Every year tourists are drawn to the Caribbean’s paradise of turquoise waters, snow white sand, and palm trees. However, there is really no need to splurge on overpriced plane tickets to find your slice of heaven on the beach. I have grown up in Florida and rounded up some of my favorite beaches that will transport you to paradise and have you leave with a kick ass tan. From the Pan Handle, to the Florida Keys there is enough beach for us all to experience waves of azure, and lay out in ivory colored sand.
Florida has 1,197 miles of coastline, 3 National Parks, and 175 State Parks so you are bound to find pristine beaches. I honestly do not know how I lived in some of the coldest, wettest, snowiest places in the world after growing up in the Sunshine State.
Definitely my favorite for people watching and getting active. Along the beachfront are a dozen or so Beach Volleyball nets, an outdoor gym, and there are always group exercise classes going on from yoga to Zumba. It is the perfect place if you want to have fun day or night with a lot of hotel choices close by. As a solo traveler this beach is perfect with many hostels, both boutique and budget close by that run excursions and clubbing outings you will never feel alone.
Close to shops, restaurants, and the iconic Ocean Drive there is something for everyone if you get overheated at the Beach.
Siesta Key Beach
Beachcombed white quartz sand, Azul colored water, and a lively crowd make Siesta Key Beach my favorite for having a goodtime day or night. Whether you want to play beach volleyball, have music in the back drop while you are tanning, or just be around a lot of other young people rather than families this is the beach to be at!
I love the young crowd this beach always attracts. There is never a moment of boredom here. So, come if you want to meet people that like to have fun and love playing in soft sand.
St. Pete Beach
Close to Clearwater and Tampa, Florida, and also rated the 4th best beach in the United States is definitely worth the visit for the beautiful Gulf waters, and the food and art scene. The place is filled with families and couples, but it is also a great place for an art lover. The Dali Museum is located here and offers some of Salvador Dali’s best works.
With an average of 361 days of sunshine per year, St. Pete Beach is sure to please. There is also a 5-story complex called the Pier that offers the best shops, food, and entertainment not far from the beach. St. Pete offers the perfect balance for the laid-back beach bum and the active attraction seeker.
Key West- Fort Zachary Taylor
First of all there is no downside to going to Key West, the nightlife is fun, the beaches are superb, and the weather is amazing year round. There are many beaches to choose in the Keys, but Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is one of my favorites because it offers the best sunset where the Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico. Also, because you can swim, snorkel, and rent some beach chairs with an umbrella. All while being surrounded by a Civil War era fort that you can explore when you aren’t splashing around in the water. When you are tired of the beach. Head over to Duval St. for live music and a good time.
Recently named the #1 Beach in the entire United States, there is no doubt that this is worth a visit. From a long winding beachfront sidewalk, coffee/ice-cream shop on the oceanfront, and more than enough beaches for everyone the sunsets here are magical. The paragliding here is extreme, you can go up to 1200 feet in the air and almost always see sharks below.
Not far from Tampa you can also have time to explore the city and see the Historic Ybor City to see Cuban Cigars being rolled in front of your eyes. Also, they make a mean Cuban Sandwich and an array of Cuban Food.
Lido Key Beach
Lido Key Beach is my little secret. I love it because it is close to Sarasota and right off of St. Armand’s Circle which has many exclusive boutiques and restaurants, such as the famous Colombia Restaurant. After a busy day shopping to beat the heat, head a short bike ride to Lido Key Beach. A quieter beach, but nonetheless filled with views of turquoise waters and pearly white sand.
There is a grill, waterfront public pool, and plenty of parking so it makes this beach my favorite for some R and R and shopping therapy with St. Armand’s Circle close by.
A National Park, a fortress in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, and a three-hour ferry from Key West will bring you to this deserted tropical paradise. The Dry Tortugas is the least visited national park in the United States. Probably because it costs $180 for a day trip, and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. The park is home to 67000 acres of coral reef that is a prime spot in the world for snorkeling. Definitely not a location for a budget traveler, but most definitely bucket list worthy.
The closest beach to Orlando is the surfing capital of Florida. Here Ron Jon Surf Shop has its HQ and also the largest surf shop in the WHOLE WORLD!!!!! Here you can sign up for surf classes at Ron Jon Surf School.
If you want a young crowd, spring breakers, and a good time head to the Cocoa Beach Pier. This is my favorite spot to hang out because I love beach volleyball and hordes of people congregate to play. Also, there is almost always music that makes you feel like you are on a tropical paradise. Pro tip head to Lori Wilson Park for free parking, restrooms, and outdoor showers.
Sanibel Beach is much quieter than Cocoa Beach and also is the perfect place in Florida to scavenge for shells. It is a luxury oasis where your vacation is truly a vacation. It is perfect for me to get my 3 R’s: Rest, Relaxation, and Reflection.
Be sure to bring cash, since there is a toll bridge to get to Sanibel Island. But here you will get two magical beaches for one, since Captiva Island is easily reached by a small bridge from Sanibel Island.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach is a gem. With a four mile stretch of sand that is publicly accessible, and boasting an array of beachside shops, cafes, and nightlife there is no going wrong here. I love Fort Lauderdale beach because it is close to Miami, but not as busy.
There are so many activities to do here from renting a Lime or Bird Scooter to go along the beachfront, to snorkeling or jet skiing there is something for everyone. Also, if you want to get out of the sun go to Fat Village where you can check out the art scene ranging from street art to creative design agencies. While you are there check out Brew Urban Café where the whole wall comes up creating an open air coffeeshop to see the trains go by.