The 31 Best US Beaches in December (2023)

Looking for the best US beaches in December? Or maybe you have your mind set on spending Christmas or NYE at the beach? I’ve rounded up the 31 best US beaches – plus all the details about each of them – for you to celebrate at for the holidays! 

Winter is coming, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams of a beach vacation. There are plenty of amazing beaches in the US that are still warm and sunny in December.

So, if you’re looking to escape the cold weather and soak up some sun—without a passport and immigration lines—I’ve got a list of the best US beaches to visit in December that’s perfect for you.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach to relax on or a lively beach with plenty of activities, you’re sure to find the perfect place to enjoy a winter beach vacation in the US.

Let’s get started on planning your December beach vacation! 

Key Takeaways

  • The best US beaches in December with the warmest temperatures are on the US islands – Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 
  • In the continental US, the states with the warmest beaches in December are in California, Florida, and Texas.
  • While the islands will offer swimming temps, the continental spots might be a little too chilly for taking a dip in the ocean. (Luckily many hotels have heated pools!)

Table of Contents

31 Best US Beaches in December

The 31 best US beaches in December on my list are scattered across a few states and US territories. I noted the best beaches in each major region in each of them. That way, you can determine which area you would like to stay during your trip.

They all have warm weather in December, and besides California, all of them even have water warm enough that you can swim in without a wetsuit.

(Just keep in mind that Mother Nature does whatever she wants, so we can never predict a random cold front.)

Now let’s get to the good stuff! 

Oahu, Hawaii

1. Waikiki Beach

December temperature: High 82 / Low 67

Waikiki Beach is not only one of the best US beaches in December, but it’s also one of the most popular destination in the winter months. The weather is perfect, the beach is gorgeous, and the water is clear with vibrant coral reefs.

In addition to being able to lounge on the beach, December is the perfect time to learn how to surf because the waves are perfect for it.

Waikiki Beach is centrally located too, so you will be close to everything you could want—shopping, dining, desserts, plenty of amazing hotels, and countless activities.

There are also many festivals and events for Christmas in the area. The Honolulu City Lights festival includes a tree lighting, parades, and lots of family fun! 

 Take this 3-hour snorkeling + waterslide + Diamond Head cruise! It’s earned 5 stars and a Badge of Excellence! 
➡️ Check prices and book this traveler-favorite cruise from Waikiki!

The Best Hotels Near Waikiki Beach

✅ For a family paradise: check prices and book the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort here!

✅ For beautiful, old-school Hawaiian vibes: check prices and book the The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort here! 

2. Waimea Bay

December temperature: High 79 / Low 67

If you want a quieter beach experience on Oahu, head to the North Shore. And once you’re on the North Shore, Waimea Bay Beach is THE beach to visit.

It’s one of the most beautiful islands not only on the island, but probably in all of Hawaii! The water is crystal clear with amazing views everywhere you look, plus there are fun activities like cliff jumping!

On the North Shore, you’ll be near countless other amazing beaches, the Dole Plantation, Waimea Falls, and the famous Polynesian Cultural Center (that you MUST visit!) 

➡️ Check out this 5-star surf lesson on the North Shore of Oahu! 

This Badge of Excellence surf lesson is two full hours and family friendly too, so bring the kids!

The Best Hotels Near Waimea Bay

✅ For the most renowned North Shore hotel: check prices and book your stay at the Turtle Bay Resort

✅ For an affordable family-friendly stay: check prices and book your stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore 

3. Ko Olina Lagoons

December temperature: High 82 / Low 66

On the sunnier, drier west side of Oahu, the Ko Olina Lagoons are four pristine, man-made beach coves. They are protected by a barrier reef, making them safe for swimming any time of year.

They’re all connected by a walkway and they all have restrooms and showers.

There’s plenty to do including swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding. You can also rent gear, hang out at the outdoor bar, or visit the resorts.

Lagoon 1: The busiest of the four because it’s attached to the Four Seasons and Aulani Disney Resort. It also has the least amount of parking, so if you’re not staying here it would be better to park somewhere else and walk over.

Lagoon 2, Honu: Not attached to any resorts, but gets busy fast. A few beach umbrellas are offered. Best for snorkeling.

Lagoon 3, Nai’a: Attached to the Marriot Ko Olina Beach Club.

Lagoon 4, Ulua: furthest away from the other lagoons, isn’t attached to resorts, and has the most parking so it’s the least crowded.

The Best Hotels Near Ko Olina Lagoons

✅ For a Disney experience: check prices and book your stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa here!

✅ For a family friendly stay with an awesome pool: check prices and book your stay at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club here!

Kauai, Hawaii

4. Poipu Beach

December temperature: High 82 / Low 65

The Garden Isle’s Poipu Beach is very well-known as one of the best beaches for families on the island. It’s on the south, more bustling and touristy side of the island.

Clear waters and a natural wading pool make it perfect for small kids (or even adults who want to relax in calm waters—like me, I loved it).

This beach has everything you’ll need—lifeguards, bathrooms, picnic area, showers, big parking lot, even a playground. You can spend a full day here. Close by is Sprouting Horn, a blowhole—the water can reach up to 50 feet!

If you only do one excursion in Kauai it MUST be a Na Pali Tour!

➡️ Check prices and book this sunset cruise of one of the most beautiful coastline in the world here!

The Best Hotel Near Poipu Beach

✅ For the most popular family-friendly resort: check prices and book your stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa 

5. Hanalei Bay

December temperature: High 80 / Low 66

On the north, quieter side of Kauai is Hanalei Bay. It’s a huge bay with a beautiful mountain backdrop. The beach is wide, two miles long, with white, powdery sands. The water is clear and warm.

There is a long pier to walk out on to really see the views. Restrooms, lifeguards, and picnic tables on site and rental shops and dining options within walking distance.

You’ll really feel like you’re on a tropical vacation on the North Shore. It’s peaceful, incredibly lush, with plenty of gorgeous beaches to visit—and a lot less crowds than the south.

The Best Hotel Near Hanalei Bay

✅ For a lush resort with an amazing pool: check prices and book your stay at Hanalei Bay Resort here!

Big Island, Hawaii

6. Hapuna Beach

December temperature: High 82 / Low 67

Not only one of the best US beaches in December, Hapuna Beach is regularly voted among the best beaches in the world! It’s roughly 200 feet wide and stretches for about a half mile. It’s a breathtaking beach with pure white sand and a gradual slope into the ocean.

Besides being beautiful, the beach has everything you will need. There are restrooms, picnic tables, beach and gear rentals, food concession stands, lots of trees for shade, lifeguards, and a large parking lot. Snorkeling is good on the north and south sides too.

You can enjoy holiday dining and décor at the nearby Westin and on Christmas Eve, Santa visits Hapuna Beach!

Note: the beach is currently undergoing water work that will make showers unavailable until 2024.

➡️ Check out this 5-star Night Manta Ray Adventure tour!

Take a short cruise at sunset to swim with manta rays! All equipment and light refreshments are included.
And if you don’t see any manta rays, they’ll book you on another tour for free.

The Best Hotel Near Hapuna Beach

✅ For the ultimate luxury stay: check prices and book your stay at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort here!  

7. Punaluu Beach

December temperature: High 82 / Low 67

What about a BLACK sand beach? One of the most famous in all of Hawaii! This beach is not only one of the best US beaches in December, but also one of the most unique.

Right in the middle of the island—in between the popular, busy west side and the volcanic, quiet east side is Punaluu Beach.

The beauty of this beach is unbelievable. The sand is truly back and made of cooled lava, there are numerous picturesque coconut trees, and you can spot sea turtles lounging on the beach.

There are tide pools to check out, picnic tables, and vendors that sell food and souvenirs. Don’t forget your water shoes—the sand gets hot fast (I mean, it IS black) and there are rocks.

The Best Hotel Near Punaluu Beach

✅ For an affordable family-friendly stay: check prices and book your stay at the Colony I at Sea Mountain here!  

Maui, Hawaii

8. Baldwin Beach

On the quieter North Shore of Maui is Baldwin Beach, long, wide, and perfect for surfers AND little ones. It’s the most popular beach on the north side, but there’s plenty of room to spread out.

While the main stretch of the beach gets great waves (especially in the winter), there are protected swimming coves on both sides with calm pools—on the west is Baby Beach and on the east is Baldwin Cove. It’s also a fully equipped beach with lifeguards, bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, and a pavilion, and shady trees.

Baldwin Beach is on the Hana Highway and a half mile away from Paia town—where some of the best food on the island is (including Mama’s Fish House!) Enjoy a meal before or after your beach day or get something to go and eat it at the beach.

The Best Hotel Near Baldwin Beach

✅ For a chic and charming boutique hotel in a perfect location: check prices and book your stay at the Paia Inn here! 

9. Wailea Beach

December temperature: High 83 / Low 63

Wailea Beach, another one of Hawaii’s beaches that is consistently on the world’s best beaches list, is the beach for the Grand Wailea and Four Seasons resorts. So, if you’re feeling fancy, this is your spot.

Wailea Beach is wide, has soft golden sand, and umbrellas and cabanas are sprinkled along the water. There’s a paved walkway that runs the length of the beach, bathrooms, showers, and free public parking.

When the ocean is calm, boogie boarding, body surfing, and snorkeling are great to do here.

If you’re looking for festivities in Wailea, you’ll be able to shop the Holiday Marketplace in December, meet Santa on Wailea Beach on Christmas Eve, and dine on delicious holiday menus.

➡️ Check out this 5-star Clear Kayak and Snorkel Tour!

View the perfectly clear waters and sea life of Maui through a clear kayak, then enjoy some snorkeling!

The Best Hotel Near Wailea Beach

✅ For the best, most glamorous resort in all of Maui: check prices and book your stay at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort here! 

10. Ka'anapali Beach

December temperature: High 80 / Low 71

A previous winner for America’s Best Beach, Ka’anapali Beach has beautiful golden sands, clear waters, and a fun vibe.

There are seven resorts that line the beach plus a neighboring mall and many restaurants and activities around. So, if you want action, this is your spot.

Snorkeling is excellent around Black Rock, especially at the north end of the beach. I saw every single color of fish when I went!

You can also visit the booths along the beach and sign up to go parasailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, on a boat, or sign up for surfing lessons.

One of the coolest (and most famous) attractions is the cliff diving ceremony every night at sunset. A cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff and dives off of Black Rock. It is awesome to watch!

➡️ Check out this 5-star snorkel tour!

Awarded the Badge of Excellence, this 2.5 hour tour takes you to an underwater reef with beverages included.

The Best Hotels Near Ka’anapali Beach

✅ A condo resort for the best family-friendly stay (we LOVED it): check prices and book your stay at Honua Kai Resort and Spa here!

✅ For a luxury stay with breathtaking views in front of the famous Black Rock (we LOVED it here too!): check prices and book your stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa here!

11. Napili Bay Beach

December temperature: High 80 / Low 71

Napili Bay is one of Maui’s most visited beaches. And not only because of the white sand and clear, turquoise water..

Families love that it’s the calmest beach on the west side with small and gentle waves perfect for littles. They also love the low-key, less commercialized vibe; it’s more basic and homier than neighboring Ka’anapali.

Water lovers love that it’s great for snorkeling, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and boogie boarding. There are great opportunities for snorkeling and because the water is so calm, even kids can do it.

Since there are hotels in the area, there are plenty of spots to pick up some food. The Gazebo is well-known and a perfect spot to pick up breakfast before you head to the beach!

The Best Hotels Near Napili Bay Beach

✅ For a cozy stay with amazing beach views: check prices and book your stay at the Napili Kai Beach Resort here! 

Puerto Rico

12. El Escambron Beach

December temperature: High 82 / Low 76

Walking distance from San Juan, El Escambron Beach is the most popular beach in the area, for tourists and locals—and for good reason.

First of all, it’s gorgeous. It has beautiful, clear waters, the sand is soft, plus there are mountain views to stare at. There are also plenty of palm trees for shade, and even a couple of spots you can hang a hammock to really relax.

Not only is it huge but it offers two different experiences on each side. On one side there’s a protected cove so the waves are calm and it’s the spot for swimming and lounging around. On the other side, the area is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Plus, there’s restrooms, showers, lifeguards, plus numerous restaurants and cafes nearby. This beach is a total crowd pleaser!

The Best Hotels Near El Escambron Beach

✅ For the best hotel around San Juan: check prices and book your stay at the Caribe Hilton here!

13. Monserrate Beach

December temperature: High 85 / Low 70

My favorite beach in the area! Located in Luquillo, Monserrate Beach is perfect for everyone. It has an amazing calming vibe with swaying palm trees welcoming you as soon as you step in. It’s huge, so you’ll have plenty of room and the backdrop of lush green mountains is amazing.

You can have a relaxing day in the water or enjoy some snorkeling, because it’s protected by a coral reef so the waves are calm (also great for small kids!) The added bonus for this beach is it’s within walking distance of the famous Luquillo Kiosks. There are numerous kiosks that offer local food and souvenirs.

A short drive away from Monserrate Beach is the famous El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the US. It is a MUST SEE if you are in Puerto Rico. Many tours couple the tour with a beach visit too, but I did them separately because I wanted to explore the beach on my own.

➡️ Going to El Yunque Rainforest is the ONE tour you must take!

Check out prices and book this five-star tour by clicking here –  and be led through the rainforest, slide down waterslides and cliff jumps!

The Best Hotels Near Monserrate Beach

✅ For a crowd-pleasing beachside hotel: check prices and book your stay at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort here! 

14. Crash Boat Beach

December temperature: High 85 / Low 65

In Aguadilla, on the west, more local side of the island is Crash Boat Beach. It’s the most popular beach in the area, and probably one of the most popular beaches on the island.

Locals rave about it because there is something for every type of person. You can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive in the clear, calm turquoise waters.

There’s also a fun vibe here (even called the island’s party beach) There’s music, food kiosks, banana boat rides, and even a long pier that you can jump off into the water.

The Best Hotels Near Crash Boat Beach

✅ For a hidden gem hotel: check prices and book your stay at the Hotel El Faro here! 

15. Vieques Island

December temperature: High 83 / Low 72

For ultimate relaxation and seclusion. Vieques island is a small island off the eastern coast of the mainland of Puerto Rico. Choose from over 40 jaw-dropping beaches like La Chiva or Blue Beach, which is ranked as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

The big draw of Vieques though, is Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent bay—and even though there are three to choose from just in Puerto Rico, this one is known as the best one. There are guided kayak tours offered at night to view the water light up.

➡️ Check out this HIGHLY rated Mosquito Bay Bio Bay tour here!

Note: to do this tour you will have to stay in Vieques overnight as there are no more ferries or flights out that late.

The Best Hotels On Vieques Island

✅ For a waterfront hotel in the perfect location: check prices and book the Malecon House here!

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

16. Magens Bay Beach

December temperature: High 84 / Low 76

Consistently voted one of the top-10 most beautiful beaches in the WORLD, Magens Bay Beach is what you picture when you think of a tropical beach. Crystal clear turquoise water, bright white sand with a touch of pink, a lush backdrop, swaying palm trees… it’s postcard worthy.

Since it’s a bay the water is calm and so are the vibes. Snorkeling is great, swimming is safe, and you might even catch adults laying on floats with a drink in hand.

The beach has food options, a rental shop, showers, restrooms, picnic tables, changing rooms, and lifeguards. Only downside is that there’s an entrance fee for anyone 13+.

The Best Hotels Near Magens Bay Beach

✅ For a low-key resort on the bay: check prices and book your stay at Flamboyan on the Bay Resort here! 

17. Secret Harbor Beach

December temperature: High 84 / Low 74

If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach with a fun vibe, Secret Harbor Beach is the place to go. It’s one of the best beaches on the island for small kids.

The water is calm and crystal clear, so snorkeling is amazing. Palm trees are scattered on the beach and hammocks are hung up between them. A floating raft is anchored in the middle of the bay that kids can jump into the water from.

Along with that, the beach has food on-site and a rental shop. This is a beach where you can spend the whole day!

The Best Hotels Near Secret Harbor Beach

✅ For an upscale boutique resort on the beach with condo options: check prices and book your stay at Secret Harbor Beach Resort here!

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

18. Rainbow Beach

December temperature: High 84 / Low 73

If you’re looking for easy beach days with local Caribbean vibes, Rainbow Beach is it.

Rhythms, the restaurant/bar on the beach, serves up local foods and drinks. There’s a spot to rent beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkeling equipment, and jet skis.

If you want a lively time, visit on Sundays, which are called Sunday Fundays, are when the beach lights up with locals and live music. Avoid visiting on a Tuesday though, that’s when cruise ships dock and the beach gets crowded.

The Best Hotels Near Rainbow Beach

✅ For one of the best resorts on the island: check prices and book your stay at the Carambola Beach Resort St. Croix here! 

19. Buccaneer Beaches

December temperature: High 84 / Low 73

Buccaneer Beach (on The Buccaneer Hotel property) is actually three beautiful beaches in one! Mermaid, Grotto, and Whistle Beaches are right next to each other and offer different types of beach vibes. And even though they’re on hotel grounds they’re still open to the public.

Mermaid Beach gives you everything you’ll need for the best beach day—lounge chairs, a restaurant and bar, restrooms, a rental shop, a dock, snorkeling, and games like volleyball and cornhole. Grotto Beach offers many of the same amenities, but it quieter and a great snorkel spot. All the way at the end is Whistle Beach; it’s tiny, secluded and never crowded.

The Best Hotels Near Buccaneer Beaches

✅ For a heavenly beachside resort: check prices at The Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort here!

St. John, Virgin Islands

20. Trunk Bay Beach

December temperature: High 83 / Low 72

St. John’s most visited beach, most photographed beach, AND voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world by Conde Nast! It’s pretty much the best overall beach in St. John.

Trunk Bay is long with fluffy white sand, and has calm waters and thriving coral reefs that are perfect for snorkeling and kayaking. It has all the amenities you’ll need too—a snack shack, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, beach chairs, and a rental shop for beach gear. Unfortunately, there’s a small entrance fee though.

The beach can get crowded (especially on cruise dock days). Luckily, if you head left from the entrance, you’ll get more privacy and better snorkeling. And if you continue beyond the rocks, you’ll discover a small secret pocket beach, Jumbie Beach!

The Best Hotels Near Trunk Bay Beach

✅ For a beachfront apartment with glorious views: check prices and book Peter Bay Gatehouse here!

✅ If you’d rather stay in the city and take the drive into Trunk Bay Beach, book the most luxurious and family-friendly resort on the island: click here to check prices at the Westin St. John Resort Villas. 

21. Salt Pond Bay Beach

December temperature: High 79 / Low 68

If you want an adventure, seclusion, and amazing snorkeling, Salt Pond Beach is your spot. All the way on the southern tip of the island, a 10-minute hike on a gravel trail will lead you to this secluded beach. (And If you want to continue the adventure, Drunk Bay and Ram’s Head hiking trails are right there!)

The beach is crescent shaped, and the sand is sugary white. The water is shallow and calm so it’s great for swimming. Salt Pond Beach is known as one of the best spots on the island for snorkeling.

Because of its location, there aren’t many amenities. It has a few picnic tables and portable restrooms. A couple miles north you’ll find a Caribbean restaurant and a grocery store if you want to stock up on food.

The Best Hotels Near Salt Pond Bay Beach

✅ For a quaint lodge: check prices and book your stay at the Concordia Eco-Resort here!  

Florida

22. Smathers Beach, Key West

December temperature: High 78 / Low 68

Key West’s largest beach and one of the best (if not THE best)! Clear blue waters, white sands, lined with palm trees— the ultimate tropical vibes.

Not only is it beautiful, but it gives you everything you’ll need plus more. Beach chairs and umbrellas, volleyball courts, food trucks, restrooms, picnic tables, jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, parasailing, boats, floats, and parking.

While it’s on the quieter side of Key West, there is a free shuttle, the Duval Loop bus, that takes you to bustling Old Town, lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. Many hotels also offer free shuttle rides to popular areas of town.

➡️ Check out prices for this awesome parasailing adventure– for a one, two, or three-seater ride here! 

The Best Hotels Near Smathers Beach

✅ For a family-friendly resort with amazing amenities: check the prices and book your stay at Margaritaville Beach House Key West here!

✅  For an adorable, refreshing house rental: check prices and book Atlantis House here!  

23. Fort Myers Beach

December temperature: High 77 / Low 57

Fort Myer’s Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast is a beach lover’s dream. Sugary white sand, clear and warm waters, swaying palm trees, and unforgettable sunsets.

Aside from swimming and lounging on the beach, watersports like kayaks, jet skis, and parasailing are available. Fishing is popular on the pier, and while you’re up there you might spot pelicans and dolphins too.

Right next to the beach is Times Square, a lively shopping and dining area. You can take the free trolley all around town too! And if you have a car, Fort Myer’s bustling downtown area, River District, is about 20 minutes north.

If you’re into holiday festivities, Fort Myers has a tree lighting downtown, Santa’s block party, a boat parade, candy cane cruises, and a Santa visit on the beach!

➡️ Speaking of dolphins, check out this top-rated dolphin and manatee adventure by clicking here!

The Best Hotels Near Fort Myers Beach

✅ A family-friendly heaven with huge pools: check prices and book your stay at the Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina here! 

24. Hollywood Beach

December temperature: High 76 / Low 69

Read my full guide to Hollywood Beach here!

Named one of Fodor’s Best Beach for Families, Hollywood Beach is amazing—it’s wide, goes on for miles, and the water is clear.

The beach has a lot of options for water activities—jet skis, surf lessons, kayaking, parasailing, paddleboats, or just swimming. There are multiple volleyball nets set up on the beach too. And some resorts have full service on the beach, so you can get food and drinks right at your beach chair.

The beach is lined by the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, full of restaurants, boutiques, dessert shops, live music, and great people watching.

A free shuttle ride away is Young Circle, the downtown area, with even more activities and many holiday events like Christmas Near the Beach festival and market!

The Best Hotels Near Hollywood Beach

✅ For the ultimate beachside resort: check prices and book your stay at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach here!  
(This is one of my top 5 favorite hotels in the country! It is so good!) 

25. South Beach, Marco Island

December temperature: High 76 / Low 58

South Beach is one of the best beaches on quiet Marco Island—powdery white sand and turquoise waters for miles. And along with being beautiful, it’s one of the best shelling beaches in the country!

South Beach offers a good old fashioned beach day. Calm waters are great for swimming or renting a kayak or paddleboat. If you want more action, jet skis, parasailing, and boat tours are available. There are plenty of restaurant options within walking distance too.

And if you’re in the holiday spirit, the festivities around town include a tree lighting celebration in the park, a Christmas Tree parade, and the Marco Island holiday boat parade.

The Best Hotels Near Marco Island

✅ For an upscale beachfront resort with amazing amenities: check prices and book your stay at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort here! 

California

26. Main Beach, Laguna Beach

December temperature: High 68 / Low 43

Main Beach is the beach hot spot in iconic Laguna Beach, so you know it’s good.

You’ll be there all day using all the amenities—basketball, volleyball, a big grassy area, a boardwalk, and a play structure for the kids.

As for water sports, (you’ll need a wetsuit because the water is chilly!) you can body board, snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard.

The beach area is so walkable, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, museums, art galleries, and shopping. In December, the Sawdust Winter Fantasy Festival is a must see along with the Surfboard Menorah on Main Beach!

The Best Hotels Near Main Beach in Laguna

✅ A charming beachside inn with amazing location and perfect views: check prices and availability at Pacific Edge Hotel by clicking here!

27. Coronado Central Beach, San Diego

December temperature: High 66 / Low 49

Coronado Beach is pretty famous—it was voted #1 beach in America by Dr. Beach, top US beaches on TripAdvisor, and even featured in the old film “Some Like it Hot.”

It’s a picturesque California beach town. It’s long and wide and even sparkles due to the mineral mica in the sand. There are beach chairs and cabanas, volleyball, firepits, tidepools, and calm waves for swimming or boogie boarding.

Orange Avenue, full of restaurants and shops, is just a stroll away. For holiday fun, Hotel Del Coronado turns into a winter wonderland—there’s ice skating, a light show, beachside igloos, smores, gingerbread houses, and pictures with Santa. You can also catch over 80 decorated boats float by during The Parade of Lights in San Diego’s Bay.

The Best Hotels Near Coronado Central Beach

✅ The absolute best resort in San Diego for everyone: check prices and book your stay at Hotel Del Coronado here!

28. Mission Beach, San Diego

December temperature: High 66 / Low 48

Read over my full guide to San Diego here!

Mission Beach is the best family friendly beach in San Diego. There are two parts of it—Mission Beach next to Belmont Park (the beachside amusement park), which is more popular and crowded, and South Mission Beach, which is quieter with a slower pace.

Mission Beach is a great gathering place for families because it’s high energy with plenty to do—a bustling boardwalk, swim, surf, boogie board, beach games, even bonfires. There’s even a surfing wave machine at Wave House.

South Mission Beach is super wide with plenty of opportunities to play beach sports like volleyball, softball, basketball courts, and it’s even a great place to go fishing. Both are great for whatever type of vibe you’re looking for.

And if you want to venture around San Diego for holiday events, check out Balboa Park’s December Nights—a holiday festival with food and drinks, free entry to museums, and holiday lighting. 

29. Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles

December temperature: High 65 / Low 51

Santa Monica is the quintessential SoCal beach town. It has beautiful beaches, delicious dining, tons of events, shopping, and just an overall fun, vibrant atmosphere.

Santa Monica Beach is three miles long and it’s also very wide. Its split into three different beaches.

Santa Monica Beach is the active area next to the famous Pier. You’ll see muscle beach and a set of aerial rings. Ocean Park Beach is further south and is a pretty active area with volleyball nets, beach tennis, surfing, and beach loungers. South Beach is less crowded and more of a local beach near downtown.

There are plenty of restaurants, rental shops, and playgrounds just steps away. And in December, Santa Monica goes hard for Christmas! There are events, special menus, and festive desserts all around the beach. Both Downtown Santa Monica and Third St. Promenade are lit up with art installations, plus there’s a tree lighting and ice skating!

The Best Hotels Near Santa Monica Beach

✅ A hotel of suites a short stroll from everything: check prices and book your stay at Le Merigot Santa Monica here! 

Texas

30. Isla Blanca Beach, South Padre Island

December temperature: High 72 / Low 57

Did you know you can get tropical vibes in Texas? South Padre Island is 34 miles of light sand beach between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay. And with 300 days of sunshine, this is a great spot for a December beach vacation.

Isla Blanca Park is known as the best beach in the area. Besides lounging on the beach, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing are also popular activities. for the more adventurous, there’s beach horseback riding, jet skis, and parasailing. There are plenty of food options to choose from in the area too.

In December, enjoy a lighted boat parade, the holiday sandcastle village, a tree lighting, Christmas parade, and even breakfast with Santa!

The Best Hotels Near South Padre Island Beach

✅ For an upscale resort on the beach: check prices and book your stay at Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island here! 

FAQs: Best US Beaches in December

Where is the warmest beach in the United States in the winter?

The warmest beaches you’ll find in the United States in December are in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

In Puerto Rico, the beaches of El Escambron, Monserrate, or Crash Boat Beach are warm, and the water is a swimmable temperature.

The beaches in the US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix are also very warm in the United States.


Are there any warm beaches in the US in December?

There are plenty of warm beaches in the US in December! The warmest are in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

The Hawaiian Islands of Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai stay in the high 70s in December. Puerto Rico and US Virgin Island beaches can hit up to the mid-80s.

In addition, Florida, California, and Texas have warm beaches too.


Who has better beaches, the East or West Coast?

While both coasts have beautiful and unique beaches, if you’re looking for white sand beaches with clear blue water, the Gulf Coast beaches in Florida are where you’ll find that.


Where is hot in USA in December?

The states with the warmest temperatures in December are:

  • Hawaiian Islands of Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai
  • US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix
  • Puerto Rico and its surrounding islands of Culebra and Vieques
  • Southern Florida
  • Southern California
  • South Texas 

Wrapping up: Best US Beaches in December

And there you have it! The 31 best US beaches in December. Whether you want to flee the cold weather or spend Christmas on the beach, you have plenty of choices.

And no matter which one of these amazing beaches you choice, you will have a great time.

So hurry up and get planning! 

besa at beaches and babies

MEET BESA

Your Go-To Girl for Beach Travel

Hi! I’m Besa. I’ve always been a travel-loving beach bum… and then I had kids. Two boys, born 19 months apart. But I didn’t let that stop me. I still travel, even with a couple little boys in tow – and I want to help other parents like you do the same!

I’ll be sharing all my travel tips, beach hacks, and guides for some of my favorite family vacation beach spots.

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Why Trust Beaches and Babies?

Why Trust Beaches and Babies?

Besa has been a frequent traveler for almost 20 years, and the last five years of her travels have included her two toddler boys, 19 months apart.
Years of flying and beach bumming with her kids has given her plenty of hard-earned experience in the travel world.

Need Help Booking Your Trip?
Use My Favorite Resources!

FLIGHTS
Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites for the lowest prices plus the flexible calendar tells you which days are the cheapest to fly.

LODGING
booking.com is easy to use and gives options for all types of lodging. When I know I want a big rental house, I use VRBO.

RENTAL CARS
rentalcars.com scans multiple agencies at your destination to give you the best price.

ACTIVITIES
Viator lets you search for a specific activity at your destination or scroll all available.

Read over my full list of the best sites to book with on my Resources page.