A Guide to the Beaches of Disney World

Boardwalk Disney area with Swan and Dolphin hotel on Crescent Lake shore at sunset in Orlando


drserg/Getty Images 

Some families may find it difficult to plan a vacation to Florida because of differing interests. Spending relaxing days at the beach is a dream vacation for some, but others would rather spend their time being entertained at one of Central Florida's major theme parks. If you find yourself in that dilemma when planning your next vacation, why not plan to do both? You may already know that  Disney World Resort is Florida's number one vacation destination, but did you know that Disney World also has beaches? 

Even though Disney World is located in the middle of the state instead of on the coast, you can still get sand between your toes. In fact, tucked away in some of Disney World's finest resorts are beautiful white-sand, lakeside beaches. Alright, so there isn't salt air and surf; and, due to new swimming restrictions you have to get in the pool to cool off, but the beaches are still great places to relax and catch some rays.

A stay at any of the following resorts will give you the best of both worlds—access to Disney's four theme parks and wonderful beaches too.

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Beach and Yacht Club Resorts

Picture of Disney's Beach Club Resort and its beach as night approaches.
© Garth Vaughan, Photographer/The Walt Disney Company

The sandy beach at ​Disney's Beach Club Resort appears to be underutilized by guests who seem to opt instead for Storm Along Bay and other resort pools. Of course, there isn't any choice if they want to cool off in the water, as there are "no swimming" signs posted along the shoreline. It wouldn't be too safe anyway, due to the presence of rental watercrafts. Not only that, its location feels a bit crowded with shore-to-shore resorts and Disney's BoardWalk lining tiny Crescent Lake, so there wouldn't much privacy for the bikini-clad sunbather.

Don't blink or you might just miss the small patch of sandy beach allotted to the adjacent Yacht Club Resort. No wonder most can't resist Storm Along Bay shared by the resorts. Storm Along Bay features a life-size replica of a wrecked ship with amazingly fun water slides, a slow river to float along on inner tubes, and a sand-bottom pool. In the case of these two resorts, it's better than the beach.

Head to Hurricane Hanna's if you're looking for a quick lunch or afternoon snack. Located at Storm Along Bay, it's a great place to grab a bite without lunch taking a bite out of your wallet.

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Caribbean Beach Resort

Michael Gray/Flickr/(CC BY-SA 2.0) 

Welcome to the Caribbean... ​Caribbean Beach Resort, that is. This sprawling resort is divided into six colorful villages—Jamaica, Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South—each with its own sandy beach. Some of the resort's beaches are larger than others, but all are stocked with plenty of lounge chairs and a few colorful umbrellas. In addition to the ample number and size of these beaches, small sandy hideaways with welcoming hammocks are scattered throughout the resort. 

The recently renovated resort rooms are small but well-appointed, and one village holds a surprise for guests—pirate-themed rooms! Young swashbucklers are sure to let imaginations soar into dreams of high-sea adventures when they are tucked into their pirate ship beds each evening.

It is at this resort's gift shop at the Old Town Royale location that you will find a great selection of beach-related gear—sunscreen, goggles, flip flops, beach towels, sand toys, and more. 

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Disney's Contemporary Resort

View of Disney's Contemporary Resort pools and beach from the 12th floor.
© Sam Howzit, Photographer/flickr

Want a little sand between your toes? One of Disney World's first beaches is still around, but you won't be allowed to go in the Seven Seas Lagoon. ​Disney's Contemporary Resort beach stretches inland to the stones of the resort's pool deck. While not very long, the space is large enough for volleyball players to share the sand with sunbathers. Again, with no swimming allowed from the beach, guests seem to shun the sand, preferring to splash in the pool or sun themselves poolside. A private secondary pool area with luxury-appointed cabanas that fronts the Seven Seas Lagoon seems to be favored by many guests as well.

The conveniently located Sand Bar concession is perfectly situated to grab a bite to go or for a poolside lunch. Surprisingly, combo meals are easy on the pocketbook at this deluxe Disney resort.

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Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

Personal watercraft lined up along Clementine Beach awaiting rental in Disney's Fort Wilderness.
© Scott Smith, Photographer/flickr

Clementine's Beach at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort is possibly the largest and widest of all of Disney World's beaches—large enough for a rousing game of volleyball that won't disturb those catching rays or seeking a few moments of quiet. Its casual atmosphere reflects that of the resort, so you'll feel right at home. Possibly its best feature though may be its shade. Shade is something that usually isn't found on a beach, but it's welcome to those seeking a bit of relief from Florida's heat.

Clementine Beach is located adjacent Fort Wilderness Landing deck (where guests may catch a skiff to neighboring resorts or rent a boat to explore Bay Lake), and both places are great vantage points to watch the musical electrical pageant that floats along Bay Lake each evening.

If you've had a rough day visiting the theme parks and lying in the sun, grab a very tasty and satisfying to-go pizza from Crockett's Tavern.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When it comes to beaches, Disney World's most upscale resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa , doesn't disappoint. While it is more narrow in many places than other Disney World resort beaches, it is longer, stretching along the winding shoreline from the heart of the resort to the beautiful white wedding chapel.

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Polynesian Resort

bungalows at Polynesian resort
 © Walt Disney World

If you're dreaming of South Sea islands, Disney's Polynesian Resort is the closest you can get without actually being there. Swaying palms and lush tropical foliage surround the Tahitian-style longhouse buildings, offering a cool and relaxing atmosphere.

The beach beckons guests to its shores with welcoming hammocks, swings, and lounge chairs. It's a great vantage point to admire the nearby Contemporary and Grand Floridian Resorts, as well as catch a glimpse of the maritime activity on the Seven Seas Lagoon.

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