9 Amazing-Yet-Overlooked Beaches You Need to Visit in Your Lifetime
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. Even still, certain areas (South Beach! Destin! Daytona!) get all the attention...and can get seriously overcrowded. That's why we turned to a few locals, as well as the team at Visit Florida, to get a few recommendations for lesser-known spots that are absolutely worth slathering up in sunscreen and planning a road trip. Consider your next nine vacations planned.
Editor’s note: Please follow all social distancing guidelines and local travel recommendations. You may also want to reach out to your host or hotel to ensure that they are using additional cleaning and sanitation practices.
1. Crescent Beach in St. Augustine
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.
- Casa Monica Resort & Spa: Sleeps two, $228/night
- Historic Colonial Hideaway: Sleeps eight, $210/night
- Ocean Front Condo with Heated Pool: Sleeps four, $125/night
2. Honeymoon Island in Dunedin
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.
- La Casa del Mar: Sleeps six, $147/night
- Clearwater Coastal Cottage: Sleeps six, $175/night
- Beachfront Oceanview Condo: Sleeps six, $330/night
3. St. George Island in Franklin County
If you really want to avoid the crowds, head to St. George Island. The barrier island is just off Florida’s panhandle on the Gulf Coast, and its strict building codes prevent the area from getting too built up. While the 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.
- Three Bedroom with Nearby Beach Access: Sleeps eight, $332/night
- Bay to Beach Five Bedroom: Sleeps ten, $500/night
- Bayfront Home: Sleeps ten, $325/night
4. Blue Mountain Beach in South Walton
Sugar sand, aqua water and blackened shrimp tacos (ahem, Red Fish Taco), all in one place? 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 Smokehouse & Provisions aren’t to be missed.
- Affordable, Updated Condo: Sleeps four, $121/night
- Super Cottage: Sleeps six, $214/night
- Sanctuary by the Sea: Sleeps eight, $770/night
5. 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. The streets are pedestrian friendly,
- Canalfront Delray Beach Home: Sleeps four, $202/night
- Delightful Delray Beach Home: Sleeps four, $125/night
- Modern Home in Historic District: Sleeps six, $214/night
6. 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 spot to birdwatch, snorkel or while away the day before grabbing a slice of key lime pie.
- Bay View Vacation Rental: Sleeps six, $680/night
- Shangri-La in the Keys: Sleeps six, $291/night
- Cottage with Pool and Kayaks: Sleeps two, $200/night
7. 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.)
- Hidden Gem Number Nine: Sleeps two, $150/night
- Chic Coastal Apartment: Sleeps four, $272/night
- Prime Location Bungalow Four: Sleeps two, $150/night
8. Madeira Beach
Just west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast is 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.
- Well-Appointed Getaway: Sleeps seven, $178/night
- Four Bedroom Haven with Wet Bar: Sleeps 12, $535/night
- Tranquil Three-Tier Home: Sleeps 13, $558/night
9. 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 (1,500 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.
- Updated Condo on the Beach: Sleeps 8, $130/night
- SpringHill Suites Navarre Beach: Sleeps 2, $303/night
- Paradise on the Beach Townhouse: Sleeps 8, $140/night