Map of Florida Beaches Too Beautiful to Be Real
Florida doesn't have all the pretty beaches in the United States, but it's certainly the place for a beach vacation that doesn't require a passport and too much hassle (sorry, Hawaii, you're just too far away).
The southeastern state boasts long stretches of coast along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest reef systems in the world and mild weather year-round. There are too many beaches to ever visit in a lifetime, so we've gathered the best ones that you should visit.
To make it easier for you to plan the ultimate road trip, here is a very handy map of Florida beaches.
Amelia Island State Park
Gorgeous Amelia Island is so high north that it's basically Georgia. A short drive away from Jacksonville, the best part to visit is the peaceful state park that's a welcome break from the island's resorts.
Amelia Island State Park is the only Florida park of its kind where you can ride horses on the beach. This alone earns it a spot. When equestrians aren't riding around, the beaches here are quiet and make for a perfect relaxing getaway.
And when you're tired of relaxing, the oldest saloon in the state, the Palace Saloon, is nearby.
Blue Mountain Beach
Location: Santa Rosa Beach
Santa Rosa Beach is the most frequented in the city it's named after, but we love going to Blue Mountain Beach instead. You won't actually find any blue mountains (or any mountains, for that matter), but you'll be too mesmerized by the clear emerald water of the Florida Panhandle to notice.
Skip nearby Panama Beach, which is too popular for its own good and come enjoy this small town beach instead. Play in the water or admire the sand dunes of Blue Mountain Beach, then head out to see Santa Rosa Beach's local galleries and boutique shops.
Location: Cocoa Beach
A mere 45 minutes away from Orlando, Cocoa Beach (the town) makes for a perfect day trip. The best thing to do is to spend the day at Cocoa Beach (the actual beach). You'll find a long wooden pier that creates an air of nostalgia, as well as nearby shops and eateries.
Cocoa Beach is also incredibly popular with surfers, thanks to its large waves. It even holds annual competitions for the sport.
In addition to surfing, the extensive, sandy public Cocoa Beach offers public showers and seasonal lifeguards.
Clearwater Beach is not just one of the best beaches in Florida. It is one of the best beaches in the U.S. This urban beach is always busy, but that doesn't detract from its appeal. On the contrary, it gives it a buzz that adds to its allure.
Beach volleyball is a popular pastime outside the water, as is taking a stroll along Beach Walk Promenade, where people gather to eat ice cream, kick back with a cold one and watch a gorgeous sunset.
Siesta Key Beach
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Another beach that always ranks within the nation's tops is the absolutely breathtaking Siesta Key. Its charm consists of cracking the Goldilocks ratio and striking a balance that's juuuuust right.
You'll see the city's skyline in front of the beach, but it's not close enough to feel oppressive or ruin your tanning plans with odious shade. Its sand is one of the softest we have ever seen anywhere in the world, and its water is warm and clear throughout the year. Plus, if you go at the right times, you may even get to swim in bioluminescence.
Sarasota itself is one of the best towns in Florida. Right outside Siesta Key Beach, the city offers a plethora of restaurants, tiki bars and shops.
Location: Sanibel Island
Near Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is a preferred vacation spot for Florida East Coasters. Yes, even Floridians recognize that there is nothing like the beautiful beaches of the southern Gulf of Mexico.
Bowman's Beach is known for being quiet and secluded, making it perfect for families with children. Besides swimming and sunbathing, people love to scour the sand to collect seashells and, even more excitingly, colorful sea glass.
Location: Marco Island
Naples is known outside of Florida as an exclusive beach getaway, but Marco Island is even more coveted and expensive (by about 26 percent). If your pockets can afford to go, though, the price hike is worth it.
Tigertail Beach is the island's prettiest place for some seawater therapy. If you go during summer, you'll find many vacationers had the same idea, but the beach's white sand and turquoise water are so idyllic that no one seems to care.
Look for seashells or rent a kayak to paddle along its calm waters.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Were you expecting South Beach to show up instead of a beach you've probably never heard of? That's understandable. And while we think everyone who visits Miami should go to its most famous beach just to say they did, we also know that no Miami local ever bothers to go there.
There are plenty of nice beaches where Miamians do go and we'd love to name them all, but instead, we've chosen to go with a beach that even many locals are unaware of: Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach.
This is the beach that Miami tourism highlights as the absolute best in the city for its uncrowded sand, bike trails and historic lighthouse.
Bahia Honda State Park
Location: Big Pine Key
Another uncrowded and unspoiled beach, Bahia Honda State Park is remote even for the Florida Keys. You definitely won't be fighting for space in the sand or taking one hour just to find parking. Instead, you'll spend your time seeing wildlife and enjoying the natural-sand beaches.
If you have a boat and want to feel like you're too cool for school, sail straight into the park. Fishing and camping are also allowed, so you can make an entire day out of visiting Bahia Honda.
Location: Key West
The most popular beach in Key West is a must-do when visiting the southernmost city in the U.S. Smathers Beach is as busy as it gets, providing so many activities that you'll probably find yourself coming back again and again.
Activities include snorkeling, wind sailing and kayaking. Once outside of the water, you'll find plenty of places where you can get the fresh catch of the day, all within walking distance.