When considering summer fun, sandy beaches often come to mind. But to visit one, you must travel to the edge of the country, right?
Not all of us can trek to the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, or even the Great Lakes to grab a tan or build sandcastles. What are the options for those of us in landlocked states?
It may be a surprise, but the Grand Canyon State has some exceptional stretches of lakeshore that can rival any in Florida. Let’s investigate seven first-rate beaches in Arizona.
Are Arizona Beaches Better Than Florida?
If your ideal beach vacation includes soaking up the sunshine, cooling off in the water, or hitching a ride on a jet ski or boat, Arizona beaches have you covered. Each of the seven we’ve chosen has plenty of sand and surf, albeit from boat wakes instead of lunar tides.
Many of these destinations appear to be oases in desert locales, offering relief from the heat and recreation with stunning Sonoran backdrops.
The only thing missing from Arizona beaches are the shark sightings and jellyfish stings you may find in Florida!
Traveler’s Tip: Yup, we have more water adventures for you in this desert state! Check out these 5 refreshing waterfalls you’ll be surprised to find in Arizona.
Where Are the Best Beaches in Arizona?
All beaches in Arizona are along rivers and lakes. Because of its landlocked location, there are no ocean coastlands, only freshwater destinations.
That is a good thing, according to Arizona residents who flock to their state’s sandy shores. Many of the beaches listed below lie along the Colorado River basin in western Arizona, where year-round recreation is a staple.
Due to a massive reservoir system east of Phoenix, residents have five large lakes that provide ample sand for picnics, sunbathing, castle building, and boating. They’re in mountain settings, adding to the allure of the perfect vacation getaway.
Don’t forget that a portion of Lake Powell flows across the northern Arizona border, providing yet another vast water playground at Wahweap Bay.
7 Beaches in Arizona That Are Better Than Florida
Here are our favorite Arizona beaches, selected for their beautiful locations, maximum strand, and ease of access:
1. Rotary Beach
Location: 1400 S Smoketree Ave, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
About: With 40 acres of beachfront property, Rotary Community Park has enough sand for everyone in Lake Havasu City. A swimming beach is apart from the rest of the Colorado River and is accessible by boat or car.
The beach has six volleyball courts, two bocci ball courts, exercise equipment, three playgrounds, and a two-mile walking trail to keep everyone in your party active. A non-motorized watercraft area, a boat launch, and 16 picnic areas are available, so you can spend the day recreating, eating, and relaxing on the river.
2. London Bridge Beach
Location: 1340 McCulloch Blvd N, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
About: Also in Lake Havasu City, the London Bridge Beach sits along Bridgewater Channel, close to the famous London Bridge. The strand has a buoy-marked swim beach, volleyball courts, two playgrounds, a basketball court, and a community stage.
There is a fully enclosed dog park and covered ramadas for group picnics, along with watercraft rentals. You can access the beach by car or boat, and it has both motorized and non-motorized boat launches.
he London Bridge is a short walk away for a little historical/architectural perspective to add to your beach vacation.
3. Windsor Beach
Location: 699 London Bridge Rd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
About: Windsor Beach is another Colorado River beach in Lake Havasu City, set in Lake Havasu State Park. With palm trees lining miles of white sandy beach and a river as wide as a large lake, Windsor offers a marked swimming beach and boating launches.
Beach your vessel and hop off for a picnic lunch, then enjoy a 1.75-mile hike along the Mohave Sunset Trail, or meander through the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden. State park fees apply.
4. Centennial Beach
Location: 282 N 12th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364
About: The West Wetlands Park houses Centennial Beach, located along the Colorado River in Yuma. The beach is a quieter version of those in Lake Havasu City, but it is attached to the city park, and visitors make good use of the amenities and sand.
From a disc golf course to picnic ramadas, equestrian and walking trails, to a stocked fishing pond, the park attracts locals and tourists. There are also butterfly gardens and a solar demonstration garden to enjoy. The beach has a boat launch, trailer parking, and a swim beach marked by buoys.
5. Butcher Jones Beach
Location: Butcher Jones Trail, Arizona 85264
About: Butcher Jones Beach takes some effort to visit, but it is well worth the time and energy to sit on a beach at a mountain reservoir and watch wild horses saunter by.
Located 31 miles northeast of Mesa on Saguaro Lake, this stretch of sand is in high demand with the city crowd on spring and summer days. The beach slopes gently, making it an excellent place for small children to get wet and scavenge for crawdads, while more proficient swimmers can escape further into the water.
Shaded by mesquite trees, the sand has room for families to grill or lounge, as no motorized vehicles can come near the beach area. If you are lucky, the Salt Creek wild horses may visit you! You can purchase the required Tonto Daily Pass on site.
6. River Island State Park
Location: 5200 AZ-95, Parker, AZ 85344
About: Located between the tent camping section of a campground and the Colorado River, the beach at River Island State Park is a bit steep but is a launch point for non-motorized watercraft.
It’s not as expansive as other Colorado River beaches further south, but it does offer sand and sun in a mountainous region of Arizona’s western desert north of Quartzsite. The beach is adjacent to 37 campsites and has access to a picnic ramada, hiking trails, and off-road vehicle roads. State park fees apply.
7. Wahweap Beach
Location: Route 89, Page, AZ 86040
About: Located on the southernmost point of Lake Powell, Wahweap Beach will make you think you are on the Pacific coast. The lake is so large at this juncture, and boat wakes create frequent waves that you may consider getting out a surfboard. But don’t! Just enjoy the wide-open sandy beach.
Paddleboarding and kayaking are more frequent activities here than anywhere else on Lake Powell. You won’t need a pontoon boat to enjoy the waters of the Colorado River but swim at your own risk, as there are no lifeguards.
The nearby marina offers some rental services and a campground with a bathhouse within walking distance.
What Activities Can You Do at Arizona Beaches?
Most of the seven beaches we covered have a wide variety of activities. From swimming to navigating the waters in a non-motorized watercraft, beach visitors can explore the areas at their own pace. Many beaches are within parks that offer hiking, equestrian trails, sporting courts for volleyball and basketball, and almost all have numerous picnic areas.
Nearby gardens are also a draw, and some beaches are on or near excellent fishing spots. Motorized boating is available at almost all the beaches we mentioned. Still, the number one activity seems to be enjoying time with family and friends in the sun and the water.
Why You Should Visit Beaches in Arizona
Arizona is a state with many geologic features and ecosystems. However, the state is relatively arid. Its desert locations have oases along the Colorado River to cool off. Mountainous regions benefit from large reservoirs with sandy shorelines.
Many residents of this beautiful state make the most of being landlocked. They may not hang ten on an ocean wave, but they can enjoy the cooling effects of water!
Be sure to visit an Arizona beach the next time you wander across the desert Southwest.