Best Beaches In South Florida

We love ‘forever summer’ places, because of all of the seasons our favorite is summer. So it was not hard to fall in love with Florida at first sight. Wide sandy beaches, all the shades of green and blue, rich marine life and warm ocean…

Our top 1 reason for Florida: warm ocean

When I checked the water temperature measured for Siesta Key Beach on the day we were there, guess what it was? 31 ℃! I couldn’t believe the ocean can be this warm – and for us it was like heaven. And all the beaches were like this.

Clearwater Beach, Tampa, Florida

We arrived to Tampa and spent a week roadtripping along Florida’s coast from Tampa to Miami. As you can imagine we spent 99% of our time on the beaches. Actually, it’s hard not to because this is the only thing you want to do in this weather (furthermore, it was the peak of July).

We loved all of the beaches, but there were some which has became our ultimate favorites.

1. South Beach, Miami

South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA

One of them is the famous South Beach in Miami which is so famous for a good reason. It just has a feeling lying on this wide beautiful beach with Miami’s skyscrapers in the background.

The size of this beach is incredible, too! We walked for hours on South Beach in the evening and maybe haven’t seen half of it. Thanks to its size, it can’t be that crowded that it’s uncomfortable no matter how many people are there (and there’s a lot).

South Beach, Miami, Florida

One of our happiest memories from this beach is trying a jet ski ride for the first time.

Parking: It’s limited and expensive compared to all the other beaches we’ve seen, but hey, it’s Miami South Beach! Most of the parking places are for limited time, but if you are lucky, you can find a lot where you can purchase a 24 hours ticket.

2. Barefoot Beach State Preserve, North Naples

Barefoot Beach, Naples, Florida

Barefoot Beach is unique for us because it’s somewhat hidden which means there were very few people here. Which is unusual in Florida. In July.

It’s an undeveloped beach and your experience about it will be completely different than other ones in Florida. Tons of shells on the shore. Dolphins swimming in the water. Quiet and green. No huge hotels and resorts. No hassle with parking.

Barefoot Beach, Naples, Florida

Parking: Barefoot Beach is a state preserve, so there’s entrance fee which includes parking fee (it’s around 5-8 USD) – but it’s less than parking fee at other popular beaches. 😉

3. Clearwater Beach, Clearwater

Clearwater Beach, Florida

Our first stop on the way from Tampa was Clearwater Beach which amazed us with its white sand, wide beach and clear greenish colored water. A typical, but beautiful Florida beach.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

Parking: There’s several huge parking lots, but no free parking here. The ones right next to the beach are the most expensive, but there’s additional ones 10 minutes walk from the beach which are somewhat cheaper. All of them are for limited time.

4. Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota

Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, Florida

Siesta Key Beach is very similar to Clearwater Beach: a huge beach with white sand and greenish water. But we loved that there’s some benches in the shade of palm trees all along the beach – perfect for picnic.

Parking: There’s a huge and free parking lot, but we arrived a little bit after 9 am and it was almost full by then. That’s what you can expect.

5. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West, Florida

Florida Keys were our favorite for snorkeling. Thanks to the nearby huge coral reefs marine life is very rich and you are guaranteed to see at least hundreds of colorful tropical fish.

With that said, what we didn’t like about Florida Keys is that the water is very shallow at a lot of places. I mean we had to walk for sooo long to be able to swim.

Also, there were a lot of seaweeds on the shores at the time of our visit – so much that it was impossible to go into the water at some places (or we should have walked in the seaweeds first – no, thank you). Zachary Taylor State Park was one of the best exceptions.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West, Florida

This beach is perfect both for snorkeling and for swimming, because it’s not too shallow. It consists of smaller bays and there’s also a lot of shade and benches on the beach. It’s not perfectly sandy though.

Parking: It’s a state park, so there’s entrance fee which includes parking fee – it’s still less than parking fee at other popular beaches and we found free space easily.

More info here.

Which of these beaches would you enjoy the most?


Best beaches in South Florida

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By Beata Urmos

Bea is the co-founder of Our Wanders. She’s the writer and the trip organizer, and she’d love to help you plan your own amazing trips! She likes hiking, good novels and chocolate, as well. Her motto is: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John A. Shedd)


  1. Awwww, bummed to see my hometown Daytona Beach didn’t make the list 😉 I have to say Siesta Key is simply stunning, having spent tons of time there too. My favourite places on Siesta Key to hit before and after the beach are Captain Curt’s and Siesta Key Bike and Kayak. Sure do miss great beach days while I’m living in London now.

    1. Haha, this is our fav list and we haven’t ventured northern than Tampa. 😀 But Florida is definitely hard to beat if it’s about beaches!
      Wow, London could be a serious change after Florida sunshine!

  2. Sad to see that I’ve only visited two on the list & I’ve been living in South Florida for 9 Months! I’m going to have to plan a road-trip and visit all of the locations mentioned. Great post keep up the great work.

    1. Hey, Jay! It’s never too late especially if you live there! 😀 Thanks for reading and enjoy Florida.

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