Post Summary: If the beach is your happy place, then you’ve come to the right corner of the internet! Below is a full guide to eloping on the beach that includes everything you’ll need to plan a beautiful beach elopement, including the best beach elopement locations in the USA & around the world, the best time of year to elope, and so much more.
Nothing beats the feeling of walking onto a peaceful beach and feeling your toes hit the sand, hearing the waves crash around you and coastal birds soaring in the sky above. Beaches just have that ability to immediately relax, refresh, and rejuvenate you the moment you arrive, and don’t we all need (and deserve) a little more R&R in our lives? That’s why I freaking love beach elopements! Whether you love the type of moody beach you’d find in the PNW, the sunny beaches of Cali, or the lush, tropical beaches of Fiji, beaches make for an incredibly romantic elopement location. The sounds, the textures, the shapes, the scenery, the natural beauty. . . it all adds up to a dreamy elopement experience, and breathtaking elopement photos, as well.
Now that you’ve probably been reminded of the last beach vacation you took, or of that spot you always love to take on your favorite beach, let’s get into this guide so that you can plan an unforgettable beach elopement!
Why Elope on the Beach?
I’m not sure I even need to include this section, honestly, because beaches just speak for themselves. The natural beauty that you can find at ANY type of beach and at any location, be it on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington or the islands off the coast of Spain, is simply unbeatable: you get to enjoy any combination of jagged cliffs, towering sea stacks, neverending driftwood, vibrant turquoise or deep blue waters, pristine white (or black!) sand, seaweed, moss, tree-covered shorelines, caves, tidepools. . . it all comes together to create a breathtaking, tranquil scene that nobody could pass up.
Whether you’re eloping at a beach that has shores lined with evergreens or palm trees, water that’s freezing cold or juuust right for a swim, or covered in driftwood or coconuts, the laid-back, serene atmosphere creates such a beautiful environment for an elopement. There’s no need to bring any complex setups or intricate decor; the romance and the natural beauty of the beach speaks for itself!
Aside from the idyllic scenery, beaches are one of the more simple locations to elope, compared to a lot of mountain and desert locations that are part of protected state or federal land. Most of the time, you don’t need a permit to elope on a beach (with the exception of some places like Hawaii, or beaches that are on national park land), which takes a huge chunk of work out of the planning process! Many beaches are also fairly accessible (at least, much more so than mountainous locations), which means you can more easily find a beach location that’s ADA-accessible if needed, or a spot that you and all of your guests can safely get to. Obviously there are going to be some beaches that require a bit of a walk or even a hike along the coast to get to, so find one that works for you and your specific needs!
Best Time of Year for a Beach Elopement
One HUGE pro to eloping on a beach is that the majority of the time, beaches are accessible all year-round! If you’re familiar with the PNW at all or have read any of my Washington/Oregon elopement guides, then you know that the mountains are glorioussss, yes, but they’re only accessible for a short few months in the summer. This is a super limited timeframe that restricts when you’re able to have your elopement, and often means that there are a LOT of people visiting the most popular spots during those 2-3 months—aka crowds, crowds, and more crowds. But because most beaches are accessible at any time of year, you have way more freedom to choose the season you elope; all you really need to take into consideration is what climate you prefer!
What’s the best time of year to elope on the beach?
There’s not really one “best” time of year to elope on the beach; it more comes down to what kind of climate you want for your elopement, and which locations offer that + during what seasons. You could either choose your ideal climate, choose what time of year you want to elope, and then find a location that matches that timeframe—or you could choose your dream location, and pick the season you elope based on that specific place + its climate.
Maybe you live in the PNW and want to elope somewhere sunny in the winter to escape the snow: head somewhere like California, where there aren’t too many winter crowds! Or maybe your top priority is eloping at your dream beach in Bali, and you’re flexible with your date but you’d rather not visit during peak tourism season: opt for an elopement in April, May, September, or October. Orrrr you might totally not care about the sunshine and instead, you want a moody elopement on a foggy beach in the PNW: you should elope in the fall on the Olympic Peninsula or the Oregon Coast, when the trees are changing colors and the sunny days become few & far between.
See what I mean? The options are TRULY endless, and there’s no right or wrong! It’s all up to you and whether you’re prioritizing your ideal climate or ideal location above all else, as well as your time and budget limitations.
What’s the best time of day to elope on the beach?
As far as the time of DAY goes for your beach elopement, I recommend either eloping at sunrise or sunset. Midday sun can be super harsh on the beach, and that’s the time of day when it’ll be the hottest (assuming you’re at a warm beach, or are eloping in the summer), so the best time for ceremonies is usually at sunrise or right before sunset. These are also the times of day that you’re likely to have the most privacy, especially at sunrise! You’ll also want to consider the tides and will probably want to find low-tide options, as some beach locations become inaccessible at high tide.
If you’re having trouble choosing what time of day you want to have your beach elopement ceremony, here’s a guide where I compare sunrise vs. sunset elopements!
Top 10 USA Beach Elopement Locations
Okayyy let’s get to the fun stuff that you’ve been waiting for: all of the best beach elopement locations in the world! We’ll start off with my favorite USA beach elopement locations, and then we’ll go international. For each of the states on this list, I’ve listed a few specific beaches that I definitely recommend checking out, but of course there are PLENTY more to explore!
Hawaii is obviously at the top of this list, famous for its glorious white sand beaches, vibrant blue waters, colorful reef life, and rugged green mountains along the coast. It’s the perfect place to elope especially if you live on the west coast, and want to escape to a dreamy tropical destination without actually traveling too far.
Beaches to check out:
If you’re looking for sunny, star-studded beaches surrounded by some of the most iconic tourist destinations in the world, Cali is no doubt the place to go. Spend time at a beach closer to the city for easy access to shopping, dining, and activities, or head a little further out and elope on a beach by the redwoods!
Beaches to check out:
Florida is a popular snowbird destination for a reason—people head south from alllll over the country come wintertime to swap the cold for the sunny, tropical beaches of Florida. You’ll find tons of golf courses, waterfront resorts, and beautiful natural areas to explore!
Beaches to check out:
If you’re not quite in it for the sunshine & warm days, and would prefer a quieter, moodier beach setting, then Oregon has some of the best beaches on the west coast for you. The Oregon Coast is obviously one of my all-time favorites, and somewhere I get to travel often—so I put together a Complete Oregon Coast Elopement Guide for you, too!
Beaches to check out:
The beaches of Washington are similar to those of Oregon, in that you won’t often find clear skies and bright sun, but the magical atmosphere of the fog, the driftwood, and the deep green trees along the coastline more than make up for it. Olympic National Park is home to two of my all-time favorite beaches—be sure to read my Ultimate Guide to Planning an Olympic National Park Elopement for all the info about this spectacular park!
Beaches to check out:
6. South Carolina
If you’d rather elope on the Atlantic Coast than the Pacific, consider heading to South Carolina, where there are plenty of beautiful beaches with warm temperatures and water that’s perfect for jet skiing, fishing, & swimming under the sun.
Beaches to check out:
7. North Carolina
Home to the iconic Outer Banks and the picturesque Crystal Coast, North Carolina is filled with hundreds of miles of barrier-island beaches that offer beautiful scenery, quaint beach towns, and cozy island charm.
Beaches to check out:
If you want to head down south for your elopement, the Gulf Coast of Texas has tons of warm beaches, calm waters, and oceanfront resorts. Towns like South Padre Island are known for their sealife research and nature center, rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles—plus, this tropical oasis is consistently ranked as a top beach destination by travelers from all over.
Beaches to check out:
Alabama’s Gulf Shores are similar in their stunning beaches, as well as their many high-end accommodations, award-winning restaurants, and fun events for beachgoers of all ages. Gulf Shores & Orange Beach are two cozy beach towns with plenty of charm, vibrant activities, and adventures both on and off the water!
Beaches to check out:
Lastly, Michigan has over 3,000 miles of shoreline from coast to coast that are home to spectacular and super diverse beaches. Whether you visit the Lower or Upper Peninsula, you’ll find an abundance of soft sand, deep blue water, beach campsites, and amazing stargazing opportunities under the night sky.
Beaches to check out:
Top 17 International Beach Elopement Locations
Want to head on an international adventure instead? Here’s a list of some of the most incredible beaches in the world that would be epic for a beach elopement, whether you want to stay close by in Mexico, head down south to Belize, or travel all the way to Tanzania!
1. Tulum, Mexico
Known for its white sands and crystal-clear waters, Tulum offers an incredibly romantic backdrop for beach elopements.
2. Negril Beach, Jamaica
Negril's Seven-Mile-Beach is a picturesque spot with its golden sands and stunning sunsets, perfect for sunset strolls along the beach in your elopement attire.
3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
With its iconic overwater bungalows and breathtaking lagoon views, Bora Bora is a beach elopement destination that you just can’t miss!
4. Santorini, Greece
The caldera views and traditional blue-domed churches in Oia make Santorini SUCH a dreamy elopement locale.
5. Fiji Beaches
Fiji's idyllic islands offer pristine beaches and lush tropical landscapes that are a dream come true for a secluded elopement.
With its overwater villas and clear blue waters, the Maldives is a luxurious elopement destination that you’ll LOVE if you want a bit more of a bougie beach elopement.
7. Krabi, Thailand
Krabi's beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and stunning sunsets are perfect for elopements—and are only one of the many reasons I fell in love with Thailand!
Seychelles' granite boulders, palm-fringed beaches, and coral reefs create the most romantic atmosphere you could ask for, for your elopement day.
9. Tahiti Beaches, French Polynesia
Tahiti's black sand beaches will make you feel like you’re on another planet, and the lush greenery everywhere you look makes for a total tropical paradise.
10. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The dramatic cliffs, charming villages, and azure Mediterranean Sea that make up the Amalfi Coast provide a romantic setting that seriously feels like it was pulled straight off of a postcard!
11. Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay's relaxed coastal vibe and beautiful beaches make it a popular elopement destination that will make every minute you spend on plane rides to get there SO worth it.
Costa Rica offers a mix of Pacific and Caribbean beaches, each with its own unique charm, with a super laid-back atmosphere and alllll the chill, beachy vibes you could ask for.
13. Zanzibar Beaches, Tanzania
Zanzibar's pristine beaches and cultural richness make it an exotic elopement location.
14. Bali, Indonesia
Bali's lush jungles, rice terraces, and beautiful beaches offer an immense amount of diverse elopement locations, and I personally love Bali so much that I put together two super in-depth Bali elopement guides to help save you time when it comes to planning. Check them out here!
15. Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza's beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife create an enchanting atmosphere for elopements, perfect for couples who want a balance of relaxed island life & lively vibes for a fun night out on the town.
16. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The dramatic rock formations and golden sands of Cabo offer a unique elopement experience, without having to travel too far if you live in the US!
17. Belize Beaches
Finally, Belize's cays and atolls provide a beautiful, tranquil setting for a beach elopement with a touch of adventure if that’s what you’re craving.
How to Plan Your Beach Elopement
Now that you have a huuuge list of dreamy, romantic beach elopement locations to choose from, and you know the best time of year to elope at the beach, I wanted to give you a quick checklist to follow when it comes to actually planning the dang thing. Here are the 6 most important steps to start with!
1. Choose your date
First, choose your beach elopement date. This can actually be swapped with #2 (which is to choose your location) depending on whether you're prioritizing climate or setting, like I mentioned earlier in this guide. Choose a date that works with your schedule and allows you to take at least a week off of work, that works for any guests you want to invite, and that offers the type of climate you're looking for.
2. Choose your beach elopement location
Next, choose your elopement location (or if you did this step first, then choose your date)! It can be SO hard to pick which location is going to be right for the unique day you're envisioning, which is why I created a guide to How to Choose the Right Elopement Location for You.
3. Apply for permits + your marriage license
Don't forget about the legal stuff! Look up the marriage laws for the state/country you're eloping in, and decide whether you want to get your marriage license when you elope or beforehand, in your hometown, to make it easier (especially for out-of-country elopements. Be sure to also find out about any required permits you'll need for your location---I'll help you out with this part, don't worry!
4. Invite your guests
Once you've got the basics down, decide who you want to invite. Your elopement should be all about YOU and nobody else, so if that means you elope completely in private, go for it! And if that means you gather a group of the 10 people you love the most to be alongside you, freaking go all in and create an unforgettable experience for you + your guests.
5. Book your transportation + accommodations
After you invite your guests and know who's going to be attending, book your transportation and accommodations. Whether you're booking everything for your guests or you're just suggesting places to stay and handing the booking process off to them, it's key that you find somewhere to stay where you can completely relax, escape from your regular life, and take it allll in. This is a great time to book rentals cars, hire private drivers, etc. and figure out how you're going to get from point A to point B!
6. Book your vendors
Finally, you can start searching for + inquiring with vendors up until this point, but now it's time to actually get them officially booked. Typically, photographers and planners are the vendors who book out the furthest, so I'd recommend reaching out to them in advance, especially if you have a DREAM photographer who you want to hire. You're also more likely to be able to book them if your date is flexible & can adapt based on their schedule.
10 Fun Activities to do During Your Beach Elopement
Beaches offer not only some of the most stunning scenery + romantic vibes you could dream of, but also a TON of diverse activities and fun things to do. I definitely recommend incorporating a few activities into your elopement timeline (especially if you have multiple days to celebrate) to make it super special and memorable, so here’s a list of 10 fun beach elopement ideas and activities to getcha started!
1. Have a beachside picnic (champagne, charcuterie, chocolates. . . you name it!)
2. Have a bonfire and roast s’mores by the water
3. Go whale-watching
4. Rent bicycles and ride around town
5. Build a sandcastle together
6. Go surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, or boogie boarding
7. Find a spot to camp on the beach and go stargazing at night
8. Change out of your elopement attire & into your swimsuits for a dip in the ocean
9. Ride off into the sunset on horseback
10. Go snorkeling or scuba diving
Looking for more elopement ideas to help you plan a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable celebration? Then you won’t want to miss this HUGE list I put together of 100 Unique Elopement Ideas + Activities!
What to Wear for Your Beach Elopement
Because I have a whole dang guide to Picking Your Perfect Hiking Elopement Dress where I go into depth about choosing your dress, I’m not going to go too far into this one—but here are my top 3 tips for what to wear for your beach elopement!
- Opt for lightweight fabrics: No heavy gowns or restrictive fabrics—the more flowy, the better, especially if it’s hot out.
- Wear proper footwear: High heels may not be the best option for sandy terrain; going barefoot or wearing sandals are the most popular choices.
- Wear a long veil: Long veils can look freaking stunning against the beachy landscape, especially if you have a little breeze to blow it around a bit!
Important Things to Consider for Your Beach Elopement
If you decide to elope on a beach versus a traditional sort of venue, or another type of outdoor landscape, there are a few things you need to keep in mind that you may not have otherwise thought of in order to protect the environment + respect other visitors. Here are some of the most important things to consider when having a beach elopement:
Know the rules & regulations that come with eloping on a beach.
A majority of beaches don’t allow any sort of setup, including decor, tables, chairs, arbors, etc. Those rules are in place for a reason, so follow them!
Come up with beach-friendly decor ideas.
You can honestly just let nature be your decor, and allow the scenery to speak for itself! But if you do want to add extra touches to your ceremony, you could bring candles (if they’re allowed), aisle rugs made of natural fabrics, or you could even build/hire somebody to build cool sandcastle sculptures.
Be mindful of flower regulations.
A lot of beaches don’t allow you to bring real flowers, or you’re limited to certain types of flowers; often, it’s best to use either non-invasive flowers or silk flowers.
Consider others around you.
If music is allowed at your beach elopement location, keep the volume to a minimum in order to not disrupt other visitors. They want to enjoy the peace & quiet of the beach just as much as you do!
How to Leave No Trace With Your Beach Elopement
Speaking of protecting the environment and ensuring your elopement has minimal impact on the beach, let’s talk about how to follow Leave No Trace principles with your beach elopement! If you’re unfamiliar with Leave No Trace, it’s an organization focused on protecting the land we’re privileged to have access to every time we explore the great outdoors, by following a core set of principles designed to minimize human’s impact on the environment.
I’ve actually got a whole Leave No Trace Elopement Guide—but for now, here are my best tips for how to have an LNT-friendly beach elopement. You can learn about each of the 7 key principles by clicking on the titles of each section below, or find them on the LNT website here!
Some beaches may have restrictions on pets, fires, alcohol, camping, or other activities, so be sure to do your proper research beforehand to ensure you’re prepared. You should also check the weather forecast and tide schedule ahead of time to avoid any surprises—the last thing you want is to arrive at your beach location, only to find that you can’t even get to the spot where you wanted to hold your ceremony due to a high tide!
You may only think of trails being in the mountains and in forests, but beaches have trails, too! To avoid unnecessary and irreversible damage to the beautiful terrain that you’re able to explore, use only designated trails to and from the beach, as well as durable surfaces such as sand, gravel, and bare rock. Do your best to avoid stepping on any rocks covered in barnacles, seaweed, or kelp to protect the ecosystems that live around them, and finally, if you make sandcastles, fill them up before you leave.
Next, please be sure to dispose of waste properly! Do not leave any trash, decor, food, cigarette butts, etc. on the beach or any of the trails nearby—take everything you bring in, OUT with you.
This is a big one when it comes to visiting beaches, because I know it can be super tempting to collect shells, rocks, or driftwood—but please don’t! It disrupts the environment and the natural habitats, and there are plenty of other ways to remember your time at the beach, such as the photos you take (or your photographer takes, for that matter).
Another essential LNT principle to follow at the beach is to make sure you understand the fire rules, as they differ from beach to beach. Some beaches don’t allow fires of any kind, including campfires, fireworks, sky lanterns, sparklers, candles, tiki torches, grills, and cooking devices, so it’s important to be aware of that ahead of time. If campfires are allowed, you should stick to designated fire pits and reduce your impact as much as possible.
This one is simple: if you see wildlife, don’t touch them, don’t feed them, and don’t chase them!
Last but not least, be considerate of other beachgoers. For example, if you bring your dog, make sure they are leashed. Or if you want to play music (and it’s allowed), keep the volume low. Respect the fact that you are on public land and everybody deserves to have an equally amazing experience there just like you.
Final Beach Elopement Tips + Advice
Let’s wrap this up with a few final pieces of advice for your beach elopement in order to ensure a safe, smooth, and unforgettable day!
- Don’t plan your wedding on a weekend or holiday—the crowds will most likely be nuts.
- Bring reef-friendly sunscreen.
- Prepare for wind: Beaches can get windyyy, so secure any lightweight decorations you have, and consider how the wind might affect your hair, veil, and audio equipment.
- Plan your transportation: Think about how you and your guests will get to the beach—it might involve walking, taking a boat, or another mode of transportation that you need to figure out ahead of time.
- Have a backup option just in case of high tides, unsafe/extreme conditions, unexpected closures, etc.
Backup plans are incredibly important when it comes to planning an outdoor adventure elopement, so make sure you don’t miss my guide to Why You NEED To Have Backup Plans For Your Elopement.
You guessed it—that’s me! I had so much fun putting this guide together since I am freaking obsessed with beach elopements, and I hope you found it helpful + are feeling totally ready to plan the perfect day at the beach of your choice, be it a moody spot on the coast of the PNW or a tropical paradise in Fiji.
When it comes time to hire a beach elopement photographer to document your day for you, take a look at my beach elopement packages + pricing below—and reach out to me here so we can get this thing going! Cannot wait to hear what you’re envisioning for the most romantic beach day of your life!
Beach Elopement Packages & Pricing
- Full day of elopement photography coverage
- Your own personal elopement guide & consultant
- Unique and personalized location scouting
- Vendor recommendations
- Permit and marriage license assistance
- Hand-crafted elopement timeline
- Created just-for-you activity list
- Unlimited guides and resources
- 100+ page How to Elope Guidebook
- Optional complimentary officiant service
- Digital online gallery with full resolution image and printing rights
- Sneak peek images within 1 week
- Photographer travel fees covered
Starting at $6,500 for U.S. elopements & $10,000 for international elopements
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If you loved this beach elopement guide, I’ve got plenty of similar resources that you can check out next—below are a few of my personal favorites from the blog!
In order to make your dream elopement day happen, it's super important that we connect and that you feel comfortable with me! The best way to do this is to reach out and schedule a call so you can learn more about me and I can learn about you two so i can document what's real + the most important to you.