Summer is finally here! Florida is always a top destination for vacationers, but do you know what the nicest beaches in Florida are? Below are our picks for the top ten best beaches in Florida 2018. Leave a comment if you have a beach that should have been added to this list.
Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL
With wide sugary sand beaches and crystal-clear waters frequented by dolphins, it is no wonder Clearwater Beach has made it to the top of several of the Best Beaches in Florida 2018 lists. This award-winning beach offers so much. Cabanas, chairs and sun umbrellas are available for rent. Volleyball nets, children’s playground, Pier 60, and a beautiful winding promenade beach walk. You can also rent Kayak, Jet ski and parasailing north of Pier 60. Across the boulevard from the beach you will find a multitude of shopping and restaurants. This beach meets the needs of both families and couples alike.
Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island
If you love hunting for shells than this beach should be on your list. Sanibel Island Beaches are some of the most unique barrier islands of the world, having an east-west orientation when most islands are north-south. This gives them an abundance of shells. People come early in the morning to hunt for the best shells however, we came late in the afternoon and found plenty of perfect shells. We also were lucky enough to see a family of Dolphin playing right off the shore. You will find this beach ranked on several “top 10” lists for best beaches in Florida. Parking will cost you $5.00 but prepare for a walk. The beach does offer free handicap parking but the spots are limited. This beach offers public restrooms with showers. Pack a lunch as there are no restaurants within walking distance. This is the only beach on Sanibel Island with grills but they are limited. Sanibel Island is located about 30 miles south of Ft. Meyers, FL.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
Ranked as #7 of the “Top 10 beaches in America” list by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, this beach is clean, quiet, and perfect for either families or couples. It will cost you $8.00 to enter the park. Once you arrive you can rent chairs and umbrellas (2 chairs + 1 umbrella will cost you $20.00 as of June 2018). There are two restaurants overlooking the beach, in case you don’t want to pack a lunch or just want to have a drink and watch the natural beauty of this remarkable area. This park is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. Tours of the lighthouse are given twice a day Thursday – Monday. If you want to plan a large gathering you can even reserve a pavilion complete with your own grill to use. Bike rentals also available. This park is located about 30 minutes south of Miami at the southern end of Key Biscayne.
Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fort Lauderdale, FL
You can walk for miles on this beach!! With the recent construction projects done this beach has transformed from a college “party” beach to a more upscale destination. The beach itself has restrooms and showers as well as chair/ umbrella rentals. Across the street from this beach you will find almost unlimited dining and shopping options. Parking can be difficult, most of it is street parking. They do have some lots across the street from the beach so plan for a long walk. A beautiful brick-lined beachfront promenade lined with palm trees runs the length of the Ft. Lauderdale beach and you can walk, rollerblade, or bike on it. Soft sand and clear water make this one of my favorite beaches. Sea turtles love to nest here so during certain times of the year you will see small areas marked off with stakes and plastic ribbons.
Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
Across the causeway from Clearwater, FL you will find Honeymoon Island State Park and the ferry to Caladesi Island State Park. With white sand beaches and warm water, Caladesi Island is one of the few completely natural islands along Florida´s Gulf Coast. If you are looking for a little exercise there is a three-mile nature trail through the island’s interior or you can rent a kayak and paddle a three-mile trail through the mangroves and bay. A snack shop and picnic area is available as well as Beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. You can also reserve a pavilion for an additional fee. The ferry ride is about 20 minutes, you will disembark at the marina next to the cafe on the bay side of the island. It is a short walk across the island to the beach on paved sidewalks and a wooden boardwalk. The cost for the ferry is $14.00 per adult, $7.00 for 6 – 12-year olds, and free for children under 5. We found plenty of discount coupons online for the ferry. Because of the limited access to the island this beach is not as crowded as many Florida beaches and the shells were easy to find. Pets are not allowed on the Ferry.
Amelia Island, Florida
About an hour north of Jacksonville you will find Amelia Island. The Island offers 13 miles of pristine beaches. Depending on what you are looking for there are several beaches to choose from on the island. The Amelia Island State Park offers horseback riding on the beach. This is the most rustic or natural of beaches on the island with no lifeguards or restrooms. If you are looking for some natural beauty and hope to spot some local wildlife, this beach is a good choice for you. Also on the Island you will find the family-friendly Fernandina Beach. With plenty of shopping, fudge shops, and restaurants nearby. Fernandina Beach is also known as “Main Beach” on the island. Plenty of parking is available. Lifeguards, playgrounds, and restrooms can be found on this beach. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent.
Pensacola Beach, Pensacola Florida
With white sand beaches and emerald green waters, it is no wonder USA Today voted Pensacola Beach #1 for best Florida beach. Pensacola Beach has an old Florida feel and is unique in that it has two different beach experiences. One side features natural beauty and historical sites while the other side has tons of amenities and family fun. The Pensacola Beach Boardwalk has lots of shops, open-air restaurants, and entertainment. Walk out on the pier and take in the magnificent view. The beach is also located in one of the best coastlines for fishing in America. With the help of an experienced guide, you can find the perfect spot to catch a variety of fish. This beach has all the rental amenities as well. Bikes, umbrellas, chairs, kayaks, everything you need for a perfect beach weekend.
Siesta Beach, Siesta Key
Located about 18 miles south of Sarasota, FL you will find Siesta Beach. Ranked as the #1 beach in America in 2015 by TripAdvisor this beach has tons to offer. From the soft sugary sand beach and emerald green waters that the area is famous for to the multiple dining and shopping options, you will find everything you need here. This beach offers plenty of places to shower, grill and relax by the water. Many upgrades have been added in the last couple years including a pedestrian esplanade that connects the park east to west, more access to and from Beach Road, modern and expanded restrooms and an upgraded and elevated concession area. With chair and umbrella rentals as well as watersport rentals all you need to bring is your sunscreen and towel.
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, FL
This beach is for people that enjoy the natural beauty unspoiled by the amenities offered at some of the more touristy beaches. No chair or umbrella rentals will be found here. What you will find is a ¾ mile nature trail featuring a Coastal dune ecosystem which is both ancient and rare, the trail weaves through Sand Pine, Sand Live Oak, Saw Palmettos, cacti, and wildflowers. Placards set up along the way provided both species names as well as general information about the plant. Birds flock to this natural setting, and almost 100 species have been recorded. Boardwalks provide access to the beach. Six pavilions are available for picnicking and grilling. Outdoor cold-water showers are available to rinse off and a playground is available for the kids. For those of you looking to spend more than just the day at Henderson, camping is available in 60 spaces.
Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Located halfway between Destin and Panama City Beach lies Grayton Beach State Park. The almost 2,000-acre state park offers both freshwater and saltwater fishing, thanks to the picturesque Western Lake. A nature trail winds through the park where you can view scrub oaks and magnolias. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy more than 4 miles of trails to explore. No rental service for chairs or umbrellas are offered but you can find lots of great restaurants and shopping nearby in the old town of Grayton Beach or in Seaside. The beach has been ranked high on multiple “best Beach” lists over the years due to the unspoiled beauty of the soft white sand beach and warm turquoise waters. Camping is available.