Beyond the incredibly gorgeous sunsets, many Gulf Coast beaches provide great fishing, picturesque nature trails, clear waters, and soft sand. From Dry Tortugas to the crook of Northwest Florida, the calm Gulf Coast waters attract all kinds of visitors, including scuba divers, spring breakers, shell hunters, and sunbathers.
Clearwater Beach is a laid-back beach that is located on Clearwater Beach Island – a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The beach is known for its soft, white sand, drawing in millions of visitors year-round for a little fun under the Florida sun. The Gulf’s calm, emerald waters straight out from the beach are ideal for stand-up paddle-boarding, parasailing, and jet-skiing. Visitors will find the winding beachfront promenade bustling with people rollerblading, cycling, and walking; it’s also lined with a number of cozy cafés and casual seafood restaurants. When the sunset finally arrives, visitors will find a vibrant nightly festival that features craft vendors and street performers at Pier 60.
600 Cleveland Street, Suite 200, Clearwater, FL, Phone: 727-461-0011
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Destin is a romantic Gulf Coast city that is located in northwest Florida, in an area recognized as the Panhandle. The city is known for its pristine, white sand beaches, plethora of championship golf courses, and Destin Harbor Boardwalk. Picturesque nature trails wind through the sand dunes of Henderson Beach State Park, where the sprawling coast is dotted with oak and pine trees that shelter wildlife. The calm, emerald-hued waters invite beachgoers to take peaceful swims; float weightlessly under the Florida sun; or enjoy a little stand-up paddle-boarding. Visitors looking for a little change of pace from the beach life will appreciate the shimmering pools, cascading waterfalls, and tall waterslides of Big Kahuna’s water park.
4484 Legendary Drive, Destin, FL, Phone: 850-837-6241
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Pensacola Beach is a gorgeous, sugar-sand beach that is located on Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island in northwest Florida. Pensacola Beach has consistently ranked among the nation’s top beaches for very good reason. The brilliant white-sand stays cool to the touch, even on the hottest days, a wonderfully-soothing delight for the eyes and toes of each visitor. The emerald-hued waters are inviting and shallow, beckoning even the most timid of beachgoers for a relaxing swim. The beach also features the iconic Pensacola Beach Pier, stretching an incredible 1,471 feet out over the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors should also check-out the Portofino Boardwalk, home to a variety of shops, casual restaurants, and open-air bars.
Center 7 Casino Beach Boardwalk, Pensacola, FL, Phone: 850-932-1500
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Located in southwest Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island is rightfully famed for its magnificent sunsets, luxurious resorts, and iconic lighthouse. The island is home to a number of wonderfully-scenic and pristine beaches, some of which include Tarpon Beach, Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass Beach, Captiva Beach, and the Causeway Beaches. Sanibel Island’s biggest claim to fame would be its abundance of sea-shells, winning multiple awards for regularly being among the nation’s best areas for shelling. The island offers much more than just shelling, it’s well-equipped with sensational seafood restaurants, charming shops, and cozy cafés. Beach days here are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, building sand castles, and enjoying many other fun water activities.
1159 Causeway Road, Sanibel, FL, Phone: 239-472-1080
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Sarasota is a Gulf Coast city in Florida, situated just south of the more well-known city of Tampa. From Coquina Beach to Siesta Beach to Venice Municipal Beach to Lido Beach, Sarasota boasts some of the finest beaches in all of Florida. Siesta Beach is definitely the blue-ribbon winner of the bunch, featuring magnificent sand that is 99% pure quartz. The beach was ranked No. 1 in 2011 on Dr. Beach’s annual list of America’s Best Beaches. The accolades for Siesta Beach don’t stop there; in 2015 it finished at No. 6 on National Geographic’s Top U.S. Family Beaches. Visitors will enjoy warm Gulf breezes, pristine white-sands, and emerald-hued waters.
1945 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL, Phone: 941-955-8187
6.Fort Myers Beach
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Fort Myers Beach is a popular, sugar-sand beach that is situated along the northwest part of Estero Island, a barrier island in southwest Florida. This soft, white sand beach faces the Gulf of Mexico’s shimmering emerald waters. Locals and visitors flock to this destination year-round to engage in a number of watersports, including kayaking, parasailing, stand-up paddle-boarding, jet-skiing, boating, and much more. Visitors will have a variety of fun and interesting activities to book, some of which include dolphin eco-tours and fishing charters. The nearby Sanibel and Pine islands can both be easily reached by boat, offering exciting day trips.
2450 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL, Phone: 239-454-7500
7.Anna Maria Beach
Anna Maria Beach is a stunning, white-sand beach that is located on the northern end of Anna Maria Island, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The beach wraps entirely around the tip of the island, and offers its visitors breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico’s shimmering turquoise waters. This beach is rather quiet when compared to the other beaches on the island, making it an ideal location for a little solitude under the Florida sun, or a peaceful swim. Visitors may find themselves wandering the beach’s soft sands during a picturesque sunrise or sunset. If they work-up an appetite while there, the nearby Rod and Reel Pier seafood restaurant is always an excellent choice.
5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, Phone: 941-778-1541
8.Florida West Coast beaches: Barefoot Beach State Preserve
Barefoot Beach State Preserve is a nature preserve that is located in North Naples, Florida. Situated along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the preserve covers 342 acres of unspoiled land, making it one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands along the southwest coast. The beach park provides a perfect example of how shifts in the habitat can occur within a narrow parcel of land with minimal moisture and elevation changes. Over 8,000 feet of sand dunes and pristine beach support the development of sea oats, which during the summer, provide nesting locations for sea turtles. Visitors will also find a tropical hardwood hammock of sabal palm, sea grape trees, and gumbo limbo trees, among many other species.
505 Barefoot Beach Boulevard, Bonita Springs, FL, Phone: 239-252-4000
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Bonita Beach is a sprawling beach located on Little Hickory Island, a barrier island that is situated between Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida. Bonita beach is also positioned just north of Naples and Vanderbilt beaches, and south of Fort Myers Beach. Rather than seeing a seemingly endless stretch of resorts and hotels, visitors will find an upscale beach community that features a large number of modern beachfront homes, and a few condominiums nestled among sea grapes, coconut palms, and other tropical foliage. The beach is easily accessible, and the perfect place to spend the day sunbathing, swimming, and sea-shelling.
25071 Chamber of Commerce Drive, Bonita Springs, FL, Phone: 239-992-2943
Bradenton Beach is a small city that is located on Anna Maria Island, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A short drive from neighboring cities Bradenton and Sarasota, Bradenton Beach is known for its oceanfront restaurants, charming strip of shops, sugar-sand beaches, fishing piers, and plethora of family-owned businesses. The city definitely encourages a slower pace of life, which is made evident with its ban on drive-through restaurants. Near the northern tip of the island, visitors will find Pine Avenue, home to small art galleries, handmade clothing, specialty olive oils, and French-milled soaps. Visitors can head to any one of the city’s pristine beaches and enjoy a day of sunbathing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and swimming.
5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, Phone: 941-778-1541
11.Cape San Blas
Cape San Blas is a beautiful beach that is located at the southern tip of a peninsula on Florida’s northwest Gulf Coast. It is home to the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, and was also named ‘the best beach in America’ in 2002 by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as ‘Dr. Beach’. Situated along the Florida Panhandle’s Emerald Coast, Cape San Blas offers a true vacation paradise. Here, visitors will find miles of pristine, uncrowded, white sand beaches and rolling dunes. Cap San Blas is also home to pet-friendly vacation rentals, family-owned restaurants serving the freshest local seafood, and famed Cape San Blas Lighthouse.
308 Reid Avenue, Port St. Joe, FL, Phone: 850-227-1223
Carrabelle Beach is a magnificent beach that is located just off of State Highway 98 in northwest, Florida. The beach is well-equipped with covered picnic tables, bathroom facilities, outdoor showers, and convenient parking. There’s a historic marker that visitors can check out on the beach, it commemorates the Camp Gordon Johnston training site. If visitors cross State Highway 98, there’s a walking path that will lead them a short travel west to the iconic Crooked River Lighthouse. There’s plenty for visitors to do during days at the beach, including playing with pets, sunbathing, swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and various beach games.
Post Office Drawer DD, Carrabelle, FL, Phone: 850-697-2585
13.Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach State Park is a sprawling state park that is located in northwest Florida, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Grayton Beach has consistently ranked among the nation’s most pristine and beautiful beaches. Visitors can bask under the powerful Florida sun on the park’s white sand beach; go for tranquil swims in the Gulf’s clear emerald waters; or enjoy scenic hiking and biking on the 4.5 mile interpretive nature trail. Park amenities include campgrounds, cabins, campfire circles, picnic pavilions, handicap accessibility, and restroom facilities. There are several other water activities for visitors to enjoy, such as kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, boating, and fishing.
357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa, FL, Phone: 850-267-8300
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Madeira Beach is a lovely city that is located on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of St. Petersburg. Unofficially recognized as the ‘Grouper Capital of the World’, Madeira Beach offers visitors plenty of ways to have fun under the sun, along with a plethora of delectable seafood restaurants to choose from. The city’s pristine white-sand beaches and clear, emerald-turquoise waters invite locals and visitors to bask under the warm sun, and enjoy relaxing swims in the Gulf. There are several water activities for visitors to enjoy, such as jet-skiing, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, and kayaking. Visitors should also check-out John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, a vibrant outdoor dining and shopping complex with over 100 restaurants and stores.
300 Municipal Drive, Madeira Beach, FL, Phone: 727-391-9951
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Marco Island is a beautiful barrier island that is located off of Southwest Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico. The island is linked to Florida’s mainland via two separate bridges just south of Naples – a nearby coastal city. Marco Island features two wonderfully-scenic, soft-sand beaches that are available for public access. South Marco Beach is a one-acre beach that features an entrance lined with lush sabal palm and other tropical foliage. It’s family-friendly beach with a variety of plush hotels in the area. Tigertail Beach Park is a white-sand beach that is ideal for tide-pooling, sea-shelling, and bird watching; and also the perfect place to enjoy a sunset.
961 Windward Drive, Marco Island, FL, Phone: 239-389-5000
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Miramar Beach is located in Northwest Florida, between the Gulf Coast cities of Destin and Seaside. Miramar Beach is a bustling hub of activity, filled with eclectic eateries, colorful shops, family-friendly resorts, and beachfront homes. Visitors can enjoy sun-drenched days on the sugar-sand beaches, relaxing under the shade of an umbrella, while sipping on tropical-inspired cocktails. The Gulf’s turquoise-emerald waters beckon beachgoers to float weightlessly under the clear-blue sky. The water’s warm temperatures make it ideal for enjoying a plethora of fun water activities, including paddle-boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and jet-skiing. Visitors will also want to make sure they catch one of Miramar Beach’s iconic sunsets.
2396 Scenic Highway 98, Miramar Beach, FL, Phone: 429-899-3003
17.Naples Municipal Beach
Amenities can be everything when trying to enjoy a picture-perfect beach day, and Naples Municipal Beach definitely delivers with outdoor showers, picnic tables, and plenty of parking. The beach is located in southwest Florida, in the Gulf Coast city of Naples. It has a low-key feel with its residential surroundings, and offers a timeless beach attraction in the form of the Naples Pier. The pier itself has a rich history, with its dock dating back to 1888, originally used for ship passengers and freight. Today, the pier is equipped with restrooms, parking access, and a concession stand; fishing is also allowed 24/7. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing day on the beach’s soft, sugar-sand, overlooking the Gulf’s wonderfully-emerald waters.
2390 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL, Phone: 239-262-6376
Navarre Beach is a picture-perfect beach that is situated just west of Pensacola Beach, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Managing to fly under the radar, this beach offers unspoiled, fine, white sand, modest crowds, and shallow emerald waters. Navarre Beach provides an idyllic location for lazing the day away under the warm sun and clear-blue, Florida sky. Visitors can enjoy some fun beach activities that include throwing the ol’ pig-skin around, beach tennis, Frisbee, picnics, and bonfires. The beach is also equipped with a pier that happens to be the longest of fishing piers in Florida, stretching up to 1,545 feet in length, and towering approximately 30-feet above the shimmering ocean waters.
1411 Utility Drive, Navarre, FL, Phone: 850-981-8888
19.Panama City Beach
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Panama City Beach is an award-winning beach that is situated along the Gulf of Mexico, in northwest Florida. The beach features a bustling park and waterfront pier that anchor its eight miles of soft, sugar sand. The pier juts out over the Gulf’s emerald waters, providing sweeping views over the shimmering ocean waters and picturesque coastline. Everything surf and sun can be had here, from parasailing to body surfing, and castle building to sunbathing. The beach’s park is equipped with an amphitheater, walking trails, pavilions, and small lakes. There are additional water activities for visitors to enjoy, such as snorkeling, stand-up paddle-boarding, jet-skiing, and surfing.
16201 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL, Phone: 850-236-0392
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Seagrove Beach is a charming beach neighborhood that is located in the northwest part of Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico. The neighborhood is filled with lush pines, magnolias, and oak trees, offering wonderfully-scenic walks. There are also two coastal dune lakes, miles of sugar-sand beach, and a beautiful state park. Visitors can enjoy an idyllic picnic on the beach under the warm Florida sun, finding shade under an umbrella while taking in magnificent views of the Gulf’s turquoise waters. The warm waters invite beachgoers to enjoy relaxing swims; do a little stand-up paddle-boarding; or partake in the exhilaration of jet-skiing. Away from the beach, visitors will find plenty of casual cafés and upscale boutiques.
63 South Centre Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL, Phone: 850-267-0683
21.Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach is a pristine, white-sand beach that is located on the barrier island of Siesta Key, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The beach offers volleyball and tennis courts, picnic areas, a shaded playground, and nearby concession stands for visitors to grab a quick drink or bite to eat. The shallow, emerald-hued waters and year-round lifeguards make this an idyllic beach for travelers visiting with the entire family. The warm and inviting waters are perfect for snorkeling, swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, swimming, floating, fishing, boating, and jet-skiing. Siesta Key Village is within walking distance of the beach, and provides numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops for visitors to explore.
5114 Ocean Boulevard, Siesta Key, FL, Phone: 941-349-3800
22.St. George Island Public Beach
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St. George Island Public Beach is located on St. George Island, a barrier island located just off of Florida’s Panhandle. Visitors will find this beach by taking Island Drive across the five-mile-long Bryant Patton Bridge, which offers stunning views over Apalachicola Bay. There’s plenty of convenient parking near the beach, making it a bit easier to traffic all of the beach equipment from the car to the final resting spot. The beach also provides a large playground, basketball court, restroom facilities, and covered pavilions that are perfect for picnics. Visitors will be treated to soft, sugar-sand beaches, shimmering emerald waters, and warm Gulf Coast breezes.
2 East Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL, Phone: 850-927-7744
23.St. Pete Beach
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St. Pete Beach is a resort city that is located on a picturesque barrier island, just west of St. Petersburg, Florida. The island’s shores are home to the longest undeveloped public beach in Pinellas County, Pass-a-Grille Beach. Visitors will have the chance to indulge in a variety of exhilarating watersports, such as kiteboarding, windsurfing, stand-up paddle-boarding, and parasailing. The white-sand beaches provide visitors with plenty of opportunity for enjoying beach sports, sunbathing, shelling, and sand-castle building. The beach is lined with world-class resorts, like The Don CeSar, an iconic Pink Palace in the heart of it all. There’s also a variety of nearby restaurants, galleries, funky specialty shops, and more.
4700 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach, FL, Phone: 727-388-0686
24.T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is a marvelous state park that is located on a peninsula that juts out from the Florida Panhandle. The park features tall dunes and sandy white beaches along the Gulf side, and a thick, marshy area on the peninsula’s bay side. This state park is brimming with wildlife, providing vital habitats for endangered St. Andrews beach mice, sea turtles, and beach nesting birds that include the snowy plover. The park’s campgrounds are situated beneath towering pines just beyond the dunes, providing campers with sounds of gentle gulf waves as they drift to sleep. The park offers visitors an idyllic place to enjoy fishing, swimming, and wildlife-viewing on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
8899 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe, FL, Phone: 850-227-1327
Vince Beach is a Certified Blue Wave Beach that is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, just south of the city of Sarasota. There’s a unique, sail-shaped pavilion on the beach that has been an iconic landmark since 1964. The beach has a nearby concession area where visitors can grab something quick to drink or eat; there’s also free parking and lifeguards always on duty. Venice Beach offers picturesque views of the Venice Public Fishing Pier, jutting out over the Gulf’s emerald waters. Visitors will often see dolphins frolicking in the waters, as well as sea turtles nesting on the beach between May and October. Additional amenities include two beach volleyball courts, picnic areas, and boardwalks.
597 South Tamiami Trail, Venice, FL, Phone: 941-488-2236
25 Best Florida Gulf Coast Beaches
- Clearwater Beach, Photo: Peter/stock.adobe.com
- Destin, Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/stock.adobe.com
- Pensacola Beach, Photo: Cheryl Casey/stock.adobe.com
- Sanibel Island, Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/stock.adobe.com
- Sarasota, Photo: Elena Moiseeva/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Myers Beach, Photo: Tono Balaguer/stock.adobe.com
- Anna Maria Beach, Photo: sbgoodwin/stock.adobe.com
- Florida West Coast beaches: Barefoot Beach State Preserve, Photo: Simon/stock.adobe.com
- Bonita Beach, Photo: Jesse Kunerth/stock.adobe.com
- Bradenton Beach, Photo: Edelweiss086/stock.adobe.com
- Cape San Blas, Photo: whuffines/stock.adobe.com
- Carrabelle Beach, Photo: Foap.com/stock.adobe.com
- Grayton Beach State Park, Photo: Stu/stock.adobe.com
- Madeira Beach, Photo: Jeff Kinsey/stock.adobe.com
- Marco Island, Photo: Christin Lola/stock.adobe.com
- Miramar Beach, Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/stock.adobe.com
- Naples Municipal Beach, Photo: poladamonte/stock.adobe.com
- Navarre Beach, Photo: indygreek/stock.adobe.com
- Panama City Beach, Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/stock.adobe.com
- Seagrove Beach, Photo: Tono Balaguer/stock.adobe.com
- Siesta Key Beach, Photo: ArenaCreative/stock.adobe.com
- St. George Island Public Beach, Photo: Leigh Trail/stock.adobe.com
- St. Pete Beach, Photo: Felix Mizioznikov/stock.adobe.com
- T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Photo: Diana/stock.adobe.com
- Venice Beach, Photo: volgariver/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Simon Dannhauer/stock.adobe.com