Tampa, Florida, is situated on Florida’s central Gulf Coast. Tampa Bay is a large natural harbor and shallow estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its beaches.
Build sandcastles beneath blue skies, scan the sands for shells or sharks’ teeth, cast a line out in the surf, and complete the day with a romantic evening stroll while watching the sun sink beneath the Gulf of Mexico. If any of this sounds tempting, you'll love the top beaches of Tampa Bay, Florida.
Note: There have been incidences of Red Tide algae blooms affecting the beauty of coastal beaches and so you can check the status reports from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission before going.
Accessible by private boat or by the Caladesi Connection ferry service from Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi is one of the few unspoiled natural islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
In addition to swimming, sunbathing, and shelling, visitors can enjoy a three-mile nature trail or a glide through mangroves along the three-mile kayak trail.
This 95-acre park rests on a Sand Key, a barrier island just south of Clearwater Pass. More tranquil than neighboring Clearwater Beach, visitors will find cabana rentals, two beach wheelchairs, nine outdoor shower towers, and two bathhouses. Lifeguards are on duty from March through September.
It's a great park for the nature lover. Endangered sea turtles frequently lay eggs on the beach at Sand Key and you can observe birds nesting and feeding in a rare salt marsh at the park.
This park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands. Fort De Soto County Park’s pristine North Beach features soft white sand, clear waters, and great shelling. Nearby picnic shelters, grills, and playground equipment make it a favorite destination for residents and tourists.
More than 328 species of birds have been documented over 60 years at the park with new species being sighted every year. The beach also provides refuge to the loggerhead sea turtle, which nests between April and September.
A stretch of the beach is pet-friendly, and there's also Paws Playground, a dog park.
Egmont Key State Park is first and foremost a wildlife refuge, but the island offers excellent shelling opportunities and a chance to wander along secluded stretches of beach.
Accessible only by boat, Egmont Key is home to the ruins of Fort Dade and a lighthouse that has stood since 1858. The park features nature trails, picnic areas, and fishing.
You may encounter gopher tortoises or Florida box turtles as you walk the six miles of historic paths. Many visitors see hummingbirds and other seabirds that live in the Shore Bird Refuge at the south end of the island.
Greer Island Beach
Located on the west side of Gulf Drive just south of the Longboat Key Bridge on Longboat Key, this beach offers no amenities other than beautiful beaches and fishing. And that’s precisely what makes it special. With the crowded Coquina Beach just the other side of the inlet, this lesser-known destination is a perfect place for a romantic stroll at sunset.
Its a good beach for birding and a few sea turtles nest in the dunes during summer.
Recognized in the 1987 "Great International White Sand Beach Challenge," for having the “whitest and finest sand in the world,” Siesta Beach offers 2,400 linear feet of gulf beach frontage along with ball fields, concessions, a fitness trail, playground equipment, tennis and volleyball courts, and special events scheduled throughout the year. Lifeguards are on duty year-round.
In the early morning, Siesta Key Beach is perfect for strolling and shell-collecting and is also home to candlelit restaurants and romantic rental cottages so there is something for everyone.
Internationally known for a high concentration of prehistoric sharks’ teeth, Caspersen Beach boasts 177 acres of land and 9,150 linear feet of gulf beach frontage. Amenities include a boardwalk and nature trail, fishing, picnic area, and exceptional shelling.
The beach is known as a quiet place, where you can get away from the more crowded coastal areas. And, locals recommend you stay for the stunning sunset.
Blind Pass Beach
Found on Manasota Key Road, Blind Pass Beach is a little more laid-back than some of its neighbors to the north. With 2,940 linear feet of gulf beach frontage, it features a canoe launch, dune wildflowers, fishing, a nature trail, and a large picnic shelter.
This is another beach where people go to look for sharks' teeth. At low tide, it can also be a good shelling beach. The shelling varies with the day, time and weather.
Located near Tarpon Springs, Howard Park is favorite among locals. A one-mile causeway links the beach to the park.
The beach is handicapped-accessible and has other facilities including showers and restrooms along with amenities like playgrounds, picnic areas, a ball field, and walking and running trails.
It's another park where people gather for the sunset.
Honeymoon Island State Park
This beach has a secluded feel but is not a long trip to the mainland. It's a hit with locals and a popular tourist destination. It has all manner of outdoor activities and is dog-friendly. There are snack bars if you get hungry.
For the nature lover, take the three-mile Osprey trail through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forest in Florida. Go to the Rotary Centennial Nature Center to learn about the park’s history and natural resources.