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The 20 Best Beaches in Florida (and Why)

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 looking for fun in the sun.

In the Sunshine State, 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 list of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

Siesta Beach Siesta Key Beach, Florida
Credit: Siesta Key Beach, Florida by © Fotomak | Dreamstime.com

Siesta Beach

Why Come Here: The world-famous white quartz sand and picturesque sunsets.

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.

Sanibel Island Sanibel, Florida
Credit: Sanibel, Florida by © Sakkawokkie | Dreamstime.com

Sanibel Island

Why Come Here: World famous shelling, small-town charm, local dining, and a peaceful atmosphere.

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, and 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.

Clearwater Beach Clearwater Beach
Credit: Clearwater Beach by Amdizdarevic/shutterstock.com

Clearwater Beach

Why Come Here: Tons of fun nightlife and activities, beautiful sunsets, and local artistry.

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, and deep-sea fishing, boating, jet-skiing, and scuba diving are popular activities. It is not uncommon to spot sea turtles, rays, or even a school of dolphins.

Santa Rosa Beach Aerial View of Breaking Waves at Santa Rosa Beach Florida
Credit: Aerial View of Breaking Waves at Santa Rosa Beach Florida by © William Gibson | Dreamstime.com

Santa Rosa Beach

Why Come Here: Its sugar-white sand beaches and outdoor adventures like hiking, biking, and birdwatching.

Put away your passport at the 26 miles of Caribbean-quality beach on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Santa Rosa Beach draws beachgoers for its picture-perfect turquoise waters and quartz-crystal sand. 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 in Santa Rosa where you can spend a sunny afternoon swimming and lounging.

Bahia Honda State Park Bahia Honda State Park
Credit: Bahia Honda State Park by © SimonDannhauer | Dreamstime.com

Bahia Honda State Park

Why Come Here: Known as one of the best spots for snorkeling and beachcombing in Florida.

One of the best state parks in the state, Bahia Honda is the 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.

Honeymoon Island State Park Honeymoon Island State Park
Credit: Honeymoon Island State Park by Marcea Cazel

Honeymoon Island State Park

Why Come Here: Off the beaten path and uncrowded, nature trails, shell collecting.

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.

Caladesi Island State Park Caladesi Beach
Credit: Caladesi Beach by Pinellas County via Flickr

Caladesi Island State Park

Why Come Here: It’s one of the few remaining large undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Away from the masses, Caladesi Island State Park boasts unreal views of pristine beach lining 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.

Amelia Island Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Credit: Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island by Madison Y Photo/shutterstock.com

Amelia Island

Why Come Here: Uncrowded beaches and an abundance of golf and fun historic sites.

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.

Grayton Beach State Park Grayton Beach, Florida
Credit: Grayton Beach, Florida by © William Gibson | Dreamstime.com

Grayton Beach State Park

Why Come Here: A nature lovers paradise with a white sandy coastline and two rare coastal dune lakes for kayaking.

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.

Naples Beach Naples Beach in Naples, Florida
Credit: Naples Beach in Naples, Florida by © Meinzahn | Dreamstime.com

Naples Beach

Why Come Here: The abundance of golf courses, the luxurious but still tranquil vibe, and activities for the whole family.

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.

St. George Island State Park St. George Island
Credit: St. George Island by Flickr

St. George Island State Park

Why Come Here: Miles of unspoiled natural beauty without the tourist crowds.

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.

Navarre Beach Navarre Beach, Florida
Credit: Navarre Beach, Florida by © Michael Wood | Dreamstime.com

Navarre Beach

Why Come Here: An underrated gem on the Gulf Islands National Seashore with affordable hotels.

Nicknamed “Florida’s Playground,” Navarre Beach is a compact community with a rich history. Part of the pristine Gulf Islands National Seashore, visitors can soak in the 12 miles of isolated coastline and enticing emerald waters. While relaxation is at the top of most itineraries, you can also go swimming in its emerald waters, fish from the coast’s longest pier, or take a cruise along the scenic bike paths.

Pensacola Beach Pensacola Beach
Credit: Pensacola Beach by © Colin Young | Dreamstime.com

Pensacola Beach

Why Come Here: Postcard-worthy views with sugar-white sands and emerald waters.

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.

Fort De Soto Park Fort De Soto
Credit: Fort De Soto by Pinellas County via Flickr

Fort De Soto Park

Why Come Here: Miles of sugary sand popular for swimming, kite surfing, and beachcombing.

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.

Henderson Beach State Park Henderson Beach State Park
Credit: Henderson Beach State Park by © Wirestock | Dreamstime.com

Henderson Beach State Park

Why Come Here: To soak up the sunshine at more than 6,000 feet of scenic shoreline.

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.

South Beach South Beach

South Beach

Why Come Here: Famous year-round for its sun-kissed beaches, lively nightlife, and luxury hotels.

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. With beautiful people, wild parties, trendy bars and clubs, South Beach is where you go to have fun.

Fort Lauderdale Beach Fort Lauderdale Beach
Credit: Fort Lauderdale Beach by © Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Why Come Here: A beautiful beach, vibrant arts scene, and a range of cultural attractions.

Located on the Atlantic Coast and 23 miles north of 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.

Delray Beach Delray Beach
Credit: Delray Beach by © Lunamarina | Dreamstime.com

Delray Beach

Why Come Here: An underrated destination with beautiful beaches and a buzzing nightlife scene.

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 with a long list of activities like surfing, kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling.

Blue Mountain Beach Blue Mountain Beach
Credit: Blue Mountain Beach by © Chris White | Dreamstime.com

Blue Mountain Beach

Why Come Here: To escape the crowds and enjoy Florida’s natural beauty. 

The perfect blend of natural beauty and turquoise coastal waters, Blue Mountain Beach takes its name from the blue lupine flowers found here. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all in the Panhandle, as this South Walton beauty features soft white sands where you can throw out a towel and bask in the sunshine. Outdoor activities include swimming, kayaking, paddling boarding, and biking along the trails while indulging in fresh Gulf seafood at a local restaurant is a must. 

Cocoa Beach Cocoa Beach, Florida
Credit: Cocoa Beach, Florida by © Leandro Cagiano | Dreamstime.com

Cocoa Beach

Why Come Here: Opportunities to surf, delicious local restaurants, and nearby nightlife.

Popular in 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 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.

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