28 Entertaining Books Set at the Beach to Read Now

Books set at the Beach

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.

*The seaside books post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you.

Mystery Books Set at the Beach

Reckless Girl

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

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.

Why I Like it: It’s a wonderfully addicting novel that is great in audiobook format as well. I found the setting to be so unique and integral to the party.

Find this book in Books like People We Meet on Vacation / Books set at the Beach / Isolation Novels / Ultimate Beach Reads 2023 / Boat Books

the last house guest

The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda

August 2019 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

A year after her best friend died at an end-of-summer house party, Avery is back and ready to figure out what happened to Sadie. The police ruled her death a suicide, but Avery isn’t buying it. She’s also not buying that quite a few townspeople think Avery is to blame.

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.

Why I Like it: 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.

Find this book in Books set at the Beach

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I’ve just read THE thriller of Summer 2020 and it’s soooooo good.⁣ A murder at a wedding. On an isolated island. In the middle of a power outage.⁣ Yaaaaaaaaas. ⁣This is an unputdownable psychological thriller book and a vacation I would NOT want to be on.

The murder sets the scene and then we get the story in flashbacks without knowing who is murdered until the end. ⁣

Why I Love it: 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!

Find this book in Locked Room Mysteries / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Best British Mysteries / Books Becoming Movies in 2024 / Hulu Book Adaptations / Best Beach Reads

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Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

June 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

This thriller was a slow build with an explosive finish. When two newlyweds find something in the water on their honeymoon, it alters the course of their lives and marriage.

Why I Liked it: I loved how the heroine changes throughout the book. It felt very realistic based on the circumstances. The story itself was fast-paced from beginning to end and I couldn’t put it down.

Find this book in Popular Thriller Books / Books set at the Beach

Romance Seaside Books

The Paradise Problem

The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren

It’s a fake dating romance from the queens of romance themselves, Christina Lauren! Anna thought that she had divorced West after they graduated from UCLA. Now, three years later, West needs to contact his not-so-ex-wife and convince her to pretend they are still happily married. Why? To receive a huge inheritance of course!

Anna, desperate for the money to pay for her dad’s medical bills, agrees to jet off to a tropical paradise to spend a week with West’s toxic family at his sister’s week-long wedding celebration. The over-the-top shenanigans reminded me of Crazy Rich Asians in the best way!

Why I Loved it: I was cheering Anna on as she took on West’s snooty family with her pink hair and bohemian spirit. The chemistry between them was crackling, but it was how they looked after each other that made my heart swoon.

Find this book in Fake Dating Books / Wedding Novels / Beach Reads 2024 / Romance Seaside Books / New Romance Books 2024

safe harbor

Safe Harbor by K. Sinko

I picked up this book 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 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-workers made her feel right at home.

But the story also features heavy issues like addiction, alcohol poisoning, and more.

Why I Loved it: It’s a seaside book filled with heart that struck the perfect balance between sweetness and depth. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series from this debut author.

Find this book in Books Set at the Beach

good girl

Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy

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.

Why I Liked it: Their love story was sweet and satisfying and I can’t wait to read Cooper’s twin’s story next month.

Find this book in Seaside Romances

beach read

Beach Read by Emily Henry

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.

Find this book in Enemies-to-Lovers Romance Books / Grumpy Sunshine Romance / Emily Henry Books / Books About Books / Best Beach Reads

The Beach Trip

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

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 needed to get over their differences and fix up the home!

Why I Like it: I loved the romances that bloomed for each woman with town locals. They were mature relationships where each party communicated like adults! I love a good home renovation book, which made me happy too.

Find this book in Romance Books Set at the Beach / Ultimate Beach Reads 2023 / Renovation Romances

unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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.

Why I Love it: I loved this hilarious romance as soon as I read it. It is the perfect romantic comedy book.

Find this book in Romance Tropes / Rom-Com Books / Fake Dating Books / Grumpy Sunshine Books / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Seaside Books

Contemporary Fiction Seaside Books

Summers at the Saint

Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews

Widowed Traci Eddings is the proprietress of The Saint an exclusive resort owned by her deceased husband’s family. As she struggles to keep his beloved hotel afloat, she deals with her conniving brother-in-law, disgruntled staff, and a series of mysteries that lead to the death of someone she loves.

The story is also narrated by various staffers who live in the on-site staff dormitory and a man in town to solve a crime from the past. There are lots of subplots, including a romance and 2 murder mysteries, but the heart of this novel is about Traci reclaiming her life and her hotel.

Why I Liked it: I’m a sucker for a resort setting, and since I read this one on my recent spring break, the vibes were vibing. While the large cast of characters was a struggle at first, I quickly got them straight and found value in each of their perspectives.

Find this book in Hotel Novels / Summer Reads of 2024 / Books Set at the Beach

winter in paradise

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

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.

Why I Like it: Told across multiple points of view, this is Elin at her finest.

Find this book in Books Set at the Beach

haven point

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

What a wonderful read. I truly can’t explain how much this book swept me away to Haven Point as I learned about four generations of the Demarest family.

This story focuses on the great-grandmother, grandmother (Maren), mother, and daughter (Skye) as they spend their summers in the waspy coastal town. Secrets unfold, loves bloom and fade, and the ties that bond are explored.

Why I Love It: This is a wonderful beach read with heart, I hope you take a chance and get swept away too. It’s one of the best family saga books I’ve ever read.

Find this Book in Family Saga Books / Best Beach Reads

drawing home

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner

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!

Why I Like it: 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!

Find this book in Novels about Art / Seaside Stories

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The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

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 boyfriend, so she heads to Cornwall to lick her wounds.

Soon, with the help of a charming seaside community and a cute little bakery, she’s back on her feet. Throughout her time in Cornwall, she finds love, a new job, and creates a life she adores. Also, she has a pet puffin named Neil, the cutest literary pet I could imagine.

Why I Like it: Like all of Colgan’s books, the community takes the book to another level. These characters come to life creating a town I wish was real!

Find this book in Bakery Romance Books / Jenny Colgan Books in Order / Seaside Books

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelridge

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.

Why I Love It: This is a wonderful contemporary fiction book about love and survival.  It is so much more than it appears on the surface. I cried during the ending and have been singing it’s praises ever since. Everyone I’ve ever recommended this one too has had the same response.

Find this book in Kirsten’s Favorite Books / Feel-Good Books / Plane Crash Novels / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Books Set at the Beach

The Means

The Means by Amy Fusselman

Shelly Means is a stay-at-home mom who 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.

Why I Liked it: This satire had me laughing out loud numerous times. This is one quick read that’s worth picking up.

Find this book in Books Set in New York / Books Set at the Beach

Historical Fiction Seaside Books

hula

Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes

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 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 and vignettes that explain Hawaii’s history, colonization, and the struggle of native Hawaiians today.

Why I Loved it: 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!

Find this book in Thought-provoking Books / Beach Reads 2023 / Best Books 2023 / Best Female BIPOC Authors / Family Saga / Best Beach Reads of All Time

montouk

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

I anticipated 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 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.

Why I Like it: I shed a few tears at the ending, which surprised me! 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!

Find this book in Seaside Books / Hurricane Novels / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Books Set in New York

Hotel Portofina

Hotel Portofino by J. P. O’Connell

I was thrilled to have read this charming story of a Hotel in Portofino, Italy during the years just after WW1.

In it, 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.

Why I Like it: It reminded me of the second Downton Abbey movie in which the Crawleys headed to the south of France for a vacation! It’s got all the family drama I look for in books like these.

Find this book in Books set in Italy / Hotel Novels / Seaside Books / Books Like Downton Abbey

the Golden Hour

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

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 set in a tropical location whose location sets it apart from most historical fiction stories.

Why I Like it: It’s a lovely little royal novel that had me flipping pages quickly and kept me entertained by the pool. 

Find this book in Books Like the Crown / Royal Reads Books with Colors in the Title

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

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. 

Why I Like it: I loved the writing, the story, and the desire to keep the family together at all costs. As the best full-cast audiobooks do, the multiple narrators brought this wonderful story to life.

Find this book in Sisterhood Books / Full Cast Audiobooks / Books Set at the Beach

the island of sea woman

Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

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.

Why I Loved It:  Lisa See has done it again with this remarkable story. I was captivated from the first page, as I am with anything See writes.

Find this book in Best Books 2019 / Family Saga Books / Friendship Books / Best Beach Reads of all Time

Beyond that the Sea

Beyond that, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash

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.

Why I liked it: I loved how she merged her two families throughout her life. While often sad at times, it was truly a lovely tale.

Find this book in Beach Reads 2023 / Family Sagas / Seaside Books

Beautiful Ruins soon to be a major motion picture starring Sam Mendes.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I adored this second-chance love story that wasn’t too girly. There was intrigue and insight into Hollywood today versus 60 years ago. It’s about a secret love affair revolving around the movie Cleopatra and the small, seaside hotel at the center of the story.

It features family secrets, Richard Burton, modern and old Hollywood, and so many other plot lines in a novel that isn’t very long for all it contains within it’s pages.

Why I Like it: I guessed the big reveal pretty early on, but it was still a wonderful book set in Italy about how love found, lost, and then found again can impact our lives.

Find this book in Books Set in Italy / Seaside Books / Hotel Novels

Fantasy Books Set at the Beach

The Light Pirate (GMA Book List) and other December 2022 Celebrity book Club spoilers

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

December 2022 GMA Book Club Pick

Set in the not-so-distant future, this dystopian novel 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 navigates relationships with loved ones and the surrounding community.

Why I Like it: I’ve never read a dystopian novel that hit so close to home. With the climate crisis at a breaking point, this felt like reading about an inevitable future.

Find this book in Thought-Provoking Books / Best Books for Book Clubs / Dystopian Novels

the House in the Cerulean Sea

House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

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.

Why I Love it: This story was so much more than the sum of its parts. I felt like I had met each of the children in the story. Even though the story has magic, it somehow seems completely relevant to our society now. The magic and the orphan aspect are all reminiscent of Harry Potter.

Find this book in Magical Realism Books / Feel-Good Books / Book for Book Club / Books About Friendship / Cozy Reads / Books With Color in the Title / Best Beach Reads

Circe

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe, the nymph who is a footnote in mythology and gets overshadowed in The Odyssey. I was fascinating to see this goddess get her own moment in the sun. I can’t believe I knew so little about her before this story.

Why I Love it: 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. I ADORED Circe because it has all my favorite things about Greek mythology but for adults!

Find this book in Greek Mythology / Books Set at the Beach / Classic Book Retellings / Best Books 2018

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