With shorelines in 30 of its 50 states, the United States is a great place to try water sports. From the freezing waters of Alaska, to the warm waters of California, to the tropical beaches of Hawaii, there’s no shortage of wonderful places to practice your favourite water sport. And there’s sure to be a great beach nearby where you can relax afterwards too! 

In this post, we’ll take a look at seven of the best activities you can do on the beaches of America. Not only that, we’ll look at the best places to do them too. With everything from swimming to parasailing, you’re sure to find something to do during your next vacation!

Stand up Paddle Boarding

Let’s start off with a gentle and relaxing way to ease yourself into the waters off the coast of the United States. Stand up paddle boarding is not only a unique way to enjoy the beach, but it’s a great workout too. It engages your core, improving your balance and stability, while also helping you to tone muscles from your neck to your toes! As one of the most versatile board sports out there, you can do it in any weather and you don’t just have to do it at the beach. It can also be done on lakes and rivers too!  For a crash course on SUP, check out GILI Sports.

Where to try stand up paddle boarding: Ala Moana/Waikiki/Sunset Beach, Hawaii; La Jolla Shores, San Diego; Laguna Beach/Lake Tahoe, California; Glacier Bay Lagoon, Alaska


The most popular board sport not only in the United States, but the entire world, surfing is some of the most fun you can have on a beach. And the good news is that in the US there is a myriad of surf spots on both east and west coast, as well as off Hawaii. There are even a few spots on the Gulf of Mexico! Grab your swimsuit and tackle the waves off Montauk in an easy journey from New York City, or visit the International Surfing Museum between sessions at Huntington Beach, near Los Angeles. If you’ve mastered the art, you could even consider entering one of the famous surf competitions in Hawaii!

Where to try surfing: Oahu, Hawaii; Huntington Beach/Santa Cruz/Malibu, California; Montauk, New York; Cocoa Beach, Florida. 

Sea Kayaking

Of all the sports on this list, kayaking is probably most similar to stand up paddle boarding. Thanks to its versatility, it can be done on rivers and lakes as well as off the beach. Less of a competitive sport, and more something that you do to appreciate nature and escape from the hustle and bustle of day to day life, kayaking is a wonderful way to engage with the United States coastline. Should you be in clear enough waters, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with marine life below the waves.

Where to try sea kayaking: La Jolla Shores, San Diego, California; Chesapeake Bay, Maryland/Virginia; Tampa Bay, Florida; Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Snorkeling/Scuba Diving

Okay, so this one is more for warm water lovers. Snorkeling and scuba diving are two of the best ways to get close to marine life in their natural habitat. While you may associate scuba more with the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, you may be surprised at how many awesome dive locations there are in the United States. 

Snorkeling is a wonderful activity to enjoy as a family, while scuba will allow you to get down deeper and see creatures such as rays, spinner dolphins, and whale sharks – depending on where in the country you are. 

Where to try snorkeling/scuba diving: Channel Islands/Santa Catalina/Monterey Bay, California; Florida Keys, Florida; Flower Garden Banks, Texas. 


If you’ve been looking at the water sports on this list so far and been put off by the expense or inconvenience of buying equipment, or even just transporting it to the beach, then you could just go swimming instead! Be sure to swim in a designated swimming area or where there’s a lifeguard to avoid dangerous currents. 

Where to go swimming: Coronado Beach, San Diego; Manele Bay, Hawaii; Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida; Coopers Beach, New York State. 


Back to sports that need equipment… in this case an entire boat! Sailing can be done for leisure or competition, and it’s often an expensive pursuit. However, if you have the money it’s well worth it. There are multiple sailing locations across the country you can enjoy either alone or with friends and family. 

Where to try sailing: Newport, Rhode Island; Key West, Florida; Maui, Hawaii; Bellingham Bay, Washington.


Last but not least is one of the most exciting watersports there is, so listen up adrenaline junkies! Parasailing will see you attached to the back of a speedboat and a parachute, and you could fly hundreds, if not thousands of feet in the air! If you can stomach looking down, you can have an incredible bird’s eye view of the sea and beaches below you. 

Where to try parasailing: Honolulu, Hawaii; Myrtle Beach/Hilton Head, South Carolina; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Gulf Shores, Alabama.