15 Top Beaches in Florida

There is a best beach to suit every taste in Florida, from the powdery white sand beaches of South Walton to the cosmopolitan, trendy beaches of Miami Beach. Find your favorite Florida beach with our handy guide.

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February 14, 2020
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Photo By: Visit Florida

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Miami Beach

Miami Beach is the place for people watching. With the Art Deco facades of Ocean Drive as your backdrop, watch the toned bodies play volleyball and sun themselves bronze. For coffee, hit News Cafe, a local institution that attracts a mix of beach bums and business types on hiatus. Enjoy cocktails poolside under the impossibly tall palm trees at the Delano South Beach Hotel, where you may just spot a celebrity or two.

BOOK NOW: Delano South Beach | Hotels.com, $269/per night

Sanibel Beach

Sanibel is a unique barrier island with an east-west orientation that differs from the typical north-south layout. This east-west designation has helped Sanibel earn its reputation as one of the Shell Islands — prime spots along Florida's coastline for gathering perfectly intact shells in every shape and size. Hit the beach with a bucket, shovel and small net, and stroll the beach at low tide to peruse the ocean's bounty of conch, cockles and scallop shells. Bowman's Beach is the quietest and most remote stretch of sand in Sanibel, while a historic lighthouse beckons visitors to take a stroll on the rustic boardwalk at Lighthouse Beach.

Naples Beach

The biggest dilemma when chilling on the pearly white sands in Naples is which way to look. On one side are the rolling waves, and on the other are the gleaming mansions that make up Millionaires' Row. One of the most popular beaches at Naples Pier is in the city, on 12th Avenue South. Another great beach lies a few miles north of Old Naples, at the Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. This is a great place to spread out the family's beach blanket and camp out for the day, as there are bathhouses and food stands on-site and rentals available for everything from umbrellas to kayaks to snorkeling gear.

Palm Beach

This 16-mile-long, half-mile-wide island is the epitome of wealth and extravagance. In times past, it served as the winter home to the Vanderbilts, the Kennedys, the Rockefellers and other millionaires. True to form, the town still features some of Florida's finest hotels, restaurants and shops, as well as beautiful beaches. Perched next to the Gulf Stream, this beach town also enjoys the extra benefit of warm blue water and gentle breezes.

South Beach

Take a dip in the crystal-blue waters of Miami's South Beach, an international playground that offers non-stop nightlife, high-end shopping, luxurious boutique hotels and unique Art Deco architecture. This man-made beach is perfect for early morning runs and topless sunbathing.

Delray Beach

Each year, nearly 1 million people visit family-friendly Delray Beach to enjoy the 2-mile-long beach that's ideal for fun beach activities, including sand castle-building. Take a break from the beach and hit nearby Atlantic Avenue, lined with boutiques, seafood restaurants, and the luxurious Seagate Hotel and Spa.

BOOK NOW: The Seagate Hotel & Spa | Hotels.com, $355/per night

Siesta Key

With so much to see and do, it's almost impossible to lie idle on Siesta Key. Whether you curl your toes in it, run your fingers through it or bask on it, the allure of the island sand is contagious. Beach lovers flock to these silky shores to take advantage of the wide expanse of sand and the tranquil Gulf waters. Siesta Key Beach is perfect for strolling, shell-collecting or more active pursuits, such as renting a catamaran or kayak from one of the many beach concessionaires. This perfect family vacation venue, which boasts beachside picnic areas and playgrounds, is also home to candlelit restaurants and cozy rental cottages ideal for a romantic getaway.

Key West

A beach lover's heaven, Key West is one of the most enchanting of the 1,700 islands that make up the Florida Keys. It's also the southernmost city in the continental US. The beaches in Key West are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and fishing is allowed off the piers at most beaches. Enjoy these activities at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Florida's southernmost state park — and one of its most beautiful spots — that's home to wide stretches of sand and tranquil waters. We recommend renting a 2-person, glass-bottom kayak if you're looking for a fun but romantic escape.

South Walton

Set on Florida's Panhandle, South Walton welcomes visitors with warm breezes, eye-pleasing views and family-friendly activities, only minus the crowds (hello, Panama City).

Anna Maria Island

A barrier island on Florida's Gulf Coast, Anna Maria Island is where to go when you and the kids really just want to chill on a beach for a week, gazing out into tranquil turquoise waters. If you want to do more, there's more to do too, like kayaking at Robinson Preserve. Maximize your time in nature by booking a 2.5-hour kayak tour in search of manatees and bottlenose dolphins or visit Perico Preserve for birdwatching.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is best known for its great surfing waves and come-as-you-are vibe, with chill waterfront bars and a fishing pier. For the most pristine beaches, away from the high-rise buildings, head to 13th Street South (or Patrick's Air Force Base), where you'll find a strip of beach known as Second Light. (It's also where the area’s second traffic light is.) The sandbanks, along with sea oats and rolling dunes, create a good beach break in between surfing.

Vero Beach

This central stretch of Florida coastline is called the Treasure Coast for good reason — several Spanish galleons from the 1715 Treasure Fleet, lost in a hurricane, have yet to be recovered in these waters just off Vero Beach. Every few years, some lucky beachcomber turns up an 18th-century rosary or dazzling emerald in the beach's coarse, white sand (check out the Mel Fisher's Treasures for treasure finds). Once you've tried your own treasure-hunting luck, relax at The Driftwood Resort, one of the area's oldest hotels, made almost entirely of natural driftwood from trees and wooden planks that washed ashore. When you're not soaking up the sun, hit Penelope's Boutique for handmade jewelry and chic women's wear and The Laughing Dog Gallery for crafts such as blown glass and metal sculptures.

Clearwater Beach

One of America's finest white-sand beaches, Clearwater Beach spans a narrow, 3-mile stretch of the Pinellas Peninsula on the Gulf Coast. Clearwater's proximity to Tampa offers visitors ample activities to enjoy, including beach volleyball, parasailing, a dolphin-watching cruise, and a fun fishing excursion.

Jupiter

In Jupiter, you'll be treated to exquisite beaches and relaxing family activities. Go on a turtle hatchling walk at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park or paddle a kayak along the Loxahatchee River. At Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, wander the shady nature trails to see rehabilitated wildlife like bears, pumas, and bobcats in their natural habitat. You won't want to miss ogling sea turtles at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, along with tropical fish and colorful shells.

Captivia Island

Captiva Island shares the distinction of being one of Florida's Shell Islands. Captiva is generally the spot to find the larger of the intact shells. Turner Beach, though not good for swimming because of fast currents, is the perfect spot for a shell-hunting adventure. Just be sure to leave any live shells on the beach, or you'll risk breaking the state's strict shelling laws. At sunset, head to Captiva Beach at the end of Captiva Drive to take in a spectacular sunset.

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