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The 20 Best Beaches in Florida — From Romantic Islands to Family-friendly Spots

You can splurge on plane tickets to Bermuda or Cancún, but the reality is that you can find some of the world’s most beautiful beaches right here in the U.S. Thanks to Florida’s hundreds of miles of coastline, beaches with soft sand and crystal-clear water are just a short flight (or even drive) away.

But with all that shoreline, finding the state’s best beaches requires some research. To help, we’ve curated some of our favorites in Florida, from sprawling family-friendly stretches to tiny islands with intimate beach nooks so you can make digging your toes into sugar-white sand a reality. Here are 20 of the best beaches in Florida.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

If you’re searching for sunny days and temperate climes, it doesn’t get much warmer than the beaches of the , the state’s southernmost point. You can pass your time here at Smathers or Higgs beaches, but for calm waters and wide stretches of sand, it’s hard to beat the 54-acre . Spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling before taking a break to check out the park’s pre–Civil War fortress. If you’re up for even more activities, you’ll also find nature trails, bird-watching opportunities, and the Cayo Hueso Café. Chairs, umbrellas, and snorkel gear rentals are available on-site.

Miramar Beach

On the Florida Panhandle, you won’t want to miss a day spent enjoying Miramar Beach in . Pull up a lounge chair and drape your hand into the fine white sand or join a game of beach volleyball. When you’re ready for a beach break, Miramar’s South Walton neighborhood is full of scenic roads, diverse dining choices, designer outlet stores, and antique shops waiting to be discovered.

Cocoa Beach

Long called the of the East Coast, Cocoa Beach in Brevard County has produced several big-name surfers, including Kelly Slater, an 11-time world champion. But whether or not you’ve got the know-how, you can expect a good time at Cocoa Beach. With a laid-back feel and plenty of surf schools, you’ll be up on your board in no time. Not a surfer? Hole up at one of the beach’s waterfront bars or watch surfers from the fishing pier.

South Beach Park

The city of Vero Beach has a little something for everyone hidden on its pristine shores — literally. As part of Florida’s Treasure Coast, the area draws treasure hunters who try their luck at finding the riches lost when a fleet of early 18th-century Spanish ships sank in a hurricane. If you’re looking for a laid-back waterfront experience, head to South Beach Park (not to be confused with Miami’s South Beach), where you’ll find walking paths and picnic areas. When you’re ready to get out of the sun, hop in the car and drive about 20 minutes north to .

Juno Beach Park

If you’re looking for a leisurely day oceanside, this is the place to go. Grab picnic supplies and spend the morning swimming and soaking up the sun on Juno’s pristine shores. Then, snag a shady picnic table and dive in. You’ll find the a 20-minute walk down the beach; a 10-minute car ride will get you to . is 15 minutes away by car.

Bowman’s Beach

Seashell collectors have long known about the stunning southwest of Fort Myers. Here, shells from the Gulf of Mexico wash ashore, attracting beachcombers from all over the world — so it’s no surprise Bowman’s Beach makes this list of best beaches in Florida. Spend the cool mornings curating your perfect stash of shells before laying down a towel under the sun. As an added bonus, all Sanibel beaches are dog-friendly as long as your pet is leashed.

Delray Beach

in Palm Beach County is the perfect place to alternate between napping and swimming. With a wide, sandy sprawl lined with grass and palm trees, you’ll have plenty of space to relax. When you need a break from the sun, browse the shops on Atlantic Avenue or take in the murals and public art in the Pineapple Grove Arts District.

Lummus Park

If you’re searching for next-level people-watching in , look no further. A true city beach, Lummus Park regularly sees toned locals playing volleyball or bronzing under the ever-shining sun. Choose between sitting in the sand or keeping your feet clean and sand-free in the park’s shaded grassy area. After sunning, venture along the promenade that separates the grass from the beach and keep an eye out for movie stars and film crews.

Lowdermilk Park

Naples is known for its pearly white sand, and the beaches that stretch along Lowdermilk Park don’t disappoint. After a day spent by the water, visit Millionaires’ Row in Old Naples and . Keep the kids busy on the nearby playgrounds or at the duck pond and stick around to catch a sunset before dinner and peruse the Naples nightlife.

Siesta Beach

You don’t have to fly to the Caribbean to experience tropical white-sand beaches. On Siesta Key, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Sarasota, you can look out over the glittering Gulf of Mexico with a cocktail in hand — talk about relaxation! Spend the day walking the beach looking for shells or rent a kayak and venture out onto the tranquil blue waters.

South Beach

In the South Beach neighborhood of , you’ll find trendy beachgoers, Rollerbladers, and a smattering of young, beautiful (and perfectly tanned) locals. Check out the area’s historic Art Deco architecture, walk around South Pointe Park, or swing by the famous — open since 1913 — for a meal you won’t soon forget.

Clearwater Beach

With a name that conjures up images of perfectly transparent water lapping against silky sand, Clearwater Beach sets expectations. As any Florida beach fan knows, this stretch of sand lives up to the hype. Its truly clear waters and white-sand shores draw visitors from all over to enjoy the calm Gulf waters or partake in one of the area’s many activities, from parasailing to fishing.

Crandon Park Beach

Pack your snorkel gear for a glorious day at Crandon Park Beach on Key Biscayne. A 15-minute drive from Miami, this barrier island offers a fossilized mangrove reef that is home to colorful sea life just waiting for exploration. In addition to a lively underwater world, Crandon Park is one of the Miami area’s top bird-watching destinations (herons, hawks, ospreys, and songbirds are often spotted here). If you want to learn more, swing by the at the northern end of the park.

Deerfield Beach

If you have little ones, head to Deerfield Beach, a famously clean, family-friendly beach that used to beckon herds of local deer to its shores. While the beach itself — certainly one of the best in Florida — is a wonderful hangout for all ages, the sprawling Quiet Waters Park — a 10-minute drive away — is a nice option if the kids get bored. There, you’ll find cable waterskiing, disc golf, mountain bike trails, a water park, and much more.

Henderson Beach State Park

In the city of Destin, you’ll find Miramar Beach’s wilder neighbor at . It’s not your typical beach day experience because you can spend your time at this nature reserve exploring the 30-foot-high white sand dunes. If you’re really outdoorsy, reserve a campsite and enjoy activities like fishing and cycling in between daily swims and wildlife spotting.

Haulover Park

If you prefer to sunbathe in the buff, this might be the best Florida beach for you. Haulover Park, between the Hollywood and North Beach neighborhoods, offers a clothing-optional section and it has some of the prettiest waters in Florida. If you prefer to keep your whole swimsuit on, there are non-nude parts of the beach with activities including fishing, skateboarding, and kite flying, plus bicycle rentals. Tennis courts and a golf course are nearby.

Hollywood Beach

Sand and sea are nice, but sometimes you also want the fun of a lively boardwalk on your beach vacation. Keep yourself busy with visits to oceanfront restaurants like and catch a live musical performance at the outdoor Hollywood Beach Theatre. End the night with a scoop of ice cream and you’ve got the makings of a perfect beach day.

Marco Island

Hidden away between Naples and the Everglades at the very bottom of the Florida peninsula, Marco Island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida with great sunset views. Get away to the island’s wild side at , where you can camp, canoe, and fish, or take a day trip to Briggs Nature Center for some bird-watching. Make sure to keep your eyes open for the resident reptiles.

Navarre Beach

Hailed by many as Navarre Beach is a small town near Pensacola that tends to be light on the crowds. Because the town is located between the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the Navarre Beach Marine Park, things are relatively quiet here and visitors can take advantage of the Sunshine State’s more outdoorsy activities like hiking, diving, and fishing.

Grayton Beach State Park

This 400-acre in the town of Santa Rosa Beach features sugar-white sand and abundant wildlife. In addition to the sparkling sea, you’ll find four miles of nature trails and a coastal dune lake for paddling adventures. The nearest town is small but charming with many cozy bed-and-breakfasts and the larger WaterColor Inn resort.