Updated: Jun 1
Whether you're surfer or sun worshiper, shell seeker or board walker, there's a perfect beach for EVERYONE in the Sunshine State of Florida. Here we are keeping it SALTY, as we give you an insight to some popular and some lessor known beaches, from the Atlantic to the Gulf coast we seek out all the S's ~ SUN, SURF, SEA, SAND, SHELLS and SUNSETS!
After being locked down it's time to stop dreaming and start planning to explore the sunshine state of Florida and the stunning white sandy beaches which literally stretch for miles along with the soul cleansing turquoise waves and glorious sunsets ~ Florida is a beach lovers delight. Here we give you a real essence of some of our favorite beaches, taking you to some lessor known spots as well as popular ones, you can almost feel the warmth, sand between your toes and the relaxing sound of waves lapping the shore!
Smyrna Dunes Park
Location - 2995 N. Peninsula Ave., New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169
Smyrna beach is breathtaking, the perfect sand, rolling Atlantic waves and wonderful boardwalks stretching across 2 miles, there is so much to discover in this 184 acre park. There is a 300’ handicapped accessible fishing pier, dog-friendly swimming beach areas, restrooms and picnic pavilions.
Smyrna Dunes Park consists of five ecosystems (ocean, river, dunes, scrub zone, saltwater marsh) and as we strolled along the boardwalk through the dunes, we were lucky enough to spot sea turtles and various native Florida birds as well as the fabulous views.
This beach is well worth a visit for all the family, including your furry best friend!
We recommend arriving early as parking is limited, the cost is $10 per car.
Siesta Key Beach
Location – 948 Beach Road, Siesta Key, FL 34242
When our toes touched the sugar-fine, quartz-white sand of Siesta Key Beach, we could see why it has been voted one of America’s best beaches. We were shocked that even though it was an extremely hot summers day, the sand was still cool to walk on, perfection, no burnt toes!
Just a five-mile drive from Sarasota, Siesta Key has more than 6 miles of sun kissed beaches. Parking is free and the facilities are great, with changing rooms, showers, bathrooms, shop and café. Only a short walk away is a pretty and welcoming village, with a wide variety of shops and restaurants with outdoor dining.
As well as being a long beach, it is also an incredibly wide beach, giving lots of space for beach games and a less crowded feeling. We loved the birds, especially the playful pelican’s who put on quite a show diving into the water for their catch of the day!
Let’s not forget the magnificent sunset and the waves as they lap the shore, leaving you with an easy and peaceful feeling at the end of a memorable beach day.
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Honeymoon Island State Park
Location - 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, FL 34698
When we heard the name Honeymoon Island, we loved the sound of it and knew we had to go and see it for ourselves and we were not disappointed! Only a short drive from Tampa, Honeymoon Island State Park covers 385 acres and has a white sandy beach that stretches for more than four miles. It opens at 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days of the year, costs $8 per vehicle and offers good facilities including changing rooms, bathrooms, a café, bike and kayak rental and gift shop.
Whether you want to dip in the clear gulf water, enjoy activities, or just soak up the sun, this beach has it all. If you enjoy shell collecting then you will love looking for treasures on this beach, we found so many, as we paddled along the shoreline and they make the best souvenirs from any beach day.
Be sure to take time to sit and enjoy the view on one of the rugged swinging seats and let yourself drift away, as the ocean breeze clears your mind.
Cocoa Beach and Pier
Location – 401 Meade Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
Cocoa Beach was the first beach we visited after arriving in Florida, situated on the Space Coast, we were drawn to the landmark pier which stretches 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s around a sixty-mile drive from Orlando but well worth the trip.
We paid $20 to park at the pier which boasts great restaurants, bars, shops and fishing. We loved the bar right at the end of the pier, where we enjoyed a couple of beers, bar meals and an uninterrupted view of the ocean.
If you’ve had enough of lounging on the beach, Cocoa Beach is a great place to learn to surf, with its rolling waves, it also has the benefit of lifeguards year-round. Plenty of people were fishing off the pier and you can hire the equipment there, along with other popular beach rentals.
We really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of Cocoa Beach, it has all the feel of a real traditional beach that the whole family can enjoy and, if you’re really lucky, you might just catch a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center!
Clearwater Beach and Pier 60
Location – 1 Causeway Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33767
Clearwater Beach has been voted America’s best beach multiple times and sixth best in the world, so what makes it so special? The pristine white sand beach stretches for 2.5 miles along the gulf coast, with the very best of facilities. Whatever you want to do, Clearwater has it all, from parasailing to dolphin watching, pirate cruises to paddle boarding, there is no shortage of activities for all ages.
We had the best time on the dolphin watch and saw dolphins almost as soon as we left the marina, the dolphins played alongside the boat as we motored along and we had a glorious view of the entire beach front.
Take a stroll along the beautiful Beach Walk, a wonderful promenade lined with palm trees, shops, restaurants, drinking fountains and plenty of shady spots to sit, cool down and take in the view.
Pier 60 is the hub of the beach, walk all the way to the end of the pier, costs $1 payable at the gift shop part way down, you can sit and enjoy the view looking back to the beach, or out to sea. It is a perfect fishing spot, equipment can be hired on the pier, but be ready for the fun of pelican’s hoping to snag a fish or two.
Every day the pier holds an artisan craft festival, 2 hours before until 2 hours after sunset, with local crafters selling their wears and street performers providing a lively mix of entertainment. The pièce de résistance is of course the stunning sunset, which is an absolute must see.
After the sunset you can shower off and head to one of the plentiful bars and restaurants located across from the beach and people watch, as the beach goers take to the promenade.
Howard Park and Beach
Location – 1700 Sunset Drive, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
If you like a beach that’s off the beaten track, then you are going to love Howard Park Beach, it is on its own island and you approach it on a picturesque 1-mile causeway. Howard Park Beach is situated on the gulf coast around 30 miles from Tampa, it opens at 7 a.m. until dusk and has all the basic facilities you need, including bathrooms and fountain water, parking is by meter.
This pretty white sand beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, fishing, bird watching and paddle boarding, dolphins are regularly spotted off the shore and sometimes manatees even make an appearance.
The park consists of 155 acres with picnic shelters, playground and if you're in the mood for more activity there are hiking trails and a softball field. This little gem of a beach is quieter than Clearwater and, if you time it right, it's almost as if you're on your own desert island!
Manatee Public Beach
Location - 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
The water at Manatee Beach was so inviting, it felt wonderful swimming around with the fish and, even when we were up to our necks, we could still see our feet on the sandy bottom. It made our souls happy floating around, appreciating this perfect April day in our new home state.
The facilitates were great, clean restrooms and changing rooms, showers, shaded picnic area with grills, concessions and gift shop. Parking is free but limited, we arrived after 11AM and had to wait 45 minutes for a space to become available, next time we will arrive by 9AM. After swimming, sunbathing, walking and enjoying our picnic on National Picnic Day, it was time to head home but we definitely want to go back and explore more of what Anna Maria Island has to offer.
All these beaches have something special to offer and that’s why they have made it onto our beach lovers delight list, each has their own uniqueness and it’s hard to pick a favorite, it all depends upon whether you want the full-blown vacation vibe of somewhere like Clearwater, or the quieter life of Howard Park Beach. The best thing is you have a choice and it is marvelous making new discoveries to add to your own list of favorites!
We are already looking forward to our next beach experience and getting inspired to create more beach themed art...now that's another story...watch this space.
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