Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches. The Sunshine State has over 8,000 miles of scenic shoreline, plus tropical weather all year round. We love exploring the best beaches in Florida. We find a new favorite on every trip.
It’s no wonder it’s been such a popular tourist destination for travelers from all over for generations. There’s a diverse range of paradise-like coasts to venture to here. Some are family-friendly beaches in Florida, while others are more party-oriented. The beaches all tend to be marked by soft white sands and clear turquoise waters, which are always warm and calm enough to swim in.
In Florida, you can find intimate coves tucked away among sand dunes or wide seafront stretches in cities chock full of amenities and activities. Regardless of which one you choose, you’re sure to live it up in style at any of these best beaches in Florida.
Which side of Florida has the best beaches?
When trying to decide between the East Coast and the Gulf Coast of Florida, there are a few factors to consider. The Atlantic Ocean side is better for anyone who wants a more active experience. The waves tend to be bigger for surfing and other water sports. The shore on the west side offers a more laid-back sea experience. The waters are always inviting, and the sands are super soft.
If you are traveling with small kids and are planning on spending a lot of time on the beach, the east side and the Gulf of Mexico would be better suited for you. If you are planning on taking a Florida spring break trip, several great Florida beaches would fit the bill.
What is the #1 beach in Florida?
Siesta Key is generally considered to be the favorite beach in all of Florida and in the country. It’s the biggest and most popular stretch of waterfront in the state. People flock from all over to enjoy the lively scene and idyllic setting. That being said, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the breathtaking beaches that made it onto this list.
What is the prettiest beach in Florida?
The aptly named Clearwater Beach is a breathtaking sight to behold. Any Florida fanatic will tell you it’s probably the prettiest coast in the state. Transparent, emerald waters lap over soft sands, making for a picture-perfect scene that seems like it’s straight off of a postcard. If you are looking for a beach with some of the clearest water in Florida head to Clearwater Beach, it is one of our favorites.
1. Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key is an eight-mile slice of paradise. A fun-filled barrier island, it’s super close to Sarasota and is widely known and loved for its tranquil, turquoise waters. There’s nothing quite like kicking back on these powder soft quartz sands with a cocktail in hand as the sun goes down over the ocean.
There’s plenty of entertainment to enjoy off the beach as well, including a variety of restaurants, shops, and bars. Though it used to be more of a party spot, today, it’s popular among mostly couples and families. The sun can be super powerful here, so be sure to pack that SPF.
2. Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach has been drawing in nature lovers and relaxation seekers for generations. It’s a long thin island off the west coast of Florida. The gentle waters are so calm that indulging in a refreshing swim is easy. On the adjacent beach walk promenade, you’ll find beachgoers going for a stroll, biking, or even rollerblading. Click here to read our things to do in Clearwater article.
The Gulf is ideal for a lot of the classic coast activities, including everything from parasailing and paddle boarding to fishing and scuba diving. As dusk begins to descend, I recommend walking over to Pier 60 to watch the spectacular sunset and enjoy the evening entertainment. Odds are you’ll spot plenty of marine life, like adorable dolphins and sea turtles.
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3. Pensacola Beach
Located in the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola Beach is widely considered to be the epicenter of the Gulf Coast. The pier is always lively, and seeing the sunset from it is super epic. It’s a family-friendly destination with plenty to do on and around the waterfront.
Some of the best ways to spend time in the sun are certainly swimming, sunbathing, and strolling. March to May tends to be the better months for visiting this seaside city since the heat is less extreme but still tropical. Fishing enthusiasts and environmentalists are particularly drawn to this breathtaking beach.
4. St.Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach is the perfect pick for anyone looking for a good time in a gorgeous environment. It has more to offer than just clear, warm waters and stark sugar sands. There are a number of fascinating historical sites and museums in St. Petersburg to see as well, such as the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, the Dali Museum, and the Florida Holocaust Museum.
St. Pete is also a popular place for both bird-watching and picnicking. Even wandering around town is interesting activity due to all of the impressive architecture. Be sure to stop by their famous pier to watch the sunset or spy on the fresh catch all the anglers are reeling in that day. There are a ton of things to do in St. Petersburg, but our favorite is spending the day at the beach!
5. Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach is a stunning stretch of coastline. A charming boardwalk runs alongside the seafront dotted with unique shops and casual seafood joints. It provides the perfect balance between a tranquil and an action-packed destination. The swell here has become renowned all over the world.
Get out on the water in Cocoa Beach by kayaking, surfing, or paddle boarding. It’s even called the surf capital of the East Coast. The local, laid-back feel of this spot is one of its best qualities. You’ll find four waterfront parks. All decked out with every amenity.
If you are looking for one of the best beaches in Florida and is a beach near Disney World, this would be it! Cocoa Beach is just over an hour from Orlando, making it the perfect beach day trip from Disney World.
6. Smathers Beach
If you have been following us and reading our website for a while, you know we love the Florida Keys. When putting together this list of the best beaches in Florida, we knew we had to include the Keys!
Smathers Beach is located in Key West and is our favorite beach in Key West. We like to head here to catch the sunrise or sunset or spend a few hours during the day soaking in the sun. The beach is generally not crowded, parking is easy, and it is an excellent place to escape and relax.
After spending the day on the beach, check out one of these top restaurants in Key West.
7. Navarre Beach
Navarre Beach is a beautiful place in Florida to visit for many reasons. The crystalline waters and sugar sands are definitely the top two factors drawing tourists to these shores. There are always lifeguards on duty here as well, so it feels like a super safe spot to do a lot of swimming.
I love to go to Navarre during the summer when it’s the sunniest season. If you work up an appetite from surfing or kayaking, there are plenty of eateries close by. It’s one of the more underrated and affordable beaches along the Florida coast. The National Seashore here is an enchanting waterfront preserve affectionately nicknamed Florida’s Playground.
8. Naples Beach
Located in Southwest Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, Naples Beach has both scenic surroundings and rich history. It’s named after an Italian coastal town and has a stellar reputation for laid-back luxury. High-end restaurants and first-class hotels abound, which are great for a splurge if you’re feeling fancy.
Naples also happens to be home to the oldest golf course in the country. Hitting the links here is a favorite pastime. It’s generally considered to be one of the most romantic destinations in the country, sometimes referred to as Florida’s city of love. Relaxing is the name of the game at this one, so don’t go expecting to find a wild party scene.
9. Miami Beach & South Beach
South Beach & Miami Beach are world-famous Miami hotspots. It’s part of Florida’s Treasure Coast and is famous for its sun-kissed shores, high-end shopping, luxury resorts, and seriously lively nightlife. This big sprawling city has an art deco flair that makes it feel very unique. It’s become the ultimate trendy destination for the young and beautiful in Florida.
There are plenty of accommodation options and attractions to explore. It’s also nice to just spend time on the seafront soaking up the sunshine, especially from December to April. It’s easy to see why this beach is such a popular tourist pick. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a mellow sunbather or part of the party crowd. Miami Beach is a Florida mecca for beachgoers from all over the world.
If you want to get off the beach for a bit, there are a ton of things to do in Miami. Go exploring the historic district is always an interesting and exciting way to spend a day. It’s actually one of the most diverse and eclectic destinations in the country. There’s always a fun event happening here throughout the year as well.
If you are driving from Miami to Key West, make sure to add on a night in Miami before hitting the road!
10. Honeymoon Island State Park
You don’t have to be on a post-wedding vacation to head down to Honeymoon Island State Park, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea. In general, it’s the ideal go-to for any nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are many nature trails to trek where you can traverse nautical ecosystems and spot local wildlife.
There are miles of remote and rugged beaches to explore at Honeymoon Island State Park. It’s a protected landscape, so the coastline is pretty pristine and undisturbed. You can learn all about the native Floridians who first inhabited the island as well. It’s off the beaten path and is often considered to be one of the most tranquil, uncrowded marine parks in the state.