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13 Best Beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast

The beaches along Florida’s Gulf Coast are some of the best in the United States, offering palm-tree-dotted shores and easygoing vibes that are perfect for a tropical getaway. You’ll discover soft white sand, sparkling emerald waters, and access to charming seafood restaurants and an array of memorable outdoor adventures. For unspoiled landscapes and stunning sunset views, head to one of these top beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Siesta Key Siesta Key Beach
Credit: Siesta Key Beach by Suncoast Aerials/shutterstock.com

Siesta Key

Why Come Here: To see its world-famous white quartz sand and picturesque sunsets.

Consistently ranked in the top spot as the most beautiful beach in the United States, Siesta Key is the ultimate beach escape. An eight-mile barrier island with stunning natural beauty, this award-winning beach is known for its pristine sugary white sand that is often described as the finest in the world. Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach, and Crescent Beach are the most popular along the barrier island, offering tranquil waters that provide a safe spot for swimming and snorkeling.

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

Clearwater Beach

Why Come Here: Enjoy endless water activities and Sunsets at Pier 60.

Clearwater Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the Sunshine State, and for a good reason. Its white-sand beaches are alluring to even the most experienced beachgoer, lined with crystal blue waters that make for an excellent beach getaway throughout the year. Spend your days looking for shells and enjoying the ambiance of this award-winning beach, go on a pirate cruise, then visit Pier 60 for nightly sunset celebrations and live performances.

Fort Walton Beach Fort Walton Beach
Credit: Fort Walton Beach by Kristi Blokhin/shutterstock.com

Fort Walton Beach

Why Come Here: A family beach with tons of kid-friendly attractions nearby. 

Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Fort Walton Beach is an idyllic Gulf Coast destination with 24 miles of picturesque shoreline. A family-friendly area with white sand beaches and emerald green waters, this fuss-free beach is a great place to soak up the sunshine. Dine on delicious Gulf-to-table seafood at local restaurants, take the kids to see the marine life at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park or go on a boating excursion at this year-round fishing destination.

Pensacola Beach Pensacola
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Pensacola Beach

Why Come Here: Savor the postcard-worthy views with sugar-white sands and emerald waters.

Showcasing postcard-worthy views, beachgoers will find it tough to break away from the sugar-white sands and emerald waters of Pensacola Beach. Take a stroll along the Pensacola Beach Pier to indulge in fresh seafood and capture gorgeous sunset views. Head to the Naval Aviation Museum to see restored aircraft and watch the Blue Angels practice, or take a short drive to Perdido Key State Park for a day of crabbing, hiking and fishing.

St. Pete Beach Clearwater beach, Florida
Credit: Clearwater beach, Florida by © Mariakray | Dreamstime.com

St. Pete Beach

Why Come Here: A long list of top Florida attractions nearby and plenty of fun in the sun available for all ages. 

A Gulf Coast gem, St. Pete Beach offers a solid stretch of undeveloped beach. Just a short drive from Tampa, this family-friendly destination offers immaculate sugar-sand beaches and a picturesque coastline. Enjoy the long list of activities here, whether you want to join water sports fun, head out for a dose of culture at the nearby Dali Museum, or admire the lush foliage at the Florida Botanical Gardens. Shoppers will want to take a stroll down Corey Avenue to browse the boutiques, restaurants, and galleries.

Sanibel Island Bowman's beach at Sanibel Island
Credit: Bowman's beach at Sanibel Island by Andriy Blokhin/shutterstock.com

Sanibel Island

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

One of the most beautiful towns in Florida, Sanibel Island offers visitors a combination of outdoor adventures and natural attractions. Boasting a small-town charm without chain restaurants, streetlights and traffic lights, Sanibel Island is home to 15 miles of beach and over 250 kinds of shells. Known as the “Shelling Capital of the World”, people travel from all over the world to scour the beaches every morning for the array of unique pieces that have washed up ashore.

Destin Destin, Florida
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Destin

Why Come Here: Soak up the sunshine at over 6,000 feet of scenic shoreline.

Destin is a beautiful coastal gem on Florida’s Panhandle, packed with sugar-sand beaches. Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” this area is a fisherman’s paradise with plenty of boating excursions available, while kids will delight in the action-packed Destin Harbor Boardwalk. Take a dip in the picturesque blue-green waters that lap its shores, or take a short drive to nearby Henderson Beach State Park to relax among the swaying dunes and sand pines.

St. George Island St. George Island State Park
Credit: St. George Island State Park by Arturo Donate via Flickr

St. George Island

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

Home to St. George Island State Park, St. George Island is a 28-mile-long barrier island that lacks chain restaurants and high-rise hotels. Kayaking, cycling, and paddleboard are popular outdoor activities, while the clear Gulf waters make for a great day of fishing. One of the last preserved barrier islands in Florida, head here to enjoy its soft sugary sands that pair well with charming waterfront cafes and sunset cruises.

Sarasota Beaches Lido Beach in Siesta Key
Credit: Lido Beach in Siesta Key by © Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

Sarasota Beaches

Why Come Here: Beach hopping opportunities and family-friendly attractions.

Sarasota is a year-round vacation destination with a string of eight stunning islands tucked away on the Gulf Coast. When finding the perfect beach area to meet your needs, you’re spoiled for choice. At the same time, family-friendly attractions like Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and Marie Selby Botanical Garden will keep the kids entertained. A favorite for its ecotourism philosophy and stunning sunset views, head to Lido Key for sunbathing or get out on the water to go deep-sea fishing, dolphin watching, or sailing.

Panama City Beach Panama City Beach
Credit: Panama City Beach by Christoph3rW/shutterstock.com

Panama City Beach

Why Come Here: Family-friendly stretch of beach and day trips to see some of Florida’s most pristine landscapes.

Home to 27 miles of sugar-white beaches, family-friendly attractions, and charming beachfront hotels, Panama City Beach, has much more to offer than its Spring Break reputation. With nearly 100 public access points, this picturesque beach is perfect for relaxing on its soft quartz sand, playing a volleyball game, or swimming in its Gulf waters. For a quiet escape, take a day trip to nearby St. Andrews Park to appreciate its unspoiled natural beauty with a day of biking, snorkeling, or kayaking.

Fort Myers Beach Fort Myers Beach
Credit: Fort Myers Beach by © Fotoluminate | Dreamstime.com

Fort Myers Beach

Why Come Here: It’s home to family-friendly beaches and a fun range of water and land activities.

Fort Myers Beach has the perfect combination of sun-kissed beaches and historic landmarks, family-friendly attractions and natural landscapes. Dig your toes in this picturesque stretch of beach and soak up the sunshine, or kick your vacation up a notch with an adventurous day of parasailing and kayaking. Its small-town charm is seen through its cottages and beachfront properties, while nature lovers will want to visit Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium to see bald eagles, hawks, and owls.

Venice Venice Beach, Florida
Credit: Venice Beach, Florida by bigstock.com

Venice

Why Come Here: To uncover unique treasures along the shore and browse its charming downtown area.

Venice is an underrated Gulf destination in Florida, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy water sports, fishing, and boating, but this small town is famous for something entirely different. Walk along its shores and discover unique souvenirs, a collection of fossilized shark teeth that have washed up on its pearly white beaches. Afterward, explore the historic downtown area, admire the beautiful architecture, browse the boutiques, and dine at local seafood restaurants.

Naples Naples, Florida
Credit: Naples, Florida by © Giovanni Gagliardi | Dreamstime.com

Naples

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

Naples is an excellent Gulf Coast destination, a nature lovers’ paradise with white sandy beaches and gorgeous turquoise waters. Known for its luxury shopping, world-class golf courses, and family-friendly beaches, Naples is a great place to go dolphin-watching and fishing. Stroll along the shoreline and watch a colorful sunset, admire underwater marine life surrounding Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, or enjoy some fun in the sun with the entire family at Lowdermilk Beach.

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