View of Fort Lauderdale-by-the-sea and a clear blue sky

23 Best Beaches in Florida for 2022 (Picked By Locals)

The choices are many, yet the answer isn’t so obvious: what are the best beaches in Florida and which is right for me?

We’re two Floridians, one from South Florida and one from Central Florida, with years of experience exploring the best beaches in our home state. 

We’ve carefully selected our favorites: small island getaways, unspoiled stretches of sand, family friendly vacation spots, and city reprieves with State Parks and lively beachfront esplanades. Our list of Florida beaches has something for everyone, and we hope it helps you enjoy one of the best things to do in Florida: the beach!

And just imagine, by the end of this article, you’ll be one step closer to sinking your toes in the sand and cold drink in your hand as your worries melt away in the Florida sunshine.

👉 Jump to: South FL Beaches | Southwest FL | Florida Keys | Panhandle | Gulf Coast | Atlantic Coast

Best South Florida Beaches

From Miami to Jupiter, and everything in between, South Florida is the largest metro area in the Sunshine State featuring cities like Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.

South Beach

Miami Beach

View of the empty South Beach and a small lifeguard house
A quiet morning in South Beach

Google Maps | Website | Parking: metered street per hour or ramp parking per day | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: The Setai, Miami Beach

You’ll come for the action but stay for the beauty – and South Beach has a lot of it. From the historical art deco, the white sand, glimmering waters, and famous Florida sunshine, there’s more to South Beach than just nightlife. 

Start your day with a glowing sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean before getting some exercise along Lummus Park, a beachfront promenade featuring volleyball courts, fitness equipment, playgrounds, and ideal for rollerblades, jogging, or a stroller. 

Spend the rest of your day sinking your toes in the sand before making your way to the historic art deco walk on Ocean Drive for dinner and a drink. And for the night owls, your evening is just beginning as the bars and nightclubs that make South Beach famous come to life once the sunsets.

🔖 Bookmark for later: Miami is the epicenter of South Florida and the basis for many of the top things to do in the South Florida area!

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

Fort Lauderdale

View of Fort Lauderdale-by-the-sea and a clear blue sky
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is one of the best Florida Beaches for families

Google Maps | Website | Parking: metered street parking per hour | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Beach Aqualina Apartments

Call me biased, but Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is my favorite beach in South Florida. Sure, it was down the street from my apartment in Fort Lauderdale, but that only made me appreciate the finer details of the small beach town even more.

The beach is gorgeous – white sand, turquoise water, and one of the only beaches in the US with a coral reef accessible from the shore. Yup, you read that right, you can literally go scuba diving or snorkeling right from shore in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea to discover one of the most vibrant coral reefs in the Western Atlantic. 

Additionally, sea turtles are not uncommon on the reef as the beach itself is one of the busiest turtle beach nesting sites in the world.

📚 Related Reading: Scuba diving and snorkeling at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea made our list of 33 Top Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, what else did?

Jupiter Island

Jupiter

View of Katie sitting on a limestone shoreline
Katie with the limestone shoreline at Blowing Rocks Preserve

Google Maps | Website | Parking: free-$5 parking on street and at parks | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Jupiter Waterfront Inn 

The beaches on Jupiter Island do not offer a lot of parking or access points, but that is part of what makes these beaches special. The island is mostly residential and protected natural places, so you won’t feel crowded by throngs of beachgoers from towering hotels. 

I think one of the most spectacular beaches in Florida is at Blowing Rocks Nature Preserve. The shoreline is covered in limestone that has been eroded by the waves over the years. At low tide, you can walk through the rock formations, and at high tide, you can snorkel the beach to see fish and sea creatures. 

For a more traditional Atlantic Ocean beach, head to Coral Cove Park or Hobe Sound Beach which offers free parking and lifeguards. 

Hollywood Beach

Hollywood

View of the Hollywood Boardwalk and the beach with a line of palm trees
The beach and the Broadwalk make Hollywood a stellar Florida Beach

Google Maps | Website | Parking: street parking per hour, Hollywood North Beach Park is daily rate | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Diane Oceanfront Suites

Of all the beautiful beaches spanning Florida’s east coast, Hollywood Beach is one of the more interesting. It’s a quiet beach yet always has activity along the car-free Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. 

Visit Margaritaville, get some exercise by renting a bicycle, or stroll to North Beach Park for even more reclusiveness. Whatever it is you’re seeking, quietness or action, you’ll be able to find it here, making Hollywood Beach one of the best places to stay in Fort Lauderdale.

Southwest Florida Beaches

👉 Jump to: South FL Beaches | Southwest FL | Florida Keys | Panhandle | Gulf Coast | Atlantic Coast

Southwest Florida refers to the subtropical oasis surrounding the main cities of Fort Myers and Naples. Here are some of our favorite beaches in this area of the state:

Lovers Key State Park

Fort Myers Beach

View of a lady standing in the walkway going to the beach
The walkway to the one of the best Florida beaches at Lovers Key State Park

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Florida State Park fees between $2 and $8 depending on mode of transport and amount of people | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Latitude 26 Waterfront Boutique Resort

Lovers Key State Park might top the list of best Florida beaches – and not too many people know about it yet. The narrow barrier island is a reprieve from the busy public beaches of nearby Fort Myers while serving as a haven for all sorts of outdoor adventures. 

Hiking trails wind through subtropical hammock, mangrove channels weave around the island for paddlers, and of course, one of the most secluded beaches in Southwest Florida is just a short walk away from the parking lot.

Bowman’s Beach

Sanibel Island

View of a dead tree trunk with a seaweed on it in a shoreline
Clear blue waters and endless shelling 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: $5/hour | Best Nearby Hotel: Island Inn 

Bowman’s Beach is a picturesque, isolated beach on Sanibel Island. There is a 5-minute walk from the parking lot to the beach. The area immediately around the beach access will be the busiest. If you are game to walk a little farther in either direction, you will be rewarded with quiet and serenity. 

Sanibel and Bowman’s Beach are known for their excellent shelling. This beach offers miles of shoreline for shell-hunters to comb through.

👉 Read Next: The 33 Best Places to Visit in Florida

Naples Beach

Naples

View of Naples Fishing Pier and some people passing through it
The Naples Fishing Pier is an excellent location to catch a sunset

Google Maps | Website | Parking: metered parking per hour | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Inn at Pelican Bay

There’s a reason many Americans want to retire and move to Naples: the beaches are absolutely gorgeous. The most popular of the bunch is Naples Beach. Nestled in a natural setting, beachgoers have all the amenities they need for a serene and relaxing beach day. 

But the real attraction is the Historic Naples Pier, an old fishing pier where you can grab an ice cream before witnessing the most vibrant sunset of any Gulf Coast beach.

Marco Beach

Marco Island

View of a sand castle and two building on the background
Epic sand castle on the beach in Marco Island

Google Maps | Website | Parking: metered parking per hour | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Marco Beach Ocean Resort

Marco Beach is the main stretch of sand on Marco Island and one of the most pristine beaches in Florida. The sandy shore is often lined with sand dollars and seashells making it one of the most popular beaches for shelling. Just remember: the early bird gets the worm!

🐚 Combing for shells? So is everyone else! You’ll increase your chance of finding an immaculate shell by getting off the beaten path. This highly rated tour takes you to a remote island where you’ll find some of the largest, intact seashells on the Gulf Coast.

Florida Keys Beaches

👉 Jump to: South FL Beaches | Southwest FL | Florida Keys | Panhandle | Gulf Coast | Atlantic Coast

With few natural beaches, the Florida Keys are often overlooked when it comes to the best beaches in Florida. However, we’ve come up with a few that are well worth the visit if making the trip to the southernmost point.

Bahia Honda State Park

Big Pine Key

View of Henry Flagler’s railroad from Bahia Honda State Park
Henry Flagler’s railroad to paradise at Bahia Honda State Park

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Florida State Park fees between $2 and $8 depending on mode of transport and amount of people | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club

After years of rebuilding the devastation by Hurricane Irma, Bahia Honda State Park stands again amongst world class beaches and, by far, the best beach in the Florida Keys. 

You won’t find many nature trails, but the park does possess plenty of water sports like jet skiing, snorkeling, and paddling to keep you busy during your visit. Before you leave, be sure to grab a photo of the iconic ruins of Henry Flagler’s Railroad to Paradise.

Smathers Beach

Key West

View of people in Smathers Beach
Smathers Beach is the best of the bunch in Key West

Google Maps | Website | Parking: free street parking | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Avalon Bed & Breakfast

The largest beach in Key West is perfect for an afternoon of fishing, snorkeling, sunbathing, or paddling. The beach features water sports rentals, public bathrooms, showers, and a visiting food truck from time to time. My favorite part? The palm lined shore provides just enough afternoon shade for a quick nap before a long night out in Key West.

Florida Panhandle Beaches

👉 Jump to: South FL Beaches | Southwest FL | Florida Keys | Panhandle | Gulf Coast | Atlantic Coast

Northwest Florida, or the Panhandle, is the most accessible shoreline to the Southern United States and a popular vacation destination for those arriving from the Midwest. These white sand beaches are among Florida’s best.

St. George Island State Park

St. George Island

View of the entrance to St. George Island State Park
The entrance to St George Island State Park in Northwest Florida. (photo: Hackman / Depositphotos)

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Florida State Park fees between $2 and $8 depending on mode of transport and amount of people | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: The Gibson Inn

St. George Island State Park may be the most unspoiled stretch of sand left in Florida. The protected barrier island features miles of undeveloped beach, winding nature trails, biking routes, and paddling excursions through natural wetland. The beach is best suited for those seeking to escape the crowds and immerse themselves into nature.

Henderson Beach State Park

Destin

View of sand dunes in Henderson Beach State Park
Barrier island sand dunes in Henderson Beach State Park

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Florida State Park fees between $2 and $8 depending on mode of transport and amount of people | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Henderson Beach Resort

Henderson Beach State Park sits smack dab in the middle of the popular tourist destination, Destin. Although the surrounding town has grown significantly in recent years, the State Park has stayed much the same. Today, it offers fishing opportunities, crowdless beach days, picnic tables and pavilions for groups and families alike.

Navarre Beach

Pensacola Beach

View of Fort Pickens in Pensacola
Visit a Civil War era fort in the nearby Gulf Islands National Seashore 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: free street parking | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: SpringHill Suites

Within the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Navarre Beach is a small beach town getaway along emerald waters and pristine coasts. Near Pensacola Beach, history buffs will find the nearby historical buildings interesting while outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the 12 miles of undeveloped coastline. Beach bars, cafes, and small seafood restaurants are peppered throughout making Navarre Beach truly a last of its kind.

👉 Did You Know? A few years ago, Navarre Beach won the Travel Lemming Emerging Destination Award as one of the 30 top emerging destinations in the world!

Grayton Beach State Park

Santa Rosa Beach

View of the clear water in Grayton Beach State Park
The Gulf of Mexico at its finest at Grayton State Park in Santa Rosa Beach

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Florida State Park fees between $2 and $8 depending on mode of transport and amount of people | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: 30-A Inn and Suites

The stretch of sand between Destin and Panama City Beach is best known as Florida’s Emerald Coast. Fittingly, the water along the banks sparkles like a green gemstone with Grayton Beach State Park being one of the best in the area. Those visiting nearby cities Destin, Panama City Beach, South Walton, or Santa Rosa Beach will find an escape from the crowds and into nature.

Gulf Coast Beaches

👉 Jump to: South FL Beaches | Southwest FL | Florida Keys | Panhandle | Gulf Coast | Atlantic Coast

Florida’s Suncoast is a group of beaches primarily situated around the Tampa Bay area extending south to Sarasota. Because of the fine, white quartz sand, these are often thought of as the best Florida beaches on the west coast.

Caladesi Island State Park

Clearwater

View of the empty Caladesi Island State Park
Empty beaches await at this state park 

Google Maps | Website | State Park Entrance: $8/vehicle or $6/boat | Ferry: $16/adult, $8/child | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Fenway Hotel

Caladesi Island State Park is a barrier island located along Florida’s gulf coast. To access this beautiful beach, you must arrive by private boat or the ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park. In addition to the beach, the park offers hiking trails and waterways to kayak. 

Caladesi has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches for multiple years. Even with all that attention, the isolated nature of the beach means it rarely gets crowded and the beauty remains unspoiled. 

Honeymoon Island State Park

Dunedin

View of a wooden footpath going to the beach
Boardwalk out to the water 

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: $8/vehicle | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Hampton Inn Dunedin

Just north of Caladesi Island, you’ll find Honeymoon Island State Park. This is a great option for those looking to head to the beach later in the day, because there is plenty of parking. Since the beach faces the Gulf of Mexico, this park is one of the best beaches to catch stellar sunsets. 

The warm gulf waters are generally fairly calm, which is perfect for children or people who aren’t strong swimmers. For our furry friends, there is also a dog beach located a short walk from the parking area. 

👉 Don’t Forget To Pack: It can be hard to carry all your beach accessories through the soft sand, so pick up this Collapsible Wagon to move everything with ease. It even comes with cupholders and a small table!

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater

Aerial view of the Clearwater Beach
White sugar sand as far as you can see 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: $3/hour public lots, $3.50/hour street parking | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Club Wyndham Clearwater Beach Resort

When it comes to white sand beaches, Clearwater Beach cannot be beat! There is a reason why this is one of the best beaches in Florida. There are so many hotel options directly on the water, but the area doesn’t feel too crowded since there is so much room on the beach.

While Clearwater is a true beach town, there are lots of other activities to do. I recommend visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium because kids love to see the stars from the movie Dolphin Tale. 

📚 Related Reading: Clearwater Beach is one of the best day trips from Orlando, but check out our complete list for more ideas!

Lido Beach

Sarasota

View of a man with a baby sitting on a sand in Lido Beach
Jeremy and Marsden watching the waves at South Lido Beach 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: Free beach parking and street parking | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Lido Beach Resort 

When it comes to the Sarasota area beaches, Siesta Key Beach gets most of the attention. While Siesta Beach is a beautiful destination, the recent awards and MTV shows have caused the island to become very busy. 

Luckily, you can enjoy the same Gulf of Mexico views and gorgeous beaches on nearby Lido Key. There are two main public beaches: Lido Beach is located on the north side of the island and South Lido Beach wraps around the southern tip. I like to head to South Lido Beach because there are shaded picnic tables right next to the beach (although the beach area is not as large as Lido Beach). 

Caspersen’s Beach

Venice

View of a man searching for fossils in the shoreline
Searching the shoreline for fossilized shark teeth 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: Limited amount of free parking | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Inn at the Beach – Venice

The main activity at Caspersen’s Beach is hunting for fossilized shark teeth. This is one of the best Florida beaches to find these treasures, which happen to make excellent souvenirs. The teeth are plentiful in the shallow water and even wash right up onto shore. 

This is a smaller beach with dark sand. One plus is that the length of the beach has a boardwalk, so you don’t have to walk in the sand to get from one end to the other. 

Since there is limited parking, the area can sometimes fill up. Don’t worry though, just head north to Brohard Beach or Venice Beach, which offer lots of parking spaces and are still a great location for finding shark teeth.

👉 Pro Tip: Rent a sand sifter from the Venice Pier or purchase one at a local store to make your shark teeth hunting even easier!

Atlantic Coast Beaches

👉 Jump to: South FL Beaches | Southwest FL | Florida Keys | Panhandle | Gulf Coast | Atlantic Coast

Florida’s Atlantic Coast is the longest coastline we’ll reference, covering a span from the Georgia state line all the way south to Port St Lucie. Beachgoers from Orlando or Jacksonville might consider visiting one of these beaches.

Anastasia State Park

Saint Augustine

Aerial view of Anastasia State Park
Stunning beach with no hotels in sight 

Google Maps | Website | Entrance: $8/vehicle | Best Nearby Hotel: Embassy Suites St Augustine Beach 

Anastasia State Park is located on the northern end of Anastasia Island, where St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach are also located. As a designated park, there are no hotels or homes around. The beach feels secluded since you are surrounded by only the ocean and sand dunes. 

The park also offers camping, a boat launch, and kayak/canoe rentals. Kayaking through the marshes near the beach is an excellent way to see native wildlife, like dolphins and sea birds. 

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach

View of a lady looking at a relaxing view
The most relaxing view 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: lot fees vary, $20 on beach parking | 👉 Best Nearby Hotel: Hard Rock Hotel

Daytona Beach has been a popular vacation destination for decades. It is not the spring break hot spot that it used to be, but I think that is for the best. The area is the perfect location for everyone to enjoy the sun and the water.

There are only a couple of Florida beaches that allow driving and parking on the beach, but Daytona Beach is the most famous location. I love being able to leave things in the car and not worry about schlepping a heavy cooler across the sand. 

Daytona Beach is not the only fantastic destination in the area though. Ormond Beach, Ponce Inlet, and New Smyrna Beach are all beautiful areas to visit also. 

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

View of a sunrise in Cocoa Beach
Sunrise over the ocean

Google Maps | Website | Parking: multiple options, free-$15 | Best Nearby Hotel: La Quinta by Wyndham

Cocoa Beach has some of the best surfing in Florida. Kelly Slater, one of the greatest professional surfers ever, learned to surf in these waters. If you’re looking to catch some waves, head to Cocoa Beach in the winter, when the surf tends to be better (and the prices are cheaper!)

This is a true beach down, with plenty of surf shops and nature excursions. The beach is obviously the main draw, but if you want a break from the sun and the sand, try deep sea fishing or this inshore fishing excursion

📚 Related Reading: Orlando is only a one-hour drive from Cocoa. Be sure to take a look at my favorite things to do in Orlando if you’re in the greater Orlando area! 

Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island

View of Katie sitting and observing the beach
Summer or winter, Amelia Island is a beautiful getaway 

Google Maps | Website | Parking: free, but limited options | Best Nearby Hotel: Amelia Schoolhouse Inn

Amelia Island was originally settled by the French in the 1500’s. The town of Fernandina Beach exudes that long and rich history.

Fernandina Beach is located on the northern end of Amelia Island, just south of the Florida/Georgia border. The town is mostly residential, with plenty of vacation homes to rent. 

This is the perfect destination for a relaxing beach getaway. You can spend your days by water and head to downtown in the evenings for boutique shopping and dinner at a local restaurant. 

⛱️ Love Beaches? Check out our other guides to the best beaches around the world: in Puerto Rico, in San Diego, Tulum, and in Playa del Carmen.

Best Florida Beaches FAQs

What part of Florida has the nicest beaches?

Florida’s Gulf Coast, specifically the Suncoast, has the nicest beaches in Florida with its white sand beaches and crystal blue water.

What beach in Florida has the prettiest weather?

With year round, subtropical temperatures, the beaches in South Florida have the prettiest weather of any region of Florida.

Which beach in Florida has the whitest sand?

Siesta Beach on Siesta Key or Lido Beach near Longboat Key in Sarasota has the whitest sand in Florida.

What is the most relaxing beach in Florida?

We find the most relaxing beaches in Florida to be in the panhandle.  Everyone is in vacation mode and many of the state parks are less trafficked than other beaches throughout the Sunshine State.

***

📚 Read Next: The Best Things to Do in South Florida (By a Local!)

So there you have it, the best Florida beaches all in one place.  Which Florida beach is the most compelling? Which one would you like to visit most?

Let us know in the comment section below!

***

Editor’s Note: Katie Lusnia contributed to this article.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top