14 of the Best Swimming Beaches in Florida

Whether you’re looking for a place to paddle, splash around, or take a dip in the warm waters of the ocean, Florida has some of the best beaches in the country.

With its year-round sunshine, the Sunshine State offers a variety of beach options, from secluded coves to wide expanses of white sand.

So grab your swimsuit and head out to explore the best swimming beaches in Florida.

1. South Beach

Is there a more famous beach than Miami’s South Beach? Affectionately dubbed SoBe, the iconic strand edges the southern tip of a barrier island, backed by modern and Art Deco architecture.

Restaurants, galleries and nightlife venues are literally steps away from the waterfront.
Miles of soft sand and sport rental shops make South Beach one of the best swimming beaches in Florida.

Easily hop between boardwalk strolls, beach volleyball and dipping into the water. Umbrellas and lounges are readily available for rent. Colorful lifeguard towers ensure both Instagrammable backdrops and swim safety.

Just be sure to get there early and reserve a spot! The entire swathe between South Pointe Park and Lummus Park is a mishmash of rollerblading, beach towels and locals out on a jog.

Aerial view of South Beach Miami florida
Aerial View of South Beach Miami Florida

2. Santa Rosa Beach

Away from Miami and along the upper ledge that makes up Florida state is a beach town made for casual weekends. White sand, emerald waters, and gentle waves beckon you at Santa Rosa Beach.

The beach itself makes up 90% of the town’s attractions, is easy to access without steps and features open public showers.

Families rent chairs and umbrellas, setting up play stations across the expansive strip. You don’t have to go far for food either, as seafood restaurants and food truck ‘courts’ are right across the road.

While there may be seaweed pile-ups from late May through June, you’ll find April and October clear of debris. If you’re lucky, you might catch a dolphin sighting or two!

3. Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach isn’t exactly a sleepy neighborhood, but it’s a quieter alternative to Miami. Think classic coastal enclave, beach roads and surf shops – and of course, pristine beaches.

The main Miramar Beach strand is perfect for families with kids. Void of crowds and featuring multiple public parking options, you don’t have to worry about disruptions on an otherwise relaxing day.

The water is warm and clear, shallow enough that kids can comfortably splash around for the most part. To be safe, parents should watch out for the waves and accompany the kids in any way.

When tuckered out, shower stations are available for a quick rinse before retreating home.

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4. Amelia Island

Amelia Island is a tranquil gem along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Despite the lure of golf courses and charming downtown streets, it’s the 13-mile coastline that calls to all visitors.

There are a few beaches to hop between: Main Beach Park, Amelia Island State Park and Beach Access 25 being the highlights.

The first is fully decked out with picnic shelters, play structures and even volleyball courts; the second tends towards natural scenery and wildlife viewing. The latter is best for quiet strolls as there aren’t lifeguards on-site.

All three share the same shallow rolling waves and sugary sand. Either are great swimming beaches in Florida.

5. Cocoa Beach

Surfing is the Florida pastime, especially at the East Coast’s surf paradise: Cocoa Beach. The wide, tan strand runs along the Atlantic for calm, consistent swells.

These waves have produced big-name surfers like Kelly Slater. Numerous surf schools dot the length, adding to the local and laid-back feel of the area.

The beach’s shallow waters let you wade out past the breakers – good for both beginner surfers and casual swimmers.

For those who aren’t keen on spending hours on the sand, chill at waterfront bars or dangle your feet from the fishing pier. The boardwalk stretches 800 feet into the Atlantic Ocean for swell views and all-day dining.

6. Siesta Key Beach

The Gulf of Mexico presents yet another glittering patch of sea at Siesta Key Beach. With a fine, white quartz-sand beach (which won’t burn your feet) just a short drive from downtown Sarasota, you’re set for a relaxing getaway.

Presenting tranquil waters and year-round lifeguards, Siesta Key is a great swimming spot in Florida. To jazz things up, hunt for seashells or rent a kayak.

Nearby restaurants and cafés also offer cocktails as accents. If you’re all water-ed out, there’s also a playground and tennis courts to accommodate various age groups.

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7. Henderson Beach State Park

In Florida, beaches and golf courses go together. Destin, cradled within the Panhandle area, is no different.

But let’s set aside the golf courses to admire the series of beaches that link up the bustling Destin Harbor Boardwalk to serene James Lee Beach.

Of the swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing spots, Henderson Beach State Park is by far the most accommodating. Offering nature trails that plod through sand dunes and wildlife-centric pine copses, you get more than just pretty beach views.

Picnic tables and parking lots also enable easy family day outs. For something more manmade, stop by the west for Big Kahuna’s water park thrills.

8. Sanibel Island

Holding strong against commercialization, Sanibel Island is a tranquil getaway right off Fort Myers. Only small resorts, condos and private homes are enfolded in the tropical setting, allowing laid-back vibes only.

Facing the Gulf of Mexico are several pristine beaches, mostly clustered on the western side of the island.

Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park is the closest to the causeway and large, wrapping around the eastern tip, the Sanibel Fishing Pier and a historic lighthouse. The calm, shallow bay is perfect for beginners.

For another au naturale beach, stop by Bowman’s Beach Park. There’s plenty of parking before your 5-minute hike over sand dunes to reach the water line.

Amenities are generous across the several-mile span, including showers, playgrounds and barbecues for family bonding.

9. Naples

It’s difficult to narrow down between Naples’ pearly white sand beaches – we’re not even going to try. Here are some favorites, chosen by popular internet vote:

Naples Beach – Imagine seven miles of turquoise gulf waters and a 1000-feet long fishing pier to mix things up.

While it’s a stunning location for swimming, you can also enjoy beach volleyball or shelling. Pelicans, ice cream stands and big catches are some other highlights.

Lowdermilk Beach – Strange name but a highly desirable spot! Hourly paid parking makes it easy for out-of-towners to visit; equipment rentals are also available at the beach. Sink your feet in the sand before diving into the waves.

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park – Endless secluded coves and naturally grown mangroves give this beach a magical feel. Park your belongings at a picnic table before joining the manatees, dolphins and turtles in the water.

Clam Pass Beach & Park – With calm waves for swimming and incredible shells to collect, it’s a fantastic beach in Naples. Hide under the lush vegetation when the sun gets too hot.

Vanderbilt Beach – Busy, busy, busy. This beach is known for its white sand and Gulf views, meaning swimmers throw themselves into the waves all year round. If you’re traveling in a group, commandeer one of the outdoor grills for an all-day stay.

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10. South Beach Park

There’s little shade at South Beach Park, but all that means is miles of uncovered sand and treasures waiting to be found. Enfolded within Florida’s Treasure Coast, the area lures in treasure hunters who chase after sunken 18th-century Spanish ships.

The glittering sea also calls forth swimmers where soft waves meet the shoreline. The shore slopes gently into blue waters, making it a comfortable swimming spot for all levels.
You can also set up umbrella-ed lounges or play a game of pickup volleyball.
Visitor parking is adequate though many simply walk to the beach.

You may also come across land tortoises munching through the vegetation.

11. Juno Beach Park

Juno Beach Park welcomes woofers of all kinds, cementing its place on the list of best swimming beaches in Florida. Where else can your fur babies go for a dip?

Slow afternoon hours are best spent here, where the sand is soft and interspersed with picnic areas. Make use of the free parking to bring along all your beach gear, which you can later wash off in the showers and restrooms.

If you don’t fancy any crowds at all, come by for an early morning swim instead.
Do wear water socks if you’re braving the waterline, as it can get shelly in areas.

Alternatively, you can walk along the long pier, entertaining bait shops and concession stalls. Other nearby attractions include Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and John D. MacArthur Beach State Park for extended water time.

12. Clearwater Beach

In the summer, Clearwater Beach houses neat rows of blue umbrellas and lounges that pop against the white sand.

The silky stretch edges gently into the transparent water that gives this beach its name – spoiling you with year-round swim-approved waters.

The calm Gulf waters means safe swimming for all ages and skill level. Others who seek adrenaline rushes can sign up for parasailing and jet-skiing, but you’re more likely to fish along the pier.

Pier 60 comes alive at night with street performances and craft vendors. Cyclists and rollerbladers also take advantage of the winding promenade, which houses seafood restaurants and cafés.

It’s the perfect location for families with various interests.

13. Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is northwest Florida’s first choice of vacation destination. The waterfront town is fronted by miles of white-sand beaches, which partner with clear Gulf waters for tons of water fun.

Bars, beach clubs, resorts and marine parks line side-by-side along Front Beach Road, yielding to various public beach access spots.

The official Panama City Beach “entrance” features a fishing pier and a Dog Beach at the Pier Park.

With soft sand that stretches miles on both sides, you can spend long days here without touching shoulders with neighbors. Make sure you stay late enough to catch the sunset views!

14. Lummus Park Beach

Between 5th and 14th Streets along Miami’s famous Ocean Drive is a scene that inspires postcards.

Lummus Park Beach may as well have created the stereotypical Florida beach: tan sand, rollerbladers, tree-lined promenade and people-watching at a beachfront restaurant.

What makes it such a top swimming beach in Florida is its convenience and safety. Ice cream trucks and food vendors line the boardwalk, with umbrella and beach chair rentals right on the sand.

Lifeguards are on duty to catch any shenanigans, even as you paddleboard to your heart’s content.

Needing extra shade to dry off? The green lawns are shaded by palms. Weekend visitors who feel antsy can also swoop by the beachfront market stalls for local wares.