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Top 20 Best Florida Beaches

Updated on November 22, 2016
FloridaFacts profile image

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Sand, sea, and sunshine are in plentiful supply across Florida, which has some of the best beaches in the world.  On the west side of the state is the Gulf Coast, and on the east is the Atlantic, both offer world class resorts.
Sand, sea, and sunshine are in plentiful supply across Florida, which has some of the best beaches in the world. On the west side of the state is the Gulf Coast, and on the east is the Atlantic, both offer world class resorts. | Source

Without doubt it can be said that Florida has some of the best beaches in the world, by whatever measure that you choose to use.

The classic Florida beach combines hot sunshine, plenty of attractions and things to do, plus warm tropical seawater rolling in over white sand.

The truth is that there are many gorgeous beaches on both sides of the state, Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast, so picking out my top 20 best Florida beaches was never going to be an easy task.

I have tried, therefore, to give a spread of beaches with a range of types and locations - after all, some people prefer a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of bars, restaurants and attractions in the neighborhood, while others prefer something quieter.

Here are my selections for the top 20 best Florida beaches.

“I live in Florida, and when people ask how close to the beach I am, I say, “Twelve minutes or twelve hours. Depends on which beach you want to go to.”

— Jarod Kintz

Bahia Honda State Park

The island of Bahia Honda Key is virtually uninhabited and home to some of the most incredible white sand beaches in Florida, with waters that are clean and clear.

For the more active, there is snorkeling and boating to keep you busy. Nature lovers can enjoy bird watching and the loggerhead sea turtles which nest and hatch along the beaches in summertime.

Sebastian Inlet State Park

This AtlanticCoast beach is one of the hottest surfing spots in Florida and also has opportunities skimboarding, fishing and snorkeling, amongst other things.

Fans of Mother Nature might be interested in the wildlife, which includes ospreys and sea turtles.

Smathers Beach in Key West is named after a former senator who served in Florida for nearly 20 years, and is one of the longest and most well known beaches in the area.
Smathers Beach in Key West is named after a former senator who served in Florida for nearly 20 years, and is one of the longest and most well known beaches in the area. | Source

Smathers Beach in Key West

Smathers Beach has pretty much everything. One of the longest and most well known beaches in Key West, it was named after a former senator who served in Florida for 18 years.

You can leave your board at home, as there is no surfing here, but plenty of other exciting things to do, including tanning, parasailing, jet skiing, and snorkelling.

Cocoa Beach Pier.  The beach is lively and there is always plenty to do for visitors.
Cocoa Beach Pier. The beach is lively and there is always plenty to do for visitors. | Source

Daytona Beach

This a vibrant beach with plenty to do. One of the great things about the beach at Daytona is that you can drive on it, which is appropriate when you consider Daytona’s history as a Mecca for racing car fans.

Cocoa Beach

Just fifteen miles from the NASA Kennedy Space Centre and just an hour's drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach’s popularity began to grow in the 1960s with the rise of the space industry. It became famous for being the only beach in the world where you could watch a space shuttle launch.

There is plenty more to do besides watching space rockets, however, as the surfing scene is positively vibrant and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to socialize in.

Clearwater Beach

This is a white sand beach in Tampa Bay on the Gulf coast side of Florida, less than twenty miles from Tampa Airport. As well as sun and sand, available activities include: jet skiing, parasailing, miniature golf, "pirate ship" cruises, and boat tours where dolphins can often be seen.

Fort Lauderdale Beach.  The city has been called the "Venice of America" because of its extensive canal system.
Fort Lauderdale Beach. The city has been called the "Venice of America" because of its extensive canal system. | Source

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale has been called the "Venice of America" because of its extensive canal system, but the city also hosts some wonderful, classic Florida beaches of white sand, moistened by warm tropical water from the Gulf Stream.

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

On the Atlantic coast, this beautiful beach in Key West has lots of fun things to do, including snorkeling on its rocky reefs. There are half a dozen beaches on Key West, but Fort Zachary Taylor is considered the best beach by many on the island. There is also a snack bar, showers and bathroom facilities.

As it is a state park, you do have to pay to get onto this beach, which helps to cover the costs of keeping the beach maintained. Fees are:

$6.00* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.

$2.00* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

$4.00* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

* Plus $.50 per person Monroe County Surcharge.

Sanibel Island

A beautiful place on the west coast of Florida, not far from Fort Myers, Sanibel is actually made up of two islands: Captiva and Sanibel.

Both of these islands are great for families and romantic couples, you can cycle, play golf, go fishing, or go shelling along the beach.

Siesta Key

An eight mile long barrier island, Siesta Key is famous for its quartz-crystal white sand and jewell green waters. The island has three wonderful beaches where you can have a picnic, play volleyball, snorkel, go fishing, or throw a Frisbee.

Delray Beach

With 2 miles (3.2 km) of public beach that can be easily accessed from Florida State Road A1A, and all the nightlife, dining, and shopping nearby in Downtown Delray Beach, this popular location is another place to spend time.

As well as surfing and sunning, there is the Delray Wreck,a favorite site for those who love snorkeling and scuba diving.

The Naples Fishing Pier stretches 1,000 feet into the Gulf and is excellent for fishing and watching sunsets.  It is located at the west end off 12th Avenue S.
The Naples Fishing Pier stretches 1,000 feet into the Gulf and is excellent for fishing and watching sunsets. It is located at the west end off 12th Avenue S. | Source

Naples

Situated on the Gulf Coast, the Naples Beach consists of 10 miles (16 km) of pristine white sand. There are restrooms and showers available.

Voted the best beach in america by the Travel Channel in 2005, the beach is also notable for its cleanliness.

South Beach, as its name suggests, is the lower part of the Miami peninsula.  The beach is tolerant of the European custom of topless sunbathing, especially at Lummus Beach.
South Beach, as its name suggests, is the lower part of the Miami peninsula. The beach is tolerant of the European custom of topless sunbathing, especially at Lummus Beach. | Source

South Beach

An internationally famous tourist hotspot and the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, South Beach boasts a vibrant nightlife, fine dining, and Art Deco area, as well as a popular beach area.

Most of the sands are public and you will be impressed by the variety of languages and accents you will hear.

Atlantic Beach

Two miles of white, sandy beach give you a laid back place to chill out and forget the stresses of everyday life.

Nearby is Jacksonville, with its big-city energy and resources. You can also visit Hannah Park, popular with surfers, beachcombers, campers and bicyclists.

Established as a resort by entrepreneur, Henry Flagler, who opened up the area with his Florida East Coast Railway, Palm Beach has attracted America's social elite, from the Kennedys to the Pulitzers to the Trumps, for decades.
Established as a resort by entrepreneur, Henry Flagler, who opened up the area with his Florida East Coast Railway, Palm Beach has attracted America's social elite, from the Kennedys to the Pulitzers to the Trumps, for decades. | Source

Palm Beach

From the Kennedys to the Pulitzers to the Trumps, Palm Beach has long been a favorite hangout for America's social elite.

When not on the beautiful beach, you can travel around the city in a Palm Tram. There is plenty to do here, including the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and the vibrant nightlife on Clematis Street.

Captiva Island

Just north of Sanibel Island on the Gulf Coast, Captiva Island is a magical place, which got its name, according to legend, from the pirate José Gaspar (Gasparilla) who held his women prisoners on the island for ransom.

Popular with the rich and famous, the The Wall Street Journal chose Sanibel and Captiva Islands in 2010 as one of the 10 Best Places for Second Homes.

The Emerald Green waters at Destin Beach.  The city is estimated to attract over 80 percent of tourists who visit the Emerald Coast.
The Emerald Green waters at Destin Beach. The city is estimated to attract over 80 percent of tourists who visit the Emerald Coast. | Source

Destin

A popular Emerald Coast destination for tourists and visitors, there is no shortage of things to do in Destin, Florida.

Sometimes called: "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village", the city is estimated to attract more than 80 percent of the Emerald Coast's 4.5 million annual visitors to the area.

The cool clear emerald green waters and warm sun are certain to relax even the most stressed.

St. Augustine Beach is a great place for sun, sand, and surf, but it can get busy at popular times of year.
St. Augustine Beach is a great place for sun, sand, and surf, but it can get busy at popular times of year. | Source
The bay at St.Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos can be seen in the background. The historic city of St. Augustine is certainly worth a visit if you go to the beach, the city is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the continental USA.
The bay at St.Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos can be seen in the background. The historic city of St. Augustine is certainly worth a visit if you go to the beach, the city is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the continental USA. | Source

St. Augustine Beach

One of the less well known facts about St. Augustine, FL is that as well as being a historic city with lots of attractions, bars, and places to eat, the city also has some excellent beaches nearby.

The beach is large with lots of sand and waves. There are numerous access points to the beach, but no place to get chairs or umbrellas so you will need to bring your own.

As well as being a popular tourist destination, it is also a favorite location for couples to marry.

Pensacola Beach

Another beautiful Gulf Coast beach that is certainly worth a visit, Pensacola is up in the panhandle region of the Sunshine State.

The beach is long, roomy, and clean. If you find yourself in need or food or drink, there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.

Lido Beach, Sarasota

Located close to Siesta Key Beach, Lido Key Beach is another beautiful stretch of sun, sand, dunes, and sea that will melt away all the tensions and stresses of visitors.

Sarasota is situated on the Gulf Coast side of the state, south of the Tampa Bay Area and north of Fort Myers.


© 2012 FloridaFacts

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    • Nora411 profile image

      Nora411 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I've traveled to both Siesta Keys and Clear Water beaches. Both amazingly beautiful!Clear water is also great at night on the weekends, they have street performers who may also include the kids in the all the fun! Great Hub Voting up and useful!

    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 4 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      After reading this hub I want to pack my sunblock and head to florida! take care pam.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Gully! I was hoping that the ones on Amelia Island will be mentioned.

      Voted Up.

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