10 Best Beaches in South Florida

Updated On October 4, 2023
South Florida

There’s a good reason why Florida is called the Sunshine State.

The placement of this southern state could not be more perfect for sunbathing, getting outside, or swimming.

Unlike most of the US, Florida is surrounded on both sides by water.

Basically, the entire state is a beach.

When you’re only ever a short drive to the shore, it seems like the activity list would be infinite.

To help you get a sense of where in South Florida would be the best place to start, we put together a list.

Below, we’ve got the best beaches in the last section of Florida before you hit the endless ocean.

10 Best Beaches in South Florida

Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park

1. Bahia Honda State Park

This isn’t just south, it’s all the way past the tip of the state, into the Florida Keys.

The park is essentially a 524-acre island. 

No one lives here, so it’s easy to imagine the waters are in pristine condition.

So clear, in fact, that you might want to reach in and take what you see. 

However, be careful of the rules.

Fishing is allowed, but taking live shells is not.  

Also not allowed is any type of spearfishing or capturing tropical fish.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

2. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Just outside of Miami is Key Biscayne, an island with some pretty interesting features.

For starters, it contains the longest-standing structure in the area, the Cape Florida Light.

That lighthouse is open to guided tours.

You can also feel free to bring a bicycle or boat to explore the park and the beach further.

Don’t bring alcohol, though.

If you want a drink, stop by a local restaurant before heading out to the water.

Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach

3. Fort Lauderdale Beach

Somewhere between Boca Raton and Miami is Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic coast. 

This is a favorite spot because of the easy swimming waters.

Minimal currents and high water quality keep giving this beach top ratings.

Another benefit here is safety.

Unlike swim-at-your-own-risk beaches, Fort Lauderdale Beach employs lifeguards for your protection.

In general, this beach is more relaxed, so it’s often viewed as a more family-friendly option. 

In addition, there are a good bit of kid-friendly things to do on the shore.

Some of the family can stay by the water and other members go for a walk by the shops.

Hollywood Beach
Hollywood Beach

4. Hollywood Beach

Another Atlantic-facing beach, Hollywood Beach is especially popular with retirees.

That might have something to do with the local draw, Margaritaville Resort.

Margaritaville is the brainchild of Jimmy Buffett.

If you don’t recognize his name, your parents likely will. 

Basically, this is all about good times and hanging out.

So, don’t be surprised if grandparents want to have a family trip to Hollywood Beach.

It’s family-friendly and offers discounts for Florida residents.

Saint Lucie Preserve Beach
Saint Lucie Preserve Beach

5. Saint Lucie Preserve Beach

Not exactly attached to the main landmass of Florida, St. Lucie Preserve is on an inlet.

The only way to get to the state park is via boat.

Once on the scene, it’s a nice removal from the mainland.

Available activities include swimming, sunbathing, scuba diving, and even wildlife viewing.

The park even hosts a four-mile trail to be explored by kayak. 

This might be one of the best places in Florida to go when it’s super hot because the water here is colder, on average, than other beaches.

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach

6. West Palm Beach

If you’re wondering why there’s a Palm Beach and a West Palm Beach, you’re not alone.

The separation stems from the lagoon of Lake Worth.

Having that division makes for two distinct yet neighboring beaches.

There has been no impact on the fun, however.

Something many travelers make a point to check out is the Norton Museum of Art.

There you’ll find work from Europe, the Americas, and even China

Want to head indoors?

The Kravis Center is within walking distance and hosts concerts, plays, and even dances throughout the year.

South Beach
South Beach

7. South Beach

To look at it on the map, visitors planning a trip might be a tad confused by the location of South Beach in reference to Miami Beach.

South Beach is its own entity within the greater Miami Beach.

It encompasses the southern tip, actually. 

Thanks to that proximity, though, South Beach has been exposed to a whole new level of popularity.

This part of Miami is known for being glamorous.

There is a hyped-up nightlife, plenty of celebrity-chef restaurants, and even high-end fashion houses have shops here.

Even the architecture is unrivaled in this part of Florida.

Blowing Rocks Preserve
Blowing Rocks Preserve

8. Blowing Rocks Preserve

Another beach on an inlet, Blowing Rocks Preserve is part of a nature conservancy.

What sets it apart from other similar places is Blowing Rocks Preserve has the largest Anastasia limestone outcropping on the East Coast of Florida.

The area itself is over 70 acres, which has been restored to create a safe haven for much of the native vegetation. 

Aside from strolling on the beach or checking out the visual aspects of the inlet, you can also learn something in the education center. 

Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach

9. Siesta Key Beach

On the Gulf side, Siesta Key Beach is an hour south of Tampa

It’s known for having bright white sand and water the color of turquoise.

So, if getting pictures to share is a main motivator for travel, this is the beach.

It has often been called a slice of paradise, not something you hear often about Florida beaches.

Perhaps that’s why Siesta Key Beach is often visited for romantic getaways.

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

10. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

At the very southern tip of the Florida Keys is Fort Zachary Taylor Beach.

Unlike other beaches, this one is pretty rocky.

That doesn’t make it any less great to swim or snorkel at.

Dogs and humans alike can delight in the array of tropical fish swimming around the barrier.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What's the most popular beach in South Florida?

Without a doubt, South Beach has become more of a landmark for travelers looking for a memorable oceanic experience.

There are about 25 million visitors to Miami each year, many of whom have South Beach on their itinerary.

Not only is this a place to jump in the water, but it’s also a fantastic avenue to load up on souvenirs and dine with a view of the Atlantic.

Don’t want to lug bags all over the beach back to your car?

Book a luxury hotel just off the strip from the shops and enjoy the utmost convenience of South Beach.

It’s also an artistic haven.

So many flocks to this part of South Florida for the multitude of experiences available at a wide range of budgets.

Are the beaches in South Florida super crowded?

There are about 10 million people who call the lower part of the southern state home.

Some of those residents are in Florida specifically to have access to the beaches.

It’s also one of the most popular places in the US to hit up the beach.

So, if you want to visit a South Florida beach and avoid massive crowds, the best thing to do is go off-peak season.

Going in March or April will have you swimming amongst high school and college students on spring break.

Going from June through August will have you side by side with families enjoying summer break.

Planning strategically will help you make the most of a trip.

Is South Florida more prone to hurricanes?


Unfortunately, the aspect that makes the area popular is also what makes it dangerous.

Warm water from both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico makes South Florida the perfect storm to attract hurricanes and tropical storms.

While you never know when everything will come together just perfectly to cause some devastation, you might want to do some extra planning just in case.

Avoiding hurricane season is a good place to start, though not always possible.

Before heading to South Florida, come up with an escape plan in the event a storm hits while you’re on vacation.

Things to think about are safe areas, the nearest medical facility from where you’re staying, and where to pick up emergency supplies.

What else is there to do in South Florida other than swim?

After a few days of sun exposure, it might be a welcome break to do something else on a trip other than put on a swimsuit.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of other activities available to keep everyone at your party busy for the duration.

To start with, there is a huge cultural scene all across this part of Florida.

There are festivals, art shows, shops, and restaurants that represent all kinds of places around the world, particularly places like Cuba and other Central American countries.

Cultural scenes also include music from other places.

Live shows are happening all the time and can be in one of a few different languages.

Nightclubs are also big in South Florida.

Want to explore nature that’s more inland?

Florida has been blessed with being rich in biodiversity with plenty of options for visitors to get a closer look.

1 Comment on 10 Best Beaches in South Florida

  1. Florida is truly a beach-lover’s paradise, with endless options for sunbathing, swimming, and outdoor activities, thanks to its perfect placement surrounded by water on both sides.

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