Discover the best beaches to visit in January in the USA


January: the excitement of the holidays is over, and you’re left with cold, gray weather and nothing more to look forward to over the next few months. We get it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You worked hard over the holidays, and now you deserve to reward yourself with a relaxing tropical getaway. There are plenty of beaches across the country that you can escape to during this month; so many, in fact, that it can be hard to tell which are the best beaches to visit in January in the USA.

But that’s why we’re here. In this guide, we’ve outlined the best beach vacations to take in January from east to west and beyond, including important information on things to do and see during your trip. To help you plan your visit, you’ll also discover the closest SIXT locations to each destination. Let’s dive right in.

  1. St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, Florida
  2. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West, Florida
  3. Domes Beach, Rincón, Puerto Rico
  4. Isla Blanca Beach, South Padre Island, Texas
  5. Mission Beach, San Diego, California
  6. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

1. St. Pete Beach: One of the best beaches in Florida in January

View from across the water over St. Pete Pier Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida
View from across the water over St. Pete Pier Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida; Photo by AK on Unsplash

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Av. Temperature January: 70°F

Av. Water Temperature January: 65°F

Av. Days of rain: 5

Special: Ideal for beginner surfers

St. Petersburg, Florida, is a small island off the western coast of the state, just south of Tampa. There are plenty of beaches to explore here, but St. Pete Beach stands out as one of the best Florida beaches in January. This beach is situated on the Gulf of Mexico, with average temperatures of about 70°F and average water temperatures of 65°F in January. While the water may be a bit chilly, it’s made up for by the fact that St. Petersburg only sees about five days of rain in January, so you can rest assured you’ll have a sunny vacation. 

St. Pete Beach is known for its powdery white sand and shallow waters, making it perfect for young children dipping their toes into the sea for the first time. Beginner surfers will also find the waves here to be ideal for their skill level. If you’re looking for a little more adventure, take a short ferry ride to Shell Key for even more swimming and snorkeling, and to encounter sea turtles

There are plenty of bike trails surrounding the area if you feel like enjoying the warm weather without heading to the water. This beach town also boasts plenty of unique shops, like the Merry Pier bait and tackle shop and the Corey Avenue Sunday Market

When you arrive in St. Petersburg via Tampa International Airport (TPA), the SIXT branch at the Tampa airport will have your rental car waiting for you. Book it before you arrive to make sure that the one you want will be available. 

2. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park: One of Florida’s southernmost beaches

Location: Key West, Florida

Av. Temperature January: 75°F

Av. Water Temperature January: 71°F

Av. Days of rain: 4

Special: Perfect for swimming and snorkeling

Heading further south down Florida’s west coast, we arrive at Key West. While there are plenty of beaches throughout the Florida Keys, the one at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park dominates the southwestern tip. The average January temperature here is about 75°F and the average water temperature is about 71°F, making it one of the warmest beaches in January in Florida. In addition, it only sees about four days of rain, making for an even sunnier trip than St. Pete. 

The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach Area is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or lounging in the sunshine. You can rent lounge chairs, umbrellas, and snorkeling equipment for a small fee. Those who decide to snorkel will experience the diverse marine life that abounds where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic. You’ll come face to face with parrotfish, corals, lobsters, and more. Just remember your water shoes, as this is a hard coral beach.

Fort Zachary Historic State Park is home to more than just a beach. You can take a tour of the park and visit the historic fort, Civil War cannons, and the Key West Shipping Channel. As a result, this is among the best beaches to visit in January in the US for history lovers. There are also plenty of biking and nature trails winding through the park. When you’re done exploring, have a cookout at one of the public grills.

The closest SIXT branches are at the Miami International Airport (MIA) and the Miami Coral Gables/Miracle Mkt. With a vast selection of cars, from SUVs, sedans and family cars to convertibles, you can explore everything Key West, and the other Florida Keys, has to offer.

3. Domes Beach: One of the warmest beaches in winter

Location: Rincón, Puerto Rico

Av. Temperature January: 86°F

Av. Water Temperature January: 81°F

Av. Days of rain: 4

Special: Ideal for surfers

Heading further southeast of Florida, we’ll next explore Puerto Rico. The West Coast is home to some of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island, such as Domes Beach. With average temperatures around 86°F and average water temperatures of about 81°F, this is one of the best beaches to visit in January in the USA simply because it’s one of the warmest. It also only sees about four days of rain, so you’re guaranteed to have plenty of sunny beach days. 

Domes Beach in winter is the perfect destination for surfers. The waves here can sometimes get up to 20 feet high, so it’ll really challenge your skills. Lessons are also available for beginners. Those not looking to catch a wave can enjoy sunbathing on the golden sand or swimming or snorkeling close to the shore. Diving tours are also available. If you have young children or are a beginner swimmer, this beach is also within walking distance to several other calmer beaches. 

For those who’d rather look at the water rather than actually get in it, you can enjoy parasailing, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding, and more. The Punta Higuero Lighthouse is nearby for those who want to explore a bit of history, as well. 

You’ll find several SIXT locations in Puerto Rico when you’re ready to start your adventure and explore the island. But perhaps it’s more convenient to start your trip by renting a car from the SIXT location at San Juan Airport (SJU).

4. Isla Blanca Beach: One of the best beaches in January in the USA

Location: South Padre Island, Texas

Av. Temperature January: 69°F

Av. Water Temperature January: 68°F

Av. Days of rain: 8

Special: Huge variety of beach activities

Heading back up to the mainland, South Padre Island is located on the western shores of the Gulf coast, just a short trip north of Mexico. Isla Blanca Beach, one of the most popular beaches to visit in January in Texas, is located on the southern tip of this island. Isla Blanca Beach boasts average temperatures of 69°F and average water temperatures of 68°F. It might be cooler than some of the other destinations we’ve mentioned, but there’s nothing like an invigorating dip in some chilly water to make you feel alive. South Padre Island experiences only eight days of rainfall in January, so you can be sure the sun will be shining.

Isla Blanca Beach is more than a mile long, so there’s plenty of space for sunbathers and beach sports lovers to spread out. Engage in a friendly game of beach volleyball or head into the water for a quick dip. Swimming, snorkeling, and even kitesurfing opportunities abound and there are plenty of waterfront restaurants, cafes, and snack shops waiting for you when you get hungry. The marina also offers opportunities for fishing and fly fishing.

When you’re done on the water, you can head to South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The five-story watchtower here provides amazing views of the migrating birds. You can also opt to go on a boat tour with the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center to learn more about the local marine life.

The closest SIXT location to South Padre Island is the one in San Antonio International Airport (SAT), as this is the closest major airport and how most people will choose to travel to this area. Make sure you choose your car rental, from the branch’s selection of SUVs, sedans, family cars, or luxury cars to find the one that suits you the best and book it online before your arrival.

5. Mission Beach: One of the best beaches for surfing in January

Location: San Diego, California

Av. Temperature January: 65°F

Av. Water Temperature January: 60°F

Av. Days of rain: 4

Special: Known for best waves in the area

Heading over to the West Coast, San Diego is one of southern California’s most popular beach destinations all year round. In January, though, Mission Beach is one of the best beaches in the USA to visit, as it’s one of the warmest in California. Located in the northern part of the city near Mission Bay, Mission Beach boasts average temperatures of about 65°F and average water temperatures of about 60°F. San Diego only experiences about four days of rain in January, so you’ll have plenty of sunshine. 

Mission Beach is known for having some of the best waves in the area, so it’s especially popular with surfers and kiteboarders. If you don’t want to partake, you can watch from your sunny spot on the sand. There are plenty of calm areas on the beach, as well, so swimmers and families need not worry. Fishing opportunities are available from the Mission Bay jetty. Mission Beach is a classic boardwalk beach town, so you’ll also encounter lots of runners and rollerbladers on the paths near the sand.

After your time at the beach, Belmont Park is the perfect place to visit. Belmont Park is home to roller coasters, arcade games, bumper cars, and more to keep visitors of all ages entertained. The USS Midway Museum and the renowned San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park are also nearby. 

The SIXT location in San Diego International Airport (SAN) makes it easy for you to explore everything this beach town has to offer. If you fly in San Diego, SIXT provides a free shuttle, so you can arrive hustle-free to the airport branch and pick up your car rental.

6. Waikiki Beach: One of the most popular beaches to visit in January

Arieal view of Waikiki-Beach on a sunny day
Arieal view of Waikiki-Beach on a sunny day, Photo by AussieActive on Unsplash

Location: Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Av. Temperature January: 81°F

Av. Water Temperature January: 74°F

Av. Days of rain: 7

Special: Variety of water activities like kayak, canoe, paddleboard

The Hawaiian Islands are famous for their pristine beaches and pleasant weather year-round, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this beach. The southernmost and most remote on this list, Waikiki Beach is one of the hottest beaches to visit in January. With average temperatures of about 81°F and average sea temperatures of about 74°F, stepping into the water here is like stepping into a warm bath compared to some of the other beaches. Honolulu experiences about seven days of rainfall in January, so you’ll be sure to stay dry most of the time. 

Waikiki Beach is located on the southeastern tip of the island and is famous for the surrounding luxury resorts. Celebrities and locals alike flock to this beach year-round, and for good reason. The soft golden sand is ever so inviting, and dozens of options for seaside accommodation give you easy access to the water. It’s a popular surfing beach, so even if you’re not hopping on a board yourself, you’re sure to have some entertainment as you watch from your lounge chair. You can also opt to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard if you’re looking for a less intense water activity. 

After your beach day, you can visit the Honolulu Zoo, home to Komodo dragons and peacocks. Or, you can head to Kalakaua Avenue and shop at the designer stores, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. For a cultural experience, catch a hula show at nearby Kuhio Beach. For a nightcap, there are plenty of seaside seafood restaurants and cocktail bars for you to explore. 

Honolulu has virtually no public transport, so your ticket to explore the area will be one of the SIXT branches in Honolulu. With SIXT conveniently located in Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) you can have a car rental ready for you when you arrive. If you decide to stay at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, you can find a SIXT representative in the hotel lobby. 

Reward yourself after the stress of the holiday season with a relaxing beach vacation in January. Now that you know the best beaches to visit in the USA in January, it’s time to start planning your trip. Whether you want to explore the beaches on East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere in between, there is a perfect January beach getaway for you. You can even consider renting a car and taking a beach road trip. What are you waiting for? Plan your January beach getaway now. 

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