The 14 Best Beaches in Florida

Siesta Key beach at Sarasota, Florida, USA
Pola Damonte via Getty Images / Getty Images

Florida may be unpredictable in the news cycle, but you can always expect one thing when visiting: to experience some of the best beaches America has to offer. Some of the finest luxuries in life really are free, at least the majority of beaches. However, they still rank as a top tourist destination, generating more than $640 billion annually for the U.S. economy. In fact, the mix of its warm climate and niche for ocean and sand (not surprising considering it's a peninsula) is why it competes with California as the most visited state for domestic travel.

At least 189 'official' beaches reside along Florida's 360 miles of coastline. From serving as a movie-like refuge for wildlife to a respite for tourists hungry for adventure, we've ranked the best and most unique beaches in the Sunshine State.

01 of 14

South Beach

Aerial view of South Beach Miami Florida cityscape
Nisian Hughes / Getty Images
South Beach, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA

The Times Square of Miami, South Beach needs no introduction. But we would be remiss not to put SoFlo’s most famous beach on this list. However, its bustling party scene and hip crowd keep visitors returning. Lummus Park offers the most Instagram-worthy views with pure sand, an endless aqua sea, palm trees for days, and everything else you would stereotype as a vacation paradise. On weekends, you can indulge in beachfront market stands selling all kinds of crafts. The entire area is also as posh as people-watching gets; you might even catch a glimpse of a celebrity or a movie set!

Pro Tip: LGBTQ+ visitors should know that 12th Street and Ocean Drive are the official gayborhoods of Miami.

02 of 14

Haulover Nude Beach

Warning Sign Of Naked Sunbathers On Beach
Dan Jorge Suarez / EyeEm / Getty Images
10800 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33154, USA

Nudists, this one is for you. There’s a reason Haulover Nude Beach is consistently listed as one of the best clothing-optional beaches in the world. Although the clothing-optional area is only a tiny part of the 177-acre urban park, its 0.4-mile stretch invites visitors from all over to be themselves in the purest form, and the weather makes it a place you can visit year-round. But, of course, you can still participate without taking your bathing suit off, and the waters are ideal for swimming and surfing.

Pro Tip: Don’t get naked on the wrong side! The nude beach is situated between the Intercoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. (There will, of course, be more apparent indicators that you arrived.)

03 of 14

Crandon Park

Drone view of Crandon Park in Key Biscayne beach and the Miami skyline.
Artur Debat / Getty Images
6747 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149, USA
Phone +1 305-361-5421

Let’s face it: Most people appreciate the fun and magic of beaches, but every beach is not for everybody, especially if you have children. (Think touristy party scenes or nudity.) So if family is the game, Crandon Park is definitely somewhere you want to play. It is located 10 minutes from downtown Miami. Its 808 acres offer plenty of room for visitors to spread out, and the park offers picnic areas, cabanas for rent, barbecue, volleyball courts, and a small nature center. But what parents will genuinely appreciate about Crandon Park is that there is a nearby restroom to almost any beach spot you decide to claim. Gone are the days of secretly convincing your kids to pee in water!

Pro Tip: You can use a mobile app to rent chairs and umbrellas available, significantly reducing cargo for large groups or families.

04 of 14

Smathers Beach

Silhouette palm trees on beach against sky during sunset
Jesse Kunerth / 500px / Getty Images
2601 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Phone +1 305-809-3700

Key West isn’t known for beaches, especially considering most don’t even have sand. Smathers Beach is the exception, thanks to local authorities who invest a significant amount in importing its half-mile stretch of soft sand. As the largest beach in Key West, Spring Breakers designated Smathers as their go-to destination. The waves are calm, making them ideal for swimmers. In contrast, the sand’s often packed with action and a youthful crowd.

Pro Tip: Ride the jet skis.

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05 of 14

Tigertail Beach

Blue sky over white sand and green beach grass
LagunaticPhoto / Getty Images
Tigertail Beach, 430 Hernando Dr, Marco Island, FL 34145, USA
Phone +1 239-252-4000

Neighboring the Everglades and mangrove islands, the translucent ocean at Marco Island reflects its tropical surroundings. Tigertail Beach is a “newer” development, as it was an off-shore sandbar fifteen years ago. However, upon arrival, you must cross a saltwater lagoon to get to the beachside. But it is well worth experiencing three miles of shell-encrusted shores, dolphins potentially swimming in the distance, and it also offers bird wildlife that has made Tigertail a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail. In the age of social media, there’s no such thing as “hidden gems,” but the obstacle in reaching Tigertail makes it as close as it gets.

Pro Tip: This is truly a strategic place to start your seashell collection (with over 100 variations!), though it would behoove you to wear sandals when walking.

06 of 14

Siesta Key Beach

High Angle View Of Beach
Julie Palermo / EyeEm / Getty Images
Sarasota, FL 34242, USA
Phone +1 941-861-5000

There’s a reason the producers of "Laguna Beach" made their latest reality TV hit take place (and named after) at Siesta Key. The scene is a picture-perfect backdrop, even if there’s some drama. It was also ranked the #1 Beach in the U.S. in 2020 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards. Once you step foot on the quartz-crystal powdery sand while the bountiful sun kisses your skin, you will quickly understand Siesta Key’s magic. During sunsets, few views can compete with the contrast of warm colors against some of the whitest, finest sand you will ever see.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to spend all day lounging on the beach, there’s a free trolley to take you around the island.

07 of 14

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Palm Trees On Beach Against Sky
Gabriele Maltinti / EyeEm / Getty Images
Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida A1A, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, USA
Phone +1 800-227-8669

What makes Fort Lauderdale Beach phenomenal is its accessibility. Goodbye traffic, hello, more time getting your tan on. It is one of Florida's Blue Wave Beaches, and the label recognizes cleanliness and swimmable waters. It's as pristine as Miami Beach without the perpetual Spring Breaker party scene, though that's not to say you won't find a good time. The crowd is as diverse as Fort Lauderdale's community, which explains their official slogan, "Everybody under the sun." The city also invested $29.5 million back in 2021, renovating the 6-mile-long beach—replacing about 388,000 cubic yards of sand along the county shoreline that had been lost to Hurricane Irma and erosion. The surrounding area is being revamped for a new era of hospitality, as evidenced by six new hotels that opened in 2020, 10 new hotels in 2021, and another seven anticipated openings throughout 2022.

Pro Tip: Known as the "Venice of America," make sure to experience Fort Lauderdale's gondola rides.

08 of 14

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, Florida
John Coletti / Getty Images
Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL, USA

Clearwater Beach is best known for its 1,080-foot Pier 60, making it an extraordinary place to watch the sunset, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There’s also a pedestrian-friendly beach walk in addition to the white sand and turquoise waters. It has its name for a reason! If you’re looking for entertainment, you won’t be disappointed by the sand volleyball courts, snorkeling, jet skiing, and parasailing. Parents with kids appreciate the playground and the giant inflatable slides.

Pro Tip: There’s a nearby fishing shop if you want to dabble fishing on the pier.

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09 of 14

Palm Beach

Aerial Drone View Directly Above a Beach Filled with Blue Beach Umbrella on the Sandy Shoreline in Palm Beach, Florida at Midday During the Spring of 2022
Crystal Bolin Photography / Getty Images
Palm Beach, FL, USA

Palm Beach’s inevitable privilege is palpable in the surrounding mansions and five-star hotels. It shelters another limited group—but by no means endangered: over 40 billionaires. But that doesn’t make the beach any less spectacular if you’re looking for tranquility with an impressive ocean view. The highly sought-after area offers various gardens, art exhibits, and walking trails accessible directly from the beach.

Pro Tip: There are only two marked graves on the island, the tombstones of Johnnie Brown (monkey) and Laddie (dog), discreetly placed amid the sophistication of Pizza Al Fresco.

10 of 14

Delray Municipal Beach

Delray Beach
dosecreative / Getty Images
Delray Public Beach, 400 S Ocean Blvd, Delray Beach, FL 33483, USA
Phone +1 561-272-3224

Nestled at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and A1A, Delray Municipal Beach offers you a place to see and be seen. But, if crowds inspire angst, steer clear of this beach on the weekends, especially south, where it tends to get the most vivacious. On the other hand, if you're a morning person, this is a beach you want to get up early to inhale its charm sans midday traffic. If there's an architect hidden within you, it's been rated one of the best beaches in the U.S. to build sandcastles. Avoid career heartbreak and look out for people walking while texting!

Pro Tip: Don't risk a ticket; remember that dogs are not allowed.

11 of 14

Cocoa Beach

All washed up
Brad McGinley Photography / Getty Images
Cocoa Beach, N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931, USA

When planning vacations with others, compromise is inevitable—whether with friends or family. Cocoa Beach's proximity to all the theme parks in Orlando allows you to have the best of both worlds. (Expect at least an hour road trip.) The world-famous Cocoa Beach Pier draws over a million annual visitors, so it's already an attraction of its own. This is also a prime location for Airbnb (or to live), with many houses available to rent a stone's throw from the ocean. This makes for a lively and safe opportunity to engage in a night swim. During the spring and summer seasons, the area ranks as one of the best fishing destinations.

Pro Tip: Cocoa Beach is the surfing capital of Florida, so there's no time like the present to get your hands on a board.

12 of 14

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

Bridge Over Lake With Tree
Pixi / Getty Images
10900 Jack Nicklaus Dr, North Palm Beach, FL 33408-3440, USA
Phone +1 561-624-6950

Home to plenty of rare or endangered native tropical and coastal plant species, nature lovers, need not look further than John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Soaring above you, you may see herons, brown pelicans, terns, sandpipers, and gulls. However, don’t let the innate beauty of the beach fool you; visitors must beware of warning flag signs indicating the strength of the ocean and, more importantly, when it’s not safe to swim. The park covers 438 acres on land and underwater (snorkeling, anyone?), and there are picturesque nature trails if you’re in the mood for a green stroll.

Pro Tip: The park has three beach wheelchairs available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

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13 of 14

The Nature Conservancy Blowing Rocks Preserve

Girl playing with toy bucket on windy beach, Blowing Rocks Preserve, Jupiter Island, Florida, USA
Kinzie Riehm / Getty Images
574 S Beach Rd, Hobe Sound, FL 33455, USA
Phone +1 561-744-6668

The Nature Conservancy impeccably restored 73 acres of native vegetation on a barrier island in Jupiter. The result? A sanctuary for endangered wildlife and a respite for visitors looking to experience a beach environment like never before. Blowing Rocks Preserve embodies the bridge between preserving native coastal habitation and modern innovation. The Preserve contains the largest Anastasia limestone, maritime hammocks, mangrove wetlands, and beach dunes. During its highest tide, the seas "break against the rocks and force plumes of saltwater up to 50 feet skyward"—hence its name.

Pro Tip: Donate to the Nature Conservancy so they can continue maintaining and empowering our Earth.

14 of 14

Henderson Beach State Park

Boardwalk, Henderson State Park, Destin, Florida, USA
Romona Robbins Photography / Getty Images
17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541, USA
Phone +1 850-837-7550

Who says you must head to South Florida to enjoy unabashed beach fun? Located near Destin, sitting north at the Florida Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico, Henderson Beach State Park won’t disappoint even the pickiest beachgoers. 30-foot, snow-white dunes anchor its shoreline, and sunlight sparkles against its warm, emerald waters. If you’re feeling adventurous (and looking to make a weekend getaway out of it), there are 60 campsites connected to the beach via the boardwalk. What better way to appreciate the organic enchantment of nature than to live in it? If only for a night.

Pro Tip: There is a $6 entrance fee per vehicle.

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The 14 Best Beaches in Florida