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With 663 miles of beaches in Florida, there’s a stretch of sand with your name on it. From urban beaches that are all about see-and-be-seen to remote stretches of sand with nary a sunbather in sight, there’s a lot to explore in the Sunshine State.
The Florida Keys are a collection of hundreds of islands, most of them only accessible by boat. Never fear, though – some of the best sand is right off the road in Key West. Spend the day on Higgs Beach then walk into the town to see the sun set.
If it’s super white sand you are after, it’s hard to beat Clearwater Beach. This swath of sand is on the Gulf Coast close to Tampa – wade into the warm-as-bath water, play a game of beach volleyball, or sign up for a dolphin-watching cruise.
Sanibel is another Gulf beauty – it’s known for beachcombing. Come here early in the morning to find exotic and beautiful sea shells. Collectors come here from all over the world!
Palm Beach is great for strolling – the sand here seems to go on forever. Just behind the dunes are lines of palm trees and some of the grandest homes in the state.
Ft. Myers, Naples & Venice Beach
Set along the edge of southwestern Florida between the Tampa metropolitan area and Big Cypress National Preserve, the Gulf Coast stretches along the Gulf of Mexico – yielding coastal communities like Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Bonita Springs.
Set just southwest of Fort Myers and Cape Coral, the city of Fort Myers Beach features seven miles of silvery shores ideal for swimming, sunning, and sandcastles.
Fort Myers Beach is home to Lover’s Key State Park, Dog Beach, and the iconic Fort Myers Beach Pier. Watch dolphins and sunsets along the pier, enjoy the many fresh seafood restaurants, or just stretch out along the Gulf Coast.
Just south of Fort Myers, the beach town of Bonita Springs features the sandy shores of Bonita Beach Park, Little Hickory Island Beach Park, and Barefoot Beach Preserve Park. Beach-goers are encouraged to try kayaking, windsurfing, and just plain lounging along the stunning shores of Bonita Springs.
Venice, a small town near Sarasota, is a historic community yielding some of the most picturesque beaches in Florida. Stroll along Caspersen Beach, bring the family-dog to Paw Park and South Brohard Beach, or grab your rod and reel and head to the famed Venice Fishing Pier. Known as the Shark's Tooth Capital of the World, Venice also features the unique activity of tooth hunting, and hosts the annual Shark's Tooth Festival in April.
Find surfing, shelling, and sunbathing in Naples – framed by the Gulf of Mexico and Picayune Strand State Forest. Naples features bustling beaches in the form of Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park, Clam Pass Beach Park, and Vanderbilt Beach. Enjoy casting out from Naples Pier, play volleyball at Lowdermilk Beach Park, or head to North Gulfshore Boulevard Beach for a stroll along Florida’s Gulf Shore.
Miami, Key West & Bonita Springs Shores
The Sunshine State’s southern regions along with the Florida Keys yield some of the most famous and beautiful beaches on the globe. Southern Florida is home to the shores of Miami Beach, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, and miles more.
The sunny city of Miami is the largest metropolitan area in Florida, and home to coastal communities like Miami Beach, North Miami, and Florida City.
Hosting some of the best Florida beaches, Magic City features the sandy shores of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Virginia Key Beach, Haulover Beach, Homestead Bayfront Park, and of course, South Beach.
Located in the city of Miami Beach, South Beach is a community encompassing Miami’s barrier island – located between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. Speaking of the bay, don't forget Biscayne National Park.
Referred to as SoBe, South Beach doubles as historic entertainment district by night, and one of the best sunny spots in southern Florida by day. Visitors enjoy bicycling, sunbathing, and phenomenal nightlife.
Found on the Straights of Florida, and a staple of the Florida Keys, Key West is a famed beach community totaling 3,370 acres. Former home to famed authors like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, Key West is a tropical paradise featuring festive events, quaint historic districts and theaters, and of course, plenty of beachfront.
Swim, snorkel, and sunbathe at Key West beaches like Higg’s Beach, Rest Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Try parasailing, jet skiing, and windsurfing at Smathers Beach, or build sand castles on the sandy shores of Dry Tortugas National Park.
Other southern beaches include Deerfield Beach, West Palm Beach, and Jupiter Beach Park in Jupiter.
Orlando Area Beaches
The Orlando area may be known for it’s famed theme parks, but a close second is certainly the stunning beaches of the Space Coast.
Located along the edge of eastern Florida, the Space Coast features well-known shores such as Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and Hutchinson Island near Port St. Lucie.
The Port St. Lucie area features several public beaches worth a visit – many of which are found on the stunning Hutchinson Island. Enjoy a day at Dollman Beach, Kimberly Bergalis Beach, and Frederick Douglass Park.
Try fishing and picnicking on North Bridge Causeway Island or bring the dog to Walton Rocks Beach – the county’s lone dog beach.
Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach feature 23-miles of white-sanded shores, and has been dubbed the “World's Most Famous Beach.” Beaches include the Daytona Beach Shores, while area attractions like the Main Street Pier and Oceanfront Boardwalk are must-sees during your time on the Space Coast.
Also known as the Fun Coast, the region offers many natural areas worth exploring as well, like the Bulow Creek State Park, North Peninsula State Park, and Tiger Bay State Forest.
Attention surfers, visit the Cocoa Beach area near Cape Canaveral for the famed Ron Jon Surf Shop, plus surfing festivals, and of course, come incredible waves. Encompassing cities like Cocoa and Titusville, Cocoa Beach is a beach-goers paradise featuring Alan Shepard Beachfront Park, the Thousand Islands Conservation Area, and Cocoa Beach Pier.
Don’t miss the Ron Jon Easter Surfing Festival in the spring, or Labor Day Weekend’s National Kidney Foundation Pro-Am Surfing Festival – the largest charity surfing event in the world.
Clearwater, Tampa, & Sarasota Shores
Florida’s west central shores face the sterling Gulf of Mexico, and features miles of stunning shoreline in the forms of Pine Island Park near Weeki Wachee, Fort Island Gulf Beach in Crystal River, and Caladesi Island State Park west of Dunedin.
Set west of Tampa along the Gulf of Mexico coast, Clearwater Beach is a 2.5-mile white-sand shore within the city of Clearwater.
Located on a barrier island along Gulf to Bay Boulevard – or Florida State Road 60 – Clearwater Beach has an average temperature of 73 degrees, and features a nearby marina, a beachwalk, pier, and many other attractions. Clearwater Beach activities include parasailing, jet skiing, boating, and of course swimming, sunbathing, and sand castles.
Part of Clearwater Beach, Sand Key Park is ideal for picnicking and playing, while Pier 60 offers souvenir shops, family-friendly events, and a fishing pier. Don’t miss Sunsets at Pier 60, or head to the Beach Walk for restaurants, bike trails, and rinsing stations.
South of Clearwater, St. Petersburg is home to Fort De Soto Park. Although the park features many activities, Fort De Soto is best known for its award winning beaches – divided into East Beach and North Beach and totaling three miles of shoreline. Hosting nearly three million annual visitors, Fort De Soto also offers two fishing piers, a 2.5-mile canoe trail, and a seven-mile recreation trail. Enjoy lunch at the Arrowhead Picnic area, let the family pet loose at the dog park, or check out the Quartermaster Museum.
Other west central Florida beaches include Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island in Bradenton, and the South Brohard Beach & Paw Park in Venice.
Last but not least, be sure to stretch out on Siesta Key – one of the nation's top beaches. Found in southern Sarasota, the Siesta Key beach Known for its 99 percent quartz-sand shores, allowing the sand to remain cool and feel like talcum powder on your feet.
Jacksonville & St. Augustine Shores
Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Saint Augustine Beach – these are the coastal communities found in northeastern Florida.
Surrounding the massive city of Jacksonville, these Atlantic Ocean beaches feature everything from surfing and snorkeling to swimming, lounging, and sandcastle construction.
Home to more than 10 miles of beachfront, Jacksonville Beach, along with coastal communities like Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach, offers great swimming, sunning, and even surf fishing.
For those ready to hit the Atlantic, try kayaking, windsurfing, and surfing along the shores, or grab your tackle box and head for the 1,000-foot Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier. Join the party at the Jacksonville Beach Seawalk Pavilion, hosting events like the Great Atlantic Seafood & Music Festival, or simply catch up on some reading along the shores of northeast Florida.
Set near the city of St. Augustine, the coastal communities of St. Augustine Beach and Palm Coast are certainly worth a visit during your time in northeastern Florida. Located on Anastasia Island, St. Augustine Beach features the St. Johns County Pier, volleyball courts, and plenty of beachfront for sunbathing and swimming. If you’ve got the family dog in tow, check out pet-friendly beaches in Palm Coast like Jungle Hut Road Park, Mala Compra Road Beachfront Park, Old Salt Road Beach Park, and Varn Park.
Other beaches in the St. Augustine area include Crescent Beach, Vilano Beach, and the Anastasia State Park and Recreation Area. Enjoy lunch at a picnic spot on North Beach, stretch out on South Ponte Vedra Beach, or try surfing at Guana River State Park – all pristine beaches on the Atlantic coast.
Pensacola, Ft. Walton & Panama City
Many of Florida’s most exquisite beaches are found along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Panhandle – known as the Emerald Coast. Bustling beach communities include Panama City, Pensacola, and Destin – all found along Interstate 10 and perfect for a summer road trip. The Panhandle’s westernmost city, Pensacola is best known for Pensacola Beach, located on Santa Rosa Island just south of the city.
Enjoy surfing, sunbathing, and swimming along Pensacola’s radiant white coast, head out to the crystal clear water for boating and fishing, and try snorkeling at Capt. Bob Quarles Reef, Park East Snorkeling Reef, or Park West Snorkeling Reef. Stroll the Quietwater Beach Boardwalk, or take in one of Pensacola's annual festivals like Lobster Fest, Bushwacker Fest, and DeLuna Fest.
Further along the coast, Panama City is the northern neighbor of the frequented Panama City Beach – encompassing 27 miles of white-sanded shoreline. The Spring Break Capital of the World, Panama City Beach features beaches like Pier Park, the St. Andrews State Recreation Area, and Mexico Beach.
Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, boogie boarding, and much more, or check out annual events like the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, New Year's Eve Beach Ball Drop, and the Indian Summer Festival.
Featuring sugary sand and aquamarine water, Destin sits west of Ft. Walton Beach along Gulf Breeze Parkway – framed by the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Set along the Santa Rosa Sound, Navarre – known as Florida's Best Kept Secret – hosts the stunning Navarre Beach Park. Adorned with white sand and teal waters, Navarre Beach features picnic spots, quaint gazebos, breathtaking sunsets, and prime sunbathing real estate. Don't forget the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.
All together, the Emerald Coast consists of 24 miles of beachfront, and features James Lee Park, Beasley Park, Marler Memorial Park, and Wayside Park – plus several beaches along Okaloosa Island and Santa Rosa Island.