Top 10 Beaches in the U.S.

We have the perfect sunny cure for your winter-weather gloominess. TripAdvisor, our parent site, just released its 2015 Travelers' Choice Awards for Best Beaches. The list, based on feedback from readers like you over a 12-month period, rounds up the absolute best beaches in the U.S., from hidden snorkeling spots in Hawaii to family-friendly favorites in Florida.

Ah, democracy. Who knew you could be so sunny?

Related: Best Places to Go in Florida

(Photo: Siesta Beach via Shutterstock)

Siesta Beach

This Gulf Coast beach is a forever favorite for its unbelievably white sand and crystal-clear water. (You'd think you were in the Caribbean.)

What to Do: Siesta Beach is as calm as its name implies, perfect for reading, relaxing, walking, or catching a sunset.

Where to Stay: The Capri at Siesta (rates from $149 per night).

Related: Best Beaches to Keep the Winter Blues Away

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach, also on Florida's warm and sunny Gulf side, is known for its soft white sand and seashelling opportunities.

What to Do: Aside from the beach, a buzzing restaurant scene and plenty of boutiques are big draws in this popular haunt.

Where to Stay: Gulf Tides Inn (rates from $89 per night for efficiency apartments or $109 per night for full apartments).

Related: 10 Beaches That Should Be on Your Bucket List

(Photo: Ka'anapali Beach via Eddy Galeotti/

Ka'anapali Beach

This beach is on Maui's stunning western coast. It offers natural beauty for miles, so it never feels too crowded.

What to Do: Swimming and snorkeling around Black Rock are two must-dos, and during the right season whale watching is a popular pastime.

Where to Stay: Aston Mahana at Ka'anapali (rates from $295 per night).

(Photo: Wai'anapanapa State Park via Shutterstock)

Wai'anapanapa State Park

Another Maui pick, Wai'anapanapa State Park's ancient black-sand beaches and lava formations are unbelievably unique.

What to Do: Explore the old coastal trail, hidden caves, and tide pools, or just sink your toes into the deep black sand.

Where to Stay: Aina Nalu (rates from $212 per night).

(Photo: Pensacola Beach via Shutterstock)

Pensacola Beach

Another Gulf-side winner in Florida, Pensacola Beach is known for its fun pier and family-friendly amenities.

What to Do: People flock to Pensacola year-round for its fishing—and then to nearby restaurants for delicious Gulf seafood.

Where to Stay: Margaritaville Beach Hotel (rates from $229 per night).

Related: 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida

(Photo: La Jolla via Shutterstock)

La Jolla Cove

Coves, caves, craggy rocks: This rugged and picturesque coastline in La Jolla offers plenty of Instagrammable sites.

What to Do: See an array of marine animals, including seals lounging on rocks and playing in the protected waters.

Where to Stay: Hotel La Jolla, a Kimpton Hotel (rates from $209 per night).

Related: World's Most Unusual Beaches

(Photo: Patrick Rudolph via flickr/CC Attribution)

Kailua Beach Park

A long, gently curving stretch of golden sand, Kailua (literally "two currents") has some of the prettiest blue water in the Hawaiian islands.

What to Do: One word: windsurfing. The perfect coastal gusts make windsurfing and kite flying a breeze (forgive us).

Where to Stay: There are no hotels in Kailua, but vacation rentals like this one (from $125 per night) are available.

(Photo: Clearwater Beach via Shutterstock)

Clearwater Beach

Situated on a barrier island in South Florida, Clearwater Beach has nearly three miles of spacious white sand for visitors to enjoy.

What to Do: Clearwater is an active beach town best suited for shopping, dining, fishing, or taking a charter cruise.

Where to Stay: Coconut Cove Resort (rates from $299 per night).

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

St. Augustine Beach

In the historical city of St. Augustine (the nation's oldest), find this striking beach known for its clean, soft sand.

What to Do: Bring Sir Barksalot! St. Augustine Beach is exceptionally dog-friendly, and it's the perfect place for a long walk or a Frisbee toss.

Where to Stay: Ascend Collection Castillo Real (rates from $129 per night).

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

Panama City Beach

Rounding out the list is one more Florida pick: Panama City Beach, with some 20 miles of world-class coastline. (It's often considered among the world's best.)

What to Do: Swimming, parasailing, and snorkeling are all popular activities; shuttle service can take you to nearby Shell Island for further adventures.

Where to Stay: Legacy by the Sea (rates from $89 per night).

This article was published by SmarterTravel under the title Top 10 Beaches in the U.S.  Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at

(Lead Photo: St. Pete Beach via Shutterstock)