Best Clear Water Beaches in the USA

Amanda Williams Avatar
Sand Key Park, one of the best beaches near Tampa
Photo credit: Visit St. Pete Clearwater

We all love some beach time, and crystal clear waters are a huge selling point for beach activities everyone can enjoy. Here are the best beaches with the clearest water in the US. No passport needed!


It’s probably not news to you that Hawaii has some of the best stunning beaches in the US. In Hawaii, you can enjoy turquoise waters and white sand beaches, or even visit black sand beaches with the same lovely clear blue waters.

There are beautiful white sand beaches, like Lanikai Beach. Considered one of the top beaches in the country, with crystal clear waters, this is a great spot for sunbathing, snorkeling and possibly spotting sea turtles and lots of fishes. All the sandy beaches and laid back vibes of the Caribbean but without the need for a passport!

While you WILL find the clearest water and pristine beaches you expect of Hawaii, here you’ll enjoy a unique black sand beach vacation! No matter the color of the sand, the water here is lovely and you can enjoy all the white sand beach activities of other spots with a different backdrop.


Being a peninsula surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, this state has coastline for days and beautiful beaches for miles. Florida is one of the most popular places in America to enjoy beach towns and beautiful white sand next to the clearest waters teeming with marine life. Explore what makes each unique and find the beach vacation fit for you:

Biscayne National Park

This underwater National Park boasts scuba diving and snorkeling, tucked up with mangroves and palm trees, just outside Miami. As with all National Parks, this one requires an entry permit.

  • Crandon Park Beach is north of the actual National Park lands, but is a popular white sand beach located on Key Biscayne in Miami
  • Swim in the clear, turquoise waters
  • Guided eco-adventures including snorkeling at a shipwreck on the Maritime Heritage Trail
  • Stay at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami
  • Cruises to Boca Chita Key and the lighthouse

Honeymoon Island State Park

Instead of the busy beaches like Daytona and Hollywood, try quiet Honeymoon Island State Park located on the Gulf of Mexico. With elevated boardwalks to the sandy beach and clear water, this natural beauty is a great spot for families.

  • Rotary Centennial Nature Center
  • Beach wheelchairs are available for free

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is definitely one of the most gorgeous and well-known clear water beaches in the USA and Florida. The activities are endless:

We actually spent a few weeks in Clearwater doing all the things and scoping out the nightlife and food scene. Take a look at this Ultimate Guide to Clearwater FL for all the details!


Tampa is a bustling city with the charm of a beach town. This Gulf Coast gem is a great place to easily fly in and out of your beach vacation.

Key West

Key West is a party town that also has beaches. The largest public beach there is Smathers Beach.

This is a great spot to lay out your towel and enjoy the warm Florida sun. You’ll see the gambit of beach activities here, from volleyball to sunbathing, and swimming to paddleboarding.

  • Rent a scooter and see the whole island
  • Stop at the Hogsbreath Saloon
  • Drive by the Real World house (privately owned and rented on Air BNB)
  • Send off the sunset at Mallory Square
  • Dip down on the Vandenberg Wreck for a morning dive with Southpoint Divers

Caladesi Island

Accessible only by boat, Caladesi Island State Park is one of least busy beaches off the Florida Gulf Coast. The logistical hassle is worth the trouble to get to this shell paradise. You’ll need to book a ferry or have a boat of your own to get to the isle.

What awaits is picnic areas, three miles of mangroves, kayak rentals, wildlife and birds galore, shells at low tide and nature trails in addition to all the beautiful beach shoreline you can take.

Ft. Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Beach (Hollywood) is a beach on the east coast reminiscent of the beaches of Santa Monica on the west coast. This popular beach is a favorite spot for swimming with a wide sidewalk and lots of white sand.

  • Walk along the Atlantic Ocean and people watch (rollerblades, bikes, strollers, and walkers alike flock to the beach)
  • Margaritaville is a stop along your walk and shouldn’t be missed
  • Pop in and out of shops along the beach walk or grab drinks and dinner at one of many bars and restaurants all with beachfront views

St. Pete

St. Pete Beach is near Clearwater and is among the string of beach towns on the Sun Coast. This is definitely a family-friendly setting with the towering Tradewinds Island Grand and the High Tide Slide beckoning to families from the beach. Sunbathing and sandcastles rule supreme here.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach is one of the best clear water beaches in the USA. A vibrant and popular destination, this beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and other water sports. Florida is well known for its stunning beaches, and Miami Beach is one of the very best. This east coast destination brings you to the beach for the day and vibrant clubs and nightlife after dark.

  • Spend a day at North Beach
  • Lay in the sun and relax a big beach towel
  • Opt for South Beach the next day (or night, since the nightlife here is epic!)

Lifeguards are on duty here, unlike a lot of the smaller and quieter beaches to keep swimmers safe

Grab your floppy hat and beach blanket and pick one of these fabulous sandy beach expanses to call your little slice of paradise. We’ve given you all you need to inspire your next beach vacation.

Amanda Williams is a journalist in rural Minnesota. Her stories have been published in Matador Travel Network, Midwest Living, Family Handyman, and several other publications. A solo mother of two young boys, she writes about adventures from National Parks to waterparks. She loves sharing tips and insider information for others to use to make their trip just a little bit better. She and her kids scuba dive and live for new experiences and thrills. Road trips are always on the horizon and she’s embraced van life and has driven from the Midwest to Alaska (via Canada) with her kids encompassing 32 days of wild adventures. Amanda is classically trained as a wildlife biologist and has worked as a National Park Ranger, in addition to other exciting jobs like being a wildland firefighter and even playing the part of a living historian, as a cook in a turn-of-the-century logging camp. Because of these outdoorsy experiences, stories relating to outdoor adventure are often a focus of her writing. She hopes to inspire other solo parents to take on Disney, camping, and trips abroad with their families with the confidence to make those memories, even as the lone adult in the mix! Her most recent obsession is photographing adventures from the land, water, AND skies, as a licensed small unmanned aircraft system (drone) pilot. Learn more about her at or follow her on Instagram, @WayfaringMandy.
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