These are the 20 best beaches in Florida! Includes tips on parking, when to go, special attractions, and more. These Florida beaches will leave you breathless!
Every year, millions of people travel to Florida to enjoy its amazing beaches. With thousands of miles of coastline, however, where should you go? To help you out, we’ve put together this list of the 20 best beaches in Florida. It includes our favorites, as well as those of our blogger friends.
Just between you and I—please do not tell anyone else—Anna Maria Island (AMI) is my favorite beach. Phew, now that you know my secret, here are some reasons. AMI’s neighbor to the north (Clearwater Beach) garners much more attention and that makes AMI even more special. AMI’s superior sugar sand continues to have less foot traffic, more space to watch better sunsets, and convenient parking (yes!).
Two of my favorite US Gulf Coast eateries are in AMI: Ginny’s and Jane E’s for breakfast (Cuban breakfast sandwich and a cinnamon roll are amazing) and Beach Bistro, which just happens to be one of the top 10 rated restaurants in the US (what? It is true.). If you do not order both of the lobster appetizers at Beach Bistro, then we cannot be friends.
Our family had a fantastic weekend visiting Treasure Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. We stayed at the exquisite beach front Treasure Island Beach Resort and just had to cross a small pathway from the pool deck to reach the beach. The Treasure Island beach is set back farther than others we have visited and is much quieter than Clearwater Beach.
We were able to rent an umbrella and chairs and spend the day relaxing in the sand. The kids built sand castles and searched for the perfect shells. The water was still a bit chilly, but we all dipped our toes, and the kids splashed in a bit deeper. A weekend at Treasure Island beach was exactly what our Midwestern family needed to break up the long winter.
If you are looking for a pristine beach with soft white sand and glorious sunsets, take a trip to Miramar Beach Florida. Miramar Beach is located in Walton County on the Gulf of Mexico. It is east of Destin Florida and is considered part of the greater Destin Area.
To get to Miramar Beach you can drive from many Southern cities including Atlanta. Driving from Atlanta will take about 5 ½ hours. It is also easily accessible from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) or Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City Florida.
Miramar Beach is a popular summer destination with multiple beach resorts and condos for rent. I had the pleasure of spending a few days at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. It is a full-service, oceanfront, family friendly resort. Even in February the weather was sunny and warm. I highly recommend visiting Miramar Beach Florida any time of year.
Our favorite beaches in the Sunshine State are in southwest Florida, and our favorite beach in SWFL is the Naples Pier Beach in Naples. It’s the one place we bring family and friends visiting from out of town, and a great place to lounge any time of year.
The beach here is beautiful soft white sand and families gather here to swim, skimboard, and play volleyball, but the main attraction is the iconic Naples Pier, an historic attraction since 1888 that reaches 1,000 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico. Concession stands sell food and wine, or bring a picnic basket with your faves.
Warmer months are a great time to see dolphins and other sea life up close, and it’s the center of activity on New Years Eve and the Fourth of July, when they light up the Pier with spectacular fireworks displays. Parking for non-residents is $2.50/hour or a few quarters in the meter for a quick stroll on the Pier.
Florida has the best beaches, and the water is so warm. We’re from California, but the water is usually pretty cold. So when we headed to Florida, and enjoyed the warm waters, we decided to take surf lessons. And where else better, than to learn how to surf in Cocoa Beach!
Cocoa Beach is a famous beach known for surfing. The waters were shallow enough for us to feel comfortable surfing for the first time. The best part about Cocoa Beach was how clear the water was. Sometimes it’s a little scary going into the ocean when you can’t see what’s under you, so we really loved being able to see what was there. It’s a beautiful beach, great for relaxing, swimming, and surfing.
South Walton is home to many small beach communities affectionately called the beaches of 30A by families who live here, have beach homes in the area or visit on a regular basis. It includes the coastal communities of Dune Allen Beach, Point Washington, Miramar Beach, Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, WaterSound, Seagrove, Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach and Sandestin, among others.
If you are looking for a family friendly beaches with sugar white sand and emerald waters, South Walton is just the place. There are 26 miles of beautiful beaches in South Walton that stretch from Miramar Beach near all the way to the Bay County line where Panama City Beach is located. It is located in the northwest Florida panhandle.
You can enjoy lazy days in the beach house relaxing with cocktails by the pool, bike to the different communities, witness killer sunsets, and see the stars at night while having a bonfire on the beach. You will see why National Geographic included South Walton in their list of 28 places to travel in 2019.
With a beach that has held the TripAdvisor titles as the “No. 1 Beach in the USA” and “No. 5 Beach in the World,” you know you can’t go wrong. The Gulf’s aquamarine waves gently splash on the shallow shore of quartz crystal sand that is as white and soft as talcum powder.
The high-energy beach is popular with both locals and tourists, offering amenities like lifeguards, concessions, playground, restrooms, historic pavilion, and chairs or umbrellas to rent. There is a parking lot with nearly 1000 spaces, but it fills up fast, so if you don’t get there early you’ll have to walk a short distance to one of the private parking vendors nearby.
Marco Island is a barrier island located in Southwest Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. It is my favorite Florida beach due to its small size, tranquil waters, and family-friendly vibe. There is one main beach located on the western side of the island that is six miles long.
If you are staying at a hotel, you will have beach access included in your stay. If you are not, then there are several public access points and parking lots that will grant visitors a day use of the beach for $8.
Marco Island is the smaller neighbor to the more popular Southwest Florida destination – Naples. I prefer Marco Island because it has more of a small town, beachy feel. The water is usually warm, calm, and sea green.
Sunsets on the West Coast of Florida are stunning. Taking a walk down the beach in Marco Island when the sun goes down is spectacular. You often witness sea turtles nesting on the beach in the summer. Overall, our family loves the beauty that Marco Island holds, which is why we visit this place year after year.
Key West may boast a reputation as the southernmost point in the continental United States. Many actually don’t realize that there’s another hidden gem even farther south of Key West: Dry Tortugas National Park.
Dry Tortugas National Park is the most isolated national park in the USA, some 70 miles southwest of Key West. To get to Dry Tortugas, you will have to book either the Yankee Freedom ferry ($180), or fly there on a chartered plane ($600) from Key West. Either way, you’ll land at one of the best beaches in Florida.
The white sand beach of Dry Tortugas is pristine, thanks to its National Park status and the sparse number of visitors who come here every year. Other than sunbathing, Dry Tortugas National Park offers several kayaking programs, as well as snorkeling the surrounding coral reef systems. You can even do some “primitive” camping here – but only if you’re good at roughing it!
It’s hard to imagine a more famous sight in Florida, than the white sands and aquamarine water of the incomparable Miami Beach, of which South Beach forms a part of. SoBe has long been a favourite of locals and tourists alike for its photo-worthy coloured lifeguard towers, crazy nightlife and people watching. It’s a massive drawcard to visitors of Miami.
There’s no fee to enter the beach, but you will have to pay if you want to hire a beach bed for the day. Better yet, book into a hotel that includes beach beds and spend the day drinking cocktails and watching the waves roll in. Whenever I’ve been there, South Beach has served up incredible sunsets, so I’d definitely recommend hanging around until sundown to see the sky light up with colour.
With approximately 2/3 of its total land devoted to wildlife preserves (including the excellent Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge), Sanibel has become a mecca for birdwatchers, wildlife enthusiasts, kayakers, hikers, and fishermen alike. There are plenty of things to do in Sanibel Island, but the barrier island (which is located off the coast of Ft. Myers) is arguably best known for its extraordinary white sand beaches, which are lined with millions of seashells of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
In fact, collecting these shells is such a popular pastime, it has led to a posture famously known as “the Sanibel stoop.” The entire island is great for shelling, but the area around the famous lighthouse and fishing pier can get a bit crowded at times. If you do go, just remember that it’s illegal to take any live shells from the water, including the huge lightning whelks, fighting conchs, and sea stars you’ll find near the shore.
Sombrero Beach is our favourite stop while road tripping from Miami to Key West. This cute little beach is located on Marathon Key: the locals love it and tourists don’t even know it’s there, as they usually aim for the most popular beaches in Key West.
You can get to this little paradise beach, with its soft sand and turquoise waters, turning off U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 50. Drive through the cute holiday homes at Sombrero Beach Road and you’ll get to a small parking lot: reaching the beach is easy and you won’t have to walk too much!
Sombrero Beach also has other perks, including handicap access, a picnic pavilion where you can have lunch, a children’s playground, a volleyball court, and of course restrooms and showers. Dogs on leashes are allowed. If you’re planning to enjoy a special evening with your significant other, get there at sunset: this sandy strip is the perfect spot for some romancing!
On the west coast of Florida there is a 280 square mile peninsula surrounded by Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico home to some amazing beaches. Clearwater Beach is the star of Pinellas County, it makes the perfect sunny weekend getaway with 3 miles of white sand beach.
Clearwater Beach has been voted the number one beach in the United States 2016 and again in 2018 by Trip Advisor. Located 45 minutes from the Tampa International Airport and a half hour from St. Petersburg Airport makes this beach easily accessible for a short vacation.
There is lots to do too; parasailing, sailing, boating, jet skiing, fishing, miniature golf, beautiful hotels and restaurants, aquarium, festivals, outdoor movie nights in the park, shopping and so much more. It’s a rare thing in Florida not to see the sun at least once a day and that is why so many tourists continue come to Florida!
Located across the Rickenbacker Causeway on the northern end of Key Biscayne you’ll find the 800 acres Crandon Park. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Crandon Park Beach is the perfect two-mile, white sand, beach volleyball, palm tree swaying, quintessential Miami beach.
Known for its calm and shallow waters, Crandon Park offers a variety of options for visitors including a family amusement center, pavilions rentals, picnic areas with tables, on-site grills, concession stands and an over 3,000 vehicle parking lot. (A nice take away from that other famous island full of Miami beaches!) And for those seeking a beach experience away from the sun, cabana rentals are available on the south end of Crandon Park.
Looking for more variety than just the beach? Crandon Park also has a tennis center, a golf course and is adjacent to Crandon Nature Park and Bear Cut Preserve. For countless views of the Miami skyline from its nature trails, you can tour Crandon Park including a walk along the winding mangrove boardwalk to the fossilized reef overlook.
But even with all of Crandon Park’s amenities, the beautiful stretch of sand and surf remains the main attraction here. This family-friendly beach recreation destination is the ideal place to relax and get away from it all.
If you want to catch a different glimpse into Florida, head to Caladesi Island State Park. Here you’ll find fewer crowds due to harder access, plenty of outdoor activities aside from the beach, more seashells than you could ever need, and wildlife sightings including dolphins!
There are a few important things to know about Caladesi Island. You can only access the island by ferry, walking, or private boat. In order to use the ferry, you must first enter Honeymoon Island State Park ($8 per car) and purchase your ferry ticket ($14 per person). Once on the island, you only get 4 hours before having to return via ferry so use your time wisely, take plenty of bug spray for the trails and reef-safe sunscreen.
Just south of bustling Clearwater is a quiet slice of Old Florida where you can relax and take it slow. Indian Rocks Beach stretches along a barrier island on the beautiful US Gulf Coast. The town is small, but the beach blends seamlessly into neighboring communities, so you can walk the shore for miles.
There are few large buildings, and no crowds of matched chairs and cabanas filling the sand. Family groups, couples, and retirees spread out across the beach while a few fisherman dot the shoreline. You can not beat the sunsets on the Florida Gulf Coast, so try to extend your visit until the sun goes down.
There are a few free parking spots at many of the public beach access points in Indian Rocks Beach. There are also paid spaces at a County Park near 18th Ave, and plenty of neighborhood streets that allow parking. When you need a break from the beach, take a stroll on the marsh boardwalk at the Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve near 10th Ave.
During our amazing Florida Keys road trip, we visited many beaches but none could compare to the crystal clear water and beautiful views of Calusa Beach in Bahia Honda State Park. The state park is located just beyond the Seven Mile Bridge on Bahia Honda Key and has beaches both on the ocean and bayside.
While the oceanside beaches were stripped of sand and significantly damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017, the bayside Calusa Beach has remained intact and draws a lot of visitors. This beach ranks among the best beaches in the country and is perfect for spending a day by the water.
Popular things to do at Calusa Beach include swimming, snorkeling, relaxing at the picnic tables, and hiking the old Bahia Honda Railroad bridge. I recommend hiking the Bridge trail and enjoying the 360 views of the state park from the bridge.
If you’re spending a weekend in Palm Beach County, we definitely recommend spending some time on Juno Beach. With beautiful white sand and clear blue water, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the waves. And if you get hungry, the nearby pier has a snack bar!
Juno Beach is also known for sea turtles, so be sure to be on the lookout for nests (they’ll be clearly marked). If you have time and want to learn more about them, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is close by and you can learn all about different sea turtles and even see some!
This beach town is only a few miles from bustling Pensacola Beach in Florida’s panhandle, but it has a much more laid back vibe. It’s not touristy at all, and you can walk for miles on the pristine beach without hardly seeing anyone.
Make sure to stop by the Navarre Beach Pier as well. It’s the longest fishing pier in Florida, stretching 1,545 feet long and towering 30 feet above the water. We recommend going around sunset. From the end of the pier (which feels like it takes forever to get to), you get some amazing views!
The neighborhood of North Beach in Miami Beach is where our absolute favorite beach is. It’s about 20 minutes north of popular South Beach and what you’d consider a “local” beach because tourists don’t really know about it. We personally think visiting North Beach is one of the best free things to do in Miami.
The water is beautiful and because of the sand bar, you can walk out pretty far without the water getting much higher than your knees. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up some sun. There are also grills in the nearby North Shore Park, so you’ll often see families throwing birthday parties and hanging out.
With the second longest coastline length in the US, it’s easy to see why there are so many beautiful Florida beaches. Although we’ve listed out what we believe are the 20 best beaches in Florida, can you really go wrong with any beach in the Sunshine State?