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With 1,197 miles of unspoiled beauty and a pristine coastline, it is no surprise that Florida has some of the best beaches in the world. White powdery sand, turquoise waters, and charming beach towns – the Sunshine State has the winning combination for a perfect year-round destination. Its endless beach day weather is perfect for vacationers who are looking for a little fun in the sun.
In Florida, you are spoiled for choice, but with so many beautiful coastlines – which beach should you choose? We’re here to help you narrow it down with a snapshot of some of the most beautiful beaches in the Sunshine State, along with the best hotels nearby, whether you’re a couple looking for romance or a family with little ones. Soak in stunning ocean views with your toes in the sand and let your worries melt away at one of the top beaches in Florida.
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Siesta Beach is in Siesta Key – an eight-mile barrier island an hour out of Tampa, that runs along Florida’s Gulf Coast and is impressive, to say the least. Consistently ranking as one of the top white sand beaches in Florida (and the United States), Siesta Beach is known for its fine white quartz sand, described as the most pristine and finest in the world. Many beach-goers revel in the fine quartz powder that gives this beach undoubtedly a magical quality, allowing it to stay cool under the powerful Florida sun.
Laid-back with predominantly warm, calm waters, Sanibel is a favorite for families traveling with children. Sanibel Island is known for its world-class shelling and charming vibes, you will find visitors and locals alike bent over scouring the beach to examine the unique treasures the ocean provides in what has affectionately been coined as the “Sanibel Stoop.” While there are many restaurants, shops, and galleries in the area, Sanibel likes to preserve its small-town feel and you will be hard-pressed to find many chain restaurants, streetlights, or even traffic lights.
One of the most popular beaches on Florida’s Gulf, Clearwater Beach has an impressive set of accolades. Racking up a long list of awards for the quality of the beach, its surrounding area, and the gorgeous sunsets, Clearwater is a quintessential Florida beach. Beach-goers are captivated by musicians and street performers, deep-sea fishing, boating, jet-skiing, and scuba diving are also popular activities. It is not uncommon to spot sea turtles, rays, or even a school of dolphins.
Put away your passport at the 26 miles of Caribbean quality beach on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Santa Rosa Beach draws beachgoers for its tranquil turquoise waters and quartz-crystal sand. While it sustained hurricane damage in recent years, Santa Rosa Beach is open and ready for visitors. Visit nearby Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for sunbathing, biking, bird watching, and hiking. In addition to the wide variety of natural resources in Topsail, there are 3.2 miles of secluded white sandy beaches.
One of the best state parks in the state, Bahia Honda is an ultimate Florida getaway. World-class beaches, legendary snorkeling, and diverse wildlife viewing opportunities are what make Bahia Honda a top pick for visitors. The clear, warm waters of the large stretch of beach are ideal for families who want to spend the day swimming, fishing, or snorkeling, while there are scenic hiking trails and a nature center that offers ranger-led activities and talks.
If you’re looking for a secluded state park with stunning natural beauty, Honeymoon Island State Park is where to go. Just as the name suggests, Honeymoon Island is a secluded state park perfect for those seeking privacy and tranquility. Nature lovers will appreciate the nature trails and gorgeous landscapes, and the beach is pristine, with soft white powdered sand and idyllic crystal blue waters. Perfect for an itinerary filled with sunbathing, nature watching, and shell collecting, Honeymoon Island offers 4 miles of untouched paradise. Nature lovers will rejoice at the 3-mile nature trail full of osprey, bald eagle, and great horned owls. Close the day by catching a stunning sunset and it will be an experience that is surely hard to beat.
Away from the masses, Caladesi Island State Park boasts unreal views of pristine beach line on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Reachable via a ferry, avoid the crowds at what feels like a deserted island all to yourself. If you’re up for a little adventure, watch dolphins frolicking in the waters and gopher tortoises burrowing in the sand or embark on a kayaking excursion through the mangroves and bay.
Why Come Here: Uncrowded beaches and an abundance of golf and fun historic sites.
Top Hotels: Omni Amelia Island Plantation | Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island Historic Harbor Front
A true Southern jewel, Amelia Island is 13 miles of lush landscape, untouched beach, and laid-back vibes. A family-friendly destination favorite in Florida, you’ll find plenty of fun water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing. Perfect for a leisurely day, take a walk through the 50 blocks of cobbled streets of historic downtown Fernandina Beach to soak up the charming ambiance, then go horseback riding on the beach or see a 19th-century fort at Fort Clinch State Park.
Why Come Here: A nature lovers paradise with a white sandy coastline and two rare coastal dune lakes for kayaking.
Best Hotels: Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard | Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard
Emerald green waters, side streets paved with crushed oyster shells, and Hemingway-style wooden homes are what make the artsy Grayton Beach area a local favorite. Visit the famous shoreline and bask in the view of its 2,000-acre unspoiled beach views. You’re spoiled for choice with outdoor adventures, from biking and hiking trails to summertime swims.
Known for its luxury shopping and golf courses, Naples sits on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida. Only a two-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Miami, Naples beach is 10 miles of tranquil, warm waters with white “sugary” sand. If you visit at the right time of year, you might spot sea turtle nesting or dolphins splashing about in the water, as the Gulf of Mexico is littered with unique wildlife. A great place for families to unwind and relax for a day, popular activities include fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling. Golf courses and shopping opportunities abound, making Naples a luxury beach destination as well. It is the perfect beach to unwind in warm, tranquil waters.
A local gem, St. George Island State Park is a quiet and unspoiled barrier island situated in Northwest Florida. Picturesque natural beauty at its finest, here you’ll find a gorgeous landscape of undeveloped beaches and sand dunes. There are also 17 miles of paved bike paths, while those who prefer to explore on foot can see if they can spot some of the over 300 types of birds. One of the last preserved barrier islands in Florida, its soft sugary sands pair well with charming waterfront cafes and days spent out on the water in a kayak or sunset cruise.
Considered the epicenter of Florida’s Gulf Coast, the family-friendly Pensacola Beach consistently ranks as one of the best beaches in Florida’s Panhandle. Indulge in the lively activities at the Pier, snorkel through underwater aquatic life, and stay for their epic sunsets. You can also take a stroll along the Pensacola Beach Pier, catch a Blue Angels show at National Naval Aviation Museum or explore Florida’s history at Fort Pickens.
Soak in the stunning natural beauty of Florida without tourist crowds at Fort De Soto Park, where shelling, swimming, and strolling the white powdered sandy beaches are a top priority. For a unique souvenir, you can find colorful seashell treasures found along its wide stretch of sand. You can often find sand dollar shells, lightning whelk shells and jingle shells that have washed up ashore.
One of the most notable beaches along Florida’s Panhandle, Henderson Beach State Park is a small beach in the former sleepy fishing village of Destin. Destin has developed an incredible resume of pristine beaches and world-class nightlife. Although the area has grown considerably in the past decade, it has maintained the same charming, southern vibe it once had. Beachgoers enjoy renting bikes, packing a picnic in one of the many pavilions, fishing, bird watching, and soaking in the calm waters.
World-renowned for its mix of big city vibes and eccentric liveliness, South Beach is one of Florida’s most iconic beaches. With a never-ending amount of entertainment, you simply can’t be bored at South Beach. Water activities are king at this beach – you can snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, paddleboard, canoe, fish, or windsurf. Strolling the beach is an activity in itself, as people-watching is practically a sport here. Beautiful people, wild parties, trendy bars and clubs, South Beach is where you go to have fun.
Located on the Atlantic Coast and 23 miles north from its big-city rival Miami, Fort Lauderdale holds its own with a low-key version of its flashy neighbor. Dotted with stunning beachfront restaurants and hotels, Fort Lauderdale has more than dazzling blue waters to entice you to visit. There are fantastic shops, cafes and cultural events to keep you entertained as well. Once popular as a spring break destination, Fort Lauderdale has since evolved into a family-friendly destination. The beach is lined with a pedestrian walkway near hotels, restaurants, and shops by active locals in-line skating, jogging and doing yoga.
Want to avoid the crowds but enjoy a lively night out? If you’re the type of beachgoer that likes the best of both worlds, Delray beach is your perfect destination. Once voted “Most Fun Small Town in America” by USA Today, Delray is a small beach town with a big personality. Situated less than an hour from big cities like Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, it is known equally for its beautiful beaches and nightlife. Delray also provides visitors a plethora of activities like surfing, kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling.
Why Come Here: Opportunities to surf, delicious local restaurants, nearby nightlife.
Top Hotels: Best Western Cocoa Beach Hotel & Suites | La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Cocoa Beach Oceanfront
Popular with the Central Florida area and made famous by pro-surfer Kelly Slater, you’ll find surfing is a favored activity at Cocoa Beach. Cocoa has calm and consistent waves, perfect for a beginner learning the sport. Whether you’re catching a wave yourself or you just want to watch the experts do their thing, Cocoa Beach is a great area to relax with no frills. For a viewpoint 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, head to the pier and enjoy beachfront bars and restaurants serving fresh seafood.