We’re not short on gorgeous beaches here, but some slices of shoreline are just too crowded for us locals. We’re going to let you in on a secret, though: South Florida is home to a bundle of hidden patches of sand that even the most die-hard tourists don’t know about. From the Keys to North Miami to Palm Beach, grab your favorite bikini and your floppiest hat for a weekend of sun, sand and serenity.

Editor’s note: Please remember to practice social distancing and adhere to all local health and safety guidelines.

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Miami Secret Beaches John D. MacArthur
Kim Seng/Flickr

1. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

West Palm (and the immediate surrounding areas) boasts 15 percent of its land dedicated to public green space, beaches and landmarks. One of our absolute favorites includes John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, which is considered an environmental treasure. The 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 way to get there: Drive north on US1 up to Palm Beach Gardens and then transfer to A1A on West Blue Heron Boulevard. You’ll get a beautiful view of Singer Island before reaching the park.

10900 Jack Nicklaus Dr., North Palm Beach

Miami Secret Beaches Oceanfront Park
edward stojakovic/Flickr

2. Oceanfront Park Beach

Escape Miami for an afternoon at Oceanfront Park in Boynton Beach. It’s easily one of South Florida’s most gorgeous stretches of sand with ample shade (bonus points).

Best way to get there: You’re in luck: Oceanfront is situated right off A1A with ample parking, so no need to stress about arriving early or staying late.

6415 N. Ocean Blvd., Boynton Beach

Miami Secret Beaches Bahia Honda
Matt Kieffer/Flickr

3. Bahia Honda

OK, you caught us: This one isn’t exactly in greater Miami, but it’s totally worth the trip. Bahia Honda—covering more than 500 acres and with a view of an abandoned historic bridge—is perfect for a day of snorkeling, kayaking, tanning (with SPF, of course) and boating. We suggest waking up early to give yourself three to four hours of sun and surf before driving home.

Best way to get there: Make a day of it and drive south toward Key West. Once you’re past the Seven Mile Bridge, you’ll hit Bahia Honda. On the way back, stop by Islamorada Fish Company for some fresh-caught seafood and beer.

36850 Overseas Hwy., Big Pine Key

Miami Secret Beaches CAT
Anish Patel/Flickr

4. Matheson Hammock Park

Set up shop on the main beach at Matheson Hammock or head over to that tiny strip of serenity if you want some alone time. In either case, bring a towel, pick your favorite spot and stay long enough to catch a glorious sunset.

Best way to get there: It’s right off Old Cutler Road. Ride your bike a few miles to the beach or drive and park in a nearby lot.

9610 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables

Miami Secret Beaches Oleta State River Park

5. Oleta State River Park

If tanning makes you yawn, try Oleta. It’s an adventurer’s beach where you can bike, kayak and fish. Rent all of your equipment on site and get ready to cast away. But if your bestie still insists on tanning, don’t worry—she can do that, too. (But seriously, wear sunscreen.)

Best way to get there: It’s right off 163rd Street in North Miami, so you’ll need a car (or an Uber) to get there. For $6, snag all-day parking anywhere in the park.

3400 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach

Miami Secret Beaches Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
jpellgen (@1179_jp)/Flickr

6. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

The oldest standing building in Miami-Dade County is a primo spot for taking in gorgeous views. That’s right, the lone lighthouse, built in 1825 at the end of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, is the perfect scene for a seaside sunset. Come a few hours early to lie on the gorgeously soft sand, reminiscent of that private island you’ve been dreaming of. Staycation? Check.

Best way to get there: Drive to the end of Key Biscayne to find the park’s entrance. A few steps away from the parking lot, it’ll be just you and acres of open sand.

1200 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne

Miami Secret Beaches Haulover
Jared/Flickr

7. Haulover Beach Park

Forgo towering skyscrapers for acres of open shoreline at Haulover Beach Park. Set up shop with a chair, a cooler and a stylish umbrella. 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 way to get there: This might be the only time you won’t have to worry about parking in Miami. Haulover has multiple lots with hundreds of spots ($5 during the week and $7 on weekends).

10800 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

Miami Secret Beaches North Shore
Esa L/Flickr

8. North Shore Open Space Park

Sometimes you just need some peace and quiet away from the SoBe crowds. Hidden behind lush mangroves, North Shore Open Space Park offers a stunning backdrop of clear blue waters and silky beige sand.

Best way to get there: Once you’re on Collins Avenue, park in an adjacent lot anywhere from 78th Street to 87th Terrace.

85th Street and Collins Ave., Miami Beach

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