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Looking for a quiet, unspoiled beach holiday in the US
December 21, 2011 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Beautiful, quiet sandy beaches on the east coast or gulf coast of the US for a holiday next summer? Cottages with hammocks are preferable to condos or hotels. Basically I'm looking for the exact opposite of places like Myrtle Beach. Proximity (as in an hour's drive or less) to a culturally interesting city like New Orleans or Charleston is a definite bonus.
posted by cilantro to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jekyll Island, Georgia
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:21 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Check out the areas around jacksonville fl. Places like flagler beach and then much further south. St auvustine fits the bill for culture.

Also captiva and sanibel in the gulf coast off naples/ft Myers are amazing too.

Lastly check some of the keys not named "west" like isla morada which isn't too far down into the keys and has miami not too far away.
posted by chasles at 5:23 AM on December 21, 2011


If you're okay with going north, check out the quieter parts of Cape Cod.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:44 AM on December 21, 2011


Orange Beach, Alabama.
posted by Leezie at 6:03 AM on December 21, 2011


Hunting Island, SC, near Charleston or Tybee Island, Savannah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:07 AM on December 21, 2011


There are no beaches with clear water within an hour's drive of New Orleans.
posted by bukvich at 6:13 AM on December 21, 2011


Not far from Myrtle, but quite the opposite, is Ocean Isle Beach, NC. My family has been going there for 20 years. If you stay on the west end of the island, it is private and the houses are big (4-5 BRs). At the westernmost tip, the beach doesn't get much traffic. We never have to compete for a spot on the beach (and we are a large group every year), there's no lifeguards, but there's enough people there that its safe.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:14 AM on December 21, 2011


You might look into Anna Maria Island on the gulf coast of Florida. There are lots of places to stay on the barrier islands off Sarasota, but Anna Maria is a little quieter, I think. You're not far from Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. I'm not sure what kinds of culture you find interesting, but Sarasota has The Ringling Art Museum, St. Pete has The Dali Museum, and Tampa/St. Pete has a decent music scene, depending on who's coming through town when you're there.
posted by 6and12 at 6:34 AM on December 21, 2011


I would recommend Kiawah or Seabrook outside of Charleston.
posted by Kronur at 6:36 AM on December 21, 2011


We stayed in a lovely resort (something like Wild Dunes, I think) on the Isle of Palms, SC and loved it. It was close enough to Charleston we could go have fun in town and see the sights, but far enough away we really felt like we were getting away from it all. Look for vacation rentals, they had some really nice houses right on the ocean for rent.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:40 AM on December 21, 2011


This is most likely going to blow past the "rustic" end of your scale, but my wife and I fricking LOVE Cumberland Island, GA. You go to St. Mary's, GA and stay in a B&B, and then you get up in the morning and load a cooler with a bunch of beer and steaks and a tent and some camp chairs with cupholders in the armrest, and then you take a ferry over to Cumberland Island and stay for as many nights as you like.

There are some nice campsites and various cool ruins on the north and south part of the island and many, many miles of completely empty white sand beach. There are a very limited number of people allowed on the island at a given time so it's never anything close to crowded. Surprisingly few bugs, I think because of the breeze and the island is so narrow that the little jerks blow right over it. Tons of feral horses, tons of dolphins in the surf. Some photos of our last couple of visits.
posted by ftm at 7:26 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seconding Sticherbeast's Cape Cod recommendation. My family has been going there every summer for the last ~25 years (my grandparents retired there). It certainly would have fit your criteria ~15 years ago. It's a little more crowded these days, but no where near as overrun as, for example, Myrtle Beach.
posted by Betelgeuse at 1:20 PM on December 21, 2011


No culture too near any of these, but if you want beautiful, unspoiled beaches take a look at:
- Assateague National Park off the Coast of VA (you have to stay on neighboring Chincotague)
- Topsail Island on the NC Outer Banks
- Alligator Point in Fl
- St. George Island/St. Joseph Peninsula area in FL is a little more developed, but there are a couple of State Parks and Sugar Sand Beach is one of the pretties beaches on the gulf.
posted by LittleMy at 6:49 AM on December 22, 2011


It depends on how quiet you want it when you're around Charleston. Take a look at Folly Beach, which is literally just south of the city across the Ashley River and Wapoo Cut. The beach is relatively busy during the summer, but essentially all of the housing there is house-based. Only one or two hotels on the whole beach. It's about 20 minutes from the beach to downtown.

Otherwise Kiawah/Seabrook is the island/beach just south of there, and Edisto is just south of that. All are within 1 hour drive of downtown Charleston. They're much quieter than Folly. They're also probably an hour (or slightly more) away from Savannah for bonus culture.

Feel free to memail me if you have any specific questions about the area.
posted by This Guy at 7:26 AM on December 22, 2011


None of the Florida Keys have good sandy beaches.

I second Anna Maria Island, just south of Tampa Bay.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:52 AM on December 30, 2011


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