The 24 Absolute Best Beaches in Florida, from the Keys to the Panhandle

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

Florida may be known as the Sunshine State, but it might as well rebrand itself as the Shoreline State. With 8,436 miles of shoreline—second only to Alaska, which arguably, has less beach-friendly weather year-round—the peninsula has no shortage of beaches. But that doesn’t mean that you can plan your dream beach vacation just anywhere. Do you want something close to the city or with a private island feel? Are you planning on soaking up the sun all day or do you want a spot that offers activities, too? And if you’re bringing your kids or dog, then that changes things as well. That's why we turned to a few locals to spill the tea on the best beaches in Florida that are absolutely worth slathering up in sunscreen and planning a road trip. Consider your next beach trip planned.

5 Nonstop Flights from Miami for a Totally Unique Weekend Escape

best beaches in florida john d macarthur beach state park
John D. MacArthur State Park/Facebook

1. John D. Macarthur Beach State Park

West Palm Beach does not want for public green space, beaches and landmarks. One of our absolute favorites includes John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, which is considered an environmental treasure. This hidden beach spans nearly two miles with plenty of picturesque (and quiet!) stretches of sand—in fact, it’s so quiet, you’ll feel like you’re on a private island.

best beaches in florida crescent beach
Michael Warren/Getty Images

2. Crescent Beach

You headed to St. Augustine to soak in its history (it was founded in 1565, after all) and maybe enjoy some fudge or a ghost tour. Once you’ve taken all that in, skip St. Augustine Beach or the long drive to Jacksonville Beach and head straight to Crescent Beach instead. Parking can be a bit limited, but there aren’t as many big businesses dotting the landscape, making for a tranquil escape.

best beaches in florida honeymoon island
CampPhoto/Getty Images

3. Honeymoon Island

As the birthplace of Hooters, a major hub for the Church of Scientology and oh, often being voted best beach in the U.S., Clearwater gets a ton of buzz. But if you head 20 minutes north, you’ll hit the quieter causeway of Dunedin. At the very end is Honeymoon Island, a dog-friendly state park that’s a bit more low-key but every bit as lovely. There may not be a Surf Style or Ron Jon’s, but once you take in the sunset over the Gulf, we doubt you’ll mind.

best beaches in florida st george island
Henryk Sadura/Getty Images

4. St. George Island

If you really want to avoid the crowds, head to St. George Island. The barrier island is just off the Sunshine State’s panhandle on the Gulf Coast, and its strict building codes prevent the area from overzealous developers. While this beautiful beach itself is great for swimming and shelling, if you’ve brought your labradoodle, Ruffmona Quimby, along, head to the state park—it’s pet-friendly and there are plenty of trails for you to explore together.

best beaches in florida blue mountain beach
Shuva/Getty Images

5. Blue Mountain Beach

Sugar sand, aquamarine water and blackened shrimp tacos (ahem, Red Fish Taco), all in one place? The area of South Walton is as close to living in a postcard as you can get. Beyond the shore itself, the area is known for the Blue Lupine—a blue and purple flowering plant—that covers its dunes and for its robust food scene. Fresh seafood is a given, but the chicken and waffles at Blue Mabel Restaurant & Bar aren’t to be missed.

best beaches in florida delray beach
Courtesy of Discover The Palm Beaches

6. Delray Beach

Maybe you like a little city life mixed in with your beach day. If so, get thee to Delray ASAP. Its downtown area is right on the beach, so you can ditch hauling a cooler full of soggy sandwiches all day and have a legit lunch (or happy hour), all within walking distance from your tanning spot.

best beaches in florida bahia honda state park
Ideeone/Getty Images

7. Bahia Honda State Park

Yes, you’ll pay $8 a car to get into Bahia Honda, but frankly, parking at just about any beach will cost you these days. And the views are so, so worth it. There’s a “land that time forgot” quality to the lush greenery, thanks largely to the remains of Henry Flagler’s railroad that juts out into the water—and all of the island’s greenery. It’s an excellent hidden beach to birdwatch, snorkel or while away the day before grabbing a slice of key lime pie.

best beaches in florida juno beach
Henryk Sadura/Getty Images

8. Juno Beach

Right between Jupiter and West Palm Beach is this quiet little gem of a town. It’s located on a barrier island, giving you some buffer from the Atlantic Ocean’s waves on one side (though, surfers, you’ll want to hit up Juno Beach Park) and unparalleled sunrise views all around. (Just know that from May through October, the beach becomes the densest sea turtle nesting ground in the world.)

best beaches in floridamadeira beach
John Coletti/Getty Images

9. Madeira Beach

Just west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast is the oh-so-beautiful Madeira Beach. It shares the same super-fine sand and gentle, bathwater-like waters as St. Pete Beach (which was voted best beach), as well as the added draw of the John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. The boardwalk stretches 1,100 feet, offering all kinds of places to eat and small shops to check out (we’re partial to Mad Beach Brewing). Oh, and if you’re into fresh fish, plan a visit in October, when the weather hovers between 55 and 81 degrees, and the town hosts its annual Seafood Festival.

best beaches in florida navarre beach
Third Serving/Unsplash

10. Navarre Beach

If you’re into fishing, exploring or simply working on your tan while reading a book, you’re meant to visit Navarre Beach. It features the longest pier in Florida (1,545 feet), but it’s vendor-free, so you don’t have to weave through a bunch of souvenirs to find a spot to drop a line. While there, be sure to check out the marine science station and Sea Turtle Conservation Center at Navarre Beach Marine Park.

best beaches in florida bill baggs cape florida state park

11. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

No time to get down to The Keys? Don’t worry—Key Biscayne is the next best thing. Right off the shoreline of downtown Miami, Key Biscayne has got all the makings of a private island… right in your backyard. Spend a day here lying on the gorgeously soft sand at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and then grab a bite at the iconic Rusty Pelican. Then, may we suggest a trek to the end of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park? The lone lighthouse, built in 1825, is the perfect scene for a seaside sunset. Staycation? Check.

best beaches in florida little gasparilla
mwilson_93/Getty images

12. Little Gasparilla Island

  • Location: Charlotte County
  • Why We Love It: only reachable by boat, super-quiet beachy escape
  • Where to Stay: Lu’s Lookout (from $425/night, sleeps 6); Coconut Paradise (from $418/night, sleeps 8); Grove City Motel (from $129/night)

As one of the last bridge-less barrier islands in Florida, visitors can only reach Little Gasparilla via boat. Located between Sarasota and Ft. Meyers, the island is a 10-minute sail from land—though it feels like a whole world away. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a beachy escape without actually going that far. Sandy pathways and golf carts take the place of traditional roads and cars. Pro tip: There are no stores or restaurants on the island either (though there are waterfront dining spots nearby accessible via water taxi)—so if you’re booking a vacation rental, make sure to pack appropriately.

best beaches in florida hutchinson island beach
floridastock/Getty Images

13. Hutchinson Island Beach

Made up of two barrier islands off of the coast of Martin County, Hutchinson Island is all about too-good-to-be-true beaches, quiet nature parks and quaint restaurants and hotels. It helps that the island is home to Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, which has won multiple readers’ choice awards in Condé Nast Traveler. Pro tip: Book a sunset horseback riding session on the sand.

best beaches in florida siesta key beach
Ruth Peterkin/Getty Images

14. Siesta Key Beach

Off the coast of Sarasota, pretend you’re on the cast of MTV’s Siesta Key for a weekend by visiting this eight-mile island. With shops, restaurants, buzzy nightlife spots and beaches galore, you won’t be short on things to do here. But seriously: The beaches are next level here. Nothing like a 24-hour livestream to inspire some vacay FOMO.

best beaches in florida jupiter beach
GabrielPevide/Getty Images

15. Jupiter Beach

Get this: Nearly every beach in Jupiter is open to pups, thanks to a 1989 policy adopted by the Jupiter Town Council to allow dogs on the area’s beaches. There are a few rules, though. Dogs must be well behaved and wearing proper tags and licenses, and owners are required to pick up after them.

best beaches in florida bowman s beach
ablokhin/Getty Images

16. Bowman’s Beach

Bowman’s Beach is way more than just a beautiful spot to pass a few hours—it’s one of the best destinations for collecting shells in the country. Beachcombers also flock to the shores of this Sanibel Island idyll in hopes of finding other seaside souvenirs such as coins, rings and other buried treasures. And did we mention the picnic tables, calm waters and short hiking trails?

best beaches in florida south beach
Sean Pavone/Getty Images

17. South Beach

For a livelier getaway replete with glitz, glamor and unparalleled people watching, nothing compares to South Beach. Famous for a reason, this iconic stretch of sand runs from South Pointe Park to 23rd Street. After basking in the sun, go for a walk on the promenade, grab a drink at one of the many nearby bars or peep some Art Deco architecture.

best beaches in florida main beach park
Ruth Peterkin/Getty Images

18. Main Beach Park

With its irresistible mix of pleasant weather, sun-kissed shores and warm waters, Main Beach Park on Amelia Island really does have it all. Add to that immaculate facilities—volleyball courts, a playground, picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor showers and a skate park. It does get a bit crowded, especially during peak season, so best to go early.

best beaches in florida matheson hammock park
typhoonski/Getty Images

19. Matheson Hammock Park

Set up shop on the main beach at Matheson Hammock or head over to the beautiful salt water pond for some much-needed serenity. In either case, bring a towel, pick your favorite spot and stay long enough to catch a glorious sunset along the backdrop of the city skyline.

best beaches in florida haulover beach park
simonkr/Getty Images

20. Haulover Beach Park

Despite views of Miami’s skyline in the distance, you’ll feel like you’re on a beachy retreat at Haulover Beach Park. Set up shop with a chair, a cooler and a stylish umbrella and then kick back and relax on the golden sand. If you’re feeling free-spirited, make your way over to the neighboring clothing-optional area. Bikini or not, it’s one of the most private beaches in town.

best beaches in florida lovers key state park
BobPalosaari/Getty Images

21. Lovers Key State Park

This pristine haven will have you feeling relaxed (read: sprawling out for a nap on the beach) and somehow invigorated at the same time. You can fish, try stand-up paddle-boarding or simply walk or bike the five miles of trails. If you’re lucky, you’ll see wildlife such as gophers, tortoises, manatees and dolphins in and around the area’s backwaters.

best beaches in florida venice beach
TriggerPhoto/Getty Images

22. Venice Beach

Named one of the “Happiest Seaside Towns in America,” Venice is an oasis like no other. Located in the heart of Sarasota County, this enchanting town features a magnificent shoreline, recreational parks and a lively beach area that’s home to spectacular boutiques and dining. Oh, and did you know Venice is also considered the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World”? Make sure to go shark teeth collecting among Venice’s picturesque shores, too.

best beaches in flordia captiva beach
AnthonyFesta/Getty Images

23. Captiva Beach

With beaches spanning for more than 15 miles, Captiva Island is a tropical paradise. Known for its quaint, tropical atmosphere, Captiva is home to over 250 types of shells, unique wildlife and enchanting sunsets. You can fill your days by exploring nearby wildlife preserves, booking a private fishing excursion or unwinding on white-sand beaches.

best beaches in florida: daytona beach
halbergman/Getty Images

24. Daytona Beach

With 23 miles of hard-packed sand, Daytona Beach is a destination that will entertain the whole family. The boardwalk is rife with entertainment, including rides and arcade games, while the Daytona Beach Bandshell hosts a summer concert series. Of course, this Florida city is also home to the Daytona International Speedway and Motorsports Hall of Fame, making the destination a great compromise between beach lovers and racing enthusiasts.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...

clarissa buch

Miami Editor

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Focused on food, lifestyle, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, and...