by Jonathan Hermann

SANDY PERFECTION IN THE SUNSHINE STATE

With hundreds of Florida beaches stretching across over 1,300 miles of coastline, sometimes the hardest decision is picking the beach best suited for your style. From the Atlantic to the tip of the Keys and along the Gulf of Mexico up to the panhandle, use our Florida Beach Finder to review the top beach destinations in the sunshine state and find your perfect match.

 WEST COAST

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Clearwater, Florida

Tampa, St. Petersburg & Clearwater

Combine a major metropolitan city set on Florida’s largest open water estuary with award winning Gulf of Mexico beaches and you get the appeal of the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater region. From historic Ybor City, the cigar capital of the world in the early 1900’s, to modern beachfront resorts, famous aquariums and a wide variety of dining options, this big-league city is a top choice for beach lovers.

Why we love Tampa, St. Pete & Clearwater:

  • Big city variety with small beach town feel
  • Easy to combine with Orlando for a theme park + beach vacation
  • Award-winning, super-wide white-sand beaches

Popular activities in Tampa, St. Pete & Clearwater:

  • Clearwater Marine Museum – home of the Dolphin Tale movies
  • Historic Ybor City – shopping, dining and nightlife in the old town of Tampa
  • Pier 60, Clearwater Beach – street musicians, local artists and beach fun around the iconic pier
  • St Pete Pier – newest attraction on the waterfront in St Pete offers 26 acres designed for strolling, dining, shopping, live music, swimming, sunsets and more

 

Sarasota

From the world-class shopping at St. Armands Circle, the powder-white sand of Lido Beach and the laid back lifestyle and boutique B&B cottage feel of nearby Anna Maria Island, to the award-winning beach of Siesta Key, shark-teeth finding at Venice Beach and the wide Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key, the Sarasota region offers Gulf of Mexico beaches for all styles.

Why we love Sarasota:

  • Variety of beaches from upscale to laid-back without the big crowds
  • So many beaches and small beach towns to choose from
  • Unique shark tooth finds on local beaches
  • World class art and culture in a small town setting
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Sarasota, Florida

Popular activities in Sarasota:

  • Armands Circle – shopping & dining steps from Lido Beach
  • Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
  • The Ringling – art museum, circus museum and Ca’ d’Zan historic mansion

 

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Sanibel Island, Florida

Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island & Captiva Island

Laid-back luxury meets Gulf beaches in Southwest Florida. Best known for world-class shelling along the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, this region is centered around activities in and on the water. Hop on a boat and explore dozens of barrier islands and secluded beaches, paddle a kayak through the mangrove flats with birds and wildlife or cast a line for some of the best sport-fishing in Florida. Retreat back to your luxury beachfront resort and enjoy fresh caught seafood with your feet in the sand taking in spectacular sunsets. It’s the good life.

 

Why we love Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island & Captiva Island:

  • Variety of islands and beaches to explore
  • Low rise old Florida style development of Sanibel & Captiva
  • Sunsets, shelling and seafood

Popular activities in Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island & Captiva Island:

  • Shelling along Sanibel beaches
  • Exploring the mangrove trails and waterways of Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Bike trails run the full length of Sanibel & Captiva
  • Fishing the flats of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor for snook, redfish and tarpon
  • Exploring nearby islands of Cayo Costa, North Captiva, Cabbage Key or Gasparilla Island

Naples & Marco Island

Highrise luxury hotels, upscale shopping and dining, and a dress-to-impress nightlife vibe has defined Naples as the epicenter of luxury on the West Coast of Florida. Just south of Naples, Marco Island is the largest of the Ten Thousand Islands chain and the last developed beach on the West Coast with wider beaches and quiet evenings compared to its tony neighbor. A straight shot across Alligator Alley from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Marco Island are the perfect kicking-off point for Everglades day tours.

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Marco Island, Florida

Why we love Naples & Marco Island:

  • High-end shopping, fine dining and culture
  • Luxury resorts, spa and golf
  • Natural beauty of beaches, mangrove islands and everglades

Popular activities in Naples & Marco Island:

  • Shopping on Fifth Ave and Third Street in Naples
  • Everglades airboat tours
  • Kayaking, bird watching and fishing

 

EAST COAST

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Key West, Florida

Florida Keys – Key West & Marathon

From the quaint cottages of Key West to incredible fishing on Islamorada, scuba diving on Key Largo, boating on Marathon and history and culture all around — the Florida Keys simply amazes. The hundreds of islands that make up the Florida Keys are centered around the water, and marinas and boats tend to outnumber beaches in this part of the state. With fresh catch of the day and stone crab season, dining options are local and authentic, as are the people and variety of artisans and local shops. Nature and wildlife are all around, and experiencing the sea turtle hospital and dolphin research center are unique to the Keys. Turn down your stress levels and order up a key lime pie and a rum runner to fit right in.

Why we love the Florida Keys:

  • Jimmy Buffett + Earnest Hemmingway + 90 Miles from Cuba
  • From Key Largo to Key West, there are over 800 islands that make up the Florida Keys
  • 42 bridges connect the string of islands including the famous 7-mile bridge
  • Key West is the southernmost city in the continental US

Popular activities in the Florida Keys:

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving along the 120-mile long island chain, including living coral barrier reef and dozens of shipwreck sites
  • Sportfishing for bonefish, tarpon, redfish and snook, or deep-water fishing the Gulf for trophy marlin, swordfish and sailfish
  • Shopping the eclectic shops and art galleries of historic Key West
  • Grabbing a hammock between two palms

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Miami, Florida

Miami Beach & South Beach

Contrasting the quiet, lazy, family-friendly beaches of the West Coast, Miami Beach and South Beach bring the energy and excitement of an eclectic international crowd and a party scene that pulses until the early morning hours. Best known for the art deco architecture, neon signs and LGBTQ+ lifestyle, this region offers boutique luxury hotels, quaint sidewalk cafes and a collection of local shopping and artisans that is unmatched. With so much action, the beach scene is just part of the equation to making Miami Beach one of those destinations where you might need a vacation from your vacation.

Why we love Miami Beach & South Beach:

  • Art Deco district and famed Ocean Drive
  • International flavor with an eclectic mix of Caribbean + South American + European influence
  • Active LGBTQ+ community
  • Always a buzz – daytime, dining and nightlife
  • Beaches, shopping, dining and nightlife all within blocks of most hotels
  • Convenient pre- or post-cruise combination

Popular activities in Miami Beach & South Beach:

  • Art deco architecture – over 800 buildings in the art deco historic districts
  • Soak up the sun on wide Atlantic Ocean beaches
  • Dine al fresco at hundreds of beachfront and sidewalk cafes and restaurants
  • Late night comes alive with bars, clubs and live music until the early morning hours

 

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Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Ft. Lauderdale

Sunshine, palm trees and beaches abound in this “lifestyles of the rich and famous” community.  It’s known as the yachting capital of the world thanks to over 300 miles of inland waterways, more than 100 marinas, 50,000+ registered yachts, a major cruise port and the largest boat show in the world. From beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches, high-rise luxury resorts and the historic shopping and dining along Las Olas Boulevard, this beach mecca does not disappoint.

Why we love Ft Lauderdale:

  • Classic beach views from high-rise resorts
  • Las Olas Boulevard offers blocks of unique shopping and dining
  • Intercoastal waterways & canals – water is everywhere

Popular activities in Ft. Lauderdale:

  • Walk or bike along the beachfront promenade
  • Enjoy waterfront and beachfront dining
  • Take a boat cruise to admire the celebrity-studded mansions and mega yachts
  • Shopping on Las Olas Boulevard
  • Explore 23 miles of beach towns along the historic A1A scenic highway

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Daytona, Florida

Daytona & Cocoa Beach

The need for speed and family fun is easy to accommodate between Daytona and Cocoa Beach.  With lots of surf shops and surfing schools, the history of NASCAR racing at the Daytona Speedway and the Kennedy Space Center where you can view live rocket launches, there are activities for all ages. Unique to this area, the hard-packed sand beaches allow cars to drive and park on the beach, a tradition that dates back to the glory days of spring break in the 1950s.

Why we love Daytona Beach & Cocoa Beach:

  • Easy to combine with Orlando for a theme park + beach vacation
  • Surf capital of Florida
  • Beach driving is allowed on many area beaches

Popular activities in Daytona Beach & Cocoa Beach:

  • Daytona International Speedway & Motorsports Hall of Fame
  • Cape Canaveral & Kennedy Space Center
  • Surfing – Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach

 

PANHANDLE

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Panama City, Florida

Panama City Beach, Destin & Ft. Walton Beach

The Florida Panhandle beaches are known as the Emerald Coast for their clear green-blue water and pure white-sand beaches. Once a series of sleepy fishing villages, these now resort-filled towns still offer deep-sea fishing with the largest private charter fishing fleet in North America.  Better known for value than opulence, this region is more likely to feature outlet shopping than designer shops and local seafood basket meals than celebrity chef restaurants. Good for the t-shirt and flip flop crowds who want the beauty of the beach without the premium prices.

Why we love Panama City Beach, Destin & Ft. Walton Beach:

  • Stunning white-sand beaches
  • Family-friendly resorts, restaurants and activities
  • Easy day drive from many Southeast states

Popular activities in Panama City Beach, Destin & Ft. Walton Beach:

  • Beach & water activities – wave runner, parasailing, boat rentals
  • Deep-sea fishing
  • Scuba diving with many offshore wrecks and reefs
  • Family-friendly water parks, mini golf and kids-zone activity centers
  • Outlet shopping and local artisan works

 

Picking the perfect beach for your next sunshine state getaway is only the first step to planning the perfect vacation. Let our Florida beach expert travel advisors help coordinate all of your travel needs from flights to accommodations, local transportation to activities and excursions.

Ready to relax on your perfect beach in Florida? Contact our agency today.

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