Best Florida Beaches

A Sunrise View of the Beach at Northwest Cape in the Everglades
A New Day Dawns on Northwest Cape in the Florida Everglades

Ask anyone what are the best Florida beaches and you're likely to get lots of different answers. That's because what's best is really just a matter of opinion.

The Best "FloridaAdventuring" Beaches

Got a favorite Florida beach?

One that you think should be listed among the best? Which beach is it? Tell us about it below.

While many best-beach lists tend to focus on the somewhat trendy, more touristy beaches--say Palm Beach or maybe Miami's South Beach--here at FloridaAdventuring, different criteria are used to rate these unique sandy strands that help make Florida the great state it is.

For example, the first criterion to make the list of best Florida beaches is:

  • "the more off the beaten track, the better."

Here, wild is wonderful.

Most visitors to this site likely place a high value on open, uncrowded expanses of sand, sea, and sky. There's a good chance they treasure opportunities for seaside walks under a night sky devoid of light pollution and ablaze with at least a million stars. Those more lonely and wild beaches therefore rate higher on FloridaAdventuring's list of best Florida beaches than they might on someone else's more traditional list.

Further, FloridaAdventuring's rating method insists that:

  • "if a beach is not lonely and wild, to make the list of best Florida beaches, it should at least offer some element of adventure, like maybe clear water and a rock reef just offshore for good snorkeling."

I don't claim that this list of best Florida beaches is better than any other. But I do claim that it is a roster of Florida beaches which offer special appeal to the outdoors enthusiast with shoes full of sand who thinks adventure should be an integral part of life.

Hats Off to the Florida Park Service

Many of my best Florida beaches are located in Florida State Parks. Without the protection of the Florida Park Service, it's likely these beaches would have been over-developed and would have lost the attributes that so many outdoors enthusiasts find special. The Florida State Park System is one of the best in the nation. All of us--especially we Floridians--can be justly proud of the fine work they are doing.

Find it on Google

To find the specific location of any of these best Florida beaches, visit my interactive Map of Florida hosted by Google.

Find the beach you're looking for in the alphabetical listing of places on the left-hand side of the page. Zoom in and out with your mouse wheel or the plus/minus buttons, and pan by grabbing the map with your left mouse button. By zooming and panning, you can zero in for an up-close look of any place on earth you want to see. Be sure to try the Google Earth view.

FloridaAdventuring's pick of the Best Florida Beaches

So, here you have, selected according to the ideas discussed above, a list of the best Florida beaches.

Northwest Cape

A Sunset View of a Campsite on the Beach at Northwest Cape in the Everglades
The Beach at Northwest Cape--As Wild As it Gets

It's only fitting that this page of best Florida beaches should start with the wildest, most remote beach in Florida--Northwest Cape on Cape Sable.

This is one of my favorite places on earth. The closest "civilization" if you want to call it that is Flamingo in the Everglades, about 18 nautical miles distant by water, which is for all practical purposes, is the only way you can get there.

The next-closest outpost of human activity is Chokoloskee Island located as the crow flies some 37 nautical miles away on a bearing of 344 degrees. Believe me, that's a long 37 miles, especially if you're not a crow.

The best time to visit Northwest Cape is in the cooler months. In the summertime, the mosquitoes are terrible.

For more on Cape Sable and Northwest Cape read about this adventure around Cape Sable.

East Cape

A view of the Beach at East Cape in the Everglades, looking toward Middle Cape
The Beach at East Cape, Looking Toward Middle Cape

East Cape is about 10 nautical miles from Flamingo. Just like Northwest Cape, it has a wild and beautiful beach.

As with Northwest Cape, to avoid the worst of the mosquitoes, visit in the cooler months. For more info, see around Cape Sable.

Panama City Beach

A view of the Beach at Panama City, Florida Showing the Clear Waters
The Clear, Inviting Waters at Panama City

Clear, inviting emerald-green waters are what give this beach the edge and makes it one of Florida's best. Snorkel along the jetty next to the inlet. Enjoy a long walk. Or just soak up the warm sunshine while relaxing in the sugar-white quartz sand.

For information on how you can enjoy this state park beach at a very low cost, see my page about a cheap Panama City vacation.

Cayo Costa

A View of a Young Boy Walking Down the Beach at Cayo Costa
Adventure Awaits on Cayo Costa

There's only one way to get to Cayo Costa, and that's by water. Tropic Star of Pine Island provides daily runs to Cayo Costa State Park. The state Park offers camping on the island, or you can rent a camping cabin. Go for hikes, go snorkeling, or go shelling. My son and I enjoyed a great spring break here some years ago. The other campers were friendly and outgoing, and we enjoyed the camaraderie of an impromtu small-group gathering around the campfire.

Saint George Island

A view of the Beach at Saint George Island
The Beach at Saint George Island

Saint George Island State Park offers about nine miles of barrier-island beach facing the Gulf of Mexico. You can camp in the state park and go for long walks down the beach at night. It felt very safe to me because of the beach's remoteness and because night-time access to the park is limited to campers. See my page about an inexpensive and very enjoyable Florida vacation here on Saint George Island.

Tiger Key

A view of the beach at Tiger Key as seen from the water
Remote Tiger Key Beach

This spot made the list solely because of its remoteness, plus the fact that you can camp on the beach here. It's located in Everglades National Park, and is one of the outermost islands in that chain called the Ten Thousand Islands. It faces the expansive Gulf of Mexico. At low tide, there are exposed mud flats so if you decide to come here, try to time your arrival with the high tide.

I once paddled the seven miles or so through the mangroves to stay on this outer island. Navigation was a challenge, but the whole trip was a great adventure.

Tiger Key has bugs--mosquitoes and sand flies--especially in the warmer months. A wintertime visit here means you'll probably deal with a lot fewer pesky insects. See my page about the trip from the Gulf Coast Ranger Station to Tiger Key.

John D MacArthur Beach

A view of the beach at John D MacArthur Beach State Park
Snorkel at John D MacArthur Beach

Located on Singer Island--the next barrier island north of Palm Beach--the water here generally has good clarity because the Gulf Stream comes in very close to shore, maybe two or three miles, bringing with it the clear, warm waters of the Caribbean.

This once neglected beach is now part of John D MacArthur Beach State Park. Walk the beach, swim in the surf, and snorkel the rock reef just offshore. Bring your dive flag. It's required. See my page about snorkeling here.


A view of the emerald-green waters at Destin
The Emerald Coast

One of the treasures of Florida's panhandle is the Emerald Coast, so named for the beautiful green waters here. Destin boasts some of the Emerald Coast's best beaches. Henderson Beach State Park offers you more than a mile of white-sand, Emerald-coast beach. This is another great spot for a low-cost Florida beach vacation.

Cape San Blas

A boy plays in the surf at Cape San Blas
Playing in the Surf at Cape San Blas

At the end of Cape San Blas is Saint Joe Peninsula State Park where the above photo was taken. This park has 10 miles of wild Florida beaches. Play in the surf, kayak, or stroll down the beach day or night. Camping facilities are available in the Park, or you can rent a cabin. For overnight backpacking, follow the Wilderness Preserve Trailfor seven miles to the Cape's end. But pack all your water and everything else you'll need because this is true primitive camping. Talk to park officials to make arrangements.

Anastasia Island

A view of the beach through the dunes at Anastasia State Park

Stroll north along the beach here at Anastasia Island to land's end at the Saint Augustine inlet. Enjoy the sun, sand, and surf at this beautiful beach near Saint Augustine, the nation's oldest city. For a complete write-up of things to do here see my page devoted to Anastasia State Park.

More to Come

This list is not yet complete. I still have a few beaches in mind that I think will make the list of the best beaches in Florida. Before I add them, however, I want to experience first hand what they have to offer. That way I can report to you on a been-there-done-that basis so you'll have the bestinformation I know how to provide.

Okay, so it's off to the beach. Let's be sure to get back together later.

What's YOUR idea of Florida's best beach?

Do YOU have a beach in mind that should be listed among Florida's best? If so, I'm sure a lot of people would love to read what you have to say--ESPECIALLY if you've been there.

Want to post photos showing your best beach? Go for it. We'd love to see them, and you can post as many as four.

What Other Visitors Have Said

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My favorite Beach 
Flagler Beach, Flagler Beach Florida I like this beach because it is in a small eclectic town and you still can park free here all day. Pull up …

Naples Florida: MY Favorite Florida Beach! 
I've had the good fortune to visit hundreds of beaches in the Sunshine state, Florida! When I'm asked 'What's the best Florida beach' , I usually reply, …

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