America's Prized Beaches

Summer means travel for many, and sun worshippers often choose to vacation amid sun and surf at the beach.

No matter what your taste, there's sure to be a beach to meet your needs. Here’s a look at a dozen of the best beaches in North America.

Hawaii: Wailea Beach, on the west side of Maui, always has sunny beach weather. "This pocket beach of white coral sand is defined by two points of black lava rock and the trademark hotels in a beautiful tropical setting,"said Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, considered the nation’s foremost beach expert. "Wailea is excellent for swimming and snorkeling during the usually calm days; divers and snorkelers often encounter large sea turtles and sometimes manta rays just offshore,"

California: Carmel Beach - For a virtual tour of California's Monterey Bay, click here.

Florida:

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
features incredible dune formations, a heavily-forested interior and a favorable climate for year-round outdoor recreation. The 2,516-acre park is bounded on three sides by the waters of St. Joe Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Georgia:
Cumberland Island
, the largest and most southerly island off the coast of Georgia, is renown for its marine turtles, abundant shore birds, dune fields, maritime forest, salt marshes and historic structures, according to the National Park Service. But bear in mind that visits are limited to only 300 people daily.

Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore proves not all the great beaches are on the U.S. coasts. Located near Lake Michigan, this makes for an ideal getaway for those interested in visiting Chicago.

Maine: Jasper Beach - This beach is sparsely populated, has limited access and nature abounds.

Massachusetts: Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Mass. - Featuring hard-packed sand and gently sloping beaches, Gay Head is a perennial favorite travel spot.

New York: East Hampton - Featuring natural beauty, privacy, good sand and water quality, Long Island's East Hampton also provides amenities such as easy access, picnic areas and places to walk along the shore.

North Carolina: Hammocks Beach State Park - According to the University of Chapel Hill, "Be rewarded with vivid memories of one of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic - where loggerhead sea turtles come ashore under cover of darkness to nest above the tide line."

South Carolina: Kiawah Island - To learn about the Kiawah Island Connections Golf and Vacation Guide, click here.

Texas: Padre Island - South Padre Island is a coastal resort town on the Gulf of Mexico with five miles of seashore fun, shopping, dining and water activities. The island is also bordered by Laguna Madre Bay and is ecologically significant with 34 miles of sand dunes, water birds, shrimp, and deep-sea fishing.

Washington: Shi Shi Beach features sea stacks, headlands, tide pools, sandy beaches, and driftwood, all bordered by a large old-growth coastal forest. Access can be gained either by a difficult 9 mile beach hike from the south or by a 3 mile long trail head on Makah Tribal land.
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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