You’ve got a free day, the weather is perfect, and you still haven’t made it to the beach yet this year. We’ve polled our pilots at AOPA and compiled a list of just some of what we consider the best airports with nearby beaches. If you’d like to find another airport closer to you with a nice beach, find your new favorite with our Airport Directory.
Here are some of our staff’s favorites, along with their comments (and links):
Bob Maxwell Memorial Airfield (KOKB) where the Oceanside Airport Association provides free bikes (beach cruisers, tandems, kids bikes, even surfboard trailers!) that you can use to pedal down to the harbor on the dedicated bike path. The harbor has fishing, shops, a variety of family friendly restaurants, and a large beach. Details can be found here.
Catalina Island (KAVX)
John Wayne (KSNA) 7 miles to Newport Beach with great food options, whale watching, Balboa Peninsula, and surfing at the Wedge!
Santa Barbara Municipal (KSBA). Park on the southeast side (Atlantic Aviation) short walk to Goleta Beach Park. There are plenty of great restaurants along the beachfront. You can rent ATV’s, camp, and there is also a skydiving op at the airport if you want to make the day even more amazing!
Haskell’s Beach is right beneath the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, and you can grab a bite at any of their restaurants. Expect beach tar on your feet. It’s natural but can be a pain to get off (baby oil works).
Destin Executive (KDTS) A popular vacation getaway with lots of restaurants nearby. The airport is in the center of a barrier island on the Florida panhandle, so there’s saltwater to the north and south of the airport. The fuel is pricey, but the service is excellent. The FBO is clean and welcoming, and the best of the “Redneck Riviera” is within walking distance. An outstanding destination.
Fernandina Beach Municipal (KFHB)
Venice Municipal (KVNC) Adjacent to the beach and near enough that well-known local restaurant Sharky’s On the Pier will send a car to pick you up free of charge.
Jekyll Island (09J) Park your plane and then get a Red Bug electric car. Also recommend Red Bug Pizza which is delicious, inexpensive, and owned by the airport manager. The restaurant is in a former golf club bar and has an old English feel.
St Simons Island (KSSI) Really nice airport, FBO, on-airport hotel; quaint town. The beach isn’t quite within walking distance, so you’d need car (or a ride).
Ocean City Municipal (KOXB)
Katama Airpark (1B2)
Martha's Vineyard (KMVY)
Beatty (KBTY) Has tons of sand (not much water, though). Yeah, this one was more of a joke.
Ocean City (26N) A quick walk to the beach; a little longer to the boardwalk. Buy a beach tag if you plan to use the public beach during peak season. The airport has portable restrooms and two nice outdoor showers.
Montauk (KMTP) A bit pricy landing fee (hey, it’s L.I.), but has a nice restaurant and the walking path to the beach is at the end of the taxiway.
Billy Mitchell (KHSE)
First Flight (KFFA)
Ocracoke Island (W95) Great place to spend the day or overnight. Runway is parallel to the beach just over the dunes and you can easily walk into town, although some of the places will pick you up as well. No fuel, so plan accordingly.
Put In Bay (3W2)
Nehalam Bay (3S7) Adjacent to a State Park with camping and yurt rentals right on the beach.
Grand Strand (KCRE)
Myrtle Beach International (KMYR)
Corpus Christi International (KCRP) About 15-minute drive to pretty, white sand beaches.
Mustang Beach (KRAS) Port Aransas is not a “great” beach, but it’s within walking distance.
Port Isabel-Cameron County (KPIL) Very close proximity to South Padre Island.
Scholes International At Galveston (KGLS) the beaches aren’t all that pretty on the upper Texas coast. 5 minutes to the beach.
Copalis State Airport (S16) The beach IS the airport
Don’t forget to take a backpack and something to keep your in-flight beverage at the perfect temperature. If you plan to spend a little extra time (more than 8 hours), grab two of these. If you’re there for less, then your co-pilot will have to be the designated sommelier. If it’s chilly or breezy, grab a couple of these to keep the wind at bay. Try this quarter zip or half zip!
For even more, Alyssa Cobb compiled an outdoor activity guide with even more activities.