15 Best Beaches in Florida
Are you dreaming of flip flops and mimosas yet? Think of the white-hot sand, the summer vibes, the cool Atlantic waters. There’s no better state than the Sunshine State.
The Sunshine State. That’s what it’s called.
Not the sometimes-cloudy state, Florida is the bright and cheery capital of pickleball, the home of some amazing themeparks, and the site of some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.
And we're not alone in singing its praises: Florida is the second-most visited state in the vacation nation, behind only New York.
If you’ve been to Florida, you get it. If you have yet to, you’re in for a real treat.
This state has the second most beaches in the country, and the most beaches in the east coast!
Dream of summer with our picks of the 15 best beaches in Florida.
1. Cocoa Beach
Our first pick in the lineup of best Florida beaches is the gorgeous Cocoa Beach.
Near enough to Orlando, visitors to Cocoa Beach love to split their time between the amusement parks in the city and the beach’s lounging.
The city is actually home to a few beaches, the most popular being Westgate Cocoa Beach.
Cocoa Beach is an incredible destination if you want to surf or watch the pros who do it best.
In fact, Kelly Slater cut his teeth on the big rolling waves of Cocoa Beach’s surf, and there are still regular surfing competitions in the area.
2. Venice Beach
With 14 miles of white-sanded beaches, Venice Beach on the Gulf Coast is the number two beach to visit on my list.
The warm Gulf waters attract thousands of tourists each year, who love to swim, sunbathe, fish, and even shell.
Don’t know about shelling? Shelling is a favorite pastime on many at Florida beach, and Venice Beach is no different.
Find beautiful shells and old fossilized shark teeth buried just beneath the sand.
Not as well-visited as some of our other picks, many visitors report seeing wildlife at Venice Beach: Dolphins, shorebirds of all shapes and sizes, and cute little sea turtles are all reported regularly.
3. Key West
As the former home of Harry S. Truman, you can’t go wrong with a stop at this most popular of Florida’s Keys.
The Keys themselves are over 1,700 tropical islands situated off the coast of Florida, each one boasting beautiful sunrises and wonderful summer times.
Key West is exactly what you might have pictured: crystalline blue waters and white sand, sturdy palms hanging out over the sea, white sand, and those classic thatch umbrellas lining the coast.
Key West is a town and offers many beaches.
Though it may be more crowded than some, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Florida Keys.
4. Miami Beach
The favorite destination of spring breakers everywhere, Miami Beach may be the party capital of all the beaches on our list.
Spend the days navigating the seven miles of beach and hitting the famous Miami nightlife at South Beach.
The southernmost Miami Beach is also situated right next to the Art Deco district, a favorite for shopping and restaurants.
Miami Beach is extremely well-known and, as such, is almost always crowded.
If you’re not looking to navigate swaths of beachgoers, one of our quieter destinations may be more your speed.
If you’re looking for something like the full spring break experience, you can’t go wrong with Miami Beach.
Pensacola is another very popular beach destination in Florida.
Another city on the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola is also home to a well-known military base.
Pensacola Beach is what we usually think of when we think of Pensacola as a beach destination, but there are less crowded beaches as well.
Check out nearby Opal Beach - you won't be disappointed!
Pensacola is such a beloved destination because of the warm Gulf Coast waters and the ample opportunities to sight wildlife: dolphins and sea turtles are seen in abundance here.
6. Fort Lauderdale
Picked by US News as the #11 best place to travel to, Fort Lauderdale is a beloved vacation destination for many of America’s families.
One of the best family beaches in Florida, Fort Lauderdale has plenty of recreation activities that you can add on to your visit.
Play basketball at one of the many basketball courts, play volleyball in the sand.
Fort Lauderdale is great for Beachgoers of all ages.
Now, this is a city, and like Miami, Fort Lauderdale will often be crowded, especially during peak season.
Fort Lauderdale is, however, cheaper and less crowded than Miami is.
If you’re packing up the whole family in your minivan and want a vacation that doesn’t break the piggy bank, check out Fort Lauderdale!
7. Saint Augustine
Saint Augustine, the man for whom the Florida city is named, had a theory that when the human body and soul align, perfect unity is achieved.
For many, vacation is when our bodies and souls align, and there may be no better place to do it than Saint Augustine, Florida!
Two beaches await you in this quaint town -- Saint Augustine Beach and Saint Vilano Beach.
Stop by and check out the gorgeous mission architecture.
Lounge out on the shores during the day.
If you get bored of the endless ebb and flow of the sweet blue sea, you can check out Saint Augustine’s unparalleled shopping.
The iconic St. George Street hosts a variety of wonderful shops.
Check out the nearby Anastasia State Park for hiking and birdwatching.
8. Saint Petersburg
There are two Saint Petersburgs in the world, and this one has a beautiful beach.
Known as the Sunshine City, this city is that perfect mix of urban and rural that makes Florida’s smaller beach towns so excellent.
In Saint Petersburg, you can find respite from the vacation crowds or go headfirst into the heart of a thriving metropolis.
On the beaches of Saint Petersburg, sunbathe, parasail, and surf: these are all massively popular attractions.
Here’s an added fun fact: Saint Petersburg has the record for most sunny days in the year in the whole United States.
This beach town is the perfect sunny destination for your next trip.
9. Sanibel Island
Just looking at pictures from the beaches of Sanibel Island will make you want to check it out. This beautiful white sand beach has it all.
You can see the shells, especially at low tide, lining the coast, just waiting to be... shelled.
Indeed, collecting shells is such a common practice on Sanibel Island that the locals call it the Sanibel Stoop.
Sanibel Island is one of the best beaches in Florida to see a gorgeous sunset.
There are plenty of things to do here besides watching the sunset and collecting shells.
Sanibel Island is also well known for its lighthouse.
Go to Lighthouse Beach Park, walk out along the pier, and glimpse this relic of a simpler time.
Sanibel Island is certainly one of the prettiest beaches in Florida.
10. Clearwater Beach
Even those that know nothing about Florida’s beaches have an image of them: clear blue water and perfect white sand beaches.
As one of the top beaches in Florida, Clearwater Beach has it all.
Swim in the Gulf of Mexico, rollerblade or play volleyball with your friends in this inimitable example of Floridian beauty.
Take a romantic stroll on Beach Walk Promenade.
For lovers of fishing, Clearwater Beach is an excellent destination.
On Beach Walk Promenade’s Pier 60, lights adorn the structures giving fishers plenty of light to fish all through the night and into the day.
If you’ve never had a fishing all-nighter, well, now you have no excuse! Clearwater Beach is for you.
11. Captiva Island
What came first, our word "captivate" or Captiva Island?
Captiva Island is very near Sanibel Island, and the two are usually associated together.
What makes Captiva Island different?
Well, as Visit Florida tells us, there’s something magic about Captiva Island.
Perhaps it’s the warmth of the water, or the people who’ve decided to make it their home.
Whatever it is, you’ll never forget your visit to Captiva Island.
You can stay at South Seas Island Resort, a destination that boasts activities for the whole family.
Find starfish clinging to rocks near the tide pools, or giant frogs hopping about lazily at dusk.
Feel the air as the sun begins to set.
Captiva is surely one of the best Florida beaches.
You may not be an avid pickleball fan, but everyone who’s tried the sport will agree that it is the perfect family activity.
Easy to pick up but a lifetime to learn, pickleball may be your family’s next recreation activity.
You may be asking, "Okay, but why pickleball?"
Well, it just happens to be that Naples, FL is the pickleball capital of the world.
In addition to hosting the US Open Pickleball Championships each Summer, Naples is home to absolutely gorgeous beaches and unforgettable beach vibes.
If pickleball's not your thing, play at any one of the sprawling golf courses, walk hazily along the piers, or snorkel in the crystalline waters.
Naples is a must visit, especially for first timers.
Destin is the destination for hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and one of the top Florida vacation spots.
As US News puts it so well, everything is at its highest in the Summer: prices, crowds, and temperatures.
Come in the off season and Destin may just become one of your favorite places to visit.
If you don’t mind the crowds, however, Destin is affordable compared to a spot like Miami Beach.
Another excellent spot for wildlife sightings, Destin affords ample dolphin-watching, sea turtle-seeing, and shorebird-shooing (or watching) opportunities for the wildlife lovers among us.
For nature lovers, check out nearby Grayton Beach State Park.
14. Fort Myers Beach
In any article about the best beaches, you’re likely to find Fort Myers.
Listen to how Visit Florida describes the sand: sugary. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
This place stays sweet all year long.
Fort Myers itself is located on a small barrier island.
The way this barrier island interacts with the surrounding ocean is why its sand is so awesome.
As I mentioned above, Fort Myers is very close to its sister beaches Sanibel and Captiva, both of whom made our list.
Why not complete the trifecta and visit here?
Fort Myers has a wide, gently sloping beach that extends for miles: perfect for morning and evening walks.
15. Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
The last item on our list needs some introduction.
Don’t let the name fool you: the Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park is the perfect spot to sink into the simplicity of nature.
Located far away from the big cities, this beach is an awe-inspiring destination for stargazing at all times of year.
Though part of the island’s beaches have been closed due to damage by hurricanes, the majority of the park is accessible and beautiful as ever.
If you want some time to become one with your inner ascetic, look no further than the Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park.
Advice From the Pros
Now that you know our picks for the best beaches in Florida, you should be all set to plan your next trip to the home of orange juice, but if you still have some lingering questions, this may help you out.
We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from our readers and tried to answer them here.
What Are the Nicest Beaches in Florida?
The nicest beaches in Florida are on this list!
It’s so hard to narrow it down, but we'll do our best!
If you're just getting started exploring Florida, check out Naples, St. Augustine, and Miami beaches.
All three are close to cities, but Naples and St. Augustine both have plenty of room for lounging away from the crowds.
If there are state parks in your destination, be sure to check those out as well. These offer some of the most natural beauty in terms of beaches. You can check out a list of Florida State Parks here.
Which Beach Has the Clearest Water in Florida?
Try the Gulf Coast.
Because the Gulf waters are separated from the Atlantic by the peninsula of Florida itself, these waters become very clear.
From our list, try Key West, Venice Beach, Fort Myers, Captiva or Sanibel islands.
What Is The Best Beach in Florida For Couples?
So many of Florida’s beaches are romantic, it can be hard to choose.
In romance as in life, we say simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.
Go for Captiva or Sanibel Island if you two like the outdoors.
If you’re into shopping, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Saint Augustine.
Which Florida Beaches Are The Cheapest?
If you'd prefer to vacation on a budget, you can still get some serious beach time in Florida.
From our list, you can save money with Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale and Venice Beach.
Florida is home to hundreds, maybe thousands of beaches, and each one offers different perks.
If you’re on a budget but still want to treat yourself or your family, check out Visit Florida’s recommendations.
Now that you’ve seen the kind of things waiting for you in Florida, you have no excuse not to visit.
Florida is an amazing place that is full of memories just waiting for you and those you love.
Shop beneath the mission architecture in Saint Augustine, see your feet with crystal clarity in the waters of Clearwater, party it up in Miami, or take a moment of peace and sweet relief at Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park.
Whatever your summer jam is, this east coast state has it in spades.
So get out there and explore!