If you are looking for books set at the beach, you’ve come to the right place! The list below has something for everyone – romance, historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy, mystery, and more.
Whether you are looking for a beach book to read in the middle of winter or the heat of summer, something on the list below will surely pique your interest.
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Mystery Books Set at the Beach
This is the Ultimate Beach Read Thriller! It’s all about 2 girls who hire a couple to charter them a boat to a deserted island.
But the island isn’t so deserted after all. As their relaxing trip turns deadly, we learn about the back story that brought each person to their destination.
It’s a wonderfully addicting isolation novel that is great in audiobook format as well. This vacation thriller is a perfect choice for books like People We Meet on Vacation.
August 2019 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I liked the way the story was told in a dual timeline, I liked the many red herrings thrown in, and I was committed to making sure the main character came out unharmed. As with any thriller, the trick to success is not being able to predict the twists.
I was, unfortunately, able to come up with most of the plot points before the main character. The very, very ending took me a bit by surprise in how the climax played out, but overall, I saw the premise coming from a mile away. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book, I just never got to the point of heightened anxiety that I expect in an unpredictable thriller.
June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Real talk. I’ve just read THE thriller
The murder sets the scene and then we get the story in flashbacks without knowing who is murdered until the end. I’ve become very picky about thrillers recently and this one is hands down my favorite of the year so far. It also made our Best of 2020 list! If locked room mysteries are your thing, this is perfect for you as well.
Can you guess who is the killer in this pick from our list of the best British mystery books?
June 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Another former Reese Book Club pick, this thriller was a slow build with an explosive finish. When two newlyweds find something in the water on their honeymoon, the story picks up the pace and I couldn’t put it down.
I really loved how the heroine changes over the course of the book. It felt very realistic based on the circumstances.
Romance Seaside Books
I fell in love with his book set at the beach because of an Instagram reel. It was filled with ice cream, beach scenes, fireworks, and romance…so I knew I needed to read it on my recent vacation.
I fell head over heels. It was such a wonderful first love story between Melanie and Calvin, her co-worker at the ice cream store. Melanie has just moved to Haverport after her twin made a disaster mistake and this crew of ice cream-scooping co-works made her feel right at home.
But the story also features heavy issues like addiction, alcohol poisoning, and more. It’s a seaside book filled with heart. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
I have long been a fan of Elle Kennedy. Her books appear on our list of college romance books and they are AMAZING.
This is the first in a new series set in the beachside town of Avalon Bay. In this story, Cooper decided to go after the girlfriend of a man who got him fired. What starts as revenge, quickly turns into a real relationship with college student, Mac.
Their love story was sweet and satisfying and I can’t wait to read Cooper’s twin’s story next month.
This is one of the best romance books I have read in a long time. What could be better than a romance about writers? January is a romance writer who no longer believes in love. Until she was 28, she led an idyllic life filled with the ideas of perfect love.
Augustus Everett is a literary fiction writer who has never believed in love. They could not be more different. When they find themselves living next door to each other they decide to help each other overcome their writer’s block by challenging each other to a writer’s duel. This might be my favorite pick from our list of enemies-to-lovers books. It is also a perfect grumpy sunshine romance. Emily Henry books never disappoint!
Estranged half-sisters inherit a dilapidated beach house when their father dies. One is desperate to sell, the other wants to hold onto the memories. Either way, they need to get over their differences and fix up the home!
I loved the romances that bloomed for each woman with town locals. They were mature relationships where each party actually communicated like adults! I love a good home renovation book, so that made me happy too. What could be better for beach reads 2023 than a book that takes place on a beach?
I loved this adorable romance and as soon as I read it I knew this vacation book was perfect for a list of books Like People We Meet on Vacation.
Olive and Ami are twins. While Ami seems to be lucky in everything, Olive knows that if it can happen, it will happen to her. So when everyone gets food poisoning at Ami’s wedding except Olive and her nemesis Ethan, she can’t decide if her luck has changed. This is the fake dating trope to the extreme- fake marriage.
As the two head out on the free, all-inclusive honeymoon that was supposed to be Ami and her new husband, Olive hopes they can call a truce long enough to enjoy the trip. If you are looking for grumpy sunshine romance books, this one should be at the top of your list.
Contemporary Fiction Books Set at the Beach
Irene Steele gets the shock of her life when she gets a phone call saying her husband has died in a plane accident while on a business trip. Traveling down to St. John to collect his things, she finds out that he actually has an entire second family.
With her two adult sons along for the journey, she realizes that not only is her world unraveling, but her sons have hidden secrets as well. Told across multiple points of view, this is Elin at her finest. I’m so eager to get my hands on the next books in the trilogy.
I had the pleasure of reading Jamie Brenner’s newest book a bit early and it didn’t disappoint. With a cover like that, it’s clearly the perfect summer read! Set in Sag Harbour, a young girl is gifted with the entire estate of a famous artist.
Her mother and the artist’s former partner are left bewildered and a battle for the estate ensues. Bea is the crotchety older art dealer and form partner who is fighting like hell for what she thinks is hers. She was a joy to hate in this novel about art!
The Little Beach Street Bakery #1
Jenny Colgan is known for her heartwarming tales of self-discovery and this book is no different. Our main protagonist loses her job and her boyfriend and heads to Cornwall to lick her wounds.
Soon she finds love, a new job, and
This is a wonderful contemporary fiction book about love and survival. It is so much more than it appears on the surface. It’s a beautifully written book about a vacation gone awry.
When Sophie and Barry find themselves on an Island as the sole survivors of a plane crash, they learn to depend on each other. The book moves seamlessly from the past to the present, weaving an intricate tale. It’s one of Kirsten’s favorite books of all time. We also included this one in our list of feel-good books!
If you are looking for vacation books, this is a perfect pick from the list of books like People We Meet on Vacation.
This satire had me laughing out loud numerous times. Shelly means is a stay-at-home mom who just wants to build her Hamptons dream house. Even if she can only afford a container home.
But her plans to build her dream home quickly go south, especially when her husband, a voice-over actor, loses his job. Her antics as she tries to compete with the other rich New Yorkers were thoroughly entertaining. This is one quick read that’s worth picking up.
Historical Fiction Seaside Books
Hula is not only one of the best beach read of 2023, but it’s also one of the best books of 2023! I picked up this book based on the cover and the thoughts of the hula dance competition, but instead of the fun read I was expecting, I got a coming-of-age story about a light-skinned Hawaiian who is trying to prove she belongs by learning to Hula.
But this Hula isn’t just a dance, it keeps the legends and legacies of the Hawaiian culture alive. Sprinkled throughout this story, while Hi’i is fighting to prove her worth, we see glimpses of her mother and grandmother’s lives, as well el as vignettes that explain Hawaii’s history, colonization, and the struggle of native Hawaiians today.
There is so much to uncover in this book, so many layers to absorb. I was entertained while reading it, but more importantly, I learned so much. I’ll be raving about this for years to come! This is one of the best thought-provoking books I have ever read.
I was expecting a lighthearted read, but this book had more soul than I was expecting! Set in 1938 in Montauk among the glamorous world of Manhattan’s summering elite, it was full of secrets and romance. It’s sort of like a historical fiction version of an Elin Hildebrandt book with romance and personal growth as our heroine discovers true love in a sleepy beach town.
I shed a few tears at the ending – which took me completely by surprise by the way! There is a short, not-so-graphic rape scene – so if that’s a trigger for you, steer clear. Otherwise, I applaud this debut and recommend it for your beach bag!
The newest Downton Abbey movie has the Crawleys headed to the south of France for a vacation! It makes me thrilled to have read this charming story of a Hotel in Portofino, Italy during the years just after WW1.
We get to see the new, British owners of the Hotel Portofino settle into running a hotel with their adult children. The guests are eccentric, there is a mystery around a piece of stolen art, and some romantic relationships come together and fall apart. It’s the perfect hotel novel!
In short, it’s a family drama book set in Italy and is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, plus, it’s being turned into a show on PBS as well!
This historical fiction story takes place in the Bahamas during WWII. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor are prominently featured, though the main story revolves around the murder of a man named Harry Oaks, life in Nassau, and the romance between the female lead and her beau.
There is also a bit of a flashback-type story that plays out in parts too. It’s a lovely little royal novel that had me flipping pages quickly and kept me entertained by the pool.
I really like this book but it was not what I was expecting- it was so much more. I thought the book was about Florence Adler. I was very wrong.
This book takes place in the United States just before WWII. Every summer the Adlers rent out their house in Atlantic City and move to a small apartment. Florence returns from college so she can spend the summer practicing to swim the English Channel.
When Florence dies in a tragic accident, the family decides that they cannot tell Florence’s sister who is in the hospital on bed rest after losing a child a year before. I loved the writing, the story, and the desire to keep the family together at all costs. As all full cast audiobooks do, the multiple narrators brought this wonderful story to life. This is one of the historical fiction books about sisters you will keep thinking about.
I read the Island of Sea Woman by Lisa See and was captivated from the first page. Lisa See’s last novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was absolutely brilliant and I felt the same way about this book.
This historical fiction tells the story of a friendship between two women on the Korean Island of Jeju. There, women work as a diving collective to provide for their families while men look after the children. It was interesting to read a story where some gender norms are reversed and others, like feeding women and children last, were still perpetuated.
Beyond the incredible history of this small island is the story of a remarkable friendship between Mi-ja and Young-sook over the decades. If you have not read this pick from friendship books, it should be next on your list. Lisa See has done it again with this remarkable family saga book – a best book of 2019 pick for us!
I’ve read a lot of books about WWII but not as many books about what it was like after the war. This particular story is about Bea, an 11-year-old sent to America during the bombings in London. She assimilates into an American family with two sons during the war years, only to be wrenched away at the end of the war.
Her time in America forever changes Bea, and she struggles to reconnect to her home country and her family. As she grows up, her American family is never far from her heart. I loved to see how she merged her two families over the course of her life. While often sad at times, it was truly a lovely tale and a perfect pick for our summer reads 2023 post.
I adored this second-chance love story that wasn’t too girly. There was intrigue and insight into Hollywood today verse 60 years ago. It’s actually about a secret love affair revolving around the movie Cleopatra and the small, seaside hotel at the center of the story.
I guessed the big reveal pretty early on, but it was still a wonderful book set in Italy about how love had, lost, and then found again can impact our lives. It’s one of my favorite books set at hotels!
Fantasy Books Set at the Beach
December 2022 GMA Book Club Pick
Set in the not-so-distant future, this dystopian story describes a world where climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet.
Wanda is born during her namesake hurricane, to a mother who dies on the same night. As Wanda grows, she has to deal with the worsening landscape of a world dying around her.
As she tries to survive, she also has to navigate relationships with loved ones and the surrounding community. This thought-provoking book is perfect for book clubs.
Linus Baker works as a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is sent on a mission to a secret orphanage isolated on an island where 6 of the world’s most dangerous youth live. Linus is sent to determine if the children are being cared for properly. Linus, who lives his life by the book, will have to look deeper to try and find the real answers to his questions.
This story was so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s one of the books about friendship that would be a perfect book for book clubs.
The magic and the orphan aspect are all reminiscent of Harry Potter. The story has just a touch of magic but somehow seems completely relevant to our society now. This magical realism book is a must-read for anyone who needs a feel-good book.
The Odyssey is one of my all-time favorite books and I think I read Du’Laires Book of Greek Myths more than any other book when I was in middle school. Which means I ADORED Circe!
Circe, the nymph who is but a footnote in Du’Laires and gets overshadowed in The Odyssey was a fascinating goddess I can’t believe I knew so little about. I’m desperate to read Madeline Miller’s first book – The Song of Achilles now that I read this adult fantasy book.
Did you see find a book set at the beach for your next vacation?
Looking for more beach reads? Head to our ultimate list for 70+ vacation reads.
Beach stories, summer reading bingo, poolside stories, and our yearly Ultimate Beach Reads lists!