The 10 Best Beaches in Florida
Blue skies, white sand beaches, sunny warm weather all year. Florida really does have it all when it comes to looking for a beach getaway. With a coastline stretching over 8,000 miles, there are so many heavenly beaches to choose from, the only stressful part of your vacation will be deciding which beach to lay out and relax on. We’ve rounded up our top picks for the best beaches in Florida so you can get straight to unwinding.
1. Clearwater Beach
A White Sand Haven
Why go? As its name suggests, this beach is characterized by crystal clear water and powdery white sand beaches. Consistently voted one of the top beaches in the country, Clearwater Beach is a must-visit destination. Fulltime lifeguards lining the beach and gentle waves makes Clearwater Beach a top-choice for families, especially those with younger kids.
Activities: Join Captain Memo’s crew on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise which sails through Tampa Bay and passes by Captain Memo’s deserted island.
Top tip: For lunch or dinner, visit Frenchy’s Cafe and get one of their famous Grouper Sandwiches, a favourite of locals and tourists alike.
2. Cocoa Beach
Catch a Wave
Why go? This slice of paradise is the hometown of world-champion surfer, Kelly Slater, and boasts the world’s largest surf shop, Ron Jon. That combined with the unbeatable location of makes Cocoa Beach a top beach for those who surf or are interested in surfing. Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando (only an hour’s drive) making it the perfect location for families who want to spend time at both the beach and in Orlando.
Top tip: Head over to Merritt Island and take a drive down Tropical Trail where you’ll find fruit stands selling locally grown produce. The mangos and citrus fruits are especially delicious in this area.
3. Anna Maria Island
Why go? A favorite retreat for Florida natives, Anna Maria Island offers the same powdery, white sand and gentle waves as Clearwater Beach without the crowds. While hotels are available on Anna Maria Island, Family Traveller recommends making like the Floridians and renting one of the many vacation homes that are available.
Top tip: For a sweet treat, visit 2 Scoops Ice Cream located across from the City Pier. Offering 32 delicious flavours it is a must-visit place that both locals and tourists love.
Why go? A great beach for families looking for a variety of activities to do. Families can choose from snorkeling tours, jet ski rides, parasailing, deep-sea fishing and more. It’s soft, white-sand shores make Destin an ideal beach for those who just want to lie in the sun with a book, or build sandcastles by the water.
Top tip: Take the 15 minute drive to Fort Walton to eat at STEWBY’S Seafood Shanty. This takeaway and drive-thru seafood restaurant serves fresh seafood directly off the fishing boats in Destin.
5. Sanibel Island
Why go? If you’re looking for a break from city life and want to experience laidback island life, then Sanibel Island is the beach for you. Sanibel is nationally known for its beautiful sea shells, and collecting them is a fun activity for all ages. Ocean life encounter cruises give guests the opportunity to see dolphins and other forms of sea life (we recommend Adventure’s in Paradise Cruises’ Sea Life Encounter cruise).
Top tip: For a fun, family-friendly dining experience head over to the Lazy Flamingo and enjoy the Old Florida atmosphere and fresh seafood.
6. St. Pete Beach
Why go? Beautiful white sand perfect for sandcastle building, plus the warm gulf water make St. Pete Beach the ideal location for a beach vacation.
Accommodation: We recommend staying at Loews Don CeSar Hotel a historic hotel known locally as the ‘Pink Palace’. Built in 1928, the Don CeSar was designed to resemble a Mediterranean Castle. The hotel offers babysitting services, as well as a mock summer camp experience with Camp CeSar Kids Camp where children will spend the day exploring the beaches around the hotel.
7. Daytona Beach
Why go? Famous for its beachside car racing, Daytona Beach is one of the few beaches in Florida that still allows vehicles on the beach (in designated areas). It’s a great beach for families with older children since the waves tend to be bigger here and there are water sports available.
Activities: Visit the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, home to Joyland Amusement Center and the Mardi Gras Fun Center where families can ride the Ferris Wheel or play an old arcade classic, Skeeball.
8. Amelia Island
Why go? Amelia Island is the place to go to experience Old Florida charm. The historic island offers a break from the crowds that can be found at Florida beaches and is the perfect place to catch up on some R&R.
Activities: Take a leisurely horseback ride along the beach at sunset, or go on a kayak excursion through the local inland waters or Florida’s famous Suwannee River. For more adventurous activities check out Amelia Island’s sailing school or take a family Segway tour.
9. St. Augustine Beach
Blast to the Past
Why go? Located on Anastasia Island, St. Augustine Beach is a beautiful, natural haven. Take a walk down the beach and see the famous St. Augustine Lighthouse, or take a quick drive over to the mainland and wander around the historic city center where you’ll see the old Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos.
Top tip: On Wednesday mornings there is a market on the St. Johns County Ocean Pier where local vendors sell a variety of goods from produce and prepared food to jewelry and crafts. There is a $1 fee to enter the pier.
10. Siesta Key
Why go? Famous for its soft, talc-like sand that stays cool no matter the temperature, a result of the large amount of quartz off the coast, Siesta Beach is a top choice for beach walkers and sandcastle builders.
Dining: Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar is a great family-friendly restaurant with a fun atmosphere and fresh seafood.