People love the beach. For whatever reason, many humans just feel drawn to the shore. "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever," Jacques Cousteau said.

So even if we can't get there often, we like to visit in our minds. We linger over childhood memories of an unblemished white strand, or close our eyes for a moment when things get stressful to escape to a gently sloping dune.

Or stuck in drab cubicles, we gaze longingly at a Pacific island screensaver.

Imagine it now: Clean, uncrowded stretches of sand. Clear blue water. Cool breeze. Seagulls. Sunshine.

Indulge that fantasy a little more here with a stroll along five of the finest beaches in America.

Best Beach No. 5: California dreamin'