“Get Out There” is a new column for itchy footed humans written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. Although weird now, travel is still worthwhile—especially to these open borders.
Most people would expect to find the best beach in America somewhere in Hawaii. But in recent years, millions of TripAdvisor reviewers have actually named Clearwater, Florida as the number one beach in the country (on several occasions, in fact). Located on a skinny, subtropical island just west of Tampa, easy-going Clearwater is known for its namesake calm waters, sugar-soft sand, and immaculate conditions.
Still, these voters must be out of their minds, right? After all, I’ve seen beaches in Hawaii that are better than anything I’ve ever visited on six different continents. Could that many people really be wrong about this? Could the best beach in America really be found on the mainland?
To answer those probing questions, I booked my family at a popular beachside resort this fall for a full week. We left no rock unturned. Long story short, Clearwater is a top contender for the number one beach in America when you consider good looks and convenience, something most Hawaiian beaches lack. Here’s what all the hype is about:
This is the finest, softest sand you will ever step foot on. It’s not quite powdered sugar, but it’s just as fine as granulated sugar and nearly as white. I heard many Floridians openly remark that “it must be shipped in,” but it’s not. It’s all natural and goes for miles in both directions. Although it’s not ideal for sand castles, it feels fantastic all day—both in and out of the water.
Speaking of water, Clearwater lives up to its name. The surf is supremely transparent and unnaturally tranquil—almost as if it were a sound instead of the ocean-front beach it actually is. That’s not a good thing if you like surfing. But given that most adults can walk out nearly 75 yards and still keep their heads above water, Clearwater is an excellent place for families and laid-back beachgoers alike.
On top of that, beach sweepers clean the already pristine beach every morning at 8 a.m. sharp. I know. I watched them. Similarly, the “Beach Walk” promenade and accompanying Pier 60 are just as spotless. The hotels, restaurants, streets—everything. It’s just a super clean place, despite the high number of visitors. The community obviously takes pride in public hygiene, which is a welcome sign after visiting so many unkempt, if not rowdy, beaches over the years.
Man, is this place easy to get around. With exception to an Uber to and from the nearby St. Pete/Clearwater airport, our crew never walked more than 5-15 minutes to get to the beach, our hotel, public restrooms and showers, the pier, or the many casual cafes, seafood joints, bars, and ice cream parlors (including $3 shakes!) that line the promenade. In Clearwater, it really is “all right here,” which only amplifies the already relaxing vibe. And the staff are both friendly and good at their jobs.
It’s rare to see the sunset over the Atlantic in North America. In fact, I’d only experienced that once before while on assignment in Newfoundland. In Clearwater, I saw the sunset every night, and it was fire every time. The perfect way to end a virtually perfect day in mainland paradise.
All things considered, Clearwater’s buzz is clearly deserved.
Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with an adolescent family and their “bullador beagle.”