20 Best Beaches in Florida
Updated: Nov 8, 2022
A list of my favorite beaches in Florida. Split into 3 sections: the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
St Augustine Beach
I fell in love the first time I set my eyes on it. It felt so home like and relaxing. Even though the day we went to the beach was an overcast day, it was still breathtaking. All the grays meshed with the slight blues in the water to create a beautiful dark landscape. When we went the beach wasn’t very crowded.
Flagler Beach is between St Augustine and Daytona. It is a rather busy place for being such a small beach. The pier is one of the coolest piers I’ve seen in Florida. They have the words Flagler Beach printed in huge letters on a roof next to the pier. Finding parking can be difficult, but the beach and city are totally worth the hassle.
Ormond Beach is the beach where we stayed our entire Florida trip in 2017. It is on the Atlantic Coast so the water isn’t as gorgeous as the water on the gulf side, but it is warm water during the summer. I really like how long this beach is because even though there were quite a few people on it, it didn’t feel super crowded. I did get stung by a jellyfish the first time I got in the water (on the far north end of Ormond Beach) and it was really painful. But I didn’t have any issues with jellyfish after that. So that shouldn’t discourage you from going to the beach or getting in the water, just check and see if there are any warnings. It is one of my favorite beaches to body surf at.
Daytona Beach is such a unique beach, it is a mixture of everything. It is touristy, yet feels home-y. It has busy beaches, but they don’t feel crowded. There is something for everyone here: the beach, miniature golf, shopping, surfing, eateries, and mom & pop shops.
Playalinda Beach is part of Canaveral National Seashore. It is located in the southern part of the Seashore. There are 13 parking lot access locations to the beach. It extends quite a ways and it doesn’t feel crowded. I really loved the beach because it was so starkly different from a lot of the beaches in Florida. It wasn’t full of people and still retained some of its natural beauty and landscaping.
Cocoa beach is a surfing beach. It has awesome waves and a lot of people out surfing the waves. If you go toward the south end of the beach, it tends to not be as crowded. You do have to pay for parking and on the weekends it might be pretty hard to find a parking spot. One of the highlights in Cocoa Beach (besides the beach) is Ron Jon Surf Shop. It is one of the largest surf shops I’ve ever been in. They have clothing, surf boards/equipment, and other stuff. It is very unique and like I said before, huge!
South Beach is the kind of beach extroverts will love and introverts, such as myself, won’t love. It is cool to experience such a populated beach, but if you are looking to relax and enjoy a nice serene beach, this isn’t the beach for you. There are so many different people from so many different walks of life. People watching is quite fun, especially since it’s warm enough older gentleman will wear Speedo’s (cringe).
We went to the Naples Pier during the day trip we took from Florida City to Naples then onto Miami. It was 40 degrees the day we went so we didn’t really spend a whole lot of time at the beach, but what I did see of it was beautiful. I liked the vibes I got from the town and people who were there. I wish I could have spent more time exploring the beaches in Naples.
Point of Rocks Beach
Point of Rocks beach is one of the best beaches on Siesta Key to go snorkeling. There are a lot of pretty fish and some of them are quite friendly. Since it was August when we went (hurricane season) the water wasn’t very clear, I bet during any time other than hurricane season the water is incredible and clear.
Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach is ranked as the #1 Beach in America by Dr. Beach. The sand is 99% quartz which means it is almost white. It really is as beautiful as it is made up to be. When I last visited this beach in August, the water was the perfect temperature, cool enough to feel refreshing after being out in the warm sun, but warm enough the water wasn’t cold. When we were out in the water, there was a whole area out in the water with baby sand dollars all over the bottom on the ocean. The water wasn’t very clear due to it being the start of hurricane season, but there was still some visibility.
Clearwater Beach will always be ingrained in my memory. We watched the sunrise from the Pier, there weren’t any magnificent colors, but it was incredible to see the sun rise through the fog and just light up the sky. The Pier was so cool because you could see down into the water and there were quite a few birds that stood on the railing. The beach was so beautiful and the sand was basically white.
Caladesi Island State Park
Ah, Caladesi Island State Park, probably hands down one of my favorite places in Florida. I loved the entire experience of visiting and exploring the island. The water was incredible and the beaches were full of seashells. There are multiple ways you can access the island: ferry, kayak, stand up paddle board, and boat. To read more about Caladesi Island, check out my blog post on Kayaking to Caladesi Island State Park.
St George Island State Park
This beach was fun to explore because there was so much natural sea debris that had washed up. It was fun to see what you could find in the piles of seaweed stuff. There were sand dunes and small little hills that ran along the beach. Every so often there were boardwalks that went to the beach from the main road. The water was pretty, but very rough the day we went. (St George Island State Park)
T.H. Stone Memorial St Joseph Peninsula State Park
The beach was so beautiful. It looked wild and untouched. There were tons of little itty bitty shells no bigger than a lady-bug. There was a short sand ledge that the water had created. It was rather fascinating since most sandy beaches in Florida are flat and the water just washes up as far as it can go. Another thing that makes this beach fascinating is where it is located. As you could probably tell from the name it is on a peninsula, so there are two sides, the oceanside and the bayside. The bayside doesn’t really have a sandy beach, but the water is incredibly colored. (T.H. Stone Memorial St Joseph Peninsula State Park)
St Andrews State Park
St Andrews State Park is located in Panama City Beach. The beaches are incredible and covered with the lightest colored sand. There is a pier at one part in the park that you can walk out on to as well as multiple places where you can access the beach. In one direction you can see the hotels rising along the ocean and in the other direction you can see dunes with vegetation.
Henderson Beach State Park
This state park is located in the middle of Destin. It is one of the best places to access the beach. The sand was absolutely incredible. It was basically white in color and so smooth. The water was alluring and full of beautiful colors. I sadly didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time on the beach because my body wasn’t feeling very good the day we went. (Henderson Beach State Park)
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (Key West)
Not only does this state park have an awesome beach area for snorkeling, there’s an old fort bunker you can explore. Fort Zachary Taylor is on the south point of Key West so the water is a mix of Atlantic and Gulf water. It is so clear it is incredible. There is a restaurant, gift shop and snorkel rental on the beach.
Bahia Honda State Park (Big Pine Key)
The most noticeable thing about this state park is the water and it is absolutely stunning. With the perfect mix of light blues and greens, it creates an exquisite master piece. There’s an old railroad bridge that you can hike up to and see the surrounding area. You can’t go very far out on the bridge since it is old. If you are driving to Key West this state park is right next to the main road, so it isn’t far out of the way. (Bahia Honda State Park)
Sombrero Beach (Marathon)
Sombrero Beach was a random find we discovered while driving from Key West to Florida City. On our way through Marathon we saw a small sign for a beach called Sombrero. We liked the name so we followed the signs to the beach. It was being repaired due to hurricane damage, but you could still walk on the beach. It was very relaxing (we were there in the evening on a week day) and next to a neighborhood.. It wasn’t touristy, just a low key beach with a little neighborhood park.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo)
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, what a mouth full. This state park is in Key Largo and extends into the ocean. This is the only coral reef within the United States. At Cannon Beach in the State Park there is an old shipwreck you can explore snorkeling. I sadly didn’t get the opportunity when we came here to do that since I didn’t have a wet suit and the water felt pretty cold since it was January. But if I ever go back I will definitely be snorkeling!