For many, staying anywhere in the vicinity of an ocean is pure luxury. Yet there’s something about being right on the ocean and waking up to a view of lapping waves and endless sand that just takes any beach vacation to the next level. So don’t plan your next getaway in any old place in your favorite seaside destination. Instead, look to the best beachfront hotels in America, as recommended by travel experts for their comfortable (and in many cases, downright luxurious) accommodations and unbeatable views.
Their suggestions run the gamut: In the list ahead, you’ll find everything from Hawaii resorts to Long Island Instagram favorites. But the one thing they all have in common? A prime location, right on some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Yes, while there are plenty of activities to dive into at each, it’s safe to assume you’ll want to do little else but soak in the scene around you.
Before you start packing, though, remember that despite the serene isolation that many of these locations provide, it’s still crucial to plan ahead for any trip during the current pandemic. State and local regulations regarding COVID-19 change frequently (and vary widely by place), so stay up to date with government rules where you live and where you plan to visit leading up to your trip. (Be sure to check out any of your hotel’s requirements and restrictions as well.) It could also be worth investing in travel insurance, in case you’re forced to change plans unexpectedly — that way, you may be able to recoup at least some of your money.
But once you have all the details squared away? All that’s left to do is kick back, relax, and take in the incredible views at the beachfront hotel of your choice. Keep scrolling to find your next destination.
Randall Kaplan (aka “Mr. Beach”), founder and CEO of beach-focused travel company Sandee, tells TZR that the family friendly Four Seasons Resort Lanai is one of his favorites. Its location along the Hulopoe Bay and Hulopoe Beach provides ample opportunity to take a dip in the calm waters. But not only that: “The views of the ocean are incredible, and the hotel offers a wide range of activities including snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and UTV riding,” says Kaplan. “The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course has incredible and dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, and the restaurants are also great — we love Malibu Farm for lunch and Nobu for dinner.”
Looking for an overwater bungalow experience in California? According to Molly Fergus, General Manager of TripSavvy, this is perhaps as close as you can get. “Charming Cape Cod-style cottages line Crystal Pier, high above the surf at Pacific Beach,” she tells TZR. “Watch the tide come and go from your private deck before walking to nearby waterfront bars and restaurants.”
As Fergus notes, it’s no wonder celebrities and dignitaries have flocked to The Kahala Hotel & Resort basically since its inception. “The resort is just 15 minutes from hectic Waikiki but has its own private white sand beach, five gourmet restaurants, and a private lagoon with a family of bottleneck dolphins you can meet during your stay,” she says. “Even better? In 2021, the hotel is honoring first responders with a ‘Vacations for Heroes’ package that gives 25% off the best available rate.”
“Indulge in a private island vacation without even leaving the country at Little Palm Island, located 3.5 miles offshore from the mainland Keys and only accessible by sea plane or boat,” Fergus shares. The key amenities here include features such as outdoor showers, a shared resort pool, on-site dining, and sometimes even live outdoor music on the beach. Just note, she continues, that you need to be “ready to really commit to island life”: The resort actually has no television or phones.
“The secret’s long been out on Montauk, the once-sleepy fishing village at the end of Long Island that is now effectively an extension of the Hamptons,” says Fergus. However, she continues, that doesn’t make staying here any less worthwhile. “Gurney’s is the only true luxury resort in the area that’s directly on the beach — and it comes with all the bells and whistles you’d hope for during a ritzy Hamptons getaway: ocean views from all rooms, beachfront waiter service, buzzy dining, and a concierge to make your trip go smoothly.”
Kaplan has one word for the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, California: incredible. “It has 160 ultra-luxurious rooms that sit on 16 acres of oceanfront property,” he says. “It has six restaurants and bars, and two pools — one for families and one for adults. And if you need a quick ride into town, the hotel’s house car is a Rolls-Royce Ghost that will take you anywhere within a three-mile radius of the hotel.”