7 of the Best Beaches in Florida

With 1200 miles of pristine coastline, the Sunshine State keeps holidaymakers coming back year after year. Florida boasts hundreds of beaches, making it difficult to decide which one to visit first. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of seven of the best, from undisturbed paradises to thrilling surfing spots.

Seven of the Best Beaches in Florida

By Katy
19 January 2018

1. Hollywood Beach, Broward County

Best for: Old Americana

There isn't just one Hollywood in the UUSA. Huddled between Fort Lauderdale and Miami along State Road A1A, founder Joseph W. Young named Florida's retro cool city after its Californian cousin in 1925 – and today it's a real treat for the senses.

Rent a cabana on the palm tree-scattered Hollywood Beach, hop on the old-fashioned trolley for lunch at famed burger joint Le Tub then enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach's Boardwalk – a 2.5 mile promenade that's perfect for people watching, cycling and seaside eats.

Carry on your walk or jump back on the trolley to visit the nearby ArtsPark at Young Circle. Its outdoor amphitheatre hosts regular musical events, and you'll find a wide range of food trucks every Monday (check out the Lobsta Guy for garlic lobster rolls and coconut lemonade) as well as a majestic interactive fountain that kids will love.

2. St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg

Best for: Families

Situated on a peninsula off Florida's west coast, St. Pete Beach is an eight-island resort packed with seafront splendour. Snow-white sand, gentle surf and shallow waters make its namesake shoreline, St. Pete Beach, one of the best Florida beaches for families.

Kayak through its bath-warm waters, go dolphin spotting by the coast, or stroll downtown to the Salvador Dalí Museum, which holds the largest collection of the artist’s works outside of Spain.

Also worth a visit is the nearby Pass-a-Grille, a tranquil shoreline loved by locals, and one of Florida's hidden gems.

3. Daytona Beach, Volusia County

Best for: Thrill seekers

Daytona Beach is a picturesque stretch of sugar-white sand and surf-worthy water, where you can people-watch on the charming boardwalk, fish along the shoreline or partake in almost any water sport imaginable in the sea.

Close to the resort's wonderfully kitsch rides and arcades, Daytona Beach's Bandshell holds free concerts all summer long, while the waterpark in Daytona Lagoon is perfect for kids, with laser tag, a multi-level go-karting track and plenty of other family-friendly activities in and out of the water. You'll find plenty of shops, cafes and eateries along nearby Highway A1A to keep you fully entertained.

4. Panama City Beach, Bay County

Best for: Having it all

With 27 miles of beautiful oceanfront, there's plenty of space for people of all interests to enjoy Panama City Beach on the warm Gulf Coast.

Kids will love the vast Shipwreck Island waterpark, golfers can tee off at plenty of world-class courses in the vicinity, while outdoor enthusiasts can fish, canoe or hike at St. Andrew's State Nature Park.

The beach community holds plenty of year round activities; from releasing 10,000 balls across the beach every New Year's Eve, to Oktoberfest, jazz festivals and Mardi Gras celebrations.

5. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fort Lauderdale

Best for: Snorkelling and diving

A sleepy hamlet that embodies island life, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is one of the very few beaches in Florida where the state's natural coral reef system is close enough for snorkelling and beach diving. See if you can spot the Sunshine State's spiny lobster, sea fans and a variety of vividly coloured tropical fish before enjoying ocean views and catch of the day at the Aruba Beach Café.

While the loudest thing you'll often hear is the waves crashing against the surf, there's a real energy to the place by night. Every Friday, Commercial Boulevard houses a stage for live music from local bands, while Saturdays are for free dance classes at the Beach Pavilion.

6. Smathers Beach, Key West

Best for: Holiday snaps

The largest of its kind in Key West, heavenly Smathers Beach is one of the very best beaches in Florida for relaxation. Even the palm trees lean languidly towards the sea here, so sit back, relax and enjoy frozen margaritas from the local vendors, or pack a bag for an impromptu picnic.

For those that want it all, there are also plenty of water sports available nearby, where you can kayak, parasail or rent a catamaran – all in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

7. Wabasso Beach, Vero Beach City

Best for: Treasure hunters

The city of Vero Beach on the Atlantic coast is a small haven for holidaymakers, with golfing, fishing, water sports and more. Local surfers head to Wabasso Beach for its shorebreaks, found at the tail end of County Road 510, just east of State Road A1A. Wabasso is also a favourite with treasure hunters, as it's the site of two shipwrecks – one from 1618 and another from 1715.

While much has already been salvaged, more than half of the ships' gold coins and jewellery is said to remain at the bottom of the ocean. For relaxation, head to the nearby Ambersand Beach in the 248-acre National Wildlife Refuge, which is one of the best places to spot sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Ready to feel the sand in your toes?

Alamo Rent A Car hire car can help you discover some of the best Florida beaches for yourself. Share the driving experience and get a free additional driver with your Florida car hire.