Florida’s beaches are one of its top attractions, popular for the soft sand, warm weather, and vacation-mode atmosphere that pervades the coastal towns. Western Florida’s beaches are famous for their incredible sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico, and those in the southern regions are favorites of nature-lovers, who come to see the hatching sea turtles and look for dolphins playing just offshore. Beaches along the Atlantic coast are more popular with surfers and water sports enthusiasts but tend to be slightly less crowded than their gulf counterparts. Tourists can find every type of beach environment in Florida, from palm-lined, activity-filled boardwalks to secluded state parks with diverse plant and animal life. Find out more about the state’s sun-splashed coast with our list of the best beaches in Florida.
1 Bahia Honda
Bahia Honda State Park is located at mile marker 37 in the Florida Keys, near Marathon. This park offers one of Florida’s most spectacular beaches and, since it is in a state park, it is left in a natural state. The park actually has two beach areas, each facing opposite directions so there is almost always one beach that is not affected by waves and wind. The most beautiful section is on the outer shore, where the beach seems to stretch on endlessly, with plenty of area for walking. The water in many areas is shallow for a great distance. The beach is best visited during times of lower tide. The smaller beach on the inside offers great views of the old railroad bridge.
2 Miami Beach
Miami Beach may be one of the more crowded areas, but for those looking for a complete city beach scene, this is the place to be. Miami Beach covers more than seven miles of shoreline, and on hot days, the sand is packed with sunbathers, and onlookers cruise slowly past in their cars to see what’s happening. South Beach is home to the city’s Art Deco district, a trendy space adjacent to the pedestrian mall that runs parallel to the beach. Along here, you will find numerous restaurants and things to do, as well as plenty of entertainment day and night.
3 Fort DeSoto
A naturalist’s favorite, Fort DeSoto State Park offers an exceptional stretch of beach, which has been preserved as a county park. The park consists of five keys (islands), which total more than 1,100 acres, home to not only white-sand beaches but also a myriad of vital ecological zones, including delicate mangrove swamps. This is also an important habitat for wildlife, with its beaches the nesting ground for loggerhead turtles from April through September and more than 300 species of birds living among the native plants. Beach areas offer amenities, including lifeguards, picnic shelters, playgrounds, concessions, and restrooms, while the park is also home to miles of walking trails, two fishing piers, and a historic fort.
4 Clearwater Beach
5 Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach sits on Florida’s Atlantic shore just south of Cape Canaveral, nicknamed the “space coast.” Just an hour drive from the theme park capital of the state and the closest beach, Cocoa Beach is a popular day trip for families staying in one of Orlando’s many resorts. It is also known for its waves, attracting those who want to take advantage of great surfing and parasailing conditions. There are many attractions nearby, such as the Kennedy Space Center and several other museums, including some that are air- and space-themed, as well as others focused on art, natural sciences, and more.
6 Fort Lauderdale Beach
7 Venice Beach
8 Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach is for people who are looking for a true beach town atmosphere. It is located on the shores of Estero island, which is connected to the mainland by bridges. Fort Myers beach is full of excellent resorts, which are popular with couples and families alike, and it is known for being one of the best beaches in Florida for dolphin-watching. The soft sand stretches on for miles, but the most popular area is by the pier, where beachgoers sit under umbrellas or enjoy a game of beach volleyball. At the top of the beach are casual restaurants, ice-cream places, and beach apparel stores.
9 St. George Island State Park
Like all Florida state parks, St. George Island is left undisturbed and undeveloped. This long stretch of white-sand beach offers a stunning location for sunbathing and swimming, as well as miles of pristine beach for shelling and beachcombing. There are also camping facilities, boat ramps, and picnicking areas. Facing Apalachicola Bay, this is also a fantastic place for dolphin-spotting, as well as enjoying the wildlife that nests in the sand, including sea turtles and birds like the black skimmer, least tern, and snowy plover. Located in northern Florida, a short distance from Panama City, this beach is a summertime favorite.
10 Panama City Beach
Located in the Florida Panhandle, Panama City Beach is a popular destination during the warmer months. The incredible white-sand beach runs on for 27 miles, providing a playground for all kinds of activities. There are many local businesses that offer exciting things to do, including Jet Ski and boat rentals, paddle-boarding, diving, fishing charters, and sightseeing cruises. There are also many family-friendly attractions like a water park, marine park, and other activities near the beach. Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater hosts free weekly concerts each summer, and there are many annual events, including a pirate festival and even a Florida-style Mardi Gras. For those traveling with four-legged friends, there are dog-friendly areas including a designated doggie beach.
11 Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is a wide stretch of sand with some areas so hard-packed that driving is permitted along the top of the beach. The town itself has long had a reputation associated with spring break, but that has passed, and it now draws a more sedate group of visitors.
The boardwalk and pier are filled with amusements, rides, games, and concessions, which are open all year-round. There are also many things to do in the surrounding area, including historic attractions like the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and the Mary McLeod Bethune
Foundation Home or high-speed excitement at the Daytona International Speedway. Due to its northern location, it is most popular from spring until fall.