While the Olympics opened the door for a more conservative beach volleyball dress option, in the U.S. there are some beaches where showing up dressed like Misty May-Treanor or Kerri Walsh wouldn't turn a head, while others would get some stares. We rounded up the top beaches -- from the hottest to the most conservative.
Women's beach volleyball can sometimes draw attention more for the player's uniforms than for their athleticism on the sand. And this may have something to do with those fitted bikinis most players wear.
Beach volleyball Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings sport them, but a new rule at the Olympic Games has allowed for a more conservative uniform of shirts and shorts.
The dynamic duo vowed to stick with their bikinis, but due to cooler temperatures they opted for long sleeve shirts and spandex leggings for some matches.
While the Olympics opened the door for a more conservative dress option, there are some beaches in the U.S. where Misty and Kerri, despite their gold medals, would have a hard time dressed in their tiny bikinis. These beaches are mostly family friendly or set in the colder climate where taking it off doesn't happen much.
But there are also beaches where watching a match with Misty and Kerri would only be judged by their game.
We turned to beach expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach), director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, to give us his picks on where Misty and Kerri would be most warned off and most welcome.
Harbor Beach - York Harbor, Maine
This charming beach tucked away in the rocky shoreline attracts families and visitors of all ages. Locals refer to this beach, as Mothers' Beach because it's gentle surf is perfect for toddlers. At this beach you won’t be seeing scantily clad beachgoers.
“It’s a more conservative beach. There are a lot of families who are more conservative overall,” said an employee at York Harbor Inn, Alex Zotos.
This quiet beach offers a relaxing environment where people often practice Yoga in the mornings or take long relaxing swims. A must do is take in the coastlines views from York's Wiggly Bridge on the York River.
Reid State Park - Georgetown, Maine
Reid State Park is home to Maine’s first state –owned saltwater beach, Todd’s Point. This beach is conservative and frequented often by families and locals. Kids will enjoy sand castle building, while parents will enjoy having a picnic overlooking the crisp ocean waters.
One local resident and business owner describes Reid State Park as the polar opposite from South Beach.
“It’s cooler here and doesn’t have the South Beach feel at all. There’s more lobster boats then pleasure boats around here, and if I saw someone in a really skimpy bikini I might think they are lost,” said owner of Five Islands Lobster Company, Keith Longbottom.
Reid State Park also offers a great place for children to swim, which is a shallow lagoon with warmer waters called Griffith Head. If you walk a little further down from Todd’s Point you’ll find Half-Mile Beach, which is perfect for kite flying. The privateness of Reid State Park makes it a peaceful beach where you won’t have a hard time relaxing.
Coast Guard Beach - Eastham, Mass.
This is a top rated beach among tourists and locals. At Coast Guard Beach you can enjoy a walk along the shoreline on miles of lush sand or take advantage of the excellent surf waves.
Beach goers are typically families vacationing on the Cape or local residents. Jene Avery, the owner of the Fort Hill Bed and Breakfast in Eastham says you won’t find too many skimpy bikinis on this beach.
“It tends to be more conservative. A regular bikini with some cleavage you know isn’t a big thing, but a fanny flosser is kind of usual and catches our attention.”
Young adults don’t tend to wear revealing bathing suits on this beach and can be found playing Frisbee or flying kites. There are no concession stands or bars near the beach so at night people can be found starting a bonfire and roasting marshmallows near the water.
Middle of the road
Ocracoke Island - Outer Banks, N.C.
This old fishing village offers a flawless beach that is no stranger to Dr. Beach’s top ten lists. Ocracoke Island attracts people of all ages and tends to be a more neutral beach. You’ll find conservative families and racy college students according to local bar tender, Brett Evans.
“You might find a group of college students where everyone is in string bikinis and board shorts, but then you drive further down and find a family. It’s not conservative to the point where people are covering up, but its mixed."
Ocracoke Island is unique because you can only get to it by private plane or ferry, making it a peaceful and secluded getaway. Take a walk along the undeveloped seashore or go swimming in the shimmering waters.
Beach volleyball is also popular on the island so it’s not hard to find a game or an annual tournament to join. Evans who plays volleyball occasionally says girls don’t cover up to play and it’s the norm.
“There are girls playing in string bikinis and the sportier type bikinis.”
People also enjoy surfing, fishing, or just exploring the 16-mile stretch of beach.
Clearwater Beach - Clearwater, Fla.
Clearwater Beach is a great beach for families and partygoers.
“Most people here are family oriented, but there are a couple of places where people can go to get nightlife,” said manager of Clear Sky Beachside Cafe, Greg Lore.
Families and partygoers alike will love the dazzling calm waters and silky white sands. You can swim, sunbathe, walk the beach, or join a volleyball game. There is no shortage of micro volleyball bikinis on this beach.
"People stand up on the pier and look down at all the shapely bodies," said beach expert Dr. Beach.
Pier 60 is a hot spot during the evenings where you can view beautiful sunsets or people watch. On the pier you’ll be joined by artisans, crafters, and wacky street performers.
Drinking isn’t allowed on the beach and Clearwater isn’t known to have a bar scene like that of Panama City Beach or South Beach.
Venice Beach - Los Angeles, Calif.
This Southern California beach isn’t a conservative locale with its tanned bodies sporting bikinis and trunks all day.
“People are little crazy here in Venice – it’s totally different than what you would see in Santa Monica, which is pretty close in distance. It’s like a mixture of everything and all different cultures,” said a Venice swimwear shop employee.
On the boardwalk you’ll find one of a kind street performers like artists, palm readers, chainsaw jugglers, ripped roller skaters, and sexy belly dancers.
The beach is just as lively and fun. Lie out on the three-mile stretch of sand and work on your tan, rent a board and surf, or join a local volleyball match.
There's plenty of room to catch a frisbee or throw a football. Just remember there is no drinking or smoking allowed on this beach.
Panama City Beach - Panama City, Fla.
This fun white sandy beach attracts over six million visitors a year. It’s far from conservative and a spring break hot spot.
"A bikini is a must at the beach here. During spring break you’ll get more people on the side of the roads in barely anything,” said Susan Green a Panama City resident and employee at Bibby’s By the Beach
High school and college students can lounge on the beach’s soft sand, rent jet skies, and try parasailing, snorkeling, or paddle boarding.
Panama City isn’t an expensive destination trip and both its location and southern hospitality draw in younger crowds.
South Beach - Miami, Fla.
There isn’t a beach as sultry as South Beach. Beachgoers like to show off their toned bodies and topless sunbathing isn’t uncommon.
“It is probably one of the most liberal beaches in the U.S.," said expert Dr. Beach.
South Beach offers an international and exotic flare with people from all over. You might see models on a photo shoot, girls parading around in barely-there bikinis, too many washboard abs to count, or tons of spring breakers.
Sometimes the beautiful people get more attention than the beautiful beach, but South Beach offers pristine waters and soft powdery sand. If people watching doesn’t hold your interest at South Beach then take a swim, rent a jet ski or play a game of beach volleyball.