15 of America’s Prettiest Beach Campgrounds

If you are having trouble deciding between a beach vacation or roughing it at a camping getaway, why not combine both in the ultimate beach camping vacation. All across the United States are breathtaking campgrounds that are located directly on the beach, high on top of beach bluffs or just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Although many beaches forbid overnight camping, and you have to be extremely careful of tides, these 15 campsites are sure to keep you safe and sound, as you fall asleep to the sounds of the crashing waves. Without further ado, here are 15 of America’s prettiest beach campgrounds.

15. Ocracoke Campground – Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

This barrier island in the Outer Banks is home to a few fabulous campgrounds, only accessible by boat or plane. Ocracoke Campground is the only campground right on the beach, only a short walk over the dunes to reach the water. The campground offers campers flush toilets, cold showers, drinking water, and nice soft sandy soil to pitch your tent on. The beach is constantly quiet, with just handfuls of shore birds that run back and forth from the water. If you happen to take a flashlight out at night you may be lucky enough to see the crabs scampering by. There is no shade at the campground and the mosquitoes can be common, but if you bring plenty of insect repellant and a couple sun umbrellas, you will be just fine. Enjoy visiting the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the country and the oldest in North Carolina on this amazing island.

Photo by: National Park Planner
Photo by: National Park Planner

14. Bahia Honda State Park – Bahia Honda Key, Florida

The remote island of Bahia Honda Key is home to beautiful sunsets, snorkeling and incredible white powdery beaches. With over 72 RV and tent sites available, there are so many choices. Many of the sites are wooded which is a great relief in the hot Florida sun. Amenities include a marina, concession stand, electric hookups and lots of patrols to make sure everyone is safe. The snorkeling here is one of the highlights of the State Park and sea life includes stingrays, sharks, barracudas and tons of colorful fish. The sites that are located right on the ocean are perhaps the best of the best, with an ocean beach and turquoise waters literally at your front door. Rates are a little high for a campground and start around $38 a night, but the blue waters, white sand and the abundance of activities are totally worth the extra cash.

Bahia Honda State Park

13. Anastasia State Park, Florida

Visitors to Anastasia State Park certainly won’t be bored with over 1,600 acres of diverse wildlife and rich ecosystems to explore. It is described as stepping back into time when campers arrive here, with ancient sand dunes and a tidal marsh teeming with plants and wildlife. The campground itself has 139 campsites, ranging from tent only sites to ones capable of fitting RV’s. There are a plethora of amenities here not limited to but including hot showers, grills, sheltered dining areas, campfire programs, interpretive programs and electric hook ups. Kids will never be bored here either renting a canoe, taking a nature hike, surfing in the waves or stargazing at night. Heading to the dunes at sunset is a popular activity for everyone here as you can get a 360-degree panorama of both sea and sand, with a 19th century lighthouse in the foreground.

Photo by: theobine via Flickr
Photo by: theobine via Flickr

12. Kalaloch Campground – Olympic National Park, Washington

This campground is only one of two campgrounds to pitch a tent on the southern coast of Olympic National Park. Open year round with 175 campsites these sites fill up quickly especially in the summer so if you want experience this coastline make sure to book early. This campground is actually perched on a bluff high above the Pacific Coast and is known for its abundance of nearby wildlife and outstanding views. Visitors should count on seeing bald eagles overhead and whales spouting just offshore. There are plenty of hiking opportunities in the area and seven different trails lead down to the beaches just off highway 101. Olympic National Park actually covers a total of 65 miles of rugged coastline and camping here offers an array of awesome experiences. Campsites typically range from $14-$36 a night and the Kalaloch Campground is truly beautiful no matter what time of year!

Photo by: Hip Camp
Photo by: Hip Camp

11. Wright’s Beach – Sonoma Coast State Park, California

Plan on spending the night falling asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing at this awesome campground located in Sonoma Coast State Park. Visitors here spend most of their time searching the beach for shells, discovering the tidal pools and rolling down the sand dunes. Expect the campground here to be quiet, peaceful and open to having your four legged furry friends join you. Campsites 1-9 are the most private and located directly on the beach, where you can expect to see plenty of dolphins and whales playing in the ocean. The bathrooms here are exceptionally clean, the rangers friendly and efficient and although this campsite remains a quiet secret; it may not for long. It is important to note that there is a dangerous undertow and swimming in the water is not recommended. Also there are no showers available here but some located just up the road.

Sonoma Coast State Park

10. Malaquite Campground – Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

This oasis on the Gulf of Mexico offers 48 campsites and starts at just a mere $8 a night. The campground is tucked in the dunes just a short half mile away from the visitor’s center. Tent campers are welcome to set up on the sites or on the beach and campers are accommodated on a first-come first-serve basis. Amenities include cold showers, flush toilets and paved parking. In contrast to the neighboring spring break Mecca, Malaquite Campground is actually located on the longest undeveloped stretch of Barrier Island in the world. If you are lucky enough to visit in the summertime plan on seeing plenty of sea turtles hatching and making their way to sea. These sandy white beaches are a haven for these majestic creatures.

Photo by: Terry Ross via Flickr
Photo by: Terry Ross via Flickr

9. Horseneck Beach State Reservation, Massachusetts

Starting at just $22 a night, visitors can pitch their tent at this beautiful beach park where a breeze provides respite from the intense heat, all year round. Located on the Western end of Buzzard’s Bay, just West of Martha’s vineyards, campers flock to one of the 100 campsites. Pounding surf along this two-mile beach provides excellent windsurfing conditions and plenty of waves for the little ones to splash in. The scenery here is enough to amaze any visitors as wild flowers bloom, sand dunes are in the background and migratory shorebirds are all over the place. The campground offers such amenities as clean shower facilities, accessible restrooms and dump stations. Popular activities include swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, sailing and boating.

Photo by: Tim Pierce via Flickr
Photo by: Tim Pierce via Flickr

8. Ninilchik View Campground – Ninilchik State Recreation Area, Alaska

On top of a bluff over Ninilchik Beach sits 13 awesome campsites. Two 10,000 snow-capped volcanoes frame the horizon and tidal fluctuations constantly change the awesome scenery. The stairway down the bluff leads visitors to vast sandy beaches at low tide, perfect for relaxing or beachcombing. There is tons of wildlife, calling this place home, like magpies, bald eagles and squirrels. Visitors enjoy nearby fishing, clamming and hiking. The campground has a host on site, a dump site nearby and costs as little as just $1 a night to stay there. It is important to note that clamming and fishing are sometimes banned during certain seasons. Watch as the wave’s crash against the cliffs, bald eagles circle overhead and enjoy the peace and solitude of this secret campground.

Photo by: wagnertravelnotes
Photo by: wagnertravelnotes

7. Assateague State Park – Assateague Island, Maryland

This campground is Maryland’s only ocean campground and is located on the barrier island, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay. Campers will look forward to two miles of ocean beaches that are popular for swimming, surfing, fishing, sunbathing and beachcombing. The camping sites are pretty basic here, with a pad, fire ring, picnic table and a couple of spots with electrical hookups. The bathhouse is stocked with flushed toilets and showers though. All of the campsites are just a short walk to the beach or bay where there are a plethora of activities. Canoeing and kayaking in the bay through secluded coves and marsh areas gives visitors the opportunities to get up close and personal to awesome wildlife.

Photo by: theobine via Flickr
Photo by: theobine via Flickr

6. Sea Camp Campground – Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

This remote barrier island is a labyrinth of gnarled live oak branches, picture perfect wide flat beaches and an awesome campground with 16 individual campsites as well as two group sites. With rates at $4 per person per night, you can’t go wrong pitching a tent here. This remote island campground is only accessible by boat and visitors should expect restroom facilities with cold showers, picnic tables and firepits at each site. There is a small amphitheatre for ranger programs as well as a boardwalk that takes visitors out to the beach. The beach ranges over 18 miles long and a favorite pastime of many includes searching for shells and shark teeth. Keep your eyes peeled for manatees, sea turtles and over 300 species of birds that call this island home. Swim, bike or kayak around the area and just remember that camping is limited to a maximum of seven nights at one time.

Photo by: Jason and Kris Carter via Flickr
Photo by: Jason and Kris Carter via Flickr

5. Oceanside Campground – Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

If you happen to love wild ponies, Oceanside Campground located between Chincoteague Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is the perfect place to pitch your tent and watch as a herd of wild ponies roam around; after all they have called this place home for over 300 years. There are a total of 104 waterfront campsites to choose from, all offering superior seaside sunset views. The amenities here aren’t quite as grand as others on this list but that is all part of the charm. Expect adequate restrooms with cold water showers, picnic tables and fire rings. Most of the days here will be spent either surfing or playing in the waves, digging up clams and fishing for crabs. It is important to note that this location is extremely windy and make sure you have extra long tent poles to make sure your tent doesn’t fly away in the middle of the day. It is also recommended to take a flashlight with you on a beach walk at night to see the ghost crabs running all about.

Photo by: Jim Pennucci via Flickr
Photo by: Jim Pennucci via Flickr

4. Jalama Beach County Park – Santa Barbara, California

This Santa Barbara country park maintains just over 100 campsites, all of them overlooking the ocean or beachfront. Each site includes a BBQ pit, picnic table and 31 of them offer electrical hook up. Full restrooms including hot showers are located nearby. Beachfront sites start at $45 a night and do fill up fast so it is recommended you book early in order to snag one of these. Campers here engage in a variety of activities including surfing, whale watching, fishing and bird watching. High winds and rough surf can make the water hazardous for weak swimmers and thankfully there are lifeguards present in the summer months. If you feel like passing on cooking over the campfire the infamous Jalama Beach Grill is just a short walk away. Here visitors can indulge in one of the famous burgers, topped with tons of veggies and an extra special sauce.

Photo by: John Murphy via Flickr
Photo by: John Murphy via Flickr

3. Cape Perpetua Campground – Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon

This rugged section of the Oregon coastline is teeming with sea life, blowholes and an abundance of wildlife. The campground is located between the old-growth forest and the beach, with access to impressive hiking trails and incredible beach views. Steep cliffs, rolling hills, sand dunes and lush forests are all part of the scenery here. There are a total of 40 campsites here; in this one of two national forests that borders the Pacific. Visitors here love to explore the many tidal pools, hiking the 23-mile trail system or simply relaxing on the beach. The campsites are each equipped with a picnic table and fire ring and flush toilets and drinking water is provided. The visitors center provides a breathtaking view of the ocean and show numerous short films in the theater. Rates start at just $22 a night and the view alone is worth it.

Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy via Travel + Leisure
Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy via Travel + Leisure

2. Westport-Union Landing State Beach – Westport, California

This campground is located atop a cliff top, making it one of the most dramatic campgrounds when it comes to epic scenery. With 86 sites this campground is first come first serve but don’t let that scare you away. Visitors who get lucky enough to stay here will enjoy the soundtrack of crashing waves, all day and night. This beach covers over three miles of rugged coastline, tree-covered mountains and awesome sunsets making it the perfect place for the budding photographer to pitch a tent. Restrooms and drinking water is available here but that is pretty much it in terms of campground amenities, this is truly primitive camping at its best. Prepare yourself for unpredictable weather, activities such as geocaching, fishing and swimming and enjoy nature at its finest at this beautiful state beach in California.

Photo by: Agathe B via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Agathe B via Wikimedia Commons

1. Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii

Black volcanic sand, the bright blue sparkling sea and lush green vegetation make this one of America’s prettiest beach campsites. At Wai’anapanapa State Park visitors will be privy to a wild, low-cliff volcanic landscape that offers peace and solitude, a respite from the urban cities. Shore fishing and hiking through the incredible trails are among the most popular activities to do here, although many people love to bask in the hot sun on the small black sand beach. Offering 60 campsites starting at just $12 a night, this campground is located near a ton of natural wonders including the native hala forest, legendary caves and blowholes. Located near the end of the renowned Road to Hana, it is here where campers can pitch a tent and discover the beauty of the quieter side of the island of Maui.

Wai’anapanapa State Park

Maui: The Perfect Short-stay Getaway

Maui is one of the busiest of all the Hawaiian Islands; every day of the year sees a handful of planes landing and taking off. While there is no shortage of activities and opportunities available on Maui, the size of the island and the proximity of the sites mean that it is the perfect getaway for a short period of time. The west side of the island is very popular among tourists and you can easily spend your whole time here without missing out on anything. You’ll leave here feeling relaxed and rejuvenated!

5. The Blowhole

The Blowhole is a little natural wonder located just up the road from Lahaina. It is easy to get to, but still secluded enough that it receives fairly little visitors in comparison to its more popular rivals like the Road to Hana. Located off Nakalele Point, it is just a short walk to this bizarre rock and sea landscape where, on almost every day of the year, you get to witness one of nature’s most explosive shows – just don’t get too close!

Blowhole, Hawaii

4. The Banyan Tree

The Banyan tree is one of the most common Maui images, and everyone who visits marvels at the intricate, naturally grown tree in the middle of town. But, many people don’t know about the local market that sets up right under this tree nearly every Sunday. Each Sunday morning local artisans bring their product and set booths to show off their masterpieces. Artwork is common, but so is handmade jewellery, decorative pieces, detailed woodwork, and even little souvenir trinkets. The artists are very friendly and eager to tell you about their work; even if you don’t buy anything, they will happily sit and chat. There is no better way to learn about a culture than from the mouths of the locals!

Banyan Tree, Hawaii

3. The Farmers’ Market Maui and Deli

This tiny, local market houses some of the most delicious fresh produce and homemade meals.  They stock lots of unique brands, many of them organic, and they make a huge selection of product in house. Their acai bowls are known all over Maui. A smoothie bowl topped with local fruit, homemade granola, fresh shaved coconut and raw, locally harvested honey is what people drive from all over to enjoy. They also make plenty of fresh spreads, like papaya cream cheese, to put on top of their homemade banana bread, with bananas so fresh they were picked in the parking lot! This is a fun and unique store, family-run and stalked with all things local to the area!

Photo by: Farmers Market Maui
Photo by: Farmers Market Maui

2. Island Sandals

Tucked away in a little corner off of Main Street in Lahaina is Island Sandals, a local store owned and run by Michael Mahnensmith, a Maui legend. This guy has been hand making traditional leather sandals for years. His leather sandal design was copyrighted in 1978, and he has been living on Maui since crafting his perfect shoes! Custom made just for you, the shoes take a few months to be made and are a bit pricey, but the quality means you will be wearing them for years.  Even if you don’t want sandals, stop by the store and say hi to Michael. He loves the company and is a very interesting character with plenty of stories to tell!

Photo by: Island Sandals
Photo by: Island Sandals

1. Ululani’s

Five years ago, only the locals knew about Ululani’s, but now it is a household name synonymous with Maui. Ululani’s is widely known for making the best shave ice in Maui. Their machine actually shaves the ice finer than other machines, and the locally made fruit syrups that go on top of the ice, like mango and coconut, take the shave ice to another level. Shave ice is the perfect treat on a hot Hawaiian day, and the service provided here means you will come back again and again.

Photo by: Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice
Photo by: Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

America’s Most Scenic Road trips

A road trip can be defined as a journey by car, with no restrictions on how long you must travel for or how many stops you must make. Therefore exploring America’s most scenic road trips has led us anywhere from day trips to week-long adventures. In terms of scenery, America is full of crashing coastlines, rain forests, historical architectures and rolling fields of wildflowers. From the lava flows of Hawaii to the quirky roadside signs on Route 66 to the quaint villages of New Mexico; these 15 scenic road trips will have you headed to the car in no time.

15. Route 6, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

When you hear the words Cape Cod, one immediately thinks of quaint villages, historic lighthouses, miles of beaches and picturesque harbors. Route 6 offers over 117 miles throughout the Cape Cod area and road trippers will want to give themselves a few days to complete this trip, in order to truly get the most out of the scenery. Sand dunes, tidal pools, beaches and marshes will all entice you to stop the car and explore the surrounding areas. In the midst of the forests along the side of the road, keep your eyes peeled for wild blueberry and huckleberry bushes.The perfect treat to compliment any trip. Route 6 takes you into Provincetown, where music festivals and art work await. Make sure you rise early to catch the epic sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean while on your trip.

Route 6

14. The High Road, Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico

This winding scenic road takes travelers along a 52 mile route through an authentic remainder of Old Spain, which is evident in the religion, architecture, topography, history, and people here. This day trip can take anywhere from four to seven hours depending on how many times you stop to admire the breathtaking churches, scenic byways and unique villages. This twisty road takes you up into the mountains, with views of snow-capped peaks, evergreen trees and wildlife. In the autumn this road turns into the “High Road Art Tour” where artists open their studios and galleries to the public. Visitors can meet with the artists and purchase directly from them while taking an incredible road trip through the historic villages, in a season where the trees turn color and the sky is an incredible shade of blue.

High Road

13. Historic Route 66, Chicago to Los Angeles

For three decades Route 66 was known as the “Main Street of America” as it wound its way through small towns across the Midwest and Southwest. This legendary old road passes through the heart of the United States and continues to captivate people from all over the world. To drive the entire route, it is over 2,000 miles and takes you past some of the most outrageous road signs, giant statues and quirky roadside attractions. The scenery along Route 66 is not to be forgotten though. Giant cornfields of Illinois, the streets of St. Louis and the golden sands of California pave the path for an unforgettable road trip through the history of America. Step back in time and discover what was the start of the American love affair with road trips on this iconic route.

Historic Route

12. Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

It provides one of the closest ways to experience the Wild West, as if it were still wild today and the Million Dollar Highway through Colorado takes travelers past old mines, deep gorges, waterfalls and breathtaking views. The actual Million Dollar Highway is only a 24 mile stretch of road but many road trippers choose to extend their trip down to Durango. Along the way travelers are privy to the peaks of Red Mountain, a set of three peaks that get their name from the red iron ore rocks covering their surface. The region’s old mines are here and can be explored by hiking or biking. The spectacular overlook at Molas Pass is not to be missed and it is said that the air here is the cleanest in the USA. In the spring, wildflowers are in full bloom and elk, mountain goats, black bears, and mule deer are often visible from the road.

Million Dollar Highway

11. The 1 Week Grand Circle Road Trip, Southwest Canyons

The dramatic red-rock scenery will absolutely blow your mind as you travel through Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. In Zion visitors will be privy to emerald pools, the Narrows of the Zion Rivers and dramatic orange-red sandstone. Bryce Canyon is known for its colorful hoodoo formations that will awe and inspire you. The drive from here to Capitol Reef will be full of scenic overlooks and breathtaking views. Make sure to get out of your car and explore the Grand Canyon by foot or bicycle as every viewpoint offers something different. This amazing one week popular road trip offers jaw-dropping scenery both on the road and off, and is a must do for every American.

Bryce Canyon

10. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

It is one of America’s most scenic road trips; no matter what time of year you travel it, but many travelers head here in the fall to see the unbelievable display of changing colors on the leaves. This scenic highway connects Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive in Virginia, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. This highway runs 468 miles with cliff-hugging turns, sweeping views, diverse flora and fauna and over 200 overlooks to take advantage of. Expect lakes, gorges, waterfalls, red oak trees, wildflowers and incredible rock formations. Begin in Virginia and snake your way down this colorful road all the way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hiking and biking trails lead right off the parkway and the small town’s quirky roadside attractions and great restaurants along the way make for the perfect scenic road trip.

Blue Ridge Highway

9. Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, Oregon

This was the first scenic highway in the United States, a marvel of engineering for its time, a National Historic Landmark and is still considered one of the most scenic drives in all of America. The highway treats travelers to ever-shifting views of the Columbia River Gorge, along with numerous hiking and biking trails that lead to hidden waterfalls. Historic monuments and buildings, fish hatcheries, stunning overlooks and of course the majestic waterfalls await you on this 70 mile journey. The most highly anticipated part of this drive is the five miles of figure eight loops that lead travelers down the river, loaded with waterfalls at every turn. The 620-foot Multnomah Falls, the fourth largest waterfall in the US is the highlight for many on this trip. After the waterfalls comes the impressive geological formations of the gorge and makes way for the dry, eastern Columbia River plateau where native plants and wildflowers make up the view.

Historic Columbia River

8. Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

The Road to Hana is at least a day, if not two day adventure through the beautiful island of Maui. This legendary road winds its way 50 miles through lush rain forests, past waterfalls, plunging pools and by dramatic seaside. The road is full of hairpin turns, one-way bridges and state parks. Taking your time on this road is highly recommended. The best way to see what the Road to Hana really has to offer is to do your research ahead of time. Many of the beaches, waterfalls and dramatic lookout points are hidden just off the road and require you to know which mile marker to pull off at. Black sand beaches, turquoise sea waters, bamboo forests, old wharfs, lava tubes, churches built of lava rocks and so much more await you on this epic drive through a breathtaking island.

Road to Hana

7. Beartooth Highway, Montana

This almost 70 mile stretch of highway from Montana to Wyoming is only open from May until late September and takes travelers throughout some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States. This zigzag highway is complete with switchbacks, steep climbs and endless views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, alpine plateaus, lush forests and sparkling lakes. This drive can take you anywhere from two hours to two days, depending on how many times you want to stop and explore. Most choose to start their drive in the town of Red Lodge and head east to Yellowstone National Park, as this route reduces glare and gives you the best views of the twenty plus peaks you pass. Wildlife sightings, countless overlooks and jaw-dropping views await you on one of the most scenic drives in all of America.

Beartooth Highway

6. The Olympic Peninsula Loop, Washington

This scenic loop takes travelers 329 miles, from the Olympic Mountains to the rain forests and to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. What makes this drive so unique is the diversity of terrain it covers as it circles the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest. It is recommended to take at least two to three days to make this scenic road trip because many of its best kept secrets are located off the beaten path. It is therefore important to mention that not all the ‘scenery’ can be seen from the road. Venture off at Sequim and head to the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge and Dungeness Spit where you can visit the world’s longest natural sand spit. Don’t miss Rialto Beach where towering rock formations and sea life provide ample photography opportunity. Other hot spots are Lake Quinault and the Quinault rain forest, Ruby Beach and Hurricane Ridge.

Olympic Park

5. Seward Highway, Alaska

Starting in Anchorage, this 127 mile highway runs from sea to mountains and back to sea, all the way south to the harbor town of Seward. If you are planning on doing this route as a round trip, it is recommend you give yourself at least three to four days because the sights you see will literally be a visual overload. This drive is where you will find majestic waterfalls, blue glaciers, whales, jagged mountains, ponds and ocean fjords. Numerous hiking and biking trails can be caught right off the highway, as well as many overlook points and picnic areas. What makes this drive so special is that it is truly interesting the entire way, with mountains, glaciers, wildlife, trails, lakes and rivers to see throughout the entire 127 miles. Combine that with a wide and easy driving road and you have yourself one of the best road trips in all of America.

Seward Highway

4. Pacific Coast Highway, California

It comes as no surprise that this is one of the best loved drives in all of America with its mind-blowing scenery, quirky stop-offs and exhilarating driving experience. This highway runs a whopping 550 miles along California’s coastline and is the most scenic part of the highway, although most travelers tend to drive the Central Coast which runs about 240 miles. Driving north to south is recommended to have unobstructed ocean views the entire way. Highlights of this trip include upscale villages, state parks which feature hundreds of species of birds and mammals, remote forests and towering sand dunes. Big Sur is often the highlight of the trip, as this coastline is made up of redwood groves stretching high into the sky, jagged cliffs stretching out into the sea and waves crashing onto rigid rocks.

California Highway

3. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

It is the only road that crosses Glacier National Park in Montana and is only open from early spring until late fall. This two-lane paved 50 mile highway gives visitors a look at all terrains within the park including large glacial lakes, alpine tundra’s, cedar forests and dozens of animals. The road twists and turns throughout the park and offers plenty of places to pull over, admire the views and snap photos. Visitors should expect to take at least a few hours to drive this road. This highway was created with the notion of making it barely visible in the landscape, thus creating a minimal impact in the park and leaving visitors with the feeling of driving on the edge of a cliff. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for waterfalls, the Jackson Glacier and the array of beautifully colored lakes.

Going to the Sun Highway

2. Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Highway 101, Oregon

This 363 mile Byway traces the entire coast of Oregon, one of the most photographed regions in the nation. To do the entire coast, you will start in Astoria and head south, all the way to Brookings. The road takes travelers to the sea and away again, as it winds past marshes, seaside cliffs, lush agricultural valleys and wind-sculpted dunes. Expect to see majestic temperate rain forests, a rugged, rocky coastline and resort towns scattered throughout the state. All of the beaches along the coast are open to the public and travelers will want to spend some time exploring them, beachcombing for shells and splashing in the waves. In the winter months it is possible to see the migrating gray whales and colonies of seals and sea lions appear all year round. Make sure to allocate an extra day or two as most travelers find themselves stopping more than expected due to the striking landscapes, beaches and towns to explore.

Highway 101

1. The Hawaii Belt, Big Island, Hawaii

The Big Island was the first Hawaii, the biggest of all the islands and is home to one of the most scenic road trips in all of America. Taking a road trip around this island is perhaps the best way to experience everything the island has to offer, from its lava desert flows to its soaring mountains to the farmlands and sandy beaches. The Hawaii Belt Road is made up of three sections and it fully circles the island, giving travelers a full picture of what Hawaii truly is. Expect to see coffee farms, Eden-like forests, active lava flows, lush rain forests, long stretches of beaches and welcoming villages. It is easy to take this road trip on a whim with plenty of places to stay and eat along the way. Experience the finest of the Big Island and all its beauty it has to offer.

Big Island

The Top 13 Things to See and Do in Maui

Maui is home to lush green foliage, bright fauna, bamboo forests, tropical rainforests, waterfalls and some of the most unique beaches. Paired with the largest dormant volcano in the world, breathtaking sunsets and some of the friendliest locals around; Maui is the perfect place for your next vacation. Pack a bathing suit, hiking boots and a camera with a huge memory card and you’re ready to go. With year round beautiful weather and marine life that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world, Maui caters to both adventurers and to those who are looking to kick back and relax. Read on to discover our top thirteen things to see and do in Maui.

13. Lahaina

A historic town in the western part of Maui, Lahaina is a port city that has been transformed into one of the hottest towns on the Island. Lined with art galleries, restaurants and nightclubs this is the place to be after the sun sets. Visit Old Lahaina Luau where you will find the most authentic Hawaiian luau to enjoy a Hawaiian feast, fire dancing, hula and a wide assortment of tropical drinks. If you’re looking for Hawaiian souvenirs to bring home there is no shortage of shops selling whatever your heart desires. Lahaina is also home to the sixty foot Banyan Tree in Courthouse Square where in the early mornings it’s filled with chirping birds. Take a few minutes to relax and appreciate the enormity of this old giant.

Lahaina

12. Kaanapali Beach (Black Rock)

Located just a stone’s throw away from the historic town of Lahaina, Kaanapali Beach is known to be one of the best in Maui. This three mile stretch of sand is home to all of the town’s seaside resorts and runs all the way to Black Rock. Black Rock is sliced across the beach and home to those wishing to snorkel and scuba. This is one of the best places to see sea turtles and rays while out for a leisurely snorkel (no guided tour necessary). If you are lucky enough, dolphins often appear near Black Rock and will frolic in the water with you. Locals and daring tourists will love jumping off one of many platforms on top of Black Rock. A suggestion to all visitors is to arrive early as this stretch of beach gets very crowded. If you have forgotten your snorkel gear, head to the Costco in town where you will pay a much lower price than at the resorts.

Kaanapali Beach

11. Iao Valley State Park

With so many beautiful beaches it is easy to forget that Maui offers incredible scenic hikes through striking landscapes. Head to Iao Valley State Park to immerse yourself in the forest of tropical foliage. The famous Maui landmark; the Iao Needle which rises 1200 feet in to the sky resides in this state park. History was made here and it was underneath the Iao Needle where the Hawaiian Islands became united. For the less serious hiker, take the paved path through the botanical garden that leads straight to the iconic rock formation. For the most serious hikers; Iao Valley State Park offers numerous hiking trails that vary in degree of difficulty.  Take a guided rainforest hike or explore the interactive exhibits that are housed in the Hawaii Nature Center; conveniently located in the park. Put on those hiking boots, load up the water and the snacks and get your camera ready for a picture perfect day of hiking.

Iao Valley State Park

10. Oneloa and Pu’u Olai Beach

Often referred to as Big Beach and Little Beach, these two fabulous beaches are situated in Makena State Park. Big Beach is by far the best beach on the Island for body surfing or skim boarding and runs 1.5km long with 100 feet of width. Home to mostly calm waters; Big Beach is the perfect beach for a day of family fun. Public restrooms, parking and lifeguards are all present at Big Beach. For something a little different head north of Big Beach and hike the 5km trail over the steep lava outcropping to Little Beach. One of the only nude sunbathing beaches in Maui; this 660ft long beach offers calm waters and good times. Afternoons and evenings are often filled with fire dancing parties and drum circles and the motto is “live and let live”.  Bring a packed lunch, plenty of sunscreen and enjoy two different but equally impressive Maui beaches.

Oneloa Big Beach Maui

9. Humpback Whale Watching

If you’re visiting Maui from mid December to mid May when thousands of Humpbacks come to soak in the warm tropical waters that surround Maui; whale watching is not something you want to miss out on. There are many ways to experience these magnificent creatures and we suggest trying a few of them. There are lots of companies that offer the traditional methods of whale watching; taking visitors out in a large boat or raft and these companies for the most part guarantee a whale spotting. For those more adventurous head out in a kayak or outrigger canoe with a guide and get up close and personal to these gentle giants. For the experienced Paddle Boarder there is no better way to view these whales than standing up on your board and watching them breach out of the water. If you want to keep your feet dry there are plenty of places to see the whales from land. One of the best places is the Maui Ocean Center; which happens to be the next thing to see and do on our list.

Humpback whale maui

8. Maui Ocean Center

As stated in the previous slide, Maui Ocean Center is an excellent viewing point for the humpback whales with the Harbour Plaza being the best vantage point at the Ocean Center to witness whales breaching and spouting. Head inside the Ocean Center to discover over 60 exhibits including touch pools, a 750,000 gallon open ocean exhibit and interactive learning experiences. Get up close to tiger sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, hammerhead sharks, sea horses, colourful fish and many other species that only live in Hawaii. For the experienced scuba diver; discover a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive into the open ocean exhibit where you will encounter twenty sharks, stingrays and thousands of tropical reef fish. The Maui Ocean Center is good for adults and kids alike, perfect for a rainy day or when you have had a little too much sun.

Maui Aquarium

7. Ohe’o Gulch Pools

Commonly referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools, this is one of the most visited places in East Maui. Waterfalls cascade into dozens of pools starting from the mountains and draining into the Pacific Ocean; the rugged coastline also makes this one of the most breathtaking views. The lower pools are more easily accessible and although signs around the area prohibit jumping of any kind; this is where you will find lots of visitors and locals taking the plunge. The surrounding area is filled with self-guided hiking tours, waterfalls and impressive greenery paired with blue skies. This is also a starting point to the Pipiwai Trail and is part of the Haleakala National Park. To avoid the crowds of tourists that visit these pools on a daily basis we highly suggest visiting before noon, and remember your proper hiking footwear.

Seven Sacred Pools

6. Hookipa Beach

There is no better surfer’s paradise than Hookipa Beach where the waves are far too rough for swimming but just perfect for the daredevils who have the courage to surf them. The most popular sport as this beach is windsurfing and even if you don’t have quite the expertise at these sports; this beach is still a must visit. With a dramatic landscape of hills and lava rock, surfers weaving in and out the huge waves and the sun reflecting on the brilliant blue water; this picture perfect landscape will delight you. Pack a picnic or stop at the small town of Paia for lunch as you won’t find any restaurants lining this beach. Stay for the sunset and watch the sky transform into brilliant colours of red, orange and pink; while watching turtles make their way onto the beach to nest for the night.

Hookipa Beach

5. Waianapanapa State Park

One of the “stops” on the Road to Hana; Waianapanapa is home to Maui’s best black sand beach or best black pebble beach as we like to call it. Dominated by sea caves, lava tubes, lush flora and the sounds of crashing waves; there are few more beautiful places on this Island than here. Explore the sea cave that contains a fresh water pool and make sure to bring a flashlight to explore the cave within the cave, also opening up to another pool of water. Discover the lava tubes and the blowhole that spouts water high into the air depending on the conditions. Watch the locals as they dive off the turtle shaped rock island in the middle of the water, walk through the rock archway or stroll through a small cemetery and pay tribute to those who first inhabited this beautiful place. Make sure to have sturdy sandals and water shoes to get the most out of your experience in this breathtaking park.

Waianapanapa State Park

4. Molokini Crater

Formed by ancient volcanic eruptions; this crescent moon shaped crater rises from 300 feet below the ocean’s surface.  Molokini is comprised of rock, not soil which allows for astonishingly clear visibility in the water, up to 200 feet in certain conditions. Home to thousands of tropical fish, some that are found nowhere else in the world, this underwater marine sanctuary is a prime scuba and snorkel destination.  The flourishing coral reef located in the middle of Molokini is protected from surging waves and has become a haven for marine life. If you are lucky, you may spot a whale shark; a gentle plankton feeding giant that often allows for visitors to hitch a ride. The best way to experience Molokini is to join a snorkelling or scuba cruise from Maalaea Harbor, where lunch is provided on-board the boat. Known as one of the best and most unique snorkelling destinations in Maui, Molokini is not to be missed.

Molokini Crater

3. Kaihalulu (Red Sand) Beach

Kaihalulu means roaring sea in the Hawaiian language and that is exactly what one will witness at the red sand beach in Maui. A dramatic and beautiful hidden cove unlike anything you have seen before awaits you. Dark red sand and brilliant blue water coupled with the black lava wall and lush green trees makes this dramatic landscape a must visit. Cut deep into the Ka’uiki Head cinder cone, this crescent shaped beach is a hidden gem. Not recommended for young children or anyone who is unsteady on their feet, the pathway to Kaihalulu Beach is challenging with loose footing down a steep hill.  Strong currents and turbulent waters are often present so swimming is unsafe during certain conditions. Snorkelling when the waters are calm is magnificent with views of tropical fish as soon as your head goes underwater. One thing to note is this is a nude beach and a haven for Maui locals.

Kaihalulu (Red Sand) Beach

2. Haleakala National Park

Home to the largest dormant volcano in the world, Mt Haleakala; this national park encompasses 30,000 acres and five different climate zones. Awake early and head up the winding Route 378 to reach the summit of Mt Haleakala to watch the sunrise from one of the most magical places on earth. Looking out from over 10,000 feet above sea level you will understand why this Volcano is called “the house of the sun”. We highly suggest bundling up when headed to the top as temperatures range from 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Another must do in Haleakala National Park is to explore the floor of the Haleakala Crater. The chance to hike among moon-like scenery with cinder cones that tower 600ft above you; in shades of red, orange and grey is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For the avid hiker check out the 4 mile Pipiwai trail that leads you along the southeast coast of the Island.

Haleakala National Park

1. Road to Hana

Hidden waterfalls, secluded jungles, hairpin turns and unparalleled views of the coastline makes the Road to Hana our number one thing to see and do in Maui. There are two ways to explore the 60 mile plus stretch of highway that is carved into the cliffs and includes 600 turns and 54 one-way bridges. The first option is to take a guided tour, being the best choice for those who don’t feel comfortable driving. For those who are planning on driving the route themselves we recommend picking up a guided CD that will point out secret stops along the way you might have missed if you didn’t know about them. The Road to Hana is a journey not a destination and if you can spend a few days exploring you will get the best experience. Make sure you pack plenty of water, snacks, bug spray and a memory card with lots of storage; we promise you will want to snapshot these memories.

Road to Hana

I Do! 10 Best Places In the World to Elope

Weddings can be beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but they can also cost thousands of dollars and be a major headache to plan. By eloping, you can leave these worries behind and add a sense of adventure to your wedding. There are many amazing spots around the world where you can exchange vows, but here are ten of the best.

1. Florence, Italy

Italy is home to a number of romantic locales, but Florence may be the best spot for elopement because it is easy for foreigners to obtain a marriage license The city’s stunning architecture creates a romantic atmosphere unlike anywhere else on earth. Florence is also home to a wealth of historic churches, so this is a great place to go if you want a religious wedding.

Florence Italy

2. Niagara Falls, New York

The Falls will make a spectacular backdrop for your wedding, but you can also say “I do” in a helicopter flying over them. Obtaining a license for a Niagara wedding is simple. United States citizens should head to the New York side of the Falls, but couples from overseas can also get one from the Canadian side.

Niagara Falls 1

3. British Virgin Islands

Getting a marriage license in the British Virgin Islands is easy, and the warm weather and tropical setting will create memories to last a lifetime. You’ll find a number of resorts that offer packages specially designed for eloping couples.

British Virgin Islands

4. Florida Keys

Florida is an ideal spot for elopement because they don’t require out-of-state couples to undergo a waiting period or blood test before they can tie the knot. The Keys are filled with gorgeous scenery, and nothing is more romantic than getting married on the beach at sunset.

Beach Wedding 1

5. Scotland

The Highlands of Scotland will provide a perfect romantic background for your wedding ceremony. This is an ideal spot for lovers of the outdoors, as you can go golfing, hiking, and horseback riding on your honeymoon. Marriages in Scotland have historically been informal affairs, and it’s easier for foreigners to obtain a marriage license here than in other European countries. However, documents and fees need to be submitted at least fifteen days before your ceremony.

Scotland

6. Costa Rica

This Central American country is super friendly to visitors, and to obtain a marriage license you only need a passport and two non-related witnesses. There are plenty of secluded beaches that are perfect for a ceremony, but if you want a really unique spot, you can get married under a waterfall in the rainforest.

Costa Rica 1

7. Reno, Nevada

Las Vegas might be the place to go if you need to get married quickly, but Reno is the much more peaceful and romantic option. Just imagine your wedding taking place on the shores of Lake Tahoe with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background. Marriage licenses are easy to access in Nevada, and there’s no waiting period.

Reno Nevada

8. Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii has a number of stunning islands, but Maui is the most popular destination for eloping couples. The beautiful beaches and clear blue waters make it a perfect spot for an intimate wedding ceremony.

Maui Hawaii

9. Napa Valley, California

Napa is one of the most romantic destinations in the United States. You can have your ceremony in a secluded vineyard with the Valley’s beautiful hills in the background. As a popular spot for eloping couples, there are several resorts in the area that offer elopement packages.

Napa Valley California

10. Bermuda 

This Caribbean island is home to pink sandy beaches and breathtaking ocean views. The island also has a large number of beautiful and historical churches where you can hold your ceremony. To get married in Bermuda, you must submit a notice of intent to one of the country’s newspapers fifteen days in advance.

Bermuda 2

Romantic and Luxurious Honeymoon Destinations

Choosing a destination for your honeymoon can be as stressful as planning your wedding. It’s your first week together as newlyweds and you want everything to be perfect. Fortunately, there are several resorts in some of the world’s most beautiful places that are dedicated to serving your every need.

If you’re researching honeymoon destinations, consider one of these popular locations:

1. Bora Bora

Perhaps one of the more luxurious (and subsequently more expensive) honeymoon destinations, Bora Bora epitomizes the word romance. The island is famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts that sit on stilts over the sparkling blue water.

Activities and  Attractions

Most of the activities and attractions in Bora Bora are water-related, but there are a few things you can do on land as well. Snorkeling and scuba diving around the lagoon are popular activities for many tourists but to kick up the romance, many newlywed couples opt for a breathtaking sunset cruise along the lagoon. Couples can enjoy fine dining in several ravishing seafood restaurants  or sip on cocktails at the world famous Bloody Mary’s restaurant and bar.

Bora Bora

2. Paris, France

Paris is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world. Stroll the streets and take in the amazing sites and culture of this captivating city. There are many reasons why Paris is considered one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world.

Activities and Attractions

The Eiffel Tower is, obviously, a must-see for any couple in Paris. In addition, the Centre Georges Pompidou and The Musee d’Orsay are also great landmarks to view while on vacation. When you’re not taking in the sites of the city, many couples choose to sip on wine or champagne a patio of a local restaurant while listening to live music.

Paris

3. Maui, Hawaii

Maui is a truly breathtaking destination for honeymooners looking for a luxurious getaway. The popular destination offers tourists unique landscapes such as black sand beaches, captivating waterfalls and fascinating volcanoes.

Activities and Attractions

Some of the popular activities on the island of Maui include windsurfing, surfing and kiteboarding (or kitesurfing). Main tourist attractions include the Hana Highway (where you’ll see black sand beaches and breathtaking waterfalls), Lahaina (featuring many shops and restaurants)  and Heleakala National Park (home to a dormant volcano).

Maui

4. Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a quaint beach resort and residential town located on the French Riveria. Nestled just beside the popular city of Nice, this quiet destination allows couples to experience the true culture of the South of France.

Activities and Attractions

Unlike some of the resort destinations on the list, Villefranche-sur-Mer does not offer many excursions. However, newlywed couples can stroll the streets of the beautiful Old Town which features intricately designed churches, chapels and homes. No honeymoon would be complete without a beach and this romantic destination hosts a public beach that stretches for 1km under the railway line linking Nice to Italy.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

5. Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos is not only a popular honeymoon destination but a notorious location for luxurious weddings as well. The beautiful islands have been host to many high profile weddings including the ceremony of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in 2005 as well as Eva Longoria and her now ex-husband Tony Parker in 2007.

Activities and Attractions

The breathtaking views of the pristine beaches are reason enough to visit the islands but there are many activities for adventure-seekers as well. Similar to many other resort destinations, Turks and Caicos offer many romantic cruises, diving excursions and snorkeling trips. In addition to the excursions, the islands offer tourists 81 fine dining experiences featuring delicious seafood prepared by world renowned chefs.

6. Venice, Italy

Regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, there’s no better way to celebrate the union of marriage than a gondola ride through the rivers of Venice. The city is known for its amazing art and architecture and is considered a top destination for honeymooners.

Activities and Attractions

Gondola rides through the rivers of the city are a popular tourist attraction. In addition, there are countless sites and buildings to see. Some of the must-see places include St. Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco.

Venice

7. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a top choice for many honeymooners. Its amazing views, eclectic culture and vibrant nightlife make it one of the most sought after cities for travellers. From listening to live music while enjoying cocktails outdoors to riding the  famous cable car buses, there’s no better way to enjoy your first days of wedded bliss than in this fascinating city.

Activities and Attractions

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most notable landmark. A trip to the big city just isn’t complete if you don’t make it to see one of the world’s most notorious bridges. Have a celebratory drink in a nearby restaurant and enjoy the views of the structure. Other landmarks include Colt Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid and Alamo Square Park.

San Francisco

8. Negril, Jamaica

Jamaica is quickly becoming a popular destination for weddings and many couples choose to extend their stay after the wedding for a romantic honeymoon. The culture is a big part of why this island country is so renowned. The relaxed atmosphere of island life is a great way to spend your first few weeks of marriage.

Activities and Attractions

Jamaica is home to several pristine beaches, amazing waterfalls and mystic rivers. Located in Ocho Rios, Dunn’s River Falls is a must-see when vacationing. You can climb up the breathtaking 600-foot cascading falls to a view that is absolutely priceless. Additionally, hiking, snorkeling, horseback riding, jet skiing, and kite surfing are all popular activities. When you decide to relax for a drink, make sure you hit up Rick’s Cafe, where you can view a spectacular sunset and watch amazing cliff diving shows.

Jamaica

9. St. Lucia

The breathtaking views of St. Lucia have been host to many high profile weddings and honeymoons. Famous faces who have chosen the beautiful island as their top destination include Matt Damon and his wife (who just renewed their vows in a lavish ceremony at the Sugar Beach Resort) and Kellie Pickler and her husband (who secretly wed on the island as well).

Activities and Attractions

Visiting the drive-in volcano, the sulfur springs, the botanical gardens and “The Pitons” are all fascinating attractions when visiting the island of St. Lucia. In addition to the landmarks, honeymooners can set sail on a sunset cruise, tandem zip line in the tropical rain forests or stroll through the luscious grounds of Pigeon Island National Park.

St. Lucia

10. Mayan Riveria, Mexico

Mexico will always be a popular destination for honeymooners. With an array of luxurious resorts ranging in price from very affordable to incredibly lavish, there’s a place for everyone in Mexico. Like most resort destinations, Mexico offers a variety of excursions that will keep you and your partner fascinated during your stay.

Activities and Attractions

If relaxing on the beach becomes too mundane, there are countless attractions and excursions offered in Mexico. Some of the notable landmarks include Tulum and Chichen Itza while some of the popular activities include snorkeling, whale watching, volcano tours, riding the Copper Canyon Railway and white water rafting.

Mexico