Best beaches in Florida
Are you going on vacation to Florida? Discover the best beaches in the Sunshine State! At first glance, Florida’s attractions hold no secrets. Heavenly beaches, incredible theme parks, and a vibrant nightlife make it an obvious destination for families, couples, seniors, or solo travellers.
With a coastline stretching some 1930 km, it is only natural that we will talk about beaches today, with a selection of six of the best beaches in Florida. Beaches are the main ingredient in your Florida trip so take some time to explore some of them.
1. South Beach, Miami
South Beach is the perfect place to enjoy the nightlife that never seems to end and begins after dark when neon lights illuminate the art deco masterpieces. It is from this district that its long and beautiful beach stretches. Everything here is for the viewing pleasure, where you can find models in the middle of a photoshoot and where you can jog in the morning.
It is the most fashionable beach, the one where you have to be when you want to see it. It is also the postcard that we imagined when we told about Miami. A lovely beach of fine sand embellished with nicely decorated beach lifeguard huts, one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, a must-see when passing through Miami Beach.
Best beaches in Florida
Although the water is that of the Pacific, it is as clean and clear as that of the Caribbean, and one can go jet-skiing and go on a boat or enjoy all kinds of water activities.
The beach is so large that there is a “field” for playing polo with horses on the sand—an exciting sport to watch. If you’re staying in Miami, be sure to read our Top 12 Must-Do Things to Do in Miami.
South Beach is the perfect place to see and be seen, where you will find swimmers in bikinis, models doing photo ops by the sea and lots of plastic surgeries … plastic surgeons in this part of the United States than anywhere else in the country.
At night, bright neon lights flash from all sides and by day, you can see several beautifully restored Art Deco buildings. It is ideal for practising activities of all kinds, from jet-skiing (personal watercraft) to noisy motorboat rides. The beach is so vast that you can even play polo with horses on the sand!
You never really know what’s going to happen there, but you can be sure it will be out of the ordinary.
2. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key
This quiet beach claims to have the most beautiful white sand beach in the United States, and it may be true. Indeed the sand is so clean and soft that it is almost a sacrilege to walk on it with your shoes. Its indented shape, its quartz crystal sand (snow white), and the water’s emerald green colour of the water make Siesta Beach a true paradise for summer visitors. The sea here is very calm, without waves, allowing children to swim without danger.
Another advantage: the composition of the sand allows it to stay cold even when the sun is at its peak in the sky. Finally, it is no coincidence that this beach has such an evocative name. We come here to take a nap. We come with a glass of wine in hand to admire the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. It is an almost daily custom for the locals!
Here is one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in the United States. The sand feels so clean and soft that you almost feel guilty about stepping on it!
The beach has a vast crescent shape; the sand is like sugar, and the sea has an emerald green colour. Moreover, it is so calm that the waves are measured in centimetres only.
Contrary to popular belief, sand is not made of coral but rather quartz crystal, which stays cool at all times, even in direct sunlight.
As the name suggests, this is the perfect place to take a nap. People also enjoy having a glass of wine here and watching the sunset over the Gulf, among the most beautiful sunsets in Florida.
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This west coast beach has a reputation for having the finest sand in the country! Pure white sand, incredibly fine, looks like powdered sugar. This sand is essentially made of quartz crystal which explains its appearance. The water is crystal clear, and like almost all the beaches on the west coast, there are very few waves.
3. Cape Florida, Key Biscayne
This beach is perfect for a family holiday. The island is significant, and its lighthouse at its southern end only confirms its beauty. Very exposed to the wind, it is suddenly much less prone to the high heat of which other beaches in Florida are victims. However, don’t bring a surfboard; there are hardly any waves to slide on. The calm water, therefore, allows children to bathe without danger.
There is a restaurant by the beach, and the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park keep in superb condition. However, it is not possible to sleep on the island, but it is an ideal destination for a day trip. Although we are still quite close to Miami, you will see that the scenery is total.
It is one of the best beaches if you are travelling to Florida with your family. It’s vast and beautiful, and there’s even a lighthouse at the southern end of the point. There is always wind here, so there is no extreme heat like on other Florida beaches.
Your surfboard will not be necessary for you since there are hardly any waves. The water level drops very gradually, and therefore it is a safe place where children can swim safely.
There is a restaurant on the beach and restrooms and showers, and the State Park is working very hard to keep it in top condition. A perfect place for a day trip. This beach is part of Miami, but you’ll see it’s a whole different world.
4. Sanibel Island and Captiva
These two pretty islands are “barrier islands”, coral reefs, and famous for the many shells that can find there. They are linked to each other and the mainland by bridges. The beautiful Sanibel, which amazes visitors, is famous for its seashells. Indeed, its beach is essentially made up of them.
If you love to collect seashells, this is the best place in Florida. Here, so many people bend over to collect it that the posture even has a name, the “Sanibel stoop”.
The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum in Sanibel is a museum listing seashells, and they have specimens from all over the world. It is the perfect place to identify those you find nearby.
Do you know the “Sanibel Shuffle”? It consists of jumping into the sea to surprise and ward off the very present stingrays near the beaches. Another popular local activity!
Here, we protect wildlife. While walking on the boardwalks, you can sometimes see Gopher turtles there, and there are even “alligator passages” on the bayside.
Best beaches in Florida
It is why you see so many people bending towards the sand picking it up, which has given rise to the expression “Sanibel Sloop”, it is a fact of bending down to pick up seashells. Sanibel! North of Captiva, the island of Gasparilla, is a beautiful and less crowded beach.
The Spanish explorers of the 16th century already called it Costa de Carocles (“coast of the shells”), and the island of Sanibel still harbours an impressive quantity of shells today. People come there mainly to pick them up. Take the opportunity to visit the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, which has specimens from all over the world and allows you to identify those you have picked up on the shore.
If your heart tells you (and time permits), head to Bowman’s Beach, a tranquil and secluded beach where you will spot a historic lighthouse. Note that the wildlife is well preserved on the island, and it is possible to spot waffle turtles from the boardwalks, and there are even gator crossings at the edge of the bay.
5. Knight island (Palm Island)
It is also nicknamed Palm Island. This island has a natural beach to get away from it all, and you can only get there by ferry or private boat. The ferry costs $ 6 round trip (if you are on foot). There are no hotels there, but you can try out renting a house. It is to be seriously considered as you might want to stay there for a week. If you rent a home, you will be entitled to a golf cart to get around the island and the various beaches.
The place is also very popular with anglers. You can pick up black shark teeth on the sand of the almost 16 km long beach during a pleasant walk. It feels very safe on the island but be warned: you’re going to hate this place if you like being active and doing lots of things during the day, but you’ll love it if you want to escape the hubbub of Florida’s big cities.
Best beaches in Florida
Also known as Palm Island, one of its best-known resorts on the island, this is the perfect place to get away from it all as you can only get there by private boat or with the “ferry”.
On the island, there are no hotels but be aware that it is possible to rent a house there. Each rental comes with an electric golf cart, and there are plenty of sandy roads you can take to explore the area.
It is also a paradise for anglers. The beach stretches for about 10 miles, and you are sure to come back with your hands full of shark teeth that you will find here and there.
It’s a very safe place, and even the people who live there don’t lock their doors. You’ll hate the area if you like the action, but you’ll love it if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities.
6. New Smyrna Beach
Here is a real funky and laid back beach. Like the complete opposite of South Beach. To the north are Florida’s best surf spots, listed among the top 20 places in the world to surf by National Geographic magazine. But it is also where there are the most sharks in the state.
Take to the skies above the beach, and you will see many young people surfing, surrounded by shark fins. But they’re not big sharks, and they’re not here to eat us. New Smyrna Beach is only an hour’s drive from Orlando. You will take the opportunity to visit the ruins of an old sugar cane mill.
New Smyrna is a great place and a very different beach compared to South Beach. It doesn’t have the crowds and noise that you often find on other famous beaches. If you are looking to land, New Smyrna is to add to your Florida tour!
Its northern end is the best place for surfing in the entire state and with the most sharks. But have no fear; they are harmless little sharks.
7. Crandon Park Key Biscayne
A lovely sandy beach faces turquoise water. The numerous coconut palms allow you to take shade. Many facilities for swimmers will enable you to come there for the day and even rent kayaks for a pleasant stroll along the shore. And for a wilder aspect, still, in Key Biscayne, you can go to the south of the island on the other beach, that of Bill Baggs Cape Florida.
8. Bahia Honda State Park
It is a real little corner of paradise on the route des Keys. This nature reserve locates between Marathon Island and Big Pine Island. It overlooks the old railway line that went to Key West. The transparent, turquoise and shallow water are ideal for snorkelling.
9. Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park
A charming site near the supremely chic and pleasant city of Naples. It is a State Park, so flora and fauna are protected, giving it an aspect of a wild beach. You can see many species of birds and sometimes dolphins and manatees—a haven of peace facing the Gulf of Mexico.
10. Lovers Key – Fort Meyers
A preserved natural site combines white sand, mangroves and translucent water. A sacred place where you can see the local fauna. A dream landscape with a charming name, an island for lovers, on which you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddles.
11. Fort de Soto
A haven of peace, ideal for relaxing and unwinding. Fort de Soto Beach is regularly cited as one of the ten most beautiful in the country. A magnificent white sand beach, a site designed for swimmers and where flora and fauna are protected. You can see turtles, dolphins, birds.
12. Clearwater Beach
Voted “most beautiful beach in the United States” several times, let yourself be charmed and take advantage of this beautiful beach to relax and unwind. It is a city beach, and those who want more peace can go to the south of the city in the park of Sand Key Park, more natural space and designed for swimmers.
13. Honeymoon Island and Caladesi
Honeymoon Island, this enchanting name, leaves you dreaming and is indeed a little piece of paradise. Flora and fauna are protected, and the island has facilities for bathers. The beach is lovely, and the transparent water invites you to swim. It is possible to rent kayaks to paddle in the surroundings, and from Honeymoon, a shuttle boat allows you to reach the neighbouring island of Caladesi, which is even wilder.
14. Pensacola Beach
The “Panhandle” region located in the northwest of Florida has very beautiful beaches, quite wide and where the sand is very fine and sparkling white. Pensacola Beach is surely the prettiest in this region but the neighbors are also very beautiful, especially Destin and Panama City Beach. They are very popular with students who come to let off steam during the “spring break”.
Travelling to Florida
Florida is THE largest tourist destination in the country. It has an impressive surface of beaches on the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, some of the most beautiful beaches in the USA. Western beaches often have the charm of wild paradisiacal beaches with an ideal mix of fine sand, mangroves and transparent water. There are rarely waves; you can meet marine mammals and admire magnificent sunsets.
The beaches are more lively on the east coast, and the sea is sometimes a little more choppy, especially when you go up towards North Florida. The Keys will delight diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. And Florida beaches as a whole will be a hit with any visitor.
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Of course, these beaches are just great examples of where to go to experience Florida beaches. But the list is not exhaustive. By the way, here are a few more:
- Atlantic beach
- Palm beach
- Naples Beach
- The aptly named Clearwater Beach
- Delray Beach
There are many other ideas for getting around this state: why not rent a car and drive the keys to Key West? You could start from Miami and descend to Key West and then climb up the Gulf of Mexico coast.
Florida is my favourite beach destination in the world. I have been able to travel to other countries, but being in love with the USA and enjoying the magnificent beaches of Florida is, for me, the ideal destination. On the East Coast, I want the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach and surrounding areas like Pompano Beach and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It is hushed, there are fewer people than in Miami, and the beaches are easier to access when travelling by car.
I have a great affection for the beaches of the West Coast for several reasons: the sea is less rough, the traffic is more fluid, and there are “State Parks”. These are beaches, sometimes islands with a wilder aspect with a mixture of fine sand and mangrove. These areas are also refuges for local fauna, and it has allowed me, on several occasions, to sea turtles, birds, dolphins, manatees…
The beaches of Clearwater Beach and Sanibel are famous, but they attract a lot of people. I prefer beaches that are just as beautiful and wilder as, for example, Delnor Wiggins Pass, Fort de Soto, Honeymoon …
Best beaches in Florida
As for these “State Parks”, there are facilities for swimmers and large parking lots available all day for a small fee. However, in principle, there are no restaurants or bars, as for the very touristy beaches. It is, therefore, necessary to provide a cooler with a picnic if you want to spend the day there.
The significant advantage of Florida is that the water is hot most of the year, which is not the case, for example, in California, where the water is cold. I have never been able to swim in the west of the country in the Pacific Ocean!
Best beaches in Florida