How Many States Are Along the East and West Coasts?

| |

The contiguous United States (US) contains 48 states, and thus excludes Alaska and Hawaii.  

This article looks at how many states are along the East Coast and how many states are along the West Coast.

How Many States are Along the East Coast?

The east coast of the US abuts the Atlantic Ocean. There are fourteen states which have coastal access to the Atlantic Ocean.  

These states, in order from north to south, are:  Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Photo: Heather Schreppel, Cherokee Nations Technologies, contracted to the USGS. Public domain.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Photo: Heather Schreppel, Cherokee Nations Technologies, contracted to the USGS. Public domain.

A fifteenth state can be included in consideration of the states along the East Coast. While not actually along the Atlantic Coast Pennsylvannia’s coastline access is provided by 57 miles (92 km) of shoreline along the Delaware River estuary.  

Connecticut, located on the Long Island Sound, also has no actual coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean.

While Vermont is located in the eastern part of the United States, it does not have coastal access to the Atlantic.

The capital of the United States, Washington D.C. is part of the region known as the East Coast but is landlocked and is sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia.

East Coast States with coastal access to the Atlantic Ocean. Map created using QGIS with Natural Earth GIS data.
East Coast States with coastal access to the Atlantic Ocean. Map created using QGIS with Natural Earth GIS data.

How Long are the Coastlines of States Along the East Coast?

Measuring the length of a coastline is challenging due to the coastline paradox.

Coastlines are not smooth lines. Decisions have to be made about how much of the variation inherent in coastlines to measure. As the Congressional Research Service (CRS) notes, “Coastline measurements are more difficult because of the effects of tides and the necessarily arbitrary decisions that must be made about measuring bays, coves, islands, and inlets leading to streams and rivers.”

Coastlines, like this California view at Pescadero, show how complex coastlines are with bluffs, rocks, and curvature.  Photo: Meaghan Faletti, USGS . Public domain.
Coastlines, like this California view at Pescadero, show how complex coastlines are with bluffs, rocks, and curvature. Photo: Meaghan Faletti, USGS . Public domain.

The CRS measures coastlines using large scale nautical charts while NOAA measures the length of coastlines based on measurements calculated in 1930-1940 and 1970 based on the  largest-scale charts and maps available at that time.

This table lists the total calculated miles (and kilometers) for the states that are along the Atlantic Coast based on measurements from the CRS and NOAA:

StateCRSCRS RankNOAANOAA Rank
Florida1,350 mi (2,170 km)28,436 mi (13,576 km)2
North Carolina301 mi (484 km)73,375 mi (5,432 km)6
 Maine228 mi (367 km)93,478 mi (5,597 km)4
 Massachusetts192 mi (309 km)101,519 mi (2,445 km)16
 South Carolina187 mi (301 km)112,876 mi (4,628 km)12
 New Jersey130 mi (210 km)131,792 mi (2,884 km)15
 New York127 mi (204 km)142,625 mi (4,225 km)13
 Virginia112 mi (180 km)153,315 mi (5,335 km)8
 Georgia100 mi (160 km)162,344 mi (3,772 km)14
 Connecticut96 mi (154 km)17618 mi (995 km)21
 Rhode Island40 mi (64 km)20384 mi (618 km)23
 Maryland31 mi (50 km)213,190 mi (5,130 km)10
 Delaware28 mi (45 km)22381 mi (613 km)24
 New Hampshire13 mi (21 km)23131 mi (211 km)31

How Many States are Along the West Coast?

Oregon Coast at Cannon Beach. Photo: Steven Sobieszczyk, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain
Oregon Coast at Cannon Beach. Photo: Steven Sobieszczyk, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain

There are three states in the contiguous United States that have coastline access to the Pacific Ocean: California, Oregon, and Washington.  

The state of Alaska and the island state of Hawaii make up the other two states that are part of the region called the West Coast of the United States.

Map showing West Coast States with access to the Pacific Ocean. Map created using QGIS with Natural Earth GIS data.
Map showing West Coast States with access to the Pacific Ocean. Map created using QGIS with Natural Earth GIS data.

How Long are the Coastlines of States Along the West Coast?

This table lists the total calculated miles (and kilometers) for the states that are along the Pacific Coast based on measurements from the CRS and NOAA:

StateCRSCRS RankNOAANOAA Rank
 Alaska6,640 mi (10,690 km)133,904 mi (54,563 km)1
 California840 mi (1,350 km)33,427 mi (5,515 km)5
 Hawaii750 mi (1,210 km)41,052 mi (1,693 km)18
 Oregon296 mi (476 km)81,410 mi (2,270 km)17
 Washington157 mi (253 km)123,026 mi (4,870 km)11

The State of Alaska has the longest coastline by far of all the states.

Share:


Enter your email to receive the Geography Realm newsletter:
Previous

Conjunction Junction Found in the Brain: Helps with Spatial Navigation

Interesting Geography Trivia About Japan

Next