For your next beach road trip, select some of the best beaches for sunrise in the USA! Check out our list below, featuring some of the best Instagram photos of sunrises from across the country. Share your beach road trip photos with us by tagging @drivethenation!
Sand Beach, Maine
Sand Beach is an extremely picturesque small beach (just 290 yards long) that is tucked in-between the mountains and the rock bound coast of Maine, on the ocean side of Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. You get there by way of the Park Loop Road, south of the entrance gate in Bar Harbor. The beach was created by the action of the waves against the rocks, and made up of shell fragments.
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Hampton Beach seems to be in every New Englander’s memory as a place they went when they were children. Today it is gorgeously maintained and a pleasure to visit, with fantastic waves that you can watch for hours, while relaxing on the soft sandy beach or a nearby bench. All is new and fresh looking and off season without the crowds, nostalgic and delightful. Parking can be expensive here.
Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Chatham Beach is a peaceful sandy beach with vistas that stretch for miles. There are some ponds that catch the light, a high bluff above, and the charming presence of the Chatham lighthouse. You may see seals bobbing in the water. This is not a swimming beach; great white sharks frequent these waters and the currents are too strong for most swimmers. Stick to the ponds for splashing about and keep your eye on the glories of nature all around. By the way, Mayflower Beach in Dennis, Massachusetts, is the best sunset beach on the Cape and maybe even the sunset best beach in all of New England. You can walk for miles at low tide. But because it is on the north side of the peninsula, we didn’t list it as a sunrise beach.
Napatree Point, Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Napatree Point juts out from the village of Watch Hill on a wild strip of coastline, offering views all the way to Fishers Island New York and to Connecticut. Stroll out to the far point of this beach, as it curves back toward Rhode Island. Out on the point it is rocky, wild and windy, and the sunrise is stunning. As the light brightens it will show off the Victorian houses on Watch Hill, on your return walk.
Camp Hero State Park, Montauk, New York
Camp Hero State Park, way out on the end of Long Island, offers sweeping dunes, tall grasses, big rocks, slivers of beach, great hiking on lots of trails, and photogenic ocean views. Hiking along the bluffs’ trails offers nearly constant views of the ocean. You can go down to the ocean onto a rocky beach, where there are often surfers. If you want to feel far from everything, without a care in the world, then this is the beach for you.
Island Beach State Park, New Jersey
Island Beach State Park offers what many consider to be the best beach in the Ocean State; just remember, in New Jersey you go to the “Shore” not the “Beach”. With ten miles of white powdery sand, this compelling seashore still looks much as it did 400 years ago when Henry Hudson first saw it. You will find plenty of parking, easy beach access, pleasant restrooms and a snack stand. You can take a wildlife tour and learn more about the natural setting.
South Bethany, Delaware
South Bethany beach, along with its neighbors to the north, Bethany Beach, and to the south, Fenwick Island, are known together as “The Quiet Resorts”. This cluster of beach communities offer your best bet for a great sunrise without crowds and noisy distractions.
Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia
Assateague Island, a Barrier Island east of Chincoteague Island, is about 38 miles long. The Island is a wildlife sanctuary (can you say “wild horses”?). Assateague Island is in both Maryland and Virginia. Visitors can arrive on the north end of Assateague Island not far from Ocean City, Maryland, or by way of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge where a short bridge connects Chincoteague Island to Assateague Island. Unspoiled sand, sea, and surf is amplified by the famous wild ponies, said to be the descendents of the survivors of a Spanish galleon which wrecked off the coast of Assateague 500 years ago. The beach is a white sandy oasis. The beach parking fills up fast; get there early.
Holden Beach, North Carolina
Holden Beach is on that quiet stretch of coast between the mayhem of Myrtle Beach and the rarified seclusion of Bald Head Island. This is a family friendly island and family-oriented beach, with generations of vacationers returning decade after decade. One of the joys of Holden Beach – it is relatively undiscovered. There is just one bridge on and off the island. The island and the beach have a gentle curve which makes the view of sunrises quite striking.
Pawleys Island South Access Area, South Carolina
Pawleys Island is about an hour north of Charleston. Pawleys Island offers a quaint charm and a slow pace , which makes it a rare hideaway along the Atlantic coast. Not on the radar of most tourists, the South Access Area Beach is a breathtaking natural, undisturbed beach, ideal for your sunrise stroll on the wide sandy strand. Around sunrise you can expect to watch dolphins frolicking just beyond the breakers. As the sun rises higher in the eastern sky, linger to listen to the ocean, and watch seagulls and pelicans in their early morning flight. This is a public parking and beach access area at the south end of Pawleys Island. Swimming is allowed here in the ocean and in the creek, but stay out of the water at the southernmost end, where there are dangerous tidal currents.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Cumberland Island was once the private enclave of industrialist Thomas Carnegie and his family, as in the brother and partner of Andrew Carnegie. The island was once the realm of invited guests only, and its remoteness makes it still a very quiet slice of the Atlantic coast. Cumberland Island offers the romantic ruins of the old Carnegie mansion, Dungeness. It also offers wild horses, strolling at random on the beach and in the surf, and if you are lucky you will have them at sunrise. The island offers all of the charm of Chincoteague and Assateague Islands’ wild ponies, but is much less well known. To be on the scene in time of sunrise, we suggest staying on the island at the Greyfield Inn, still owned and operated by Carnegie descendent Lucy R. Ferguson and her family.
Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
Canaveral National Seashore is one of the great reaches of coastline in Florida that remain pristine. Thanks to the management of the national government, the access is limited and the amenities are few. Bring in your drinking water and picnic provisions, there are no snack bars, no running water. You will have to be content with basic comfort stations, but the seclusion and serenity are well worth any inconvenience. The gates open shortly before sunrise, the parking areas fill up fast on popular beach days, so plan accordingly.
Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale is famous the world over, for its soft sugary sand and broad beckoning beach. There are very busy stretches of beach and there are very quite areas as well. We suggest you find one of the fine old hotels along the beach such as the splendid Lago Mar, stay there, and make it your headquarters for a leisurely early morning stroll with coffee in one hand and camera in the other to catch the sunrise splendors.
There are hundreds more beaches that afford gorgeous sunrise views, and you may have a particular favorite to share with us in the comments below. We’d be glad to hear from you. Share your beach sunrise photos with us using @drivethenation!