8 Southern U.S. Beaches and Islands for the Best Tropical Escape

The Southern coast of the U.S., spanning from Virginia to Florida and from the Outer Banks to South Padre, is home to beautiful sandy beaches and islands kissed by the salty waters of the Atlantic and Gulf. These beaches resemble tropical paradises and are perfect for activities like lounging on colorful beach chairs, savoring crispy fried shrimp, and going on long bike rides. Learning about them will make you daydream about your next beach vacation. Here is a list that will give you something to look forward to booking your next trip.

Anna Maria Island, Florida

When you spend time at Anna Maria Island, you will indulge in the serenity of this Gulf Coast haven, where the essence of Old Florida meets the tranquility of a Caribbean escape. You will relax and unwind in the crystal-clear green-blue waters, leaving all worries and stress behind – even just for a weekend. This destination has a laid-back vibe, a maximum speed limit of 35 mph, and a lack of high-rise buildings and commercialization. Also, if you embark on a road trip to this incredible place, the island is easily accessible via a free daily trolley.

Rockport Beach

Rockport Beach, located in Rockport, Texas, is one of four beaches in the Padre Island National Seashore to receive the Blue Wave certification from the Clean Beaches Coalition. The other three are Malaquite Beach, Little Shell Beach, and Big Shell Beach. Some tourist attractions include volleyball courts, playgrounds, and a walking track along the beach. The beach’s northern end has a natural saltwater pool where you can swim. In addition, swimmers may sometimes get within a few feet of passing dolphins.

Islamorada, Florida

Discover the paradise of Islamorada, a village of six islands just 90 minutes south of Miami. You can explore this charming area by land and sea and enjoy the beautiful coral reefs and beaches dotted with hammocks. First, you may visit the Trading Post, which has been family-owned and operated since 1966, where you’ll find plenty of shops, great food, and a grassy plaza perfect for taking a break. Then, take in the sights of the streets lined with white clapboard cottages adorned with pastel-colored shutters.

Grayton Beach, Florida

The residents of this seaside community go by an unofficial motto, “Nice dogs, strange people.” But, even if it isn’t enough to pique your interest, undoubtedly, the white-sand beaches, turquoise oceans, and warm hospitality of the natives would. Grayton Beach, the oldest beach community on Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A, has avoided having its characteristic funk altered by the nearby urban-planned pastel neighborhoods.

Bald Head Island, North Carolina

On this island, where the environment is highly valued, golf carts are the only mode of transportation other than walking or riding a fat-tire bike. This tranquil setting, reachable only by boat, is like taking a deep intake of clean, salty air. Kayaks, surfboards, and standup paddleboards are all available for hire at the Sail Shop and Coastal Urge, respectively, for those needing a more laid-back beach trip. Or, if you’d like peace, you may see animals at the Bald Head Island Conservancy. We’re merely along for the ride in your ideal holiday scenario.

Folly Beach, South Carolina

It’s not the nature of the beaches in this area to have white sand and turquoise sea, so don’t expect to see either 12 miles south of Charleston. The neighborhood may not have the aesthetics of the Caribbean, but the casual atmosphere more than makes up for it. Folly Beach, a seaside hamlet near Charleston, South Carolina, has a laid-back vibe that is more reminiscent of California than North Carolina. Locals call Folly “the Edge of America” because it embodies the ideal beach community. Cover-ups are considered acceptable lunch apparel, surf stores dot the main street, and no one seems to take themselves too seriously.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

This relaxing Atlantic Coast getaway is just a short drive away from Myrtle Beach and Charleston but feels miles away. Pawleys Island is famous for its laid-back flip-flop culture and beautiful handwoven hammocks from the Original Hammock Shop. Plus, it’s also an excellent spot for surfing and enjoying peaceful beaches. This small town is home to over 100 friendly residents and is known for the spooky “Gray Man” legend, which makes for some fantastic campfire stories. In addition, Palmetto Cheese, a famous cheese brand in the South, was born here.

Port Aransas Beach, Texas

If you’re looking for a perfect summer getaway spot, Port A is an ideal destination with its mild year-round temperatures. This charming coastal town is on the 18-mile-long Mustang Island, a four-hour drive from Austin, Texas. Port A is the only town on this barrier island, and it has everything you need for a beach vacation, such as fantastic beaches, birding, attractions, and Mustang Island State Park. Moreover, it provides exceptional seafood restaurants and cultural attractions, such as art galleries, boutique shops, and cafes, to make your beach adventure more exciting.