Best Florida Beaches For...
With 1,100 miles of beaches, it’s no wonder Florida has one to suit every visitor.
Best Beach for Birding:
Shell Key, St Pete Beach.
More than half of the 180-acre Shell Key is a bird sanctuary, but the beaches are accessible to human visitors. There are no buildings, no trash, no cars or telephone lines, just coconut palms, Australian pines, white sandy beaches lined with gentle, clear emerald surf and dunes topped with sea oat whiskers.
Top Tropical Beach:
Bahia Honda State Park
In this paradise of a Models love South Beach Robin Hill park, palms wave in the breeze over pristine, sandy beaches. Widely considered to have the Keys’ most beautiful beaches, Bahia Honda Key is a sheer tropical heaven, with mild, clear water and more than one lush and cosy beach from which to choose.
Top Beach for Surfing:
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet, south of Melbourne Beach, is the capital of East Coast surfing. The waves along this three-mile stretch of beach divided by the Sebastian River are consistent, hollow and fast. If any surf is breaking on the East Coast of Florida, it will be at Sebastian Inlet.
Best Beach for Feet:
The Beaches of South Walton
If you plant your soles on the glistening sands of the beaches of South Walton County, you will instantly become a spoiled-rotten sand snob. The grains are so fine, so white that you’ll feel you are on packed sugar. The sand’s secret is that it’s almost pure quartz, washed down from the Appalachian Mountains over the years.
Best Beach for Treasure Hunting:
A Spanish fleet cracked open upon the reefs of Florida’s East Coast in 1715, spilling its treasure into the sea. Sea Grape Trail in Vero Beach has proved lucrative for treasure hunters combing its sands. Finding a gold doubloon is rare because they are often so encrusted by the sea that it’s hard to recognize them.
Top Beach to See a Millionaire:
Rent a Jaguar and drive to Palm Beach if you really want to see how “the Donald” lives. This 14-mile stretch has a well-deserved reputation as a playground for the rich and famous. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to tan beside one here, second home to the likes of the Kennedy clan.
Best Beach for Shelling:
With more than 400 varieties of shells, Sanibel Island is so popular with shell seekers that it holds an annual three-day Sanibel Shell Fair and Show in the spring break and has a name for the shell seeker’s posture: “The Sanibel Stoop.” Sanibel is equally respected for its beauty and the community’s commitment to preserving it.
Best Beach to Find Sharks Teeth:
Venice Beach is the spot for finding fossilized shark’s teeth from thousands of years ago. The beach concessionaire even rents out metal mesh scoops to aid in the process. Small teeth, the size of a Chihuahua’s, are easy to find while walking along the shoreline and larger teeth by snorkeling along a ridge just offshore.
Top Beach to Be Pampered:
Ponte Vedra Beach
Ponte Vedra Inn and Club is one of the better places to find delicious spa treatments along a Florida beach. The resort sits on a beach lined with high dunes and towering palms. The roaring surf makes for exhilarating body surfing or a comforting bedtime song after a day of pampering.
Best Place to Feel Small:
Canaveral National Seashore
The Canaveral National Seashore, 24 miles of undeveloped coast, is lined with dunes, beaches and a range of wildlife. It’s not unusual to see a blue heron on the seashore while a bald eagle soars over the shoulder-high marsh grasses. Bordering Kennedy Space Centre, the seashore may also allow you to glimpse an equally astounding flight.
Top Snorkelling Beach:
For colourful fish and living coral reefs, pack your snorkelling gear and head to the Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles west of Key West, reachable by ferry or seaplane, but well worth the trip. This cluster of seven islands, made of coral and sand, includes Garden Key, home to historic Fort Jefferson.
Best Beach for a Getaway:
St. George Island
A remote beach that comes with the comforts of Southern cooking, personal service, rocking chairs and a view of the Gulf, the St. George Inn is a quaint inn with double-decker verandas only minutes from what may be the most uninhabited beach in Florida, Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park.
Best Boardwalk Beach:
Hollywood Beach Boardwalk
An Atlantic City-type boardwalk, the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, just south of Fort Lauderdale, is a 2.5-mile-long, 27-foot-wide concrete promenade bordered by shops, hotels, game rooms, taverns and an outdoor amphitheater. Often live music competes with the surf. The beach is certified as "Blue Wave" for its outstanding cleanliness and safety.
Best Beach for Romance:
On Lovers Key, explore the mangrove wilds of the west coast Florida by kayak or foot in Lovers Key State Park. Lounge beside a waterfall in a lagoon-style pool at the Lovers Key Beach Club & Resort, a posh all-suite resort. At sunset, dine overlooking Estero Bay. Soak in the spa tub-for-two in your suite.
Best Beach to Watch a Sunset:
Naples Municipal Beach & Fishing Pier
Naples Municipal Beach & Fishing Pier (built in 1888 as a freight and passenger dock) shines as an all-time sunset favorite. When the sun begins to set low on the western horizon, beachgoers, fisherman, locals and tourists fill the narrow pier in anticipation of the daily show as the sun melts into the Gulf.
Top Beach for a Drive:
You can watch surfers catch a wave as you drive along the sands of Daytona Beach. The 18-mile stretch of firm sand along Daytona Beach is one of the few remaining beaches in Florida where cars are still allowed. For $5, cruise it all day, but don’t floor it: The speed limit is 10 mph.
Best Beach to Loaf:
New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is a laid-back beach town, where Orlando co-ed's come for sun, and top surfers come for waves. There are no high-rises along the beach, only low-rise motels and condos giving it a comforting feel. These 13.2 miles of beach is so relaxed even the currents are laid back here.
Best Beach for a History Lesson:
At Fort Pickens, brick archways and fortifications topped with cannons, a piece of American history, hug the white sand and aquamarine waters the Gulf of Mexico. This massive fort has protected America from the early 1800s until after WWII. During the Civil War, Union soldiers occupied the fort to prevent Confederate shipments into Pensacola.
Best Beach for Paws:
Fort De Soto Park
Fort De Soto Park is a canine paradise – beaches are undeveloped, except for a former fort that can be explored by paws (as long as Rover is leashed), dogs can roam freely along a prime stretch of beach near the park's pier. There's also an adjacent fenced field complete with dog facilities – fire hydrants and garden hoses with spray nozzles.
Best Beach to Giddy Up:
On Amelia Island, fulfil that fantasy of riding along the beach, with your windswept hair tickling your face as your horse leaves hoof prints in the sand. At Kelly Seahorse Ranch, experienced riders can canter their steeds along the waves, and actually go into the surf with their horses. These are freedoms most stables won't allow.
Best Beach for Kids:
Siesta Public Beach
When it comes to family vacation beach spots, nothing tops Siesta Public Beach in Sarasota – gradual slopes, shallow waters, lifeguards, a playground, gentle waves, fine white sand and translucent waters. It continually makes several of America’s Top 10 lists of top beaches based on sand, water quality and facilities.
Best Beach to See and Be Seen:
If you enjoy a beach scene, go to South Beach, and look in any direction. Lounge on the beach among serious sunbathers in European-style swimsuits who are as likely to chat in French or German as in English. Watch shirtless guys prove themselves on the sand volleyball courts. On the other side of Ocean Drive there are pastel Art Deco buildings house sidewalk cafes, trendy nightclubs, posh shops and groovy hotels.
Best Gay Beaches
New Smyrna Beach, Daytona
very end of A1A, end of the State Park road. last entrance in the park.
Dania Beach - John Loyd State Park
1st eastside parking lot, head to beach, turn right up the beach.
Ft. Lauderdale Beach
A1A & N.E. 18th. (end of the public beach area)
Key Biscayne- Crandon Park
Park & hike in, left of the public beach about 1/2 mile.
Collins Avenue & 12th Street.
Key West Area
north of Key West off Old Boca Chica road. All the way to the end!
West Palm Beach
Singer Island, MacArthur State Park
head north up the beach.
Florida Best Beaches For Nudism
Sunning in the altogether
Florida's balmy temperatures are perfect for nude swimming or soaking up the sun in your birthday suit. Unfortunately, finding a nude beach in Florida (with the exception of the one legally-sanctioned nude beach) means finding a secluded stretch of sand. The general rule for nude bathing in Florida is "Bare if you dare" - nudity is a crime on many top Florida beaches, and the irregular enforcement of public indecency laws means taking your clothes off is a bit of a gamble. Though a number of best Florida beaches have earned reputations as skinny-dipping locations, many naturists have been fined and even arrested.
The following is a list of one official public nude beach and nine unofficial nude beaches. Please keep in mind that laws change frequently, so ask locals before sunning in all your glory in any of these locations:
Haulover Beach: The only legal beach on this list, this beach draws nude bathers of every age, shape and sexual orientation. The clothing-optional sections are well-marked and maintained by the county, so you can sun without fear.
- Apollo Beach: While nude sunning is illegal, it's generally tolerated if you are discrete.
Playalinda Beach: This undeveloped beach is secluded enough to make most nudists feel comfortable. While it also draws eco-tourists with binoculars, don't worry - they come to gawk at the wildlife, not you.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park: Also known as Air Force Beach, this park hasn't been a legal nude beach since the 1980s. A sub-tropical paradise, you can usually get away without a bathing suit if you don't actually cross the park's boundaries.
- Hobe Sound: A secluded spot where celebrities like Celine Dion build multi-million dollar mansions, Hobe Sound has views that outshine the glitz. Cautious naturists can catch some rays in the buff since most people come to escape the crowds.
St. Lucie Inlet State Reserve: This state reserve offers the same seclusion, celebrity homes and warnings as nearby Hobe Sound. Nude bathing isn't legal here, so strip with caution.
- South Beach: The anything-goes approach to life here makes unofficially clothing-optional beaches easy to find.
St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge: Uninhabited and accessible only by boat, you'll have to share your spot of beach with sea birds and turtles.
Gulf Islands National Seashore: Although nude bathing isn't legal, long stretches of deserted beach means most naturists can skinny dip in peace.
- Navarre Beach (Eglin Air Force Base): While you can depend on warm weather, the social climate changes quickly. Authorities used to turn their heads, but now nude bathers need to exercise caution.