One of the main attractions in Tampa, Florida, is its beaches.
The city is a major business center with plenty to attract tourists; the museums and Busch Gardens – an amusement park with an African theme – spring to mind immediately.
Add the fine restaurants and vibrant nightlife, and Tampa is a great place for a holiday, especially since there are 361 days of sunshine each year.
The Gulf of Mexico, in general, is known for its beautiful white sand, and Tampa is no exception.
The waters are warm and time on the beach is something that people of all ages enjoy.
There is certainly plenty of choice in and aroun dTampa.
Let’s have a look at the best beaches in Tampa:
1. Ben T. Davis Beach, Tampa City
The largest beach – and arguably the best public beach in the city – is known as Ben T. Davis.
It has the added benefit of being the closest to the airport, without the sound of planes causing any annoyance to beach lovers.
There are some good picnic areas and this beach is a great place to watch the sun go down.
Beach volleyball is a popular sport to enjoy on the sand; it is well organized, with several local teams competing against each other.
Active visitors can head off to explore a nearby trail – Courtney Campbell – either walking or biking.
2. Apollo Beach Nature Reserve, Hillsborough County
The two beautiful beaches within the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve are enticing you to simply lie down and sunbathe.
There are plenty of other things to do as well, including fishing and watching the birds and other wildlife.
The highlight is probably the chance to catch a glimpse of a manatee.
Your dog is welcome, assuming it is well-trained and under your control.
There is ample parking, with extra parking areas being added to allow more people to enjoy the two acres of sand and the other delights of the reserve.
3. Madeira Beach, Pinellas County
This beach is a great place for a family holiday.
The locals are known for their friendliness and the whole atmosphere here is very laid-back.
Known as Mad Beach for short, visitors can expect lovely sand, warm waters for swimming, and deliciously fresh seafood.
Each year there is a seafood festival, with plenty of entertainment for the crowds that come from within the state and beyond.
There is a long boardwalk running the length of the beach, with many shops and restaurants.
There will be plenty of people fishing and others simply enjoying the sun.
4. Archibald Beach Park
This public beach is popular with families; locally, they know it as The Hammocks.
There is metered parking nearby.
Wooden pathways lead down to the sand and there are plenty of facilities to enjoy, including cafes, showers, and restrooms.
There is a shaded picnic area to escape from the sun for a while.
Beach volleyball courts are well-used, though there is no pressure to do anything but relax and perhaps enjoy an occasional swim.
If you arrive early in the morning and decide to stay all day, all your needs are covered and you’ll have a spectacular day out.
5. Sand Key Park
In some ways, Sand Key Park is still pretty much a secret, and the locals seem to want it to stay that way.
Certainly, in the high season, spring break, and the long weeks of summer when there are crowds elsewhere, Sandy Key remains fairly quiet.
The water is good for surfing, or it is fun even just walking along the sand collecting seashells.
Just south of Clearwater, Sand Key is on a barrier island between the Gulf and Mainland Florida.
It is great for families, and small kids will enjoy the play area.
There is a chance to see the turtles who lay their eggs here.
Nature-lovers will also enjoy the nearby nature trail.
6. Caladesi State Park, Dunedin
Caladesi State Park’s white sand is a sight to behold.
Few beaches in the State – even the whole of the USA – are more beautiful.
Caladesi is one of the few natural islands in the Gulf.
It is fairly secluded and natural, helped by the fact that the only access is by boat, which makes the trip several times in the day.
Manmade structures do not spoil the setting and there are tables and shelters just off the beach.
You may like to go kayaking, explore the mangroves, and keep an eye out for wildlife.
7. Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
The four miles of beach on Honeymoon Island is one of the main reasons why this State Park is the most popular in Florida.
The sand is beautiful and you may just want to lie back and enjoy the sun and fresh sea breezes.
If you want some more active pursuits, there is the Osprey Nature Trail through the pine forest; with luck, you will see ospreys, eagles, and great horned owls – or you can explore the island on bicycle or by kayak.
There are nice picnic areas and two eateries on the island.
Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a lead.
8. Sunset Beach, Treasure Island
Sunset Beach on Treasure Island is quiet; it’s a great place to get away from crowds and enjoy a family picnic.
There is a boardwalk along the dunes and a decent chance to see dolphins offshore.
Its name will give you a clue to one of its attractions – you can expect wonderful sunsets.
It is a wide beach, where people regularly fly their kites, creating a splash of color with the background of the blue sky.
There is good tourist infrastructure, with cafes, bars, and shops – you can also book accommodation here.
9. Indian Rocks, Pinellas County
There are plenty of access points to this wide beach – three-miles long – which is surrounded by vacation homes.
You can park up and expect to find showers and restrooms.
If you want a break from the sun, you will find cafes and restaurants, but overall, Indian Rocks is a laid back place.
There’s plenty of space for everyone, so it is a great place to find a quiet spot and relax.
The small town has a population of 4,000 who also enjoy the sea and sand as well as a little bit of fishing – why not join them?
10. John’s Pass, Pinellas County
Formerly just a small fishing village, today’s visitors to John’s Pass can enjoy a lovely beach and plenty of activities, including boating and deep-sea fishing – even parasailing.
Dolphins frolic in the waves and the village’s popularity with families is reinforced by the festivals and concerts at different times of year, as well as the shopping and restaurants.
The sand is typical of those on the Gulf Coast – fine and white.
You are not obliged to do anything other than relax, but there are options if you choose to do something different.
11. Pine Key Island
The locals give this island a nickname – ‘’Beer Can Island’’ – not because of any litter around the place, but because many visitors docking their boats on the island enjoy knocking back a few beers while they are there.
The island has recently been sold to owners of a floating bar which needed a new ‘’home.’’
There are plans for some development, with the promise that it will retain the laidback vibe that currently prevails.
You won’t find crowds here, so if you enjoy having some space, this is the island for you.
12. Pass a Grille Beach, Long Key Island
Pass a Grille Beach is part of the longest stretch of public beach in the country.
If you just want to relax, you are welcome to do so.
Close by, you will find offers of fishing tours and sunset tours.
Pass a Grille joins St. Pete Beach to the north.
There is plenty to do locally in this historic region, including having a spa treatment in the pink Don Cesar Hotel.
Shopping, outdoor markets, and restaurants make this a complete holiday destination.
Water sports are popular with locals and tourists alike.
13. St Pete Beach, Long Key Island
This beach has been recognized far beyond the Tampa Region.
Reviews have inevitably placed it among the State’s best – a large beach in good condition close to a range of amenities.
You can be as active as you like, with plenty of water sports.
Or simply relax and bake in the sun.
Nature lovers may enjoy a boat tour in search of turtles and birds.
The seafood is definitely a highlight after a day spent enjoying the sun’s rays.
Before you head to a restaurant, take in the lovely sunset.
14. Clearwater Beach, Pinellas County
Clearwater’s popularity and well-developed infrastructure mean that holidaymakers flock here for spring break and throughout the summer high season.
The local authorities ensure clean sand for you to enjoy, while there is warm water, stunning sunsets, and great dining.
By day, you are guaranteed a suntan – whether you lie on the beach or take part in activities ranging from jet-skiing and parasailing to boat trips.
If you have the energy, it is then time for dinner and a thriving nightlife until the early hours.
15. Redington Beach, Pinellas County
This beach was once exclusively for local people but no more – the secret is out and development has added to the few cottages that were here.
Redington is still fairly quiet compared to Tampa’s really popular beaches, so if you want to avoid crowds, this may be the place for you.
There is parking close to the beach, bars and restaurants and a few shops.
If you and the family stay in local accommodation, you can just walk down each day and let the children play in the sand.
The atmosphere here is relaxed and makes for a superb vacation.