Best Beaches in South Florida for Your Next Vacation

Ready to dive into some of the best beaches in South Florida? 

South Florida beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, with soft white sand and crystal clear water. But it can take a lot of work to find which of these fantastic beaches to visit. Never fear. We got you. Read on as we share the top beaches to visit in Southern Florida.

Gasparilla Island State Park

Calling all beach lovers! Gasparilla Island has clean beaches and beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. The barrier island is a paradise for folks who love swimming, snorkeling, and especially those who love fishing. Tarpon and other prized fish call the clear waters of this barrier island home.

On Gasparilla Island, visitors can sunbathe or relax with a good book. Kayaking and paddle boarding are popular activities, and you might even see manatees and sea turtles offshore while exploring. And for people who enjoy beachcombing, shelling is terrific during winter.

Tigertail Beach, Marco Island

Pack your bag and head to Marco Island and Tigertail Beach. The beach is popular with locals who love watersports, including kayaking and paddle boarding. There is a parking area where paddlers can park and unload a trailer; otherwise, you can rent gear onsite.

The beach is split into two distinct areas. One side of the lagoon is more developed and family-friendly, with picnic areas, a playground, and a snack bar. The other end of the beach is more primitive and untouched. It is excellent for shelling, watching dolphins, or walking through the beautiful white sand.

The downside to this beach is that it’s a hike from the parking lot. You will definitely want to bring a beach wagon to transport your gear. Finally, there are a lot of shells on the beach, so wear some water shoes.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

If you are ready to soak up the South Florida sun, the beach here is a great spot to spend the day. This unique South Florida beach consistently ranks as one of the top beaches in the U.S. by Dr. Beach. 

Bill Baggs is a fantastic spot for paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Paddlers and anglers can launch from Beach Access NO. 1 at the north end of Area A. Toss your watercraft on your roof rack and head to the beach for a fun day paddling. And a kayak cart will suit you well. It’s a couple hundred feet to get your vessel to the water.

The beach is about 30 minutes from the more famous South Beach area. If you make the trip, get here early because park spots are limited, and it fills up fast. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, a bonus to visitors.

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

Many consider Fort Zachary Beach the best beach in Key West, and it’s easy to see why combining Key West’s rich history with this historic park. In addition, the beach is a quiet and peaceful place with good snorkeling, so it’s easy to spend the day relaxing. 

The beach is easy to get to, and Key West is filled with great shops, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities. Watersports are popular at Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, including paddle boarding and kayaking. 

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent, and there is a fully stocked concession stand when you need a bite to eat. The downside to the beach is that it’s pretty rocky. Therefore, water shoes are a good investment.

If you need a break from the beach, take a tour of Fort Zachary Taylor to learn about the fort’s role during the Spanish-American and Civil wars. Fort Zachary Taylor is a great spot for kids, with the educational aspect of the fort and generally hanging out at the beach.

Bonus: Visitors have a view of the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean.

Hallandale Beach

Sandwiched between south Fort Lauderdale, just before you enter Miami sits Hallandale Beach. The beach is one of the best in southern Florida and is overshadowed by other hotspots. 

Here you will find a clean, spacious beach with lots of things to do, like fishing and boating, or you can relax and soak up the sun. Is solid ground more your speed? You are in luck. There are plenty of excellent dining and shopping options in the area. 

Tip: If you are in town from December to April, try to hit South City Beach Park, which features local musicians on the fourth Sunday of the month.

Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach is one of South Florida’s unique beaches and an ideal spot for a beach vacation. The beach has beautiful ocean views and a vibrant atmosphere. And there are plenty of activities in the water and on solid ground to keep visitors busy. 

You can expect traditional watersports like kayaking, jet skis, banana boat rides, and paddle boarding. There are plenty of rental companies in the area. You can rent all the equipment and have a fun day playing in the sand and surf.

The 2.5-mile boardwalk that runs parallel to the beach sets this beach apart from others. Visitors can take in the sights and sounds as you explore on two wheels or two feet.

Hollywood beach is excellent for families, couples, or solo visitors.

Pompano Beach

Pompano Beach sits about halfway between Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. This area is a paradise for folks who love snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. In addition, visitors can explore a whopping 18 shipwrecks here, and many coral reefs are reachable from the beach.

This warm and friendly beachside town is an excellent place to vacation with kids. There are playgrounds and an interactive water fountain to keep them busy if they get bored of the sun and sand. 

If you prefer to be more active, beach volleyball and paddle boarding are also popular. And there are a lot of excellent shops and restaurants if you need to step away from the beach.

Deerfield Beach

South of Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach offers beachgoers a ton of fun. Take your pick of swimming, surfing, kayaking, and, best of all, fishing. The big draw at Deerfield Beach is the 1,000-foot-long fishing pier. The pier is popular among serious anglers and beginners. The best part is you can rent all the equipment you need onsite to catch a big fish.

This blue wave certified beach is a great place to experience the best beaches in South Florida without the crowds of more well-known areas. Deerfield Beach is a great spot to enjoy the great outdoors on Florida’s Gold Coast.

Delray Beach

Delray Beach offers over two miles of shoreline and is situated in the metropolitan area of Miami, Florida. This is a great spot to try out different types of water spots or sunbathe on the soft white sand. 

The water is typically calm at this beach, making it a great place to try paddleboarding and enjoy a laidback environment. The water is also clear enough that it’s easy to see different types of fish at any time of the day.

The Pineapple Grove Arts District is one of the top attractions near Delray Beach, where a variety of art galleries, boutique stores, and salons are available. The local museum also offers free arcade games for kids and adults.

South Beach

Every year millions of sun worshipers make their way to South Beach. As a result, this vibrant beach has some of the best people-watching opportunities in South Florida. 

South Beach is a popular place that embraces the Miami lifestyle. This is the spot if you’re in the mood to spend time in an eccentric location. 

Not only does its sand glisten in the sun, but it’s also an experience, bringing a vibrant culture to life that you won’t find anywhere else. 

South Beach is one of the best places to go shopping, and it’s an ideal spot to explore if you want to spend the day in the city and close to the shoreline. 

You can experience all the traditional beach activities here and some things you can experience anywhere else.

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park is home to some of the best beaches in South Florida and the Florida Keys. Henry Flagler’s desire to build a railroad to Key West put this area on the map.  

The entrance fee is a bargain at $8. If you plan to stop here, make sure you get here early. The park is extremely popular and does close when they reach capacity.

The gin-colored waters provide a fantastic backdrop for snorkeling, fishing, swimming, and other watersports. The state park has three beautiful beaches: Loggerhead Beach, Calusa Beach, and Sandspur Beach.  

If you are into kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding, use the Loggerhead parking lot to park a trailer and launch your watercraft. Otherwise, you can rent paddling equipment from the concession stand.

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of beaches in South Florida, making it an incredible place to adventure or sit with your feet in the sand when you want a peaceful place to unwind. During your stay, you can explore the variety of beaches available to enhance the quality of your trip and experience the rich culture and natural beauty of the destination.

Writers note: As of this writing, many of the beaches in Lee County remain closed after Hurricane Ian. Unfortunately, this includes many of the great beaches on Sanibel Island and the surrounding area. We hope to provide an update as more beaches open.

Featured Image Credit: ©[Starcevic] via Canva.com

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.