There’s nothing quite like the beach. That’s why millions of Americans gather their inflatables, beach towels, bathing suits, sunscreen, goggles and scuba gear each year to visit oceans from coast to coast, contributing more than $140 billion to the economy each year. What is it about the water and waves that attract so many people to beaches worldwide? Take a look.

Aerial view of the beach
This aerial shot features bright, colorful umbrellas dotting a beautiful beach, a contrast to the soft blue hue of the water. Dinesh Boaz, Spain, 2022
Kids coming out of a wave
Relaxing on the beach while listening to the calming sounds of the waves is one option. Playtime in the ocean, allowing the waves to overtake you, is another. Mary Smist, North Carolina, 2009

Crowd on the beach
The ocean can seem endless, but the same can’t be said for this shoreline. Beachgoers meet the challenge of finding spots in the sand to anchor their umbrellas. Marissa Bognanno, Italy, 2008
Crab on the beach
A small, naturally camouflaged crab tosses sand in the air while creating a burrow near the shore. Hikkaduwa Liyanage Prasantha Vinod, Sri Lanka, 2021

Clouds along the seashore
A lone beachgoer appears miniscule against a backdrop of vast turquoise skies, cotton ball clouds and picturesque mountain ranges. Jose Valderrama, California, 2021
A steady surfer watches as a wave knocks another headfirst off his board. Phạm Văn Thành, Vietnam, 2011

Silhouette of a child in the water
Facing the horizon, a young boy could be pondering what type of splash he’s going to make upon the world. Kristine Ghia Malicay, the Philippines, 2019
coin-operated binoculars at the beach
With these coin-operated binoculars, beachgoers can see miles of ocean—or focus on wonders closer to shore, like a small shipwreck. Ed Katrusik, New Jersey, 2008

Laying out at the beach, a panoramic view
In this panoramic view taken from a beach chair, the shoreline seems to be smiling. Richard Burke, Mexico, 2017
Group doing acrobatics at the beach
A family flips out over the beauty of the public beach at Long Bay, Jamaica. Siri Thompson, Jamaica, 2022

Volkswagen parked at the beach
This Volkswagen van is packed to the brim with beach chairs, ready to be sold to beachgoers looking to relax on the sand. Caroline Gutman, Brazil, 2013
Surfer standing on the shore
At sunset, a surfer with his board at the ready looks out onto the dimly lit waters of the Pacific. Eugene Reshetov, California, 2021

Couple wrapped in a towel at Coney Island
A couple shares a colorful, striped beach towel as the two walk along the Riegelmann Boardwalk at Coney Island. Forrest Walker, New York, 2018
Girl building a sandcastle
A little girl with incredible resolve refused to let a few waves topple her castle for good. She built and rebuilt her creations as the waters repeatedly destroyed them. Yuri Budilnikov, Indonesia, 2019
Unattended lifeguard station in California
This unattended lifeguard station is one of scores that dot the shorelines from New York to California, where this one overlooks scenic Huntington Beach. Jason Shannon, California, 2009

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