Aerial view of the blue water in Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota

23 Best South Florida Beaches for 2022 (By a Local)

White sand beaches, crystal clear waters, lush tropical greenery, and year-round warm weather – it’s no wonder millions of Americans flock to the best South Florida beaches year in and year out.

Honestly, why do you think I moved here in the first place? The beaches are simply stunning. Just see for yourself below. And once you’re done, bookmark our top beaches in the state of Florida to see how they compare!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

23 Best Beaches In South Florida

Cayo Costa State Park

Cape Coral

The author and her wife in Cayo Costa
Exploring Cayo Costa after a night of beach camping

📍 Google Maps | Website | Boat Access Only; Ferry Ticket + SP Entrance Fees | Reserve a Campsite

Looking for the most pristine beach in Southern Florida? Look no further than Cayo Costa State Park. This gorgeous, heavily wooded island along Florida’s Gulf Coast is only accessible by boat with public ferries departing daily from Pine Island. 

The boat ride is worth the trip alone as you’ll pass by manatees, dolphins swimming off shore, and shore birds flying above to catch their next meal. After docking on the remote island, you’ll step back in time to a natural subtropical setting sparsely found in Florida today.

⛺ Try Beach Camping! I’ve visited here as a day trip from Fort Lauderdale in the past, but the best way to fully enjoy Cayo Costa State Park is to stay overnight and go beach camping!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Lauderdale

View of palm trees and the clear blue sky in Fort Lauderdale Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: Metered Street and Lot, $2 – $4 per hour | Best Nearby Hotel: Tropical Oasis Condos

Call me biased, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my home city on our list of the best beaches in South Florida. You’ll find beaches throughout Fort Lauderdale suitable to crowds of all sorts: party-goers, families, nature lovers, and water sports enthusiasts. We have it all here. And once you’ve wiped the sand from your feet, check out our article about what to do in Fort Lauderdale to fully plan the rest of your visit.

Barefoot Beach Preserve

Naples

View of sea shells by the shore in Barefoot Beach Preserve

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: $8 for non-residents | Best Nearby Hotel: Inn at Pelican Bay

Nature lovers visiting Southwest Florida will find a reprieve at the Barefoot Beach County Park Preserve in Naples. But don’t let the name fool you, you’ll want to bring your hiking shoes as you explore the shaded boardwalk, butterfly gardens, and nature trails winding about the undeveloped barrier island. Afterward, be sure to do right by its name, Barefoot Beach, and kick off your shoes, sink your toes in the fine sugary sand, and let your cares drift away.

Loggerhead Park

Juno Beach

View of a couple walking by the shore in Juno Beach
The pristine sands of Loggerhead Park

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: Metered Lot, $4 – $6 per hour

This public beach is home to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a nonprofit facility dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. Conveniently, the location happens to be the busiest loggerhead sea turtle beach for nesting in the world. 

Plan to spend the entire day with your family learning about marine conservation, exploring the aquarium, and visiting with sea turtles as they rehab from injury and illness. Afterward, the playground and picnic areas will keep everyone entertained as you overlook the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

📚 Related Reading: Juno Beach is sandwiched between Jupiter and Palm Beach, two awesome destinations to visit in Florida.

Marco Beach

Marco Island

View of a tortoise made in sand in Marco Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: $8 for non-residents | Best Nearby Hotel: Marco Beach Ocean Resort

Most of Marco Island seems like one lush residential neighborhood – until you discover the powder-white sands of Marco Beach, the island’s main public beach access. Relaxation is the name of the game for visitors and residents alike as they enjoy the Florida sunshine, collect sand dollars along the shore, and create some incredible sand sculpting art.

Bahia Honda State Park

Big Pine Key, The Florida Keys

The Remnants of Flagler’s Railroad in Bahia Honda State Park
Remnants of Flagler’s Railroad

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: State Park Entrance Fees, $4 – $8

Set to the scenic backdrop of Henry Flagler’s railroad and the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, this iconic beach is among the best Florida beaches. The beach faces bayside, providing wind protection and ideal conditions for water sports. Glide across the clear waters aboard a kayak or paddleboard, discover marine life while snorkeling the nearby coral reef, go fishing offshore, or just kick back and enjoy the view.

🤿 Beach Gear Essentials in SoFlo: Beaches in South Florida often feature coral reefs right from shore – any of which you can easily explore if you own snorkel gear. We recommend this snorkel set from Cressi as it’s lightweight, packable, and high quality. 

South Beach

Miami Beach

View of the Ocean Drive illuminated with lights at night
(photo: ESB Professional / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Website | Metered street/ramp parking, $6+ per hour | Best Nearby Hotel: The Setai

South Beach in Miami Beach is an iconic destination filled with boutique shops, swanky restaurants, luxurious hotels, and a unique art deco district along its beachfront road. You’ll have a little bit of it all while visiting: delectable cuisine, thrilling nightclubs, provoking art, interesting history, and of course, one of the best beaches in the world.

🌴 Staying in Miami? Whether you’re in South Beach, North Miami Beach, or downtown Miami, consider these epic day trips from Miami on your vacation to Southern Florida. 

Bowman’s Beach

Sanibel Island

The author relaxing on a beach chair in Bowman’s Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: metered lot, $5 per hour | Best Nearby Hotel: Island Inn, Sanibel

Bowman’s Beach is a hidden stretch of sand tucked away on Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida. The sandy beach is popular for shell collecting with many intact conch shells and sand dollars frequently washing ashore. Travelers staying in Fort Myers Beach might be inclined to visit the county park to escape some of the crowds often encountered in town.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Key Biscayne

View of the Biscayne Bay from Cape Florida Lighthouse
The view of Biscayne Bay from Cape Florida Lighthouse

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: SP entrance fees, $2 – $8 per day | Best Nearby Hotel: Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne

For the most reclusive beach in Miami, head to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on the southern tip of Key Biscayne. The park is a favorite among Miami residents as an escape to nature amidst the sprawling metropolis. You can even climb the 19th-century lighthouse for the most jaw-dropping view of Florida’s southern Atlantic Coast.

☀️ Explore More of South Florida: The beaches are one thing but what about everything else? South Florida has many things to do besides soaking up the sun.

Siesta Key Beach

Sarasota

Aerial view of the blue water in Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: free parking at beach access points | Best Nearby Hotel: The Ringling Beach House

No beach along Florida’s Gulf Coast has gotten more ink about it than Siesta Beach. And rightfully so, this place is gorgeous. But as such, the beach can get crowded. However, it’s worth the visit to witness just why the sugar sand beach consistently ranks among the best beaches in the United States.

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park

Dania Beach

View of the Whiskey Creek  during a hot sunny day
Whiskey Creek running through the State Park

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: SP entrance fees, $2 – $8 per day

Formerly John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, this protected area is a popular spot to escape to nature amidst the lights of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Tropical hammocks line the shores before dropping off into a mangrove estuary along Whiskey Creek in the center of the park. Snorkelers seeking marine life will enjoy the Dania Beach Erojacks on the south end of the beach.

👉 Planning a trip to Fort Lauderdale? Check out our article on where to stay in Fort Lauderdale to help decide the best neighborhood for your visit.

Lovers Key State Park

Fort Myers Beach

The author's wife posing for a picture in Lovers Key State Park
Waiting for the tram to Lovers Key Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: SP entrance fees, $2 – $8 per day | Best Nearby Hotel: Latitude 26 Waterfront Boutique Resort

Often overlooked in Southern Florida, Lovers Key State Park may be the most beautiful beach in the region. The tiny island is just a few miles south of Fort Myers Beach featuring miles of hiking trails, kayak rentals, a picnic area, and a concession stand. After parking, a shaded boardwalk crosses over a mangrove-lined channel before opening up to stunning views of the Gulf Coast.

Lido Key Beach

Sarasota

View of the Lido Key Beach and the area around it

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: free | Best Nearby Hotel: Lido Beach Resort

Equally as beautiful, yet not as crowded, Lido Key Beach is a great alternative to Siesta Beach if you’re visiting the Sarasota area. The sand is white, the water is clear, the parking is free, and the scenery is stunning. After your beach day, you’ll pass through St. Armands Circle, an eclectic entertainment district featuring outdoor dining and trendy boutiques with a flair of European influence.

📖 Read Next: Sarasota and the surrounding region are prominent on our list of the 33 Best Things to Do in Florida.

Delray Beach

Delray Beach

View of palm trees and a lifeguard house from afar in Delray Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: street and lot parking, $4 – $6 per hour | Best Nearby Hotel: The Dover House Resort

Midway between Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach on Florida’s east coast is Delray Beach. Despite being amidst the urban area, the small coastal town offers a completely different vibe from its neighbors. The oceanfront remains pristine with no highrise condos that often litter the skies of Florida beaches and the downtown area on Atlantic Ave feels quaint yet never lacks activity.

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

Key West

View of the blue water and blue sky in Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: SP entrance fees, $2 – $8 per day | Best Nearby Hotel: Douglas House, Key West

Quality beaches are far and few along the 100+ miles of the Keys. However, the best of the bunch may be the southernmost in Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is a mix of sand and coral rock serving as a popular jumping point to beat the heat in the crystal clear waters. History buffs will appreciate exploring the pre-Civil War fortress after a day in the sun.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Beach

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

The author's wife preparing the things needed in scuba diving
Prepping for a beach dive at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: metered street and lot, $5 per hour | Best Nearby Hotel: Beach Aqualina Apartments

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a quaint beach town just north of Fort Lauderdale Beach. An excellent destination for a family-friendly vacation, the small town features a lively downtown square with bars and restaurants, a stunning beach, and a bustling coral reef accessible right from shore. Scuba divers and snorkelers flock to its shores for some of the best beach diving in the United States.

Caspersen Beach

Venice Beach

A shark tooth on a sea shell in Caspersen Beach
Combing for shark teeth is popular at Caspersen Beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: free parking | Best Nearby Hotel: Inn at the Beach – Venice

Yes, Venice Beach is among the most beautiful beaches in Florida, however, the main attraction happens to be what often washes ashore. Amazingly, the phosphate-laden lands upstream of the nearby rivers frequently deposit fossilized shark teeth – culminating along the shores of Venice Beach. You never know what you’ll find combing through the sand and shells!

Hollywood Beach

Hollywood

View of the Hollywood Beach boardwalk during a summer day
Getting some exercise along the Broadwalk (photo: Kamira / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: street and lot, $5 – $6 per hour | Best Nearby Hotel: Diane Oceanfront Suites

Smack dab between Fort Lauderdale and Miami is Hollywood Beach – a unique blend of the two South Florida cities. The beach is relatively active offering jet ski rentals, volleyball courts, and snorkeling opportunities. However, the main draw is the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a pedestrian-only roadway lined with tiki bars slinging margaritas, restaurants serving fresh seafood, bicycle rentals, and even a beachfront amphitheater.

Clam Pass Park

Naples

View from the Clam Pass Park during a hot sunny day

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: $8 per vehicle

Beachgoers in Naples aren’t short of choice for the best beaches in Southern Florida with Clam Pass Park possibly topping the list. The beach is nestled between Clam Bay and the Gulf of Mexico where visitors can soak up the sun, paddle around the bay, or grab a bite to eat at the oceanfront restaurant.

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

West Palm Beach

View of a foot walk to the beach in John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
The boardwalk to the beach

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: SP entrance fee, $2 to $8 per day

For the most natural coastal setting in Palm Beach, head to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. The park encompasses the entirety of a barrier island and a natural lagoon, so many shore birds displaced by urban development tend to migrate to the park – you’ll likely spot a few along the boardwalk to the beach. The walk is long so go light on the beach gear you decide to carry.

Blowing Rocks Preserve

Jupiter Island

View of the sea side in Blowing Rocks Preserve
Explore the arches at low tide on Jupiter Island

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: A few dozen spaces starting at $2 based on the honor system | Best Nearby Hotel: Jupiter Reef Club Resort

Jetting into the ocean at the Blowing Rocks Preserve is a prominent outcropping of Anastasia limestone, a unique feature of Jupiter Island and one of the many awesome things to do in Jupiter. Centuries of wave action carved holes into the limestone, resulting in forceful “blow holes” during wavy sea conditions. On a calm day, at low tide, you can climb underneath the limestone arches or conversely, at high tide, snorkel the blue waters from shore.

Saint Lucie Preserve Beach

Stuart, Jupiter Island

The author paddling in Saint Lucie Preserve
Paddling the mangroves in St Lucie Preserve

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: Boat access only, SP entrance fees

On the northern end of ritzy Jupiter Island is the equally pristine St Lucie State Park Preserve Beach. Only accessible by boat, you’ll motor through the shallow mangrove-fringed lagoon before docking at the state park’s beach, one of the most remote beaches in the state. Once on the beach, you’ll find bathroom facilities, picnic tables, and miles of soft white sand.

Phil Foster Park – Blue Heron Bridge

West Palm Beach

The author's wife having a picture with the sunken boat at Blue Heron Bridge while scuba diving
A sunken boat at Blue Heron Bridge

📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: free without a boat trailer

Snorkeling and scuba diving are the activities of choice at Phil Foster Park and in a way, it makes no sense. A man-made park in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway underneath the Blue Heron Bridge – what could you possibly find? Well, surprisingly, one of the most vibrant and biodiverse coral reef systems in the continental United States.

FAQs about Beaches in South Florida

What is the clearest beach in South Florida?

With the Gulf Stream (a major ocean current) passing close by, the beaches off of Jupiter Island are consistently the clearest beaches in Southern Florida. 

What is the most relaxing beach in Florida?

The most relaxing beach in Florida is the most reclusive beach. The secluded beaches of Cayo Costa or Saint Lucie Preserve are often considered the most relaxing with their escape from the crowds.

***

We love the beaches in South Florida, but why stop there? With popular beaches like Panama City Beach, Clearwater Beach, Cocoa Beach, George Island State Park, and beyond, Florida is filled with spectacular beaches from top to bottom! Which is right for you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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