Beaches for Kids

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Building sandcastles is a great way for kids to express their creativity.

Fortunately for Americans, some of the world's best beaches are well within reach, but not all of these will appeal to families with young children. As most parents know, the energy of a child is sometimes much greater than the stretch of beach itself. So there needs to be more offered to engage the little ones. Think boundless miles of powdery sand to enjoy family activities, calm water with gentle waves that children can delight in leaping over, nature walks and wildlife sightings.

  1. Bahia Honda Park (Big Pine Key, Florida)

    • The Florida Keys are not typically known for their children-friendly beaches, but the two award-winning beaches at 524-acre Bahia Honda State Park are an exception. Both are largely deserted and coated with thick, white flour-like sand, which children can wade into with their buckets and spades. Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach offer balmy azure seas which are temptingly warm year round. Young children can walk for long distances with the water barely skimming their knees. Snorkeling is permitted in these shallow waters, and marine life such as soft corals, tropical fish and queen conchs are waiting to be discovered. As long as an adult is present, there is no age limit for children but the ability to swim is essential.

    Poipu Beach (Kaua'i, Hawaii)

    • Children, teens and adults can enjoy an array of water activities on Poipu Beach
      Children, teens and adults can enjoy an array of water activities on Poipu Beach

      The Hawaiian island of Kaua'i is encircled by some of the world's most gorgeous beaches. Even those too young to appreciate breathtaking scenery will be hypnotized by the sounds of booming waves crashing on golden sands. Poipu Beach, on Kaua'i's south shore, is popular with families and young children. Aside from having graceful swells for body boarders or surfers, a small boulder breakwater creates a protected pool area where children and parents can play and snorkel. For toddlers, a ring of black lava rocks creates a sheltered pool where the waters are shallow and still. Don't be surprised if you catch sight of an endangered monk seal. Seals regularly join sunbathers to bask in the sunshine.

    Coast Guard Beach (Eastham, Massachusetts)

    • The locals say that once you get Cape Cod sand in your shoes, you will surely return. Cape Cod boasts some of the finest beaches in the world, with water types for everyone, from calm waters of the bay to crashing surf of the ocean. Let your kids loose on Coast Guard Beach, which is part of Cape Cod National Seashore. The beach is huge and has lifeguards, showers and changing rooms. The sea rolls out waves for older children who wish to attempt body surfing. Start your visit by heading to the Salt Pond Visitor Center for free activity ideas that range from walking a salt-marsh trail to family campfire nights. Parking is limited during the summer, but a shuttle service is offered from Coast Guard Beach's main lot to the beach.

    Coronado Central Beach (San Diego, California)

    • Enjoy recreational activities on Coronado Beach in San Diego
      Enjoy recreational activities on Coronado Beach in San Diego

      With tons of recreational activities, Coronado Beach is one huge playground for kids as well as adults who aren't ready to grow up. Coronado has the widest expanse of clean, white sand of any beach in San Diego County. The beach is made up of "sugar sand," giving the feeling of silk beneath little feet. Young children will enjoy building sandcastles while older children can sample kite flying, beach volleyball or biking and rollerblading along 15 miles of designated pathways. With Coronado's mild tides and relatively warm ocean temperatures, children won't find the water intimidating.

    Siesta Beach (Siesta Key, Florida)

    • Siesta Beach, Florida, situated between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, claims to have the "whitest and finest sand in the world." The sand there is 99 percent quartz, meaning that even on the hottest days, the crystal sand on this beach is so reflective that it feels surprisingly cool under foot. The crescent-shaped beach is hundreds of yards wide, and its waters are shallow and bath-tub warm, suitable for children to splash around. With year-round lifeguard protection, Siesta Beach has been called one of the safest beaches on the Gulf Coast. Each May, a Sand Sculpture Contest takes place, with children and adults of all ages welcome to enter. The nearby village is brimming with family-friendly restaurants. And for something really different, children can join in the Siesta Key Drum Circle that is held on Sunday evenings.

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