Which Florida Coast Is Better? Tips For Planning Your Next Beach Vacation

Florida is an ideal option whether you have your eye open for the perfect vacation spot or a place to lay down your roots. The only thing left to consider is which Florida coast is better.

The West Coast and East Coast have unique characteristics, making them excellent choices, but which is the best option?

You might be surprised to learn that these two coasts are pretty different concerning their characteristics, including their beaches, boating opportunities, and social aspects.

We are here to help you decide which of Florida’s coasts is the better option.

Which Florida Coast Is Better?

The West Coast is the ideal retirement location. It’s also great for enjoying a relaxing vacation with its tranquil atmosphere, fewer major cities and tourists, and calmer waters and white-sanded beaches. On the other hand, the East Coast is better for those seeking a vibey, active setting with extensive city-style amenities and a lively atmosphere with deeper waters and excellent waves. 

Which Florida Coast Has Better Beaches?

The answer to this question essentially rests on what beach experience you wish to have. For example, do you enjoy active watersports such as surfing or boogie boarding, or would you prefer to relax and enjoy more tranquil flat waters?

Florida’s two coasts, the West Coast and the East Coast boast some fantastic beaches which are vastly different in their appearance, wave heights, and the number of visitors.

West Coast (Gulf Coast)

Florida’s Gulf Coast sports some of the most spectacular beaches in the world; think white sands stretching for miles, stunning sunsets over the ocean, and calm lapping waters. 

Now you can start to understand why these beaches are beloved by those who frequent them and why this is the coast for you if you are planning a relaxing beach vacation or retirement.

Families with small children often prefer Florida’s West Coast for its smoother sands, perfect for sandcastle building, the option of finding seashells, and the calmer waters. The sand on these beaches is typically cool to the touch as its whiteness reflects the sunlight.

The shore experiences a gradual dip, and the waves usually lap at the shoreline, causing less dunking when swimming. The Gulf Coast is the best option if you are in the mood for some stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking

The beaches on this side of Florida typically see smaller crowds, are broader and more open, and are often more family centered. So if this experience is what you are going for, then the West Coast of Florida is a better option.

East Coast (Atlantic Coast)

If waves and surf are what you are after, then you can’t do better than Florida’s East Coast. 

The East Coast experiences bigger waves because of the Atlantic Coast breeze, creating hours of fun for those who love to hit the water on their surfboards and boogie boards or enjoy a bit of body surfing.

The sand on this coast is more of a light brown with a golden tone and will often feel warmer to the touch as it absorbs the warmth from the sun’s rays. If you stroll down one of the beaches on this coast, you probably won’t see as many whole seashells, but you might prick your feet on some broken ones.

The surf, the atmosphere, and bustling cities along the shore typically mean that the beaches on the East Coast see a higher level of foot traffic, so if you are into the hustle and bustle of the crowds, then this is the best coast for you.

You can enjoy spectacular sunrises from this part of Florida, making early morning surfs special.

If you enjoy listening to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and a more active beach experience, then Florida’s East Coast is the better option.

Which Florida Coast Has Better Boating Opportunities?

Living or vacationing near the ocean provides ample opportunity for you to take to the waters. The only question is, which Florida coast would suit your boating requirements better? 

It will be a hard choice as both of these coasts are amazing.

West Coast

If you want to get your boat close to the shore and anchor off for a day of sunning and swimming, then the West Coast is your best option. With its flat and calm waters, you can get close to the shore without worrying too much about swells.

If saltwater fishing is your jam, the West Coast has more backcountry and a shallower shoreline, so you will probably be most successful in catching fish such as the red snapper and amberjack. In addition, however, you might catch some Atlantic fish, including marlin.

East Coast

Unfortunately, on the East Coast, getting close to the shoreline to anchor off for the day is impossible unless you are experiencing a flat and calm day.

The East Coast experiences a rather abrupt continental shelf drop only a few miles offshore, so you don’t have to head out to catch Atlantic fish such as sailfish, blackfin tuna, wahoo, and dolphin fish.

Both coasts have many opportunities for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding (SUP). For example, the Indian and Banana Rivers on the East Coast are great spots to paddle.

Which Florida Coast Has Better Social Aspects?

Are you looking for built-up cities with an active social aspect and 5-star accommodations, or are you looking for something a bit laid back with a more chilled vibe? 

These are the questions you would need to ask yourself before deciding which of Florida’s coasts has a better social aspect.

West Coast

If you would prefer quainter and quieter cities and neighborhoods, then the West Coast is the place for you. Don’t get me wrong, the cities along this coast are exceptional, with all the necessary amenities and activities, but they won’t be on the same scale as you might find on the East Coast.

On average, property prices on the West Coast are lower than those on the East Coast, which has resulted in this coast becoming a sought-after location for those wishing to retire and enjoy their later years.

There are fewer tourist attractions and major cities along this coast, so there are fewer tourists and therefore fewer people overall, making for a quieter, more relaxed environment.

East Coast

Miami, Jacksonville, and Daytona are big cities with roaring activity and robust nightlife opportunities. Unfortunately, only a few city options are available on the East Coast.

On average, the property prices on this coast are slightly higher than on the West Coast, mainly due to infrastructure, popularity, social activities, and population density. 

The social vibe on this coast is extensive with its sporting events, music festivals, cultural events, water sports, entertainment, food and beverage festivals, and comprehensive shopping experiences.

If you are interested in top-notch beach resorts and hotels, action and adventure, and stimulating hotspots, then you should consider the East Coast the best Florida coast.


When it comes down to deciding which of Florida’s coasts, the East Coast or West Coast is better, the decision would essentially be based on what kind of experience you seek.

If you seek calm waters and a relaxed, tranquil setting with fewer crowds, then the West Coast is your best option. However, if you want the opportunity to take your surfboard out into the waves and experience an active nightlife and vibrant social experience, then the East Coast is a better choice for you.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not 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.