This fun state has the perfect stretch of sand for everyone: couples looking for a romantic bay, families on a day out enjoying the seaside in The Sunshine State, and watersports thrill-seekers…
We’ve got you sorted – from when to go, the best things to do, and best places to stay to what to eat, where to stay and current local Covid-19 restrictions and more. Keep reading for the best of Florida beaches.
Best Beaches in FloridaHow do these rankings work?
1. South Beach, MiamiHow do these rankings work?
South Beach (SoBe) sums up Miami to a tee – it’s trendy and quirky with a glittering nightlife. Chill out at the beach itself or take in South Beach’s historic Art Deco architecture.
SoBe also has a whimsical collection of colorful lifeguard huts – a definite must-see. They are totally unique to Miami and make for some amazing Instagram photos.
The best time to visit South BeachHow do these rankings work?
Choosing the best time to visit South Beach, Miami is the key to a great trip. This part of Florida enjoys a subtropical climate, meaning it’s usually warm year-round but can be a bit rainy. Each season comes with pros and cons so the below should help in deciding the ideal time to visit.
For most, the ideal time to visit is from April through mid-May. The sun shines with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. However, later in May through the summer, temperature and humidity rises, as do the chances of thunderstorms. That being said, if budgeting is your priority, both hotel and flight rates tend to decrease come summertime.
Fall can also be nice, but again, tropical storms and hurricanes can lurk around any corner. Winter is cool and windy. Although the water can be considered too cold for most so if you’re an avid swimmer and water sports lover – this isn’t the ideal time for you.
Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November so bear that in mind when planning. Due to overall weather unpredictability, we recommend checking forecasts a week in advance of and the days leading up to your trip. Pack umbrellas and light rain jackets if needs be.
The best things to do in the South Beach areaHow do these rankings work?
With so many things to do and presumably limited time on your trip – we’ve listed some of the best things to do in the South Beach, Miami area.
Go parasailing with FlySobe
If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junky, or just love beautiful views – this one’s for you. What better way to see the best of Florida beaches than soaring through the sky?
FlySobe offer trips every 90 minutes and require a minimum of two people per excursion. Pricing is from $95 per person and observers can tag along on the boat for just $40. Take off is from Miami Beach Marina.
Visit the Art Deco District
Visiting Miami’s historic Art Deco District is hands down one of the coolest things you’ll ever do. The best way to see it? With a local expert via a tour. Fortunately for you, the Miami Design Preservation League offers a one-and-a-half to two-hour walking tour. It provides an introduction to the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern styles found within the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. Explore hotels, restaurants, and other commercial structures with your guide.
Go jet skiing with Buo Yah Watersports
There’s nothing like taking an exhilarating spin along Florida’s coastline on a jet ski. Buo Yah have plenty of locations for rentals in South Beach so find your closest one here. They also offer a bunch of different watersports so there’s bound to be something to satisfy the whole family.
Stroll around Española Way
Last but not least in South Beach, take a stroll around Española Way. Built in the 1920s, this charming pedestrian boulevard offers plenty of dining, drinking, shopping, salsa, yoga, and much more.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in SoBe, check out the quieter and quainter hotels of Española Way or here are some of the best hotels in Miami for couples.
COVID-19 in South BeachHow do these rankings work?
Due to the ever-changing news and regulations around the pandemic, please ensure to check out Stand Up Miami by the City of Miami. You can quickly find the latest Covid-19 related information, resources, current orders, and updates on reopening throughout South Beach.
2. Cocoa BeachHow do these rankings work?
This favorite surf spot hosts several surfing competitions which is a huge reason why Cocoa Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Florida. It’s also one of the closest beaches to Orlando – at just a 45-minute drive from Downtown Orlando.
Cocoa Beach is the home of the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop (the world’s largest surf shop, open 24 hours a day) and to world champion surfer Kelly Slater. Ride some waves, check out Cocoa Beach’s world-famous pier, grab some great food, and enjoy your stay!
The best time to visit Cocoa BeachHow do these rankings work?
It’s important to know that Cocoa Beach experiences a humid subtropical climate. So Summers are long, hot, and cloudy, with frequent downpours. While the city is considered a year-round destination, people do consider summer offseason, so crowds will be less and more wallet-friendly rates.
Meanwhile, winters are the complete opposite – dry, sunny, cool, windy, partly cloudy with minimal rainfall. The best times for warm-weather activities are late February to mid-May or late October to early December.
As surfing is so big in Cocoa Beach, it’s important to know that winter (in particular the month of December) is considered peak surfing and swell season. Winter weather and conditions make for clean surfable waves.
The best family activities in Cocoa BeachHow do these rankings work?
Go surfing & visit the Florida Surf Museum
Duh! When it comes to the best of Florida beaches, surfing on Cocoa Beach is an absolute must. Rent some boards, check out the surf report and forecast, and go catch some gnarly waves dude.
Also, check out the Florida Surf Museum – a total treat for all surf heads. Founded in 1999, inside a space so small you could barely turn a longboard around. The museum preserves and documents the unique history and culture of surfing in Florida.
Walk Cocoa Beach Pier & grab a bite
Stroll along the boardwalk that stretches 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean for amazing beach and ocean views. Especially at sunset. It’s brimming with shops, restaurants, and boutiques so grab a bite and a few fun souvenirs to remind you of your Cocoa Beach.
Explore Lori Wilson Park
This oceanfront maritime forest is perfect for a beach day, a nature walk, a beachside picnic, or a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Complete with free parking, lifeguards, pavilions, a playground, restrooms, outdoor showers, water fountains, a dog park, on-site vendors, and barbecue grills. Top tip: booze is allowed in some areas if you’re in the mood to rosé all day!
Covid-19 updates in Cocoa BeachHow do these rankings work?
Covid-19 regulations in Florida differ city by city, so ensure to refer to local news and authorities to stay up to date.
As of October 5, 2020, the city of Cocoa Beach canceled the order requiring the use of face coverings, however, to ensure your safety, we recommend continuing to wear face masks in public. Be sure to follow CDC guidelines for full Covid-19 prevention guidelines.
3. Clearwater BeachHow do these rankings work?
Clearwater’s extra-white powdery sands and its tranquil, blue seas make it one of Florida’s most popular beaches and resort areas. With plenty of watersports, cute Mom and Pop eateries, and a family-friendly atmosphere, it’s the perfect vacation spot. With beautiful tropical plants and palms lining the beach, plus its mild and warm year-round temperatures, it really is a paradise for those who love the sun, sea, and sand. Plus Clearwater Beach is only a two-hour drive from Orlando. When it comes to the best beaches in Florida and the best beaches along the Gulf coast, they don’t get much better than this.
Where to eat & drink in Clearwater BeachHow do these rankings work?
There is no shortage of great cafes, bars, and restaurants on Clearwater Beach’s culinary scene.
For amazing fresh seafood, the waterfront Island Way Grill is an absolute must-visit. Plenty of freshly caught lobster, crab, and fish with a Japanese flair and amazing cocktails. Be sure to finish your meal with some key lime pie.
For great coffee, check out The Blessed Cup, Clearwater’s only specialty coffee shop. Visitors can enjoy rich and locally roasted coffees – so grab one freshly brewed or some beans to bring home!
Where to stay in Clearwater BeachHow do these rankings work?
Clearwater is full of hotels, resorts, apartment rentals, and Airbnbs so you won’t be stuck for somewhere to stay.
Covid-19 updates in Clearwater BeachHow do these rankings work?
Clearwater Beach City asks visitors and locals alike to follow established health and safety recommendations by practicing social distancing, wearing masks and observing other CDC recommendations. Check out their full city updates here.
4. Crystal Sands BeachHow do these rankings work?
Next up on this list of the seven best beaches in Florida, we have Crystal Sands Beach. Nestled against the Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida, this beach is rightfully famed for its sugar-white sands and emerald-hued waters. Crystal Sands Beach is also known for its adorable beach cottages in a rainbow of pastels.
Where to stayHow do these rankings work?
When in Crystal Sands, a pretty pastel beach cottage is a must. Check out the Nantucket Rainbow Cottages for an authentic beach-life vibe.
The best family activities in Crystal SandsHow do these rankings work?
Rent a paddleboard and enjoy floating atop the beautiful emerald waters of Crystal Sands. Getting to see turtles, dolphins, and sea life up close from a paddleboard is an unforgettable experience and adventure. A must-do! Hourly, half, or full-day rates are available.
When it comes to fun family activities, biking is always a good idea. Rent a bike for two days for just $55 (for adults) and explore the Gulf’s coastline. We guarantee it will be money well spent.
Rent a pontoon boat
A pricier option than the two above, but so much fun for groups in Crystal Sands Beach. Renting a pontoon boat is perfect for a special occasion, celebration, or just a great day out. You can even add on a slide option, and slide your way into the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. What a dream.
Covid-19 updates in Crystal BeachHow do these rankings work?
Masks are encouraged, and at some businesses, required. Restaurants have reopened at 100% capacity inside and no limits on outdoor seating. Always refer to local authorities and CDC guidelines for the most up to date information regarding Covid-19.
5. Siesta Key BeachHow do these rankings work?
When one thinks of the best of Florida beaches – this eight-mile-long island immediately comes to mind.
The famous Siesta Key Beach boasts quartz-crystal sand as white and soft as powdered sugar. Not to mention the dazzlingly clear turquoise waters. The sea life at Point of Rocks at the south end of Crescent Beach is ideal for snorkelers so keep reading to learn more…
Where to stay in Siesta KeyHow do these rankings work?
The island of Siesta Key has done an excellent job of maintaining its Old Florida charm so opt for quaint accommodation over big corporate hotels for an authentic stay.
If the beach is your total focus, and you’d rather stay away from the crowds of the main village then the south end of Siesta Key is for you. With miles of stunning white sand beaches to enjoy and soak up the sun on. Some great lodging options include The Cottages at Siesta Key, Island House Beach Resort, and Sea Club V Resort.
Best things to do in Siesta KeyHow do these rankings work?
When beaches are as nice as the ones found here, it’s easy to just want to laze on them all day long. However, Siesta Key has endless activities to enjoy so check out some of the best listed here.
Go snorkelling at the Point of Rocks
Known as the best place to snorkel in the Siesta Key area, Point of the Rocks has amazing tide pools and snorkeling areas. The water is no more than 5 feet deep and there are plenty of fish, crabs, seashells, coral, and other marine life to check out.
Dolphin cruises in Siesta Key make for wonderful excursions as the waters there are home to some of the largest populations of wild bottlenose dolphins in the world. To watch dolphins jump, dance, and play in their natural environment is truly magical.
Covid-19 updates in Siesta KeyHow do these rankings work?
Unfortunately, as of October 5, 2020, Sarasota County Government is under a state of emergency, and the Emergency Operations Center is activated. County officials continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 and follow the guidance of the CDC and the Florida Department of Health. Learn more here.
6. St. Augustine BeachHow do these rankings work?
St. Augustine Beach, Florida is located on Anastasia Island where you can enjoy white sand beaches and those balmy Floridian waters. It’s a wide, open beach that stretches along for four miles. Stroll along Ocean Pier at sunset to fully appreciate its beauty.
When to visit St. Augustine BeachHow do these rankings work?
Between March and May is the best time to visit the city of St. Augustine Beach. During this time, you’ll find fewer crowds, more comfortable temperatures, and low hotel and flight rates.
The area is generally busiest from June to August, and temperatures drop into the 40s between December and February.
September to November also offers favorable temperatures and hotel deals, but these months fall within the Atlantic hurricane season.
The best family activities in St. Augustine BeachHow do these rankings work?
Take an airboat tour
The Sea Serpent and Sea Dragon await for outdoor family fun in St. Augustine. Their airboat tours book up daily so make sure to plan ahead. Enjoy the captain’s knowledge of the “Ancient City’s” waterways including the historic Matanza’s River, Tolomato River, St. John’s River, and surrounding tidal creeks.
Visit the iconic local lighthouse
Built between 1871 and 1874, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Light Station is a private-aid to navigation and an active, working lighthouse. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided climb up the 219-step spiral staircase.
There’s fun to be had for the whole family at the accompanying maritime museum with games, nature trails, scavenger hunts, a wooden climb-in lighthouse, puppets, and viewfinders.
See St. Augustine Beach from above
Helicopter tours are a truly unique way to see Florida’s beaches. Thanks to First City Helicopters, you can do it without breaking the bank. They have a bunch of different tour packages to choose from starting at just $49.
As Florida is in Phase Three, masks are currently no longer required by law but are still strongly encouraged by the City of St. Augustine Beach. There are no quarantine orders or restrictions in effect for those travelling in from other states. Bars and restaurants are open at 100% capacity, as of the publication of this piece on October 5, 2020.
7. Navarre BeachHow do these rankings work?
On Florida’s Emerald Coast (between Destin and Pensacola) is a little-known secret. Navarre Beach is pure paradise, with 12 miles of pristine white shoreline. Sun on the beach, swim in emerald waters, enjoy a picnic in the park, or pedal along a scenic bike path.
Where to stay in Navarre BeachHow do these rankings work?
For accommodation in Navarre Beach, check out the Springhill Suites by Marriot Navarre, Caribbean Resort Condominium, or The Pearl of Navarre Beach.
If hotels are not what you’re looking for, why not check out Navarre Beach Camping Resort? Choose from RV sites, campsites, or their cottages which sleep up to 14 people.
Alternatively, Airbnb has some lovely listings in the Navarre Beach area whether you’re travelling solo, as a family, or as a bigger group.
The best things to do in Navarre BeachHow do these rankings work?
Stroll along Navarre Beach Fishing Pier
Also known as the longest fishing pier in Florida, stretching 1,545 feet long and towering 30 feet above the water. Stroll out onto the pier for sweeping views of the beach and dunes as far as the eye can see, truly the best of Florida beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles, stingrays, fish and more!
The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center’s goal is to impress upon the community the importance of sea turtle conservation and the preservation of the world’s marine resources. Guests can visit the main pool exhibit featuring a 15,000-gallon saltwater pool, home to Sweet Pea, a non-releasable green sea turtle, and ambassador-in-residence.
Covid-19 updates in Navarre BeachHow do these rankings work?
Face masks are currently no longer required by law in Florida and so wearing masks is voluntary for Santa Rosa County residents and visitors, but is strongly recommended. Beaches, piers, parks, hotels, and restaurants are currently open. Covid-19 regulations change regularly, so ensure to refer to local news and authorities to stay up to date.
If you’re travelling to Florida as a family, check out our 7 Family-Friendly Cities To Visit In Florida.