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It’s no surprise that online travel searches took a hit during lockdown months compared to the same time last year. But, as the sun is getting hotter and most of us are still practicing a certain level of self-isolation, there’s nothing like dreaming of sandy beaches and warm waters to keep us going. 

While the lockdown period brought about 64% fewer travel-related searches overall in the USA, a new study shows that some sunny destinations managed to keep vacation seekers’ interest going while staying more popular than others. Without further ado, these are the U.S. beaches that experienced the smallest drops in Google searches compared to last spring:

  1. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii
  3. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  4. Kauai, Hawaii
  5. Maui, Hawaii
  6. The Florida Keys, Florida
  7. Hilo, Hawaii
  8. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
  9. Oahu, Hawaii
  10. Seaside, Oregon

Further, we have categorized the destinations into 5 sections based on their location. Read on to learn more about them.

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1. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks in USA with the lighthouse and footpath in view
Outer Banks is so much more than its beaches. Expect to see wild horses, picturesque villages and historical monuments on your visit.

The barrier islands of North Carolina are still on travelers’ minds despite the isolation. With 25% fewer Google searches, the Windsurfing Capital of the East Coast earns the title of most resilient U.S. beach destination during the lockdown. The miles and miles of open beachfront are just one of the reasons the Outer Banks keep their appeal. These shores are filled with unspoiled wild beauty, history, and legends just waiting for travelers to discover them — as soon as it’s completely safe to do so, of course.

Blue skies and blue waters surround the tranquil beach of Maui in USA
Also known as 'The Valley Isle', Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii.
A man on the hills of Oahu, surrounded by sea in USA
Oahu brings together the breathtaking scenery of nature with cosmopolitan aesthetics, making it a popular destination.

When talking about U.S. beaches with the smallest decrease in hits during isolation, it goes to show that some hot spots just never go out of style. One state in particular is unbeatable when it comes to making tourists dream of their next escape: Hawaii.

Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Hilo, and the welcoming Oahu make up half of the list of sunny spots with the smallest decreases in Google searches. Honolulu mixes the perks of an urban center and untamed natural beauty, so it’s not a surprise it comes in second on our list. The state capital is followed by the green islands of Kauai and Maui, the hidden gem Hilo, and the paradise that is Oahu.

3. Massachusetts’ Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard

For well-seasoned travelers, the two New England islands are as picturesque as they are different. Despite its smaller size, Nantucket remains popular and came in third on our list. You can even explore Nantucket by foot or bike, which makes it perfect for a satisfying weekend getaway. About twice the size of its Cape Cod sister, Martha’s Vineyard is seen as more diverse when it comes to island communities, terrain, and outdoor activity options. But at the end of the day, they both offer exactly what we need from a day at the beach: our batteries recharged and a wish to return.

4. The Florida Keys, Florida

Palm trees line up the beach of Florida Keys with quaint white houses
Indulge in water activities and marine wildlife viewing opportunities when on a vacation in the Florida Keys.

Proudly nestled between two Hawaii entries on the list, the Florida Keys come in sixth. This string of tropical islands is the best place to explore Florida at its finest: delicious seafood, crystal clear waves, one-of-a-kind nature areas, more water sports than you can count — and the list never seems to end. If miles of sunny wonderland and a mean Piña Colada are what you need after spending way too much time at home, the Florida Keys should be right up your alley.

5. Seaside, Oregon

With its stories, history, and ocean views, Seaside mixes the magic of a quaint small town with the excitement of a beach destination. Here, amusement parks, old-school arcades, festivals, and bonfires blend in with golf, surfing or kayaking to offer tourists of all ages one of the best seaside experiences ever. While you have some fresh rainwater beer to go with your crab melt, you’ll understand why this quaint coastal town attracts visitors time and time again.

Although we might have to wait longer than we’d like to experience a true beach holiday, planning our next US holiday is a good escape on its own. And once everything comes back to normal, these paradises will be there, just waiting for us.

Published by Marie Storm, updated on May 2, 2021
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