Best Florida Beaches: Top 5 Sunshine State Shorelines Most Recommended By Experts

Florida stands as a haven for beach enthusiasts, boasting a collection of some of the finest coastal gems in the United States. The sugary sands and emerald waters off of Clearwater Beach create a tropical paradise on the Gulf Coast, while the vibrant South Beach in Miami beckons with its glamorous ambiance and lively beachfront scene. For a serene retreat, the unspoiled beauty of Siesta Key’s powdery white sands along the Gulf of Mexico offers a tranquil haven, collectively showcasing Florida’s unparalleled diversity of beach experiences. That being said, the best beaches in Florida have a tropical feel, yet usually have all the convenience of being close to major coastal cities.

What better place to relax than at the beach. So, there’s no wonder that Florida is a top tourist destination. And, traveling to the beach this year does more for you than just getting a tan. A recent study shows that walking along the beach is proven to boost your mood, and overall wellbeing.

This can be much needed, especially if you’re showing any of the signs of desperately needing a vacation. That being said, a new study identified just what pushes people to their breaking point before needing some time off. For the top physical indicators, 52 percent notice high stress levels and 47 percent notice both restlessness and fatigue. Emotional signs include increased irritability (55%), inability to focus at work (49%) and frequent daydreaming (48%). In fact, it takes an average of seven bad workdays before the vacation itch needs to be scratched.

How about a trip to the Sunshine State? With so many options, each beach is sure to have a different atmosphere and crowd. Here at StudyFinds, we did the research for you and gathered expert recommendations to round up a list of the best beaches in Florida. Let us know in the comments the beaches you recommend visiting there!

The List: Best Florida Beaches, According to Travel Experts

1. Siesta Key

Known as one of the best beaches for swimming, Siesta Key is an island facing the Gulf of Mexico. It’s considered one of the most beautiful beaches. U.S. News and World Report backs up the claim of Siesta Key being one of the most beautiful beaches. “Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Siesta Beach features 8 miles of white quartz sand and crystal-clear water, plus dining, shopping and nighttime entertainment.”

a sign for a restaurant on the beach
Siesta Key in Sarasota (Photo by em&theo on Unsplash)

“Siesta Key’s soft and quartz-fine, blinding white sand, calm and incredibly healthy sea, clean air, perfect weather, and watchful lifeguards consistently earn the island a place among the most stunning beaches in Florida and in the entire country,” says Family Destinations Guide.

The award-winning beach is constantly getting praise for its noteworthy white sand. Ranking high on lists for beaches in the United States and abroad. “The oft-lauded public beach on Siesta Key that has in the past claimed the travel website’s top U.S. ranking for the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, came in at No. 2 this year behind Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii,” points out the Orlando Sentinel

It’s also surrounded by other fun attractions, making it a great central location for a vacation. “Siesta Key is also bordered by intriguing sites worth seeing, such as the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Smuggler’s Cove, the Ringling Museum, the Mote Marine Aquarium, and many more,” says Attractions of America.

2. Destin

Each year, tourists flock to the beach community of Destin. The popular destination is home to the popular Henderson Beach State Park. “Destin boasts multiple adventure parks – this Florida mainstay has everything you need for a memorable beach vacation,” says U.S. News and World Report.

Destin, Florida
Destin, Florida (Photo by Sophia Simoes on Unsplash)

“One of the most notable beaches along Florida’s Panhandle, Henderson Beach State Park is a small beach in the former sleepy fishing village of Destin,” writes Trips to Discover. “Destin has developed an incredible resume of pristine beaches and world-class nightlife.”

It also landed the number six spot on TripAdvisor’s annual top 10 list. “Destin has an excellent track record of beautiful beaches and world-class entertainment,” adds Attractions of America. “Henderson Beach State Park also has beautiful campsites and is a great place for family reunions and weddings.”

3. Clearwater Beach

Located in Central Florida, just 25 miles from Tampa, Clearwater Beach is a well-known tourist destination. This high-ranking, family-friendly beach has a lot to explore. “With a name that conjures up images of perfectly transparent water lapping against silky sand, Clearwater Beach sets expectations,” writes Travel+Leisure. “But as any Florida beach fanatic knows, this stretch of sand doesn’t disappoint.”

Clearwater beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach (Photo by Ethan Walsweer on Unsplash)

Upgraded Points expands saying, “The sand is sugary soft and the waters are calm and shallow — perfect conditions for swimming and wading in the Gulf.”

Fill your itinerary with outdoor, water, and family friendly activities. From swimming or lounging, beachgoers can play volleyball or go rollerblading or biking on the adjacent Beach Walk promenade, to the family-friendly aquarium. 

“Clearwater Beach is set up perfectly for a car-free, carefree existence, if only for an oh-too-short time,” says VisitFlorida. “The northernmost pearl in a string of white-sand islands in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, it’s known for its wide beaches and casual attitudes.”

4. Cocoa Beach

This beach is known as one of the most family-friendly. It’s also known as a top location for surfing and parasailing. “This is where Florida’s surfing crowd loves to go to catch a few waves,” writes Traveling Lifestyle. “It’s where you can count on decent swells throughout the year, and sometimes, some pretty high waves are available on a good day.”

Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach (Photo by Sky Gallian on Unsplash)

It’s also home to the iconic attraction, Kennedy Space Center (just 30 minutes away), and Walt Disney World (just an hour drive). VisitFlorida even has a list of 10 must-do activities during your stay. “Plus, kids won’t be the only ones having fun here: alcoholic beverages are allowed on the sand year-round,” writes Upgraded Points.

5. Amelia Island

Regarded as another family-friendly beach, Amelia Island is a great North Florida destination. So far north, in fact, it’s the first beach you hit when traveling from Georgia (located right above the Sunshine State).

Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island, Florida (Photo by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni on Unsplash)

“Charming little Amelia Island is a peaceful barrier isle and one of the state’s most historic destinations, with beautiful Victorian architecture, 13 miles of sand, and Southern charm to spare. It’s also the proud home of Florida’s oldest lighthouse, as well as its oldest bar, the Palace Saloon,” says Upgraded Points.

Although popular, it’s known for its low-key reputation. “This Florida beach doesn’t get too crowded. It’s nice if you just want some alone time with the kiddos,” writes Traveling Lifestyle.

It ranks high on the U.S. News and World Report list. “When you need a break from the beach, play a round of golf on one of the island’s championship courses or enjoy a stroll beneath its Spanish moss-draped oak trees.”

Finding a location is just the beginning of vacation planning, and we hope we’ve made that easier for you. Have a go-to beach destination that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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About the Author

Rebecca Neubauer

Rebecca Neubauer is a personal finance and science freelance writer who specializes in writing about managing money, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and alternative living. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, and she learned about personal finance on her journey to pay off $100,000 in student loans.

Rebecca is an avid traveler focused on helping others live location-independent lifestyles, make money on the road, and travel the world through her website

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  1. Hollywood Beach is one of the best beaches. Fantastic long boardwalk for biking and strolling, fun original restaurants some with live music. Great family environment. Gorgous beach.

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