Bar Harbor, a lollipop-shaped stretch of sand, is on Long Beach Island, one of the most popular Jersey shores.
High Bar Harbor is the perfect place to take a stroll, but watch the water—when the tide comes in, you'll likely be stranded.
At the tip of Long Island's North Fork, Orient Beach in New York is well-known to locals but few others.
After just a stroll down Orient's pebbly beach, you'll be alone with views of the Long Beach Bar Lighthouse, Shelter Island, and awesome sunsets.
(New York State Parks, Long Island Region)