The words "private beach" are powerfully alluring, conjuring the palm-fringed luxury of waking to the sound of waves and strolling under moonlight on the sand. Technically, private beaches are against the law in the U.S. You can, however, own the access point to a particular patch of sand, and every state except Maine and Massachusetts also allows private property lines to be drawn up to the high tide line. Here are a few of our favorite resorts where you can experience your own stretch of sand without crowded parking lots, lugging of lounge chairs, or premium spot poachers ... just pure beachy bliss.
The Buccaneer - St. Croix
No passport, no problem: the three U.S. Virgin Islands are America’s own Caribbean paradise, making an appearance on every beach-lover’s bucket list. The easternmost point of the U.S., sunny St. Croix is rich in history, culture, and beaches, boasting three dozen stretches of soft sand ranging from popular hotspots to secluded, almost secret hidden gems. Located on the site of an estate built by a Knight of Malta in 1653, the property became a sugar mill (still standing) and cattle farm before the gracious Buccaneer opened in 1947 — the first hotel on the island to be built and operated by a local family. Still in the family, the luxurious resort is fronted by three beaches (Mermaid, Grotto and secluded Whistler) all with their own charm. Snorkeling trips to Buck Island depart from the Buccaneer’s private dock.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai - Hawaii
Located on the Big Island’s North Kona Coast, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is surrounded by dramatic black lava, silky white sand, and sapphire blue waters that are home to sea turtles, seals, dolphins, humpback whales, and an abundance of other creatures who flit among colorful corals and race through the rolling waves. The site of an ancestral Hawaiian fishing village, the luxury resort offers seclusion and privacy and is a favorite of visiting celebrities. While the beach is perfection, the world-class resort’s seven pools are also a huge attraction — especially the King’s Pond, a 1.8-million-gallon aquarium stocked with more than a thousand tropical fish.
WaterColor Resort - Florida
Curving along the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida, the beaches of South Walton County are rightly known as "the Emerald Coast." Twenty-six miles of sugar-white sand are lapped by gentle green waves and dotted with sensitively developed communities, each with their own unique charm. At the upscale WaterColor Inn, 500 acres are framed with a longleaf pine forest and enhanced by a rare coastal dune lake. The broad sands of Santa Rosa Beach beckon boogie boarders and seashell-seekers, and are a favored nesting ground for sea turtles. Guests of the resort and residents of the WaterColor community enjoy a private beach club with three pools, award-winning dining, and glorious views of the gulf.
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach - California
Perched on a 175-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific, the grand Waldorf Astoria has an enviable view of Dana Point, Southern California’s best location for whale watching, boasting the planet’s greatest concentration of blue whales and dolphins. The luxurious grounds boast an 18-hole golf course, seven bars and restaurants, and two infinity pools. When you’re ready to hit the beach, the property’s private tram (designed to resemble an old ‘woody’ station wagon) surfs you down on a seven-minute ride to Monarch’s exclusive members-and-guests-only beach club. Lounge under an umbrella, toss around a volleyball, or test your balance with surfing and stand-up paddleboarding.
Madison Beach Hotel - Connecticut
Classic New England vibes are the order of the day at this quintessential Connecticut resort, located right on the shoreline of Long Island Sound. Opened in 2012, the four-story, grey-shingled Madison Beach Hotel occupies the footprint of a hotel that began as a boarding house serving shipbuilders in the 1800s before city people discovered the village of Madison’s seaside charms. Most of the hotel’s 34 spacious rooms have balconies looking out over the estuarial waters, and complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas are set up at the hotel’s small private beach. In summer especially, the sands buzz with movie nights, live music, and bonfires.
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa - Florida
Last but certainly not least, the Florida Keys boasts the nation’s only private island resort on Little Torch Key. Located less than 30 miles from Key West, the exclusive adults-only Little Palm Island Resort & Spa can be reached solely by seaplane or boat ... an idyllic escape that’s enhanced by the resort’s strict "no cell phones in public areas" policy. (The celebrities and politicians who hide away here appreciate that, too.) Little Palm’s 15 thatched-roof bungalows contain 30 luxurious suites featuring amenities like firepits, outdoor showers, copper soaking tubs and panoramic views of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s clear blue waters. President Harry S Truman enjoyed the unparalleled deep-sea fishing, but today’s guests are equally enchanted by the complimentary snorkel, kayak, paddle board and boat rentals, as well as the world-class spa.