15 Best Beaches In South Florida

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Florida is famous worldwide in large part due to its bountiful and beautiful beaches.

The first places that come to mind when thinking about the sunny south of Florida are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and the Keys.

These beach party towns have made a name for themselves because of their white sandy beaches, vibrant culture and lively party scene.

Fort Lauderdale and the Keys are also known to be popular cruise ship destinations.

Regardless of your reasons for visiting Florida, you should squeeze in time to visit a beach or two.

With so many to choose from, you can’t go wrong.

Scroll through our list of the best beaches in South Florida, and add a couple to your travel itinerary.

1. South Beach

South Beach, Miami Beach. FloridaSource: Miami2you / shutterstock
South Beach, Miami Beach. Florida

South Beach is probably one of the most talked about beaches in the world.

The eccentric Miami atmosphere – surrounded by the bustling restaurants and bars – gives people the ritzy lifestyle they are looking for.

The beach is known for its crystal-clear water, bright white sand, and the superb shopping in close proximity to the beach.

After chilling for the afternoon on the sand, you can hit up a brewery, winery, or go on a food tour with the kids.

Depending on where you are heading in Florida, South Beach is worth a visit, even if you have to slot in a few hours of extra travel time to check it out.

2. Sanibel Island

Sanibel IslandSource: Maridav / shutterstock
Sanibel Island

Located on Florida’s southern Gulf Coast is a barrier island known as Sanibel Island.

It’s a great place to escape for a romantic getaway or to spend quality time with your family.

The island is famous for gorgeous seashells, many bird species, and for having no traffic lights! The island boasts a truly secluded vibe, which is great for people who want to escape reality and forget about bustling city life for a while.

Florida is known as the sunshine state, so regardless of the time of year, the weather should be great.

You can enjoy swimming and snorkeling on Sanibel Island too.

3. Siesta Beach

Siesta BeachSource: Gabriele Maltinti / shutterstock
Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach is known for its eight-mile shoreline.

Swimmers flock to this beach because of the unique, sparkling sand which is composed of pure quartz crystals.

Because of this unique composition, the sand is always cool, even when the climate is hot, so no burned feet as you make your way to the waves! If you have dreamed about paradise, there would be no better way to sum it up then Siesta Beach.

This place is a dream come true and is frequented by many honeymooners.

People enjoy kayaking and picnicking on the beach.

4. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater BeachSource: Gabriele Maltinti / shutterstock
Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is nestled on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.

The water is always warm from the Gulf, which offers an abundance of seaside fun.

Families enjoy the gentle waves and all the attractions in Clearwater, including street performers and an abundance of bicycle trails around the town.

The Marine Aquarium is close by and there are lots of restaurants to try out.

Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, steakhouses, chic wine bars or a classic pizza stand — you name it, they have it.

5. Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach, FloridaSource: forestpath / shutterstock
Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach is positioned on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, alongside the Florida Panhandle.

The water temperature on Pensacola Beach is comparable to warm bath water.

Sea turtles frequent this beach, so keep a close eye out for one.

Many visitors enjoy swimming, boating, snorkeling, and even surfing when the tide is high.

Sometimes dolphins come in close enough to see from the shore.

When you get hungry, take a walk on the Pensacola Beach boardwalk and head to one of the artisan restaurants.

There are many stores to wander through in the evening if you’re in the mood for shopping.

6. Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State ParkSource: alamodrones / shutterstock
Caladesi Island State Park

Have you dreamed of visiting a secluded island only accessible by boat? Make that dream a reality with only a short boat ride over to Caladesi Island State Park.

It is the polar opposite of South Beach, but something you need to experience while in Florida.

You will see white sand like you’ve never seen before.

This park is great for kayaking, hiking, swimming, and of course, sunbathing.

Keep it simple and have a picnic in the pavilions or on a beach towel laid on the sand.

The water is crystal-clear, which makes the snorkeling here phenomenal.

7. Lovers Key State Park

Lovers Key State ParkSource: Maridav / shutterstock
Lovers Key State Park

Lovers Key State Park lies on an island between Fort Myers and Naples.

Prepare to see bald eagles, bottlenose dolphins, manatees, and other wildlife.

This park is great for paddle boarding and fishing.

Fishermen can expect to catch tarpon, trout, and redfish – depending on the season.

There are nearby trails that are great for exploring and taking pictures.

Again, the pristine waters here create incredible snorkeling opportunities.

8. Captiva Island

Captiva IslandSource: Jose Antonio Perez / shutterstock
Captiva Island

Situated off the Gulf Coast of Florida near Fort Myers, the captivating island of Captiva is great for sailing, fishing, bird watching and biking around the trails.

There is a great resort on the island known as South Seas Island Resort, which is great for children who would like to learn how to sail; they offer sailing school and other pirate production classes.

The beach is great for relaxing and the weather is hot and sunny year-round.

The average temperature is 87 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pack your snorkeling gear, because you won’t find better snorkeling anywhere else.

9. Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Lauderdale BeachSource: Miami2you / shutterstock
Fort Lauderdale Beach

Many people will refer to Fort Lauderdale Beach as the spring breaker’s beach; however, it has changed over the years.

This beach is now a chic destination and boasts high-end shopping and fancy dining establishments.

If you like craft cocktails and want to take advantage of happy hour in Fort Lauderdale, there are many bars and patios to do so.

The promenade is a favorite amongst locals and visitors, with palm trees lined up in front of beautiful mansions.

Grab an ice-cream cone and go for a sunset stroll.

10. Delray Beach

Delray BeachSource: lunamarina / shutterstock
Delray Beach

Delray Beach consists of two miles of Atlantic shoreline.

It is located in the greater metropolitan area of Miami.

Whether you want to participate in water sports or sit back, relax and take in the views, you’ll love spending time here.

Paddle boarding is great because the water is so calm you can see the fish under your board.

After your time at the beach, visit the Pineapple Grove Arts District – a mixture of boutique stores, art galleries, cafes, local salons and restaurants.

You can play arcade games in the museum for a small admission fee.

11. Panama City Beach

Panama City BeachSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach on the Gulf Coast is home to nature sanctuaries, fishing piers, and hiking trails.

This place is an outdoor paradise for adventurous souls.

Switch it up and spend the afternoon swimming with dolphins.

A great place for a romantic night in Panama City – and the best place to watch the – sunset is Panama City Beach Winery.

Once you are done, go shopping at Pier Park.

12. Cocoa Beach

Cocoa BeachSource: PhotoJaime / shutterstock
Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is famous for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

If you enjoy space, land, and sea, this is totally your vibe.

Cocoa Beach is a must-visit destination.

There is a lot going on here in addition to an energetic pier, miles upon miles of shoreline and the perfect waves for surfing.

One neat activity to squeeze in when visiting the space center is the tour of NASA’s launch headquarters; you can also gape at colossal skyrockets.

This beach is definitely one for space fanatics.

13. Venice Beach

Venice Beach, FloridaSource: Irina Mos / shutterstock
Venice Beach, Florida

Venice beach is found on the Gulf Coast and in times gone by was a farming and fishing society.

Today, it has turned into a notorious beach destination.

Venice Beach was nicknamed ‘Shark Tooth Capital of the World’ because of the abundance of shark teeth throughout the sand.

Venice Beach is known for its northern Italian architecture, which is best discovered while biking around.

The Venetian Waterway Trail is great for scenic landscapes and views.

14. Palm Beach

Palm Beach, FloridaSource: pisaphotography / shutterstock
Palm Beach

Palm Beach is a town in southern Florida where the sun is always shining and the palms are always swaying.

Palm Beach has a place and a budget for every vacationer and is a good place to enjoy for all ages.

Some attractions in Palm Beach include fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling in the crystal clear water.

Palm Beach love festivals and many people come from all over to enjoy them.

Whether it’s the PGA golf tournament, a wine and cheese festival, food festivals, or the South Florida Fair, there is something to do all year around.

15. Sugden Regional Park

Sugden Regional ParkSource: SunflowerMomma / shutterstock
Sugden Regional Park

Sugden Regional Park is located in Naples, Florida, and is the only freshwater beach in the area.

This regional park is known for sailing.

Many people enjoy fishing off the pier, renting paddleboards, canoes or kayaks, while others just bliss out lounging on the sandy beach.

There is a facility where you can take sailing lessons.

If you want to try something even more challenging, give water-skiing a try.

You are in Florida, live life to the fullest and take in as much sunshine as possible.

There are many different types of accommodation options in Naples for every budget.

Restaurants, boutique shops, golfing and more can be found in the city of Naples.

15 Best Beaches In South Florida:

  • South Beach
  • Sanibel Island
  • Siesta Beach
  • Clearwater Beach
  • Pensacola Beach
  • Caladesi Island State Park
  • Lovers Key State Park
  • Captiva Island
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach
  • Delray Beach
  • Panama City Beach
  • Cocoa Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • Palm Beach
  • Sugden Regional Park