Someone watching the sunset in Siesta Key

Someone swimming at sunset in Siesta Key (Photo by Clayton Prouty on Unsplash)

Sunshine state of mind? Florida beckons with sugar-sand shores and waves that whisper paradise. But with a coastline stretching from palm-studded islands to vibrant cityscapes, choosing a beach can feel like picking a seashell – there are just too many good ones! Worry not, sun-seekers. We’ve scoured the coast to unveil Florida’s hidden gems and iconic shores so you can trade your flip-flops for the perfect beach. We did the research for you and gathered 10 expert lists to round up the five 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

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

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 practically throws out a red carpet for this island paradise, raving about its eight miles of sugar-soft, quartz sand and beckoning turquoise waters. Family Destinations Guide calls Siesta Key a haven of impossibly white sand, calm seas, and picture-perfect weather. They even credit the watchful lifeguards for making it a perfect spot for families.

Siesta Key’s reputation for breathtaking beauty isn’t just local hype, either. The Orlando Sentinel points out that this award-winning beach consistently ranks high on “best of” lists, both nationally and internationally.

But Siesta Key isn’t just about lounging on the beach (although that’s certainly a tempting option). Attractions of America points out the island’s central location, surrounded by tons of fun things to see and do. Explore the wonders of the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, go treasure hunting at Smuggler’s Cove, or immerse yourself in art and history at the Ringling Museum. No matter what your vacation style, Siesta Key has something to offer – and all with a backdrop of one of the most stunning beaches in the world. Sounds pretty perfect, right?

Why Siesta Key?

  • White, soft sand
  • Clear, calm water
  • Amazing weather
  • Attentive lifeguards
  • Central location surrounded by activities

2. Destin

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

Each year, tourists flock to the beach community of Destin. U.S. News and World Report spills the tea on this sunshine-soaked paradise, praising its multiple adventure parks and everything you could ask for in a perfect beach escape.

Trips to Discover spotlights Henderson Beach State Park, a hidden gem nestled in the charming former fishing village of Destin. This isn’t your typical endless stretch of coastline – Henderson Beach offers a more intimate atmosphere, perfect for soaking up the sun and pristine turquoise waters.

That’s not all, though! Attractions of America raves about Destin’s impressive resume of world-class entertainment and nightlife. So whether you crave heart-pounding thrills at an adventure park or dancing the night away, Destin has something for everyone. Henderson Beach State Park even boasts beautiful campsites, making it an ideal spot for family gatherings or a truly unforgettable wedding. With stunning beaches, exciting activities, and a touch of southern charm, Destin is a Florida vacation destination that shouldn’t be missed!

Why Destin?

  • Multiple adventure parks
  • Turquoise waters
  • Great nightlife
  • Campsites at Henderson Beach State Park

3. Clearwater Beach

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

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. Clearwater Beach lives up to its name and then some! Travel + Leisure sets the scene perfectly, describing it as a place where the water is crystal clear and the sand feels like silk between your toes. This isn’t just some dreamy postcard image, though – Upgraded Points assures us that Clearwater Beach is the real deal. The gentle waves and shallow waters are perfect for splashing around, building sandcastles, or just relaxing with a good book.

Clearwater Beach’s laid-back vibe makes it easy to ditch the car and explore by foot or bike. VisitFlorida calls it the perfect spot for a carefree escape, where you can soak up the sunshine and forget about your worries (at least for a little while). So pack your swimsuit, beach towel, and sense of adventure – Clearwater Beach is waiting to show you a Florida vacation dream come true!

Why Clearwater?

  • Clear, shallow water
  • Soft sand
  • Gentle waves

4. Cocoa Beach

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

This beach is known as one of the most family friendly. It’s also known as a top location for surfing and parasailing. Cocoa Beach, Florida is your wave-catching haven, according to Traveling Lifestyle. This lively beach boasts consistent swells year-round, with the occasional epic day for experienced riders. So grab your board and get ready to shred some gnarly waves!

Cocoa Beach isn’t just for adrenaline junkies, though. Upgraded Points points out that the relaxed vibe allows you to enjoy a refreshing beverage right on the sand (adults only, of course!). Plus, you’ll be perfectly situated to explore some of Florida’s most iconic attractions. Kennedy Space Center is just a 30-minute drive away, and the magical world of Walt Disney World awaits just an hour down the road. VisitFlorida even has a handy list of 10 must-do activities to fill your itinerary, ensuring a memorable vacation for the whole family. So whether you’re chasing waves, gazing at rockets, or meeting your favorite Disney characters, Cocoa Beach has something for everyone.

Why Cocoa Beach?

  • Optimal conditions for surfing and parasailing year-round
  • Close to many famous tourist attractions

5. Amelia Island

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

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). Picture this: secluded beaches, charming Victorian architecture, and a relaxed Southern vibe. That’s Amelia Island for you, a barrier island paradise unlike any other in Florida. Upgraded Points calls it a history buff’s dream, boasting beautiful Victorian buildings, 13 miles of pristine sand, and enough Southern charm to melt your worries away. This island even holds the title of Florida’s oldest lighthouse, and history buffs will love exploring the Palace Saloon, the state’s longest-running watering hole.

Despite its undeniable charm, Amelia Island isn’t overrun with tourists. Traveling Lifestyle assures us that this hidden gem remains relatively uncrowded, making it the perfect spot for a peaceful getaway with the family. Build sandcastles with the kiddos, splash in the calm waves, or simply relax on the beach with a good book.

But Amelia Island offers more than just beach bliss. U.S. News and World Report also mentions the island’s championship golf courses, perfect for a challenging round between beach sessions. Or take a stroll beneath the majestic oak trees, their branches draped in Spanish moss, and soak up the island’s unique atmosphere. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, a bit of history, or some outdoor adventure, Amelia Island has something for everyone. So ditch the crowds and discover the magic of this unforgettable Florida beach town!

Why Amelia Island?

  • Secluded beaches
  • Beautiful architecture
  • The island is not usually crowded 
  • Calm waves
  • Championship golf courses

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.

Sources used to create our list:

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. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About 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 lifepothesis.com

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1 Comment

  1. Tracy says:

    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.