Whether on a family trip, backpacking, or flash-packing around the world, you must check out the Florida beaches. Here are the top 15 best beaches in Florida
Are you dreaming of white sands, the sound of the ocean, and taking a nap under a palm tree? Do you want nothing more than to spend all day splashing in the saltwater and searching for seashells?
Sounds like it’s time you take a trip down to one of the best beaches in Florida. You don’t need to take a fancy Caribbean vacation or to hop on a cruise to visit a tropical paradise. Florida is the Sunshine State for a reason, and with over 660 miles of beach to offer, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for here.
The hard part is just picking which of the many beautiful beaches is right for you!
Here are 15 of Florida’s best beaches to consider paying a visit to.
1. South Beach, Miami
Let’s get this one out of the way. Miami’s South Beach is arguably the most well-known of all Florida beaches. It’s where many tourists – both domestic and international – flock to in order to get a feel for the sun, sand, and saltwater.
South Beach is the ideal choice if you’re looking to party in paradise. There are all kinds of luxury VIP events on the water, plenty of fine dining, and the sunrises are definitely worth waking up (or staying up) for. It’s not hard to find a yacht to rent around here and you’re not too far from Key West, either.
But, if you want a family-friendly place to bring the kids and unwind, you’re better off going to another beach on this list.
2. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
There’s only a small number of Miami locals that frequent South Beach. The hidden gem that they all go to is Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne. Depending on where you’re staying in Miami, Key Biscayne can be almost 2 hours or less than 1 hour away. Still, it’s definitely worth the drive.
The state park has done a great job of preserving the natural beauty of this tiny island. It’s a fun place to bring a boat down and enjoy a calm day on the water or to watch the waves roll in and out in peace.
3. Longboat Key
Up next on the list is Longboat Key. Not too far from the charming city of Sarasota, Longboat Key awaits to welcome visitors to paradise. This is the place to be if you never want to go further than a few blocks while on vacation.
The island has everything you could want. Staying at a beach resort here puts you front row for all the beautiful sunsets and for early morning beach runs. Throughout the day, you can hang out at one of the many beach bars and restaurants, then dress up for fancier dining in the evening.
4. Siesta Key, Sarasota
Just up the road from Longboat Key is a special little place called Siesta Key. This is one of the most popular beaches in Florida; it welcomes thousands and thousands of tourists and Florida residents each year.
A day at Siesta Key feels like taking a trip to the beach and having friends over in your backyard. There’s a strong family-oriented vibe on the beach and plenty for people of all ages to enjoy. There are cookout areas and picnic spots as well as volleyball courts and room to play beach soccer or toss around a football.
5. Lighthouse Beach Park, Sanibel Island
Another popular west-coast destination in Florida is Sanibel Island. There are a few nice beaches on this strip of land to choose from, but the best is arguably Lighthouse Beach Park.
The most unique thing you’ll notice about Sanibel as a whole is that it runs east-west rather than north-south. This allows visitors to enjoy a relatively low, easy-going tide and to search for truly special seashells. Most of the shells that wash up here are still mostly intact if not 100% still together.
Once you’re done searching the sand for shells, make sure you take a stroll on the boardwalk by the lighthouse.
6. Captiva Island
Captiva is more than a popular beach-going destination; it’s one of the best places to go boating in all of Florida! You can drive your boat down for the weekend (or however long you plan to stay) or rent one for the day.
Either way, definitely make this a part of your vacation. It’s hard to top spending a day out at sea with your loved ones and seeing what kind of wildlife you come across!
7. Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde
Put Fort De Soto Park at the top of your list if you want to go camping while on a trip to Florida. This is an outdoor experience like no other.
Camping on the beach means you get to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the ocean and wake up to watch the tide roll in. It’s a beautiful way to discover a new connection to the ocean and a bigger appreciation for nature as a whole.
8. Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Petersburg
Pass-a-Grille is a quiet beach that mostly welcomes locals. It’s a place you wouldn’t know about unless someone from Florida told you about it, but it’s definitely one you need to check out.
The waves at Pass-a-Grille are almost always small. It’s a calm place where all the locals know each other and the dive bars treat you like family. You can enjoy the art market on the weekends or come during a weekday to enjoy having the beach practically all to yourself.
Plan to stay for the sunset here. You won’t regret it.
9. Amelia Island
What if you’re more of a sunrise person than a sunset-chaser? Not to worry. All you have to do is head to Amelia Island and you can enjoy both!
This pristine beach destination is not too far from the city of Jacksonville on the east coast of Florida. But, depending on where you are during the late afternoon, you can enjoy a beautifully-painted sunset sky then wake up the next morning and watch the sun come up on the beach.
Throughout the day, bask in the homey setting of Amelia Island and watch as your kids roam free on a practically empty beach. This Florida beach doesn’t get too crowded. It’s nice if you just want some alone time with the kiddos.
10. Blowing Rocks Preserve, Jupiter
Blowing Rocks Preserve isn’t exactly a place where you can set up your umbrella and stick around all day. But, it’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area.
This part of Florida’s coast is home to a limestone shelf that’s over 100,000 years old. It’s also a popular nesting area for sea turtles every single year. If you come during the right time (and get to the beach early enough) you may see a few new babies crawling their way to the sea!
11. Cocoa Beach
For those who are seeking a bit of adventure, the best place to go is Cocoa Beach.
This is where Florida’s surfing crowd loves to go to catch a few waves. It’s where you can count on decent swells throughout the year, and sometimes, some pretty high waves are available on a good day.
12. St. Augustine Beach
St. Augustine is the small-town alternative to going to Cocoa. The surf here is also pretty good if you know where to go. It’s best in the very early morning and there are some days when the waves aren’t too high, but it gets the job done.
Old St. Augustine is home to a few laid-back surf shops and if you pop in, the locals will give you some hints on what part of St. Augustine beach to go to. While you’re in town, enjoy the historic fort, the street shops, and the delicious food. There’s a charm in this old town unlike anywhere else in Florida.
13. Destin Beach
If you drive across the state horizontally from St. Augustine to the west coast, you basically end up in Destin Beach. Although all the Florida beaches on this list are lovely, there’s something particularly special about Destin. The water here feels warm and welcoming for most of the year, it’s crystal clear and the waves are calm, and the sand is super white.
Destin is also a popular boating and fishing destination. You can hire a deep sea charter to take you out and maybe come back with a big enough fish to feed the whole family!
14. Jupiter Dog Beach, Jupiter
As great as it is to take the whole family to the beach, it’s not as fun if your four-legged family members can’t go. Thankfully, there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches in Florida that accommodate everyone!
One of the best ones to go to is Jupiter Dog Beach. This dog beach is the largest on the east coast, with a total of 2.5 miles for your furry friends to frolic and meet other dogs. Meanwhile, you can get to know other owners or enjoy all your favorite classic beach activities.
15. Bonita Beach Dog Beach, Fort Myers
Jupiter Dog Beach is great, but it doesn’t do much for you if you’re planning a trip on Florida’s west coast. There are a few areas on this side of Florida that are happy to welcome pets, including Bonita Beach.
This dog beach in the Fort Myers area is completely off-leash and sits on a shoreline that is calm and shallow. It’s great for small dogs as well as for small children, but adults of two and four legs will love it, too.
Discover the Best Beaches in Florida for Yourself!
You can read about all the best beaches in Florida all you want, but you won’t truly understand just how amazing they are until you’re standing on the shore for yourself.
Of course, it’s not like you can visit all of these Sunshine State destinations in one day. However, you can start planning your next tropical vacation right now and cross a few of these beaches off your list!