The 10 Best Beaches in Florida
Canaveral National Seashore, New Smyrna Beach/Titusville
On a slender barrier island off Florida's Atlantic coast between charming New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, the sands of Canaveral National Seashore are a true sanctuary. And not just for delighted beachgoers, but for wildlife including sea turtles, which nest on its tawny shoreline. Twenty-five miles long, this is the longest expanse of undeveloped land on the entire east coast of Florida and a true treasure. Learn more about Canaveral National Seashore, here.
Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin
Just off the coast of Dunedin on Florida's Gulf Coast, this natural island is the bright-white-sand sister to Honeymoon Island State Park. And what a sister she is: soft sands, turquoise-azure waters, and a castaway fantasy on any given day. If you can drag yourself from your beach chair, take advantage of Caladesi Island's excellent beachcombing, particularly sand dollars that wash ashore. Learn more about Caladesi Island State Park, here.
Siesta Beach, Siesta Key
There's so much magic at work on this bone-white, broad beach on Siesta Key, which is just 20 minutes from downtown Sarasota: Is it the weekly sunset Drum Circle that draws locals and visitors by the hundreds to groove peaceably while the sun drops below the watery horizon? Or is it the blessedly cool sand that stays that way no matter how bright (and hot!) the sun, because it's made almost entirely of quartz crystals? Or is it just that beautiful Gulf water? It's all of the above . . . and more. Learn more about Siesta Beach, here.
Barefoot Beach Preserve, Bonita Springs
Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park is a white-sand strand on one of Florida's last undeveloped barrier islands on the state's southwest coast. Just north of Naples in Bonita Springs, the preserve contains 342 acres of lush vegetation, while the beach--with fine sand and lots of tiny shells--stretches out for a pristinely perfect mile. Learn more about Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, here.
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Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach
Whether bathed in the rosy shades of sunrise, the bright light of daytime, or the silver of moonlight, this sugar-white-sand-blessed park on the Gulf Coast in Walton County is breathtaking 24 hours a day. With about a mile of beach, Grayton Beach State Park lures strollers, shell-seekers and surf casters along with kayakers and paddleboarders who explore the park's exquisite coastal dune lake. Learn more about Grayton Beach State Park, here.
Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde
This county park, which belongs to the boating community of Tierra Verde near St. Petersburg, spans five islands and more than 1,300 acres on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. While full of fantastic kayaking, canoeing, and hiking (and home to its historic namesake fort), the park's three miles of beaches are knock-outs for white-sand escape. Learn more about Fort De Soto Park, here.
St. George Island State Park, St. George Island
Take your pick of perfect spots among nine incredible miles of untrammeled bleach-white sand on this barrier island off the Gulf Coast southwest of Tallahassee. Renowned for shelling, the beaches of Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park (the park's official name) are also terrific for surf casting. Stargazers love the super-dark skies over this stretch of the Gulf as well, so plan a stay at the park's campsites for a night show to match the daytime. Learn more about St. George Island State Park, here.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Naples
Splendidly pristine (while close to bustling Naples), the beach at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park has some of the best shelling on the entire Gulf coast, not to mention snorkeling along its reef and great birdwatching (keep an eye out for bald eagles, ospreys, owls, and a host of migratory shorebirds). Manatees hang out here too, along with sea turtles. Paradise? We think so. Learn more about Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, here.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
With 1.25 miles of natural beach (seaweed does indeed wash ashore here, but in fact helps preserve the shoreline), this gem just under 10 miles from Miami offers the added pleasures of a lighthouse and two restaurants at one end. At the other, though, lie quiet sands with more seagulls than day trippers. No matter which end strikes your fancy, you can enjoy the gentle surf guaranteed by a reef that lies six miles offshore. Learn more about Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, here.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port St. Joe
It's Gulf of Mexico magic along nearly 10 miles of lily-white beaches that lie on this slender peninsula just across the bay from Port St. Joe. The park has some of the tallest sand dunes in the state of Florida, adding even more beauty to this unspoiled landscape. Enjoy the splendor, watch for nesting shorebirds (and sea turtles), and consider catching sunrise on the bay side and sunset over the sparkling Gulf. Learn more about St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, here.