<p>Sturdy shoes and water bottles are a necessity when hiking to Papakōlea on the Big Island of <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destination/hawaii" target="_blank">Hawaii</a>. The 5.5-mile trail cuts across blustery seaside cliffs to a 49,000-year-old cinder cone created by an ancient volcano. At the end of the hike, turquoise water laps at an arcing beach that gets its green hue from olivine, the same mineral that makes up peridot.</p>

Green Sand Beach, Papakōlea, Hawaii

Sturdy shoes and water bottles are a necessity when hiking to Papakōlea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The 5.5-mile trail cuts across blustery seaside cliffs to a 49,000-year-old cinder cone created by an ancient volcano. At the end of the hike, turquoise water laps at an arcing beach that gets its green hue from olivine, the same mineral that makes up peridot.

Photograph by Gina Torregroza, VWPics/Redux

The Best Beaches in the United States

Twelve beaches from Alaska to Florida to bliss out on.

Americans love the beach. We plaster oval stickers across our cars to declare our allegiances, track the sharks encroaching on “our” surf, and release new songs every year about beach cocktails and sand beneath our toes. We childishly hoard our favorite spots so they won’t become overcrowded. Mine is a riverside beach in Maryland where a firefly trail through the woods leads to dazzling bioluminescent water and no, I will not tell you how to get there. But here are 12 beaches you can—and should—add to your list.

The Caribbean deserves its own list, which will be coming to you soon. For now, explore even more of our favorite beaches around the world.

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