West Coast Florida Beaches

Must-See Florida Gulf Coast Beaches

The Gulf Coast area, which includes Clearwater, Sand Key, Treasure Island, and St. Pete Beach, is fortunate to possess some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. It is no small wonder that several of them end up on the “best beaches” list year after year. The combination of wide, snow-white sand and azure waters draws sun worshipers in droves and makes the Gulf Coast a favorite among Florida destinations.

chicks on the beach
West Coast Florida beaches by Consumerist Dot Com

Clearwater Beaches

Clearwater, Florida, is a sun-soaked and fantastic gateway to some of America’s most beautiful beaches. It not only has a world-class beach, but it is also surrounded by a plethora of remarkable sandy, oceanfront spots. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a relaxing getaway, there’s a beach near Clearwater that will satisfy your sense of wonder. So, start planning your sandy trip with our list of the best beaches near Clearwater, FL.

Pier House 60 Sunset View at Clearwater Beach
Pier House 60 Sunset View at Clearwater Beach by Photomatt28

Clearwater Beach

Starting in the north, the Tampa Bay region boasts some of the most popular and vibrant beaches. Clearwater Beach, with its powder-white sand and crystal-clear waters, is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Stroll along the bustling promenade, indulge in water sports, or simply bask in the sun while enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Pier 60 Beach

Easily located at the street intersection of Causeway and Gulf Blvd., Pier 60 Park is beautiful and seems to stretch as far as the eye can see – a crescent of fine, powdery white sand that runs from the pass north for 1.3 miles. Shops, restaurants, a bait shop, and beach concessions are located by the pier, which is open 24 hours. Inspired by the nightly sunset-watching ritual in Key West, a four-hour festival is held nightly from two hours before to two hours after sundown. Jugglers, magicians, and a variety of entertainers perform for the crowd that gathers each evening.

Honeymoon Island State Park

Even before the advent of modern civilization, Honeymoon Island was simply one of the many unnamed barrier islands all along Florida’s west coast. Today all visitors can enjoy the beautiful white sand beach stretching the entire length of the island, including the only “pet beach” in the state. Picnic pavilions, bathhouses, and concession stands are located within the park, and hikers can enjoy a trail leading through one of the few remaining virgin slash pine stands in South Florida. In addition, the park boasts several trails leading to bird observation areas.

Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park by Christopher Hollis for Wdwic Pictures

Caladesi Island State Park

Accessible only by ferry from Clearwater and nearby Honeymoon Island State Park, a visit to Caladesi Island makes a great day trip. You can fish, picnic, go boating or shelling, sunbathe on the beach, and wander at will through the pine and oak forests. A wide variety of birdlife calls the park home, and you’re likely to see an osprey soaring overhead. Picnic tables and concessions are located near the beach, and a 99-slip marina is available for those who bring their own boats.

Sarasota Beaches

Moving south, Sarasota and its surrounding areas offer a more relaxed beach experience. Siesta Key Beach, known for its soft, powdery sand that feels like walking on silk, consistently ranks among the top beaches in the United States. Its laid-back atmosphere and stunning sunsets make it a favorite spot for families and couples seeking a tranquil getaway.

The Beach Trail - Siesta Key - Youth
The Beach Trail – Siesta Key – Youth by Oh Dream Stream

Siesta Key Beach

As you step foot onto Siesta Key Beach, you’ll instantly be captivated by its breathtaking beauty. The soft, powdery sands, composed of 99% pure quartz, create a stunningly white and velvety texture that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before. The remarkable feature of this unique sand is that it remains cool to the touch even under the scorching Florida sun, making barefoot walks along the shore an absolute pleasure.

Lido Key Beach

Lido Key Beach is a picturesque spot located on the barrier island of Lido Key. It’s one of the most popular beaches in the Sarasota area, thanks to its stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and incredible views.

Lido Key Beach
Lido Key Beach by jhallen59

For nature lovers, the Sarasota Bay Walk and Mote Aquarium are must-see attractions nearby. And if you’re looking for some retail therapy, nearby St. Armands Circle is full of boutique stores and restaurants.

Longboat Key Beach

Longboat Key Beach, located on the Gulf side of Longboat Key in Florida, is a stretch of powdery white sand along the shoreline that beckons beachgoers to relax while soaking up the sun. The wide beach spans ten miles and is perfect for activities such as sunbathing, swimming, fishing, and shelling.

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is located in Manatee County, Florida, and is a secluded beach paradise. Offering stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, white sand beaches, and vibrant wildlife, it’s easy to see why Turtle Beach draws in visitors from near and far. This secluded beach is tucked away behind the clusters of thriving mangroves and palms, making it a great place for some peace and quiet.

Nokomis Beach

Located just south of downtown Sarasota, Nokomis Beach lies within Oscar Scherer State Park and boasts wide, uncrowded beaches perfect for tourists and locals alike. It is an excellent spot for swimming, relaxing, sunbathing, fishing, and more.

Life's a beach — Nokomis beach from the north jetty
Life’s a beach — Nokomis beach from the north jetty by mathewingram

The water at Nokomis is famously clear and shallow, with powdery white sand that reflects the nearby city’s twinkling lights. A variety of wildlife can be found here, including sea turtles, pelicans, and dolphins. Additionally, visitors looking to take a break from the beach can explore the nearby state park, which features 15 miles of biking trails, fishing spots, picnic areas, and nature trails.

Coquina Beach

Located in the city of Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach is an ideal destination for beach-goers looking to enjoy sun, sand, and surf. Popular pursuits include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. If you’re feeling brave, you can take a dip in one of the many shallow pools located along the shoreline, filled with crystal-clear water and various marine creatures.

Manasota Key Beach

Manasota Key Beach is a postcard-perfect white sand beach in Sarasota, Florida. Located on the Gulf Coast, it’s the perfect spot for swimming, shelling, sunbathing, and enjoying the beauty of Florida’s crystal-clear waters. In addition to its stunning views, Manasota Key Beach also offers visitors plenty of amenities. There are several parking lots and picnic shelters, as well as restrooms, showers, and a boardwalk.

Visitors can rent kayaks or paddleboards to explore the area around the beach or grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants. Manasota Key Beach is also a popular spot for fishing, with many anglers catching redfish, flounder, and snook in the shallow waters near the beach. The beach is also home to a variety of shorebirds, including pelicans, plovers, terns, and sandpipers.

Fort Myers Beaches

Fort Myers, Florida is a popular destination for beachgoers due to its miles of sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot or a more secluded retreat, there’s something to suit every taste. Here are some of the best beaches near Fort Myers:

lovely tree on Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island beach by blakespot

Sanibel Island

A popular spot for fishing and shelling, Sanibel Island is known for its abundance of seashells; visitors can find hundreds of varieties scattered along its shoreline. Those looking to explore beyond the beach should check out one of the many nature reserves in the area, such as J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge or Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. You can also head to Sanibel’s historic lighthouse for magnificent views of the surrounding Gulf Coast.

Bonita Beach

If you’re looking for a quieter beach experience, then Bonita Beach is the perfect spot. This laid-back beach offers visitors a more tranquil experience with its serene atmosphere and white sands. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear—you might even catch a glimpse of some sea turtles!

Bowditch Point Park

For those who want to avoid the crowds, Bowditch Point Park is the ideal beach destination. This park has stunning views of the Gulf and is great for bird watching or relaxing under the palm trees. Best of all, there are public restrooms available close by.

New Pass Beach

A local favorite, New Pass Beach is renowned for its breathtaking sunsets and amazing coral reefs that can be seen from the shore. Visitors to this beach can also enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing where permitted.

Big Carlos Pass, Lover's Key State Park, Estero FLorida
Big Carlos Pass, Lover’s Key State Park, Estero Florida by Phil’s 1stPix

Lover’s Key State Park

Last but not least, Lover’s Key State Park is an idyllic beach getaway. Here, visitors can explore the nearby mangrove trails or paddle through the shallow waters of the estuary. With its incredible beauty and untouched nature, it’s no wonder why this beach is so popular!

Naples Florida Beaches

Continuing south, Naples offers a touch of sophistication and luxury amidst its pristine beaches. With its upscale resorts, golf courses, and upscale shopping districts, this region appeals to those seeking a refined beach experience. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Naples Pier, take a dip in the calm waters of Vanderbilt Beach, or simply unwind and soak up the sun in this idyllic coastal paradise.

Vanderbilt Beach in Florida
Vanderbilt Beach in Florida by Spencer-Scott

Vanderbilt Beach

With stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder this beach is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Not only does Vanderbilt Beach have a wide variety of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and kayaking, but it also offers easy access to nearby attractions including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the restaurants at nearby Mercato.

Sand Key Beaches

Sand Key is a community in Clearwater, Florida, about 30 miles west of Tampa. Sand Key is situated to the south of Clearwater Beach, on the opposite side of the Clearwater Pass bridge. The area is known for its sandy beaches, making it a popular vacation destination. The majority of Sand Key’s accommodations are vacation rentals, but there is one resort on the island, as well as a resort-style hotel, and many more just over the bridge in Clearwater Beach.

Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach-Duck Pond by johncdonahue

Indian Rocks Beach

Access to the five miles of shoreline at Indian Rocks Beach is generous, which is to be expected of a town that is so rightfully proud of its beaches. Free parking is located at the county park on Gulf Boulevard and at the end of 20 of the 27 avenues in the town. The beach here is somewhat grayer and shellier than other areas, but still wide and beautiful.

Madeira Beach

Beginning at John’s Pass on the southern end of Sand Key and running northward 2-1/2 miles, the beach at Madiera is a dazzling white strand that is almost as wide as Treasure Island’s. Access to the beach can be gained at several access points along Gulf Blvd., at Johns Pass Park, and at three other city and county-run facilities, several of which have concessions and beach rentals.

Madeira Beach
Madeira Beach by bohemiannie

Tiki Gardens Beach

Located in Indian Rocks Beach, this excellent county-run park features a lovely white sand beach and fairly plentiful parking. The parking is located across the street from the beach, but the beach itself is well worth the walk.

Redington Shores Public Accesses

The towns of Redington Beach, North Redington Beach, and Redington Shores hold sway over four miles of beachfront, most of it consisting of residential areas. Redington Shores has public access along Gulf Blvd. and a very nice county park at 182nd Avenue, where parking is free. A 1021-foot-long fishing pier (fee) extends from Redington Shores and provides tackle, bait, restrooms, and beach access.

Sand Key Park

Located at the north end of Sand Key at Clearwater Pass, Sand Key County Park really boasts an extraordinary white shelly sand beach that is one of the widest in the area. The beach runs for a full mile south of the pass, and the park occupies an additional 65 acres of intact dunes and native vegetation.

Treasure Island Beaches

The main attraction of Treasure Island is, of course, the incredibly wide beach, which is made especially family-friendly by the gentle Gulf waters that lap the coast. It’s a popular kite-flying destination (there’s even a kite festival every year). Local vendors on the beach rent paddleboards, kayaks, and shaded cabanas. The kids will have a blast racing down the massive inflatable water slides located just west of the beach parking lot on 104th Avenue.

More from today at Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach
More from today at Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach by abstrakone

Treasure Island Beach

Though this barrier island derives its name from the mysterious rumors of an old Spanish galleon sinking in the nearby waters and it still lies buried offshore, the real treasure here is its beach. Claiming to be “the largest white sand beach on the Gulf coast,” several accesses along Gulf Blvd. allow visitors entrance to this magnificent shoreline.

Sunset Beach

Located right at the southernmost tip of Treasure Island the small community of Sunset Beach does feature a very nice county park with free parking. From the park, you can look directly across Blind Pass at Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach. The boardwalk that runs 3/5 miles over the dunes offers a great view of spectacular sunsets.

St. Pete Beaches

St. Pete’s best beaches range from undeveloped, isolated hideaways to vibrant city beaches overflowing with fun activities. These popular Gulf Coast vacation spots, located in the Tampa Bay area, are best known for their beautiful white sand beaches and natural areas. With miles of sandy beaches and mild, temperate waters, St. Petersburg and Clearwater draw sunbathers all year.

ST Pete Beach Don Cesar Hotel
St. Pete Beach Don Cesar Hotel by leica.captiva

Upham Beach

Located at the north end of St. Pete Beach, is beautiful Upham Beach which is a favorite among the locals. The beach has recently been renourished and is wider than many others along Gulf Blvd. A beachside café offers breakfast and lunch.

St. Pete Beach

The shoreline at St. Pete Beach is wide and as long as the eye can see, with sparkling clear water, soft white sand, and heart-stopping sunsets. The name of the town was officially changed from St. Petersburg Beach to the shorter appendage, by which it was affectionately known for years. Public beach accesses are located mid-island, with metered parking lots.

The city of St. Petersburg has always maintained this beachside park, located at Gulf Blvd. and 112th Avenue. The park provides ample parking, as well as a snack bar, playground, and volleyball courts. A cement jogging-biking path runs along the street for about a mile.

Passagrille Beach

Located at the southern end of St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille Beach has long been considered the jewel in the crown of Florida West Coast beaches. There is a lot of beach, the sand is white and powdery, and the emerald gulf is warm and inviting. A beachside café offers breakfast and lunch.

Final Word

Whether you prefer the lively ambiance of Tampa Bay, the relaxed vibes of Sarasota, the natural beauty of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, or the sophistication of Naples, the West Coast of Florida has a beach destination that will captivate your senses and provide the ultimate beach experience. So pack your sunscreen, grab your beach towel, and get ready to discover the sun, sand, and serenity that await you along this picturesque coastline.

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