With nearly 1,197 miles of unspoilt coastline it’s no wonder the Sunshine State is known as a year round beach destination. You’ll find that the Florida coastlines are incredibly diverse, with everything from family friendly beaches to beaches known for lively parties. This is just part of the reason why Florida beaches draw all types of vacationers.
Beach vacations on the sunny shores of Florida are calmer, quieter and perfect for those looking for a tranquil escape. The Gulf Coast beaches have powdery ivory sands and crystal clear turquoise water that will have you thinking you landed in heaven on earth. Whether you are looking to be surrounded by nature or wanting to play on jet skies or parasail, you’ll find it on the shores of the Florida beaches.
Use this guide to the best beaches of Florida to choose the perfect beach destination for you and your family.
Best Florida Beaches
Siesta Key – Sarasota
Siesta Key has been voted one of the ‘best beaches in the United States’ time and time again. You’ll understand why as soon as you set foot on the sugary white sands and take in the crystalline shoreline. The beach is 8 miles of paradise, perfect for strolling or sunbathing. Families love this beach for the shallow calm waters and the quartz sand perfect for building sandcastles. There’s also a lifeguard on duty at this beach for your family’s safety. Try snorkeling in these gin clear waters or kayaking near Turtle Beach.
The breathtaking emerald green waters of Florida’s Pensacola Beach will leave you awestruck. The soft white sandy shores span 8 miles and the entire beach is surrounded by Gulf Islands National Seashore. This protected area is beautiful and has an abundance of wildlife including turtles, stingrays and seabirds. There are 2 massive sandbars offshore making the waters here calm and tranquil. Try paddle boarding or swimming in the gorgeous green waters.
Henderson Beach – Destin
Destin is a charming Gulf Coast gem that is packed with powdery white sand beaches and is known as the ‘World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,’ the fishing here is epic. Try your hand at reeling in one of the native red snapper, bluefin tuna or tarpon. For the best beaches head to Henderson Beach State Park where you’ll find towering sand dunes, some are as tall as 30 feet! This Gulf Coast beach also features dazzling white sands against an emerald green coastline. There is a fee of $6 per vehicle to enter this gorgeous state park. Hike a nature trail and keep your eyes peeled for turtles, dolphins and birds. Bonus: thanks to being made of quartz the sand at the beaches in Destin never gets too hot!
Panama City Beach
At Panama City Beach you’ll discover 27 miles of shimmering white sand beaches and tons of family friendly attractions. Although this beach is famous for its crazy Spring Break reputation, don’t let that stop you from visiting. Panama City Beach is perfect for sunbathing and relaxing on incredibly soft quartz sand. Or for some family fun, play a game of volleyball or swim in the clear Gulf Coast waters.
This coastline in Clearwater is known as one of the best family beaches in Florida. You’ll find this idyllic beach perfect thanks to the gorgeous emerald waves that lap up on the powdery quartz shoreline. The waters here are calm and shallow making them perfect for the whole family to splash in. Lifeguards are on duty year round making Clearwater Beach a great destination at any time of the year. Kids will enjoy the playground, while adults can take a relaxing stroll along the Beachwalk. Head to Pier 60 to spot some dolphins or check out the Clearwater Aquarium with the family.
Fort Myers Beach
This Gulf Coast beach is the perfect combination of beach paradise meets historical landmarks and family friendly attractions. You won’t find a lack of things to do at Fort Myers Beach, between the shops, restaurants and activities on one side and the emerald coast on the other. Try snorkeling, parasailing or kayaking along the coastline. Or find shells along the sugary ivory sands of this beautiful beach. Nature lovers will enjoy Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium where you can spot bald eagles, hawks and owls.
Venice Beach – Sarasota
This picturesque beach is known for being the shark tooth capital of the world! Try your hand at spotting shark teeth along the dazzling white sands of Venice Beach. Just a heads up, the best place to find them is on the Venice Jetty. You can also enjoy plenty of watersports including fishing and boating. This beach is pristine thanks to being maintained by the Clean Beaches Coalition. Turtles are also known to nest in the area between May and October.
The elegant city of Naples, Florida is known for its glamor and swanky restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for a quiet and stylish beach on the Gulf Coast, then Naples Beach is the spot for you. The beaches in Naples are incredibly clean and relatively quiet compared to most regions of the Florida coastline. Try snorkeling, paddle boarding or kayaking in the calm waters. Anglers will enjoy fishing off of Naples Pier for their chance at reeling in a big one!
St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach is a picturesque barrier island just west of St. Petersburg, Florida. This is the home of the longest stretch of undeveloped beach in Pinellas County, Pass-Grille Beach. The sugary white sands coupled with the gorgeous clear water presents great opportunities for enjoying watersports. Indulge in adventure with kiteboarding, windsurfing or paddle boarding. Relax on the beach and sunbath or collect shells. If you’re interested in amenities, this beach is lined with world class resorts. It also has a wide variety of galleries, restaurants and funky shops.
Marco Island is a gorgeous barrier island off the Gulf Coast of Florida. There are 2 beautiful scenic beaches with soft dazzling white sand, these beaches include South Marco Beach which is a small slice of paradise. You’ll notice the tropical island vibes as you enter the palm lined shores. Tigertail Beach Park is a soft whtie sand beach ideal for beachcombing, tide pooling and bird watching. Both beaches are family friendly and Tigertail is known for its epic technicolor sunsets.
Anna Maria Beach
Anna Maria Beach is a small barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The 7 mile stretch of beautiful ivory sand beaches is flanked by the warm crystal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll find Anna Maria Beach on the northern tip of the island. If you’re looking for seclusion and tranquility then this beach is perfect for you. Anna Maria Beach is expansive and not at all crowded, making you feel like you have the beach all to yourself. Keep in mind there are no amenities available here. The quaint nearby towns have old world Florida charm, as well as restaurants and shops.
Navarre Beach is surrounded by the Gulf Islands National Seashore and offers amazingly soft ivory sands and gorgeous emerald waters that will make you never want to leave. The fascinating wildlife will have you searching the shores and skies during your visit. Navarre Beach is also home to the largest fishing pier on the Gulf Coast at an impressive 1,545 feet long. There is a small $7 fee to walk the pier but it provides unparalleled views and a chance to fish. Of course, you can also relax and sunbathe on the lush sands, play volleyball or walk the stunning dunes.
Sanibel Island is a tiny piece of paradise just a short drive from Fort Myers, Florida. The island is known for its amazing shelling and has award winning seashell covered shores for beachcombing. There are 250 different kinds of shells on the island and you’ll want to hunt all of them down. Aside from being beautiful and rife with shells, Sanibel Island is also home to beautiful mangroves, wetlands and protected habitats. You can visit the wildlife sanctuary to fully immerse yourself in nature. Or check out the historic lighthouse for a glimpse into the island’s past.
South Beach – Miami
As one of the most popular beach destinations in the entire U.S. it’s no surprise that South Beach is home to dazzling white sands and tropical turquoise waters. Water sports are king at this beach and you’ll find snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and fishing everywhere you turn. Known for its mix of big city vibes and eccentric liveliness you won’t find a shortage of things to do here. Alongside the impressive architecture and vivacious night lights, South Beach also has a thriving cultural scene. Lounge and sunbathe on the beach by day and enjoy world class museums and amazing theaters in the evening.
On the scenic Emerald coast of northwest Florida you’ll find Destin. Tropical warmth, bright green waters and white sand beaches make for a winning combination in Destin. As one of the most popular beaches in Florida this beach is also known for wildlife encounters and wonderful waterfront restaurants. Destin actually has several beach options, Crystal Beach is for the typical beach bum who wants to spend all of their time lounging in the sun. On the other hand, Henderson Beach is for those who are looking for a little adventure and want to explore nature trails.
As a part of a chain of barrier islands near the Georgia border, Amelia Island is one of the oldest tourist destinations for the rich and famous. If you are looking for tranquility then this island is for you. If you love nature, you’ll appreciate the 13 miles of spectacular beaches and beautiful marsh lands. Expect horseback riding, dolphins, whales, hawks and the historical remnants all over the island. Fernandina Beach is the island’s largest town, where you can explore beautiful Victorian architecture, charming shops and great restaurants.
About 23 miles north of Miami you’ll find Fort Lauderdale, Florida where more than 20 million visitors flock to the city and beaches each year. The beaches of Fort Lauderdale are lined with swaying palm trees and have dazzling blue waters that will make you feel like you are living in a tropical island dream. You can also stroll along the famous beachfront promenade or take a gondola ride through the 165 miles of canals. Often known for its Spring Break crowds, if you go at any other time of the year you can enjoy the true tropical essence of Fort Lauderdale.
Santa Rosa Beach
Santa Rosa Beach touches the Choctawhatchee Bay to the north and the Gulf Of Mexico to the south. Travel And Leisure named this place as one of their Top 5 Favorite Towns in America. Whether you want to lounge on the beach or paddle board and and ride affordable cyclocross bikes through the quaint town, Santa Rosa Beach has you covered. You’ll love the old fashioned charm as you visit sand dunes, 15,000 acres of state park, and a downtown full of art galleries and boutiques. For the best beaches in the area you’ll want to visit Grayton Beach or Blue Mountain Beach for top rated coastlines and gorgeous natural landscapes.
Islamorada – Florida Keys
Islamorada is a beautiful stop in the Florida Keys that is comprised of 6 reef islands. Known as a place where you can have close encounters with dolphins and view a real treasure chest from the 16th century at the History Of Diving Museum. If you’re looking for the quintessential beach experience then visit Anne’s Beach, although it can get quite crowded in the summer. Holiday Isle Beach is another great option on Islamorada. If you’re interested in marine life then the Theater Of The Sea is a must visit. Here they offer all kinds of interactive exhibits including swimming with dolphins and meeting sea turtles.
Dry Tortugas National Park – Florida Keys
Located in Homestead, Florida is the beautiful Dry Tortugas National Parkroughly 70 miles from Key West. The park is only accessible by boat or seaplane making it an adventure for the start. This archipelago of 7 small islands is also home to Fort Jefferson, a gigantic fortification that takes up the entirety of one of the small islands. This National Park is a favorite among divers and snorkelers for both its spectacular coral reef, as well as enormous shipwrecks to explore. Some of the best beaches in the area include Seaplane Beach and both North Swim Beach, and South Swim Beach. For the best snorkeling spots make sure to stop at Historic Coaling Pier or Garden Key’s Coral Head.
This beach made famous by surfing legend, Kelly Slater, is one of the best surfing spots in Florida. This central Florida beach is perfect for beginners thanks to the calm and consistent waves in the area. Cocoa Beach is the quintessential beach town with charming shops and delicious restaurants. You’re also at the gateway of the Florida Space Coast, and Cocoa Beach is often referred to as the gateway to the Kennedy Space Center Complex. If you’re looking for entertainment head to the Cocoa Beach Pier where you can dine and shop until your heart’s content.
Bahia Honda Beach – Florida Keys
Located on a small island in the Florida Keys known for Bahia Honda State Park, you’ll find pristine beaches. Including the gorgeous Calusa Beach. The state park encompasses over 500 acres and offers some of the best snorkeling and beach combing in all of Florida. If you are looking for a quiet and secluded family getaway then Bahia Honda Beach is perfect for you. The palm lined beaches, gin clear water and awe inspiring sunsets will have you relaxed in no time. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure try chartering a boat trip to the reef for a snorkeling excursion. Or rent a kayak, paddle board or snorkeling gear to explore at your own pace.
With the sheer number of beaches in Florida you may be having a hard time choosing a destination for your beach vacation. This list is a great starting point to help to choose the best beach in Florida for your dream beach trip.
No matter what beach you choose when visiting Florida, you will be treated to soft ivory sands, beautiful emerald waters and wonderful natural beauty. You really can’t go wrong!