Friday, August 5, 2016

Books with the Best Beach Towns

Being a beach bum myself, I always appreciate when an author creates the most perfect coastal town.  Whether the author captures the whole dynamic between townies versus vacationers or includes details like the perfect place to get ice cream or the best beach, I am sold.  A vivid and beautifully detailed beach town is the kind of setting I want to be transported to time and time again.  If you want to read my review for all of these books, please check out my review archive, which is organized by the author's last name. The following list includes some of my favorites:

Cape May, New Jersey

Jersey Shore: I'm a little biased since I am a Jersey Shore lover, but these books really capture what makes the "shore" so great. All of the Jersey Shore isn't like the MTV show; in fact, it is so, so very different. There's beautiful beaches, great places to shop, dine, and get a great scoop of ice cream ...these books have it all, not to mention the award-winning boardwalks and rides!
  • The Season of You & Me by Robin Constantine - Jersey Shore
  • The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski - Jersey Shore
  • All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue - Avalon, New Jersey
  • Others with this Setting: All I Need by Susane Colasanti, Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble, and Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman.

The Hamptons

The Hamptons/New York: I love a good beach read that takes place here, because the setting and the beach-goers seem so extravagant.  There's high-end shops and restaurants and huge homes on the beach, yet it is still a beach town at heart.

  • Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn - The Hamptons
  • The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares - Fire Island, New York
  • Others with this Setting: Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin, The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek, and A Certain Summer by Patricia Beard.


Northeast/New England: There's something special about New England beaches as well as Nantucket. I love the lobster rolls, the beautiful hydrangeas, the quaint towns, the lighthouses, the clambakes, and the rocky beaches all depicted in these novels.
  • Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
  • Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand - Nantucket
  • The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
  • The Forget-Me-Not Summer by Leila Howland
  • A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
  • Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty Series by Jenny Han
  • Others with this Setting: Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer, Summer Sisters by Judy Bloom,  The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer, Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca, Summer Secrets by Jane Green, The Sound by Sarah Alderson, and The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis.

Outer Banks

The South: I love a good southern summertime story, especially if it takes place in Colby, Sarah Dessen's fictional beach town, or at the Florida Keys.  There's the perpetual smell of Coppertone, sweet tea, ripe peaches, fantastic porches, BBQ, and hot, muggy weather.  There's nothing better!

  • Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm
  • Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck
  • Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa LaFaye
  • Other Books with this Setting:  Sea Change by Aimee Friedman, Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks, The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland,  Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols, Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton, and The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews.

Southern California 
California: Every time I think of a California summer, I think of beautiful beaches, gorgeous sunsets, palm trees, and of course hot surfers.  These books capture the beauty of California. 

  • Moonglass by Jessi Kirby - Crystal Cove, California
  • Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - California Coast
  • Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby - California Coast
  • Other Books with this Setting:  The Star Shack by Lila Castle, The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan, and Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway.

Miscellaneous Beach Towns:

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick,  First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan, and The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler.

So, what are some of your favorite fictional beach towns? I know I could spend some time at Colby or Cousins Beach right about now! Let me know in the comments below.


  1. This is great, Christina! I suppose there'd been a lot of beach reads set in beach towns so that makes sense. I'm partial to the Italian coast nowadays, so I'm always scouring for books in that setting.

    1. Yes! The Italian coast is always a great location to visit and read about. I loved Beautiful Ruins, which takes place there. For my list, I focused on US locations only though, but would have definitely included Italy for sure! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Great list! I don't have a favorite beach town to read about but I do like reading books that are set in the South. Sadly the only beach I've been to in the U.S. is Hilton Head but I did get to go to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) which was so beautiful. For now I will just have to armchair travel to places like the Jersey Shore and Nantucket. Thanks for all the suggestions!

    1. Thanks, Christina! I have never been to Hilton Head. I have always wanted to go. Tybee Island and OBX (as well as FL beaches) are the only southern beaches I have been to. Ohh! The Dominican definitely has some nice beaches as well. I love armchair traveling to Nantucket as well. Thanks for visiting!

  3. I've added some books from here. I love beaches and when they are combined with my favorite books. Turtle Bay by King, Until We Meet Again by Collins, Butler Cover series by Boyd are just a few others I loved.

    1. Great! I'm glad you got some book suggestions. I will check out your recommendations, too. Thanks for visiting!


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