9 Often Overlooked, Underrated Beaches

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20130316-105016.jpgSome destinations always come to mind when people think of beach getaways: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Miami’s South Beach, and the crowded sands in Cancun. Some spots, however, are often overlooked and it makes them that much better.

Fewer people, untouched nature, you name it; underrated beach destinations are hidden gems that can be just what you’re looking for. Check out our list of nine underrated beach destinations — and make a trip before the secret is out!

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Jacksonville Beach is often overlooked for its Florida beach destination counterparts, but the area offers several nice beaches, and is home to world-renowned golf courses and a lively arts scene. The beach scene in Jacksonville is a bit limited by the weather; though the city experiences mild winters, the waters are too cold for beachgoers from November to March. But the upside is that, during the beach season, the sands are less crowded than southern Florida beaches, and are still great spots for surfing, swimming, and fishing. Plus, rates and restaurants are often less expensive than those elsewhere in the state.

Montauk, New York

Though Montauk is technically in the Hamptons, there are a lot of things that set this small town apart from other “quintessential Hamptons” destinations and makes it more of a hidden gem than the others. First off, there’s the location: Montauk, nicknamed “The End,” is literally on the end of Long Island — the easternmost tip, surrounded on three sides by water, and 12 miles from the next Hamptons town. It’s laid-back feel attracts more surfers and fishermen than socialites. Long-time lovers of Montauk worry about the area’s growing popularity and new hipster vibe; recent “Save Montauk” signs and shirts have even taken notice of The New York Times. But a lack of chain restaurants and shops helps to preserve the small-town feel. Only time will tell if Montauk is the next underrated beach destination to be, well, “rated,” we guess.

The San Juan Islands, Washington

The San Juan Islands are a popular summer getaway for Washingtonians, but otherwise are relatively quiet, unknown spots. With a relaxed, back-to-nature vibe, the islands are home to farmlands, evergreen forests, nature trails, whale-watching, and mom-and-pop shops. Temperatures are moderate, and rainfall is about half that of Seattle’s, so it’s possible to spend plenty of time outdoors. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife spotting, sailing, swimming, and kayaking and no destination on the islands ever feels overcrowded.

Read more: Jane Reynolds (Oyster.com), HuffPost

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