Discover 10 Amazing Colleges Near the Beach

Choosing a college can feel like a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, such as academic offerings, acceptance rates, graduation outcomes, and what the school offers in terms of a memorable collegiate experience. One aspect seems to get overlooked by or downplayed in many college guides: location, location, location.

Location is not just important because of job prospects, but because location can make or break your college experience. Unless you plan to keep your nose buried in a book 24/7, attending a college in the middle of a cornfield, in the middle of a landlocked state, may not sound like an enviable college experience. In contrast, a frolic at the beach or a surf on the waves between classes sounds exciting.

With that said, we have curated a list of 10 amazing colleges that are located on or near a beach or ocean. These colleges are within a short driving or walking distance of a beach and are located in cities rich in economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities.

Proximity to a beachfront is not the only benefit that these schools have to offer. These schools provide stellar academic programs and vibrant campus cultures shaped by their oceanic environments, including reputable programs in the marine sciences.

Every school on this list is within three miles to the beach.

Without further ado, here are 10 amazing colleges on the beach waiting to be discovered…

Coastal Carolina University (Conway, SC)

Coastal Carolina University
Coastal Carolina University, CCU Blanton Park, CC BY-SA 4.0

Coastal Carolina University is located within a short driving distance to Myrtle Beach. This easy access to one of the most popular vacation spots in the country allows students to enjoy a bevy of economic and cultural benefits that will enliven their college education and experience.

Myrtle Beach is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country and has an economy teeming with opportunities, particularly in the resort, entertainment, and hospitality industries. The area is famous for its 60-mile strip, known as the Grand Strand, which is dotted with stunning views of the Atlantic coast, nature preserves, shops, and parks. In this setting, CCU students certainly enjoy a “work hard, play hard” lifestyle during their time here.

The curriculum, values, and culture of CCU are manifestly shaped by the university’s oceanside location and proximity to a burgeoning, coastal metropolis. In addition to being home to two popular Ph.D. programs, Marine Science and Coastal and Marine Systems Science, CCU is also a national sea grant institution and owns a part of Waties Island. The Atlantic Ocean serves as the school’s classroom and research laboratory, with its learning and research initiatives centered on conservation and practical use of the land.

California State University, Monterey Bay (Monterey Bay, CA)

CSU Monterey Bay
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Cal State Monterey Bay, a public research university, can boast miles of scenic coastline as its front yard. Although the most popular majors at CSU are Business, Psychology, and the Liberal Arts, it offers various programs focused on life sciences, most notably Marine Science, the environmental sciences, and a unique program in the Agricultural Plant and Soil Sciences. Its curriculum and culture are indisputably shaped by its proximity to Monterey Bay, which is home to a rich and diverse marine life, in addition to dozens of beautiful beaches.

Students enjoy a strong curriculum and a rich, social life on the beach, due its proximity to Monterey Bay. As we have just mentioned, Monterey Bay is home to stretches of beaches, including Marina State Beach, Carmel Beach, and Monterey State Beach, among many others. Monterey State Beach is one of the most popular sites among students, who partake in and enjoy water sports such as surfing, kayaking, surf fishing, and swimming, when they are not hitting the books.  

Endicott College (Beverly, MA)

Endicott College
Elizabeth B. Thomsen, Callahan Center, Endicott College, CC BY-SA 4.0

Endicott College is located on the beautiful, oceanfront property on the North Shore of Massachusetts Bay, also known as the “Gold Coast.” Two nearby beaches, Tupper Beach and Brindle Beach are the backyards of the campus community. The campus is also located just 20 miles north of Boston, making it an excellent location for anyone looking for a picturesque, coastal backdrop for their collegiate life and easy access to a metropolitan hub of culture, history, and commerce.

Because of its location along the stunning, northern shore of Massachusetts bay, it is not surprising that conservation and sustainability efforts are the heart of the college’s culture. In fact, the school earned the Silver Rating for its sustainability initiatives in 2016. Endicott College is consistently featured on Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges.

Indeed, a beachfront location and an environmentally conscious culture are not the only reason prospective students choose Endicott College. It was ranked among the top 25 regional colleges in the Northeast by US News & World Report. Its postgraduation outcomes are worth bragging about, with over 75% of its graduates employed full-time within a year of completing their studies and an overwhelming percentage attaining employment that is relevant to their college major.

Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, FL)

Eckerd College
Elisa.rolle, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL, CC BY-SA 4.0

Imagine a beautiful waterfront location where the average year-round temperature is 74 degrees and from where the dorm rooms overlook a beautiful bay. This perfectly describes what the students at Eckerd College, in St. Petersburg, FL, get to experience on a daily basis during the school year. The campus is located just 3 miles from the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. The central architectural theme of the campus is its connection with nature; the academic, administrative, and residential buildings have generous, almost panoramic, views of the surrounding greenery and coast.

The school’s connection with nature is underscored by its environmental consciousness, as evidenced by its many sustainability initiatives and research programs. In fact, Eckerd College was ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top Green Colleges in the country; the list described the college as having a “strong interest in environmental sustainability.”

The environmental ethic is so strong at Eckerd that its scholarship is infused with it; the school consistently ranks number one as producing the highest number of Hollings Scholars. The Hollings Scholarship is awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

But it is not “all work, no play” at Eckerd; the students enjoy a vibrant, recreational, and social life on the beach, as any coastal school would. South Beach is a popular site for the college’s many social activities, recreation, and its annual commencement ceremony.

University of Hawaii at Manoa (Manoa, HI)

University of Hawaii at Manoa
Travis.Thurston, UH Liliuokalani Center, CC BY-SA 3.0

This list would not be worth the page that it is printed on without mentioning the island state of Hawaii and its educational institutions. Hawaii is world-famous for its abundant natural beauty, mountainous topography, and idyllic beaches. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is located just outside downtown Honolulu, one of the most quintessential beach cities in the world.

Prospective students looking to immerse themselves in their studies in a tropical climate and resplendent natural scenery should look at what the university and the city of Honolulu have to offer. The city ranks highly among locations for a high quality of life and is the commercial, financial, and governmental hub of the island, providing students with ample opportunities for internships, externships, and employment. The University of Hawaii is home to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and the Hawaii Ocean Time-Series, making it ideal for those looking to study marine biology and oceanography.

Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi (Corpus Christi, TX)

Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Marcom.tamucc, The Island University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Corpus Christi has certainly earned the moniker “Sparkling city by the Sea,” with its numerous tourist attractions and stunning views of the coast. Its sparkling reputation extends to the Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. This TAMU campus is unique for its location on an island strip, right off the coast of the mainland of Corpus Christi. 

The academic, residential, and administrative buildings are surrounded by the ocean, making the campus one of the most splendid on this list. In fact, it is nicknamed the “Island University,” blending the rich and exciting life of a coastal city with rigorous academics.

TAMU Corpus Christi has more to offer than scenic views and bike paths. The university is also known for its 85 outstanding programs, its highly active research profile, and a low student-to-faculty ratio that gives students a rigorous and more individualized education program. It is best known for its nursing, biomedical sciences, kinesiology, and biology programs, all of which are ranked among the best nationwide. It is home to the Harte Research Institute, the university’s hub of interdisciplinary research devoted to making the Gulf of Mexico ecologically and economically sustainable.

Since its inception, the university has been a massive economic boon to the Corpus Christi area and has made a significant economic impact across the state of Texas.

Monmouth University (West Long Beach, NJ)

Monmouth University
Zeete, Woodrow Wilson Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Monmouth University is the second-best beach college located in the Northeast region. Its 159-acre campus is situated along the northern New Jersey coastline and is just a mile away from the Jersey Shore. It has the additional perk of being an hour away from New York City and Philadelphia, which means that a plethora of economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities and experiences are right at the doorsteps of Monmouth’s students.

The Monmouth campus not only sits on a beautiful coastal area, it is also steeped in the locale’s history. The university is home to a national historic landmark, Shadow Lawn, which is a former, 52-room mansion that has been converted into a campus building with classrooms and administrative offices. It is also home to the Guggenheim Memorial Library, which is yet another national historical landmark.

Adding to its location and historical significance are its stellar academic programs. The Hess Business School and School of Social Work are nationally recognized; both rank in the top 50 of Princeton Review and US News & World Report lists, respectively. The university also boasts some green credentials, having been recognized as a leader in recycling by the state’s Department of Environmental Credentials.

A prospective student will greatly benefit from Monmouth’s rich combination of academic excellence, a scenic backdrop, unmatched recreational life, economic opportunity, and history. It also has a Division 1 sports team, to boot.

Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA)

Western Washington University
Bobak Ha’Eri, OldMain WWU, CC BY 3.0

The Pacific Northwest has its share of beautiful beach towns. Bellingham, WA is no exception as it is a popular tourist destination and is known for being the northernmost city in the contiguous US. 

WWU is located just a mile from Cornwall Beach, which is tucked into the inlet of Puget Sound. The campus is bounded by the natural beauty of the Pacific Ocean, the San Juan Islands to the West, and the splendid Cascade Mountain range. Because of the school’s ideal position, students have access to a wide variety of recreational opportunities during their studies. 

Any great college on the beach makes the most of its oceanfront setting by offering many opportunities to study the very marine life surrounding it. In fact, WWU has an excellent Marine and Coastal Science program, which engages students with hands-on research and learning experiences.

University of Tampa (Tampa, FL)

University of Tampa
Andonic., UT minaret, CC BY-SA 2.5

It is only natural that a school in the Sunshine State be featured on this list. The state, famous for having the second-longest coastline in the country, is already home to higher education institutions. Of course, it is also famous for its many beaches and resorts. 

UT is already an unbeatable choice because of its location in a major metropolitan area. Its notable, Moorish Revival architecture serves as a focal point and beacon for downtown Tampa. The campus is not only architecturally unique, it is also ideally situated because of its proximity to the many business, cultural, and recreational opportunities that Tampa has to offer.

 UT was ranked #13 on the US News & World Report’s most recent list of “Regional Universities South.” It also ranked in the top 10 for Undergraduate Teaching and is an excellent choice for veterans looking for high-quality college education.

College of Charleston (Charleston, SC)

College of Charleston
Lkeadle, Randolph Hall, College of Charleston, CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in the heart of historic Charleston, the College of Charleston is the 13th oldest institution of higher education in the country and the oldest on this list. The college’s campus has been praised for its beauty, earning the top spot on MSN’s list of “Most Beautiful College Campus” in South Carolina, with its oak-tree lined quads and walkways and historic buildings. The campus has been featured on numerous movie and soap opera sets, adding Hollywood bragging rights to its already impressive list of accolades.

There is yet more beauty and resplendence beyond the boundaries of the campus. The city of Charleston consistently ranks as the #1 city in North American for travel and leisure. It is a cornucopia of art, culture, landmarks, hospitality, food, and sightseeing. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and dotted with stunning beaches, all of which are short driving distances from the College of Charleston.We are not singing the praises of the college’s beauty and location at the expense of its academic merits.

In addition to plentiful opportunities for recreation, the college has earned some accolades for its academic offerings. For example, the College of Charleston School of Business has recently earned some high rankings for its numerous programs. According to the latest US News & World Report rankings, the school is top 10 in the following categories: “Regional Universities in the South,” “Best Colleges for Veterans,” and “Best Undergraduate Teaching.”

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