Ready for a beach day?
Well grab your beach bag and some flip-flops because we’re about to travel around the coast of Florida, highlighting some of the best beaches in the state.
While some of the beaches listed below are their own individual spots, other locations I've listed have multiple beaches to explore which you can do right through the links I've provided.
We'll start our journey on Florida's north Atlantic Coast, then head south down the East Coast, make a pit-stop in the Florida Keys, then travel up the West Coast and finally into the Florida Panhandle.
Let the fun begin!
Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island
About 45 minutes north of Jacksonville International Airport is where you will find the northernmost beach on our list, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. The high-end resorts located on the island offer the best beach access, but there is also plenty of state park acreage for nature lovers. Add in a quaint downtown district and some great golf courses, and this is a destination that should be on everyone’s Florida beaches bucket list.
Atlantic Beach is a relaxed little beach town just east of the big city living in Jacksonville. There are a few hotels in the area, but visitors will usually find a better selection among the condo and house rental options. There is a lot of history to explore in the area, and Hannah Park is the best spot for the classic Old Florida-style beach environment.
St. Augustine Beach
If you find yourself attracted to the history of St. Augustine, you will want to rank St. Augustine Beach high on your list of Florida beaches to explore. Located on Anastasia Island, this little community is best known for its four-acre beachfront park and pier. And if you are a Jeep driver, St. Augustine Beach is also one of the few places where you can get your vehicle out onto the beach.
While it is best known for being the home of NASCAR’s most important race, there is also plenty for beach-lovers to enjoy in Daytona Beach. From live music at the Daytona Beach Bandshell to enjoying the history of the Main Street Pier, this is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a Florida beach with a wide variety of exciting attractions. Daytona is of course home to Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach, which actually has it's very own private beach club located in Ormond Beach.
New Smyrna Beach
Just south of Daytona Beach is where you will find the charming beach town of New Smyrna Beach, which is widely known for being one of the best surfing spots along the Atlantic Coast. The surrounding town embraces this love for sand and water, and it shows in both the architecture and atmosphere of the area.
Located on Florida’s Space Coast, Cocoa Beach offers a small-town community vibe just a stone’s throw from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Visitors can enjoy a walk down the famous Cocoa Beach Pier and endless boutique shopping options in Cocoa Village. The beach itself is known as one of Florida’s better surf spots, and it is also home to the world’s largest surf shop.
Known for excellent golfing and fishing, Vero Beach sits right on the border between what many consider the central and southern Atlantic Coast portions of Florida. This popular destination combines relaxing beaches with a historic downtown district right next to the water. Vero Beach is also home to one of the largest manatee populations along the east coast.
Blowing Rocks Preserve, Jupiter Island
At first glance you might have thought this was a beach in Northern California or the Pacific Northwest, but I promise you we're still in Florida. Wildlife lovers rave about everything they get to see at Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island. This preserve sits out on a barrier island, and it is the perfect place to learn about all of the sea turtles and other endangered species that call Florida’s Atlantic Coast home. In addition to the wildlife, visitors here also enjoy some of the most beautiful limestone formations in the world.
If luxury resorts and Atlantic waves are what you seek, Palm Beach will be the ideal Florida beach destination for you. This island community features just about all of the golf and shopping anyone can handle, and the beaches are always pristine. If you’re a first-time visitor, make sure you schedule that trip during the annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival!
When searching for the perfect Florida beach destination, most people prefer a small-town vibe that also offers close access to nearby amenities. With its location just south of Palm Beach and north of Boca Raton, Boynton Beach delivers that in spades. There is always something exciting to explore between the Boynton Beach Inlet, Oceanfront Park, and Boynton Harbor Marina.
With an international airport, a plethora of high-end resorts, and all the restaurants and shopping anyone could desire, Fort Lauderdale is the ultimate Florida destination for visitors looking to combine a relaxing time on the beach with exciting activities and world-class cuisine. Don’t skip out on visiting the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk and the Arts & Entertainment District.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
Located just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Miami, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne is a tropical paradise complete with stunning views from atop the local lighthouse. This park is an excellent destination for anyone who prefers to be active at the beach, as there are plenty of things to explore as you make your way around the park.
South Beach, Miami
What do you get when you take Fort Lauderdale, mix in a little Miami attitude, and turn up the volume? You end up with the unique experience of South Beach!
This famous Miami Beach neighborhood is known for its classic beach-inspired architecture and some of the hottest nightclubs along the Atlantic Coast. If you’re looking to mix in a little partying and some high-end dining, this is the beach destination for you,
The Florida Keys
With a location just south of Miami, Key Largo is a perfect option for a quick weekend trip that doesn’t waste too much time traveling. Between the incredible scuba diving around the world’s largest artificial reef and the fabulous luxury accommodations like Baker’s Cay Resort, there is no reason not to put Key Largo on your Florida beach bucket list.
Bahia Honda State Park
Located on the tiny Bahia Honda Key just east of Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda State Park is one of the country’s southernmost state parks. Its central location makes it a great day trip option for anyone staying along the stretch from Key Largo down to Key West.
The park itself offers lovely beaches and a boat ramp that makes Bahia Honda Key extremely popular among anglers. There is also a nature center on the island to educate visitors on some rare birds that visitors can spot in the area.
Many visitors think of Islamorada as a great place to stop for lunch on their way down to Key West, but this collection of six islands has much more to offer than initially meets the eye. Known as “The Sportfishing Capital of the World,” Islamorada is home to a nearly endless amount of water-based activities, as well as some of the best beaches and resorts in the Keys.
While it often gets lumped in with things to do around Key West, it’s hard to argue that Dry Tortugas National Park doesn’t deserve an independent spot on this list. In addition to offering gorgeous secluded beaches, historians will love exploring Fort Jefferson. The area is also home to some of the very best snorkeling locations in all of North America.
Smathers Beach, Key West
No list of Florida destinations is complete without at least a passing reference to Key West, and this list of great beaches is no exception. Smathers Beach is the most popular option in Key West, and its 1-mile stretch of well-manicured sand is only a short walk from the fun of Duval Street. You can usually catch a meal from a food truck or the local cafe while you are kicking back at Smathers, so plan on making a full day out of your visit.
Bonita Beach Dog Park
Just south of Fort Myers Beach is a tiny barrier island known as Bonita Beach, and it is here that you will find one of Florida’s best dog-friendly beaches, Bonita Beach Dog Park. This is an “off-leash” park, so your four-legged friends can run free and explore the area. There is also a doggy shower to help you clean up after a day of fun in the sun.
Heading northwest up the coast from Bonita Beach will run you right into Captiva Island, which is featured on just about everyone’s list of the most beautiful beaches in the country. This isn’t just a beach destination, though, because biking, sailing, and other watersports are accessible from Captiva Island.
Located about as far south as you can get along the Gulf Coast is where you will find the popular vacation destination of Marco Island. Luxury resort stays are the primary attraction here, but nature lovers will also enjoy Collier Seminole State Park. As for the beaches, Marco Island offers up the same white sand and emerald green water that you’ll find all along the Gulf Coast.
We’ve mentioned luxury resorts and fine dining a few other times on this list, but nothing in the state of Florida compares to the stunning resorts and high-end restaurants of Naples. Enjoy the beach from one of the many five-star resorts located right on the sand, and then make a point to hit up the historic downtown district for designer shopping.
The Gulf Coast is known for its gorgeous sunsets, and the beaches of Sanibel Island offer one of the best views in all of Florida. Located just southwest of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is also known for luxury resorts, outstanding dining, and some of the best beaches for shelling in all of Florida. And we’re not done yet, because this is also an excellent destination for anyone looking to charter a Gulf Coast fishing adventure.
Sitting a little north of Siesta Key, right between Bradenton and Sarasota, is where you will find Longboat Key. Residents and visitors can enjoy a 12-mile stretch of pristine Gulf Coast beaches that are the perfect version of laid-back, Old Florida living.
Siesta Key Beach, Siesta Key
Located next to Sarasota, Siesta Key is an 8-mile island that was named the top beach in the country for the 2020 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards. With accommodations right on the beach, this is a perfect spot for laid-back beachgoers to enjoy themselves in one of the most relaxing spots in all of Florida.
Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg
Another popular beach destination in the Tampa/St. Pete area is Fort DeSoto Park, which spreads across five barrier islands guarding the entrance to Tampa Bay. In addition to kicking back on the beach, there is an excellent fishing pier and plenty of places to explore by kayak or canoe.
St. Pete Beach
Just north of Fort DeSoto Park and a little south of Clearwater Beach is the famous St. Pete Beach, which shares the same white-sand and emerald-green water that makes these Central West Florida beaches incredibly popular. It also stole the title of TripAdvisor’s top beach from Siesta Key in 2021.
Clearwater Beach is quite possibly the ultimate family vacation beach. It offers the complete experience, including everything from white-sand beaches to live music tiki bars. In keeping with that family-friendly vibe, Clearwater has all kinds of vacation-style adventures and excursions, so there is always something to keep your crew excited.
Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin
If having an undeveloped island all to yourself is your idea of a good day at the beach, then Caladesi Island State Park is the place for you. Officially located in Dunedin, this beach spot is only about an hour west of downtown Tampa and is just a short ride north of the famous Clearwater Beach. In addition to the beach action, the park also offers a nature trail walk and bayside kayak paths for exploring the mangrove forest.
St. George Island State Park
Located on a barrier island right in the heart of Florida’s Forgotten Coast, St. George Island State Park is an undeveloped paradise that is perfect for beach lovers. This untouched paradise is an ideal destination for shelling, and it also offers one of the best stargazing spots along the Gulf Coast. The bay on the other side of the island is perfect for birding with regular bald eagle sightings.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
Head west from St. George Island State Park, swing around the barrier islands, and you’ll run right into St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, which is another untouched paradise of white sand that is perfect for wildlife observers. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is also an excellent spot for scalloping in the late summer and early fall.
Panama City Beach
Don’t let its reputation as a spring break destination fool you because, with 27 miles of white sand, Panama City Beach is a fantastic place to visit all year round. In addition to dozens of public beach access points, the area is also home to St. Andrews State Park and Camp Helen State Park. And if you are into fishing or scuba diving, the reefs just off the coast in this part of the Panhandle should be on your bucket list.
Grayton Beach State Park
Just about halfway between Destin and Panama City is where you will find Grayton Beach State Park, which regularly makes just about everyone’s list of the very best beaches in the country. Anyone looking for a rustic overnight experience will love the appeal of the cabin rentals available sitting in the woods just minutes from the beach. Guests at the park will also find excellent lake fishing and four miles of trails. This is one of the closest beaches to Latitude Margaritaville Watersound.
While it is known as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” anyone who has visited Destin knows that this beach is one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Fishing is crazy popular here, but so is simply sitting on the white sand beaches looking out over the beautiful Gulf views. Destin also offers some excellent seafood restaurants in one of the best small-town atmospheres along the Panhandle.
Fort Walton Beach
Just west of Destin, heading towards Pensacola, is where you will find Fort Walton Beach, which is a classic Old Florida beach town complete with golf courses and museums in addition to the requisite white-sand beaches and emerald-green water. There are multiple family-friendly resorts located right in town, as well as the outstanding Props Craft Brewery.
Santa Rosa Beach
If getting close to nature is what you’re all about, Santa Rosa Beach in Walton County is the perfect place for you to explore. This community sits just east of Destin and offers access to the massive 15,000 acre Point Washington State Forest. Like all of these fantastic beaches along the Panhandle, it is known for that white sand and green water.
I hope this guide gives you a jumping-off point to identify some of the best beaches Florida has to offer. Now all that's left is for you to get out there and find your best beach.
Got a favorite beach we might have missed? Let us know in the comments down below!