With more than 1300 miles (2170 km) of coastline and over 4000 islands, it’s hard to figure out which of the best beaches in Florida to visit. Beaches in Florida come in all shapes and sizes and each comes with a distinct feel. One thing you can be sure of is that whether you’re looking for a beach to mix and mingle with the party crowd, or looking for a beach for a quiet family getaway, you’ll find it in Florida.
We’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in Florida to help you decide where to book your next Florida vacation. Catering to families, couples and singles on a Spring break, you are guaranteed to find some sand that’s going to tickle your beach fantasies. And if you get bored of one, it’s easy to find another beach just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Best Beaches in Florida
Table of Contents
Panama City Beach
This is one of the best Florida beaches for the Spring Break crowd as well as for families. With 27 miles of clean, pristine coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach was voted one of the top 3 beaches in the United States by TripAdvisor. There are a ton of activities you can get into at Panama City Beach with beach volleyball, snorkeling, and surfing.
Once you are tired of catching some rays and have had your fill of sand and surf, visit nearby attractions like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. One of the most fun day trips you can do is head to Shell Island where you get a chance to see bottlenose dolphins up close.
Panama City Beach has a lot of holiday vacation rentals available in the high rise condos along the beach. This can be an economical alternative to staying in a hotel when traveling in a group. The famous George Island State Park is located a 2-hour drive from Panama City Beach.
- This Beachfront Apartment – has an indoor and outdoor beachfront pool, hot tub and sleeps 6 located in the Shores of Panama.
Miami North Beach
It may be more known for glitz and glam and The Real Housewives of Miami, but Miami Beach has more than 12 spectacular beaches to experience. Miami Beach is Florida’s most exciting and cosmopolitan city with art deco buildings, restaurants, nightclubs and very tanned, attractive people. However, there are distinct areas and beaches within it.
The closest thing to the official Miami Beach would be the North Miami Beach. The beach is central and you’ll find locals and tourists alike sunbathing all day long. Since all of it’s quite central, there are a ton of eateries nearby. The beach is also home to the North Beach Bandshell that provides great musical entertainment throughout the year. And of course, after your done sunning, the nightlife in Miami Beach is second-to-none.
Getting on the water is the best way to experience Florida’s Beaches. Take this City Cruise to see the Millionaires mansions of Miami and cruise to the Venetian Islands and South Beach.
Miami Beach – South Beach
You might know it for its 1930s art deco vibes, or hot nightlife, but South Beach in Miami also offers powdery white beaches and lots of activities to boot. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach has two distinct areas that attract different crowds.
Lummus Park and Beach allows topless sunbathing and is a hub of activity with street foods, cyclists, skaters, and more. If you’re looking for a more chill vibe, then the area of First Street Beach at South Point might just be your thing. It is an area popular with surfers in South Beach as well as fishing enthusiasts and families. Besides surf and sun, you can go shopping at the popular Lincoln Road Mall. To understand the real heartbeat of South Beach, you can take a guided art deco tour, enjoy all sorts of cuisine, Cuban in particular, and dance the night away at any number of clubs.
- One of the most popular places to stay in South Beach is Marriott Vacation Club Pulse – located in the heart of the action of just across from South Beach and walking distance from Lincoln Road restaurants to the nightclubs of Collins and Washington Avenues.
If you’re looking for one of the best florida beaches with a real community feel, Clearwater Beach is where it’s at. You will find the public beach staffed with a lifeguard all year long. Art festivals take place throughout the year like the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. This sand sculpture festival takes place in April attracting artists to create sand sculpture masterpieces.
One of the most pristine beaches, Clearwater is known for its smooth white sands as well as spectacular sunsets. In fact, the sunsets are so spectacular that there is a nightly festival to celebrate them with street musicians and activities for kids. Additionally, there’s lots of fun stuff to do near the beach like taking a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or Aspirations Winery. You can even take a boat tour to get familiar with more of Clearwater’s coastline.
Clearwater Beach also has a wide variety of accommodations to fit any budget. You can find apartment-style lodgings that have kitchenettes for you to cook your own meals as well as motels and high-end hotels too. This cute cottage is steps away from the beach with Shared Key West style back yard has wood party deck, swimming pool and hot tub.
Santa Rosa Beach
This is one of the best Florida beaches when you’re looking for a mix of things to do with a group. Santa Rosa Beach attracts families to its lengthy coastline running from the Gulf of Mexico to Choctawhatchee Bay. Stretching 26 miles along Florida’s northwest coast Santa Rosa Beach sits in the protected area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It’s a great alternative to avoid the crowds of Panama City Beach. Beaches near Santa Rosa Beach are Grayton Beach State Park and Blue Mountain Beach.
You’ll find people doing everything from paddle boarding to fishing or simply basking in the sun on beach chairs. Off the beach there are also a ton of things to do like visiting the local craft breweries or the historic Wesley Mansion which dates back to the late 19th century. You should note that Santa Rosa Beach has experienced a real increase in popularity so you’ll want to get to the beach early in the morning to score a prime spot.
- This Beachwood Villas condo is just a short walk to the white sugar sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and sleeps up to four people.
Cocoa Beach is located just south of Cape Canaveral on the Space Coast. It is one of the best places to learn to surf in Florida thanks to its calm waters. But it is also great for pros too. This area is known as the East Coast surf capital of the United States. Cocoa Beach is also home to the largest surf shop in the world, Ron Jean Surf Shop is a massive 52,000 square feet. You can find everything from bathing suits to top-of-the-line surfboards in the shop and it’s open 24/7.
Another thing you might want to check out on the east coast is the Barrier Island Sanctuary which is dedicated to the protection of sea turtles. It’s a half hour drive from the beach and you can go on a guided walk through the sanctuary and learn all about the conservation of sea turtles. This east coast beach is less than an hour’s drive from Orlando and sits on Florida’s East Coast.
Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel Island
Not only is Bowman’s Beach one of the best beaches in Florida, it is often voted as one of the best beaches in the United States. Sanibel Island is located just off the coast of Fort Myers and sits in the Gulf of Mexico. The area is known for high-end resorts and seafood restaurants as well as historic architecture.
It’s a sheller’s paradise and one of the most family friendly beaches in Florida. The Sanibel Stoop is a term coined for all the people you’re going to see hunched over searching for unique shells on Sanibel beaches. According to area shellers, you’re going to find the most different variety of shells in the morning at low tide.
Don’t forget to visit the lighthouse well you’re there and also check out one of the many wildlife refuges on the island.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
There is never a dull moment in Fort Lauderdale, with thousands of yachts and cruise ships visiting its coastlines each year. Fort Lauderdale Beach is one of the city’s premier beaches located at the heart of Fort Lauderdale.
Grab an umbrella and beach chair and just soak in the fact that you’re gazing out over the Atlantic Ocean. Or you can get out and get involved in any one of the dozens of activities happening simultaneously on one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches. You can try out parasailing, scuba diving, jet skiing and even rent a boat and take it for a sail.
Although a few decades back, Fort Lauderdale Beach was known for its college party atmosphere, these days it welcomes all kinds of visitors. You’ll find high-end restaurants and live music bars as well as museums, spas, and fun activities for kids like Bluefoot Pirate Adventures.
Pensacola Beach sits on Santa Rosa Island and you’ll find that Pensacola Beach is where more of the action takes place while Santa Rosa Beaches are quieter. The waters surrounding this barrier reef beach are crystal clear and the sands are soft and white.
You’ll find that there are lifeguards on the main beach areas but if you head into more of the quiet areas, you’ll get a beautiful beach, but no lifeguards. You can take dolphin-watching tours from the beach or head out to the pier to go fishing.
There’s an outdoor adventure park available for those looking for something sportier. One of the most fun things to do at Pensacola Beach is to go canoeing at night in glow-in-the-dark boats.
Sunny Isles Beach
If you prefer being underwater rather than floating on top, then you’re going to want to check out Sunny Isles Beach in Miami Beach. It is famous for its world-class diving and snorkeling. The famous Newport Beach Fishing Pier sits on Sunny Isles Beach too.
And it’s not just for show, you can actually bring your fishing gear and fish here too. Nearby there are lots of cafes to get some high-end lunch. And speaking of high-end the Sunny Isles is known for luxury resorts and luxury living so food and accommodations are on the pricier side.
Naples Beach is famous for its 1000 foot long pier that juts out from its white sand. Named after Naples in Italy, this beach town keeps the Italian tradition alive with a great food scene. Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Naples has a laid back vibe that is perfect for couples seeking a quiet vacation. Here you’ll see local fisherman catching their daily catch off the pier at sunset.
The Cove Inn on Naples Bay is a waterfront resort on the Bay that is 8 blocks from the beach. Walking distance to shopping and dining it’s a quiet escape in Florida.
Oleta River State Park Beach
Oleta River State Park is for people who like secluded beaches and rugged scenery. It has a 1200-foot beach but most people come to this area for the activities they can do in the water and in the forests. The park has a ton of biking trails and hiking trails throughout.
You can also rent gear to go kayaking and canoeing on the Oleta River which sits in this Florida state park. The fun part about this beach area is that you can sleep over in one of their cabins. There is a youth camping area too, but you’ll have to check with the park for rules and regulations on who can stay there.
Grayton Beach State Park
For a mix of nature trails and sand dunes, you’ll want to visit Grayton Beach in Grayton Beach State Park. This gulf coast beach draws a completely different crowd than Miami Beach or the Florida Keys beaches. The top beaches on Florida’s southern tip attract flash and luxury and paparazzi, but in this state park, you live life on the quieter side with more secluded adventures.
The aquamarine water of Western Lake is the perfect place to swim and do some deep sea fishing as well as get in some paddle boarding. There are almost 100-acres of snowy sand dunes along the coast. The state park beach has restrooms and outdoor showers but you should pack your food and drinks with you before heading here.
Siesta Key Beach
Have you ever sat in million-year-old sand? If you visit Siesta Beach you can. It is believed that the sand that’s found on the barrier island of Siesta Key has arrived there over millions of years from the rivers of the Appalachian mountains flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.
This sand is almost pure quartz crystals and it so fine that when you walk on it, it seems to make a bit of a squeaking sound. These sugar white sands have often been called some of the best sands in the world, making this beach in Siesta Key one of the country’s world class beaches.
Besides basking in fine white quartz sand, you can enjoy some swimming and snorkeling at Siesta Beach. Nearby is Siesta Key Village which is full of lovely cafes as well as pubs and boutiques for shopping too. You can also rent a bike and take a leisurely sunset cruise through the small beach town.
Harry Harris Beach
This is the perfect beach to take your children to in the Florida Keys. Harry Harris Beach sits in Harry Harris Park on the largest key among the Florida Keys – Key Largo. The beach area has a breakwater so the ocean is essentially turned into a pool that’s no higher than 5′ for your kids to swim around in.
If you venture out past the breakwater you can do some snorkeling, boating, and fishing too. The beach grounds have a kid’s playground, picnic areas with BBQs as well as clean restroom facilities. You should also pack a picnic as there aren’t really any places close by to get a snack.
Key West has some of the best beaches in Florida but the most pristine and secluded is the beach at Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, Dry Tortugas is a great day trip by ferry or sea plane. But you can also stay overnight on the National Park and do some camping to really appreciate these white sand beaches. It’s great for snorkeling too! If you don’t make it to Dry Tortugas, Key West’s other beaches can be found at Fort Zachary Taylor National Historic Site and Smather’s Beach. Read more at 27 of the Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Daytona Beach may be an obvious choice, but it is one of our favourite beaches in Florida. This mammoth beach on the Atlantic Coast is 23 miles long with resorts lining the waterfront. The Halifax River – a lagoon separated from the Atlantic by barrier beaches separates the beach from the city. Daytona is an interesting beach that you can drive on. The Daytona Beach Pier also has attractions and rides and the Daytona Speedway is not too far away.
This can get very busy, especially by the pier, but we recommend staying at Daytona Beach Shores for a romantic escape on Daytona Beach. Read more at: Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida. Ormond Beach is located just north of Daytona Beach and is a quieter option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the clearest water beaches are found in the Florida Panhandle in northwest Florida. This area includes Destin Florida Beach and Panama City Beach. In southwest Florida, we can look to Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West. This key west beach is considered to have some of Florida beaches’ clearest water at the bottom of the sunshine state.
Florida’s Gulf Coast has some of the best beaches in all of the US. We’ve mentioned many of them on our list and they include Siesta Key, Panama City Beach, and beaches in Key West.
Additionally, Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island is considered to be one of the prettiest beaches on the Gulf. They also have water activities like parasailing and kayaking.
Clearwater Beach in Tampa Bay has some of the whitest sand in Florida and is also one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. Additionally, we can’t forget about Siesta Key Beach which has the finest white quartz sand in the world. The sand is so white that it’s cool on the toes on Florida’s hottest days.
Little Talbot State Park on Amelia Island is also recognized for their clean water. Fernandina Beach on the island is known for its annual shrimp festival as well as some clear, glassy waters too.
One of the best Florida beaches for white sand is not very well known as it sits on an undeveloped barrier rief. Caladesi beach in Caladesi Island State Park has some of the whitest sand in Florida. This narrow barrier island gives you a lot of privacy, but make sure to take along food and drinks as the beach is quite secluded.
And these are some of the best beaches in Florida to visit. How many have you been to? And where should we feature next?
Plan Your Florida Beach Trip With These Resources
- Florida Keys: Best Stops On A Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary
- Facts About Florida: Our Favorite Fun Facts About Florida
- Daytona Beach: Best Things To Do In Daytona Beach, Florida
- Places to Visit: The Best Places To Visit In Florida
- Central Florida: 10 Unique Things To Do In Central Florida
- Fun: Top 10 Roller Coasters In Florida