Florida

8 Secluded Beaches to Discover in Florida

For relaxation in the Sunshine State, seek out the hidden gem beaches buried along Florida's coastlines.

For relaxation in the Florida sun, forget the hopping nightlife of Miami and South Beach and the all-day party atmosphere of spring break hot spot Daytona. To truly relax in the Sunshine State you need to seek out the hidden gem beaches buried along Florida’s coastlines, like pirate treasure waiting to be unearthed.

You’ll find solace in spots like the Gulf Coast beaches north and south of St Petersburg, and Clearwater, that amazed me the first time I visited, with soft white sand that looks like sugar, feels like silk, and doesn’t get hot and sticky like the Miami beaches I grew up visiting.

As you start to look around the state, the more of these special spots you’ll find. The only question: whether to share their location with family and friends, or keep these private paradises all to yourself.

Spectacular Sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico

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Longboat Key is the under-the-radar sister island to the wildly popular Siesta Key, offering the same spectacular natural location facing the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, but without the wild MTV crowds. Among the highlights of this blissful island oasis near Sarasota is a beach so smooth and white it looks like a crisp new sheet and agate water that offers gentle swells and warm tides, but never has an undertow.

The views from this west facing perch on the Gulf are epic and worth arranging your evening around so you don’t miss the glowing sun setting into the waves. For the perfect perch to watch the technicolor sunset, sit outside at the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, named one of the most scenic dining spots in all of America by OpenTable.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Longboat Key

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The Resort at Longboat Key Club offers views from all of its 244 modern rooms of either the boats cruising along the Intracoastal Waterway, the verdant green golf course, or the sparkling Gulf – so there are no bad choices here. The property excels at activities, with 410 acres of prime beachfront, two golf courses, a tennis center, and landscaped pool. Add in five different dining spots, including the elegant waterfront Portofino, plus a destination spa and you may never want to leave.

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

Top rated
Longboat Key
8.8 Excellent (895 reviews)

Gallop Along Golden Beaches

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Thirteen miles of golden sand beaches await on quiet Amelia Island nestled in the most northeast corner of Florida. Amelia Island offers great weather year round and temperatures in the summer are some of the most pleasant in the state. Average ocean temps hover in the mid-80s, ideal for boogie boarding, surfing, paddle boarding, biking and hiking.

Another special aspect of Amelia Island: it’s one the last Florida beaches with horseback riding, so don’t miss your chance to gallop over private trails leading to isolated beaches where you can ride under the watchful eyes of experienced guides.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Amelia

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Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly trip or want to focus on your own wellbeing, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island has something for everyone. For summer, they have a Sand Castle Concierge to help the kids build the ultimate sand palace, and a resident naturalist leads the way to unique animals and ecosystems of Amelia Island. With one biggest spas in the region, the hotel is a leading destination for wellness vacations, offering Contemplative Beach Walking Meditations in addition to a full menu of beauty treatments.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Top rated
Amelia
9.0 Excellent (770 reviews)

Old Florida Charm Away From the Crowds

Just south of perennially popular St Petersburg on the Gulf Coast is the flour white sand of Pass-a-Grille Beach – a favorite of locals, though little known to visitors. Enjoy the 4-mile stretch of natural, undeveloped shoreline; go on a shelling or snorkeling excursion to Shell Key, an uninhabited barrier island, or watch the dolphins play and enjoy gentle sea breezes on a sunset cruise.

Eighth Avenue is the epitome of old Florida charm, equipped with a local vibe. Saunter to small art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants, including the rooftop bar at Hurricane Seafood Restaurant – the town’s iconic spot to savor a drink along with the area’s spectacular sunsets.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - St. Pete Beach

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Sirata Beach Resort, located right in front of their own private beach (rated one of the top beaches in the country by TripAdvisor), is one of the few resorts in the area with exclusive Gulf Coast access. The resort feels like an island escape without the need for a passport, with dining spots located directly on the sand, crystal pools, water sports (ie. jet skiing and paddle boarding), and tucked away lounges to create the perfect beachside escape.

Sirata Beach Resort

St. Pete Beach
7.7 Good (8049 reviews)

White Sand Beach Getaway for Nature Enthusiasts

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Caladesi Island State Park is a sugar white barrier island beach reached only by boat from Dunedin on Florida’s west coast. The beach here has reached the top spot on coastal expert Dr. Beach’s coveted “America’s Best Beaches” list. To reach the secluded sand, hop the ferry from Honeymoon Island, which allows you to spot dolphins and osprey along the way.

In addition to swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing, the island features abundant wildlife; nature enthusiasts can spot wildlife while hiking the three-mile nature trail through the island’s interior or paddling a kayak three-miles through the mangroves and bay.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Dunedin

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Originally opened in 1927, the Fenway, Autograph Collection, is an icon of the Jazz Age. Nods to the boutique property’s musical past can be seen in the 83 guest rooms and suites, which sport gold records or musically-inspired art on the walls. Dining options include the elegant HEW Parlor & Chophouse and the Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar overlooking the St. Joseph Sound. After the beach, don’t miss a dip in the resort pool, or pick up a mallet to play croquet on the expansive front lawn.

Fenway Autograph Collection

Top rated
Dunedin
8.7 Excellent (166 reviews)

Fishing for a Perfect Day

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Bahia Honda State Park is one of the northernmost beaches of the Florida Keys. It’s also one of the most serene and unvisited, although its easily reachable from nearby Islamorada. For those who have been to the Florida Keys, there are several surprises: first, how much the tiny islets feel like tropical islands in the Caribbean, and conversely, how few natural sand beaches there are as you traverse the Keys. The best beaches are actually within Florida State Parks, such as Bahia Honda State Park.

Because the island chain is bordered on the ocean side by a living coral reef, the reef creates a natural barrier that both protects the shoreline and creates a perfect environment of fishing; in fact, nearby Islamorada, where you’ll find the area’s lodging and dining options, is known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Islamorada

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Cheeca Lodge & Spathe iconic independent luxury resort located in the Florida Keys, offers more than 200 standard guest rooms and suites, in addition to 10 private villas called The Casitas at Cheeca Lodge. Wherever you stay at the 27-acre resort, you’ll be surrounded by stunning Atlantic Ocean views. When you’re not at the beach, lounge at the oceanfront pool and adjacent tropical Tiki Bar. Cheeca is also one of Florida’s most family friendly resorts, with kid-friendly features such as Camp Cheeca offering a full docket of games and activities. While the kids are busy, adults can try water sports, tennis, or a round of golf.

Cheeca Lodge & Spa

Top rated
Islamorada
8.5 Excellent (1810 reviews)

Dog Friendly Beach Days

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St. George Island is one of the most secluded beaches in Florida, nestled on a 22 mile barrier island off the “Forgotten Coast” in the northwest corner of the state. The uncrowded beaches are perfect for swimming or just relaxing on the sugary sand. Fishing and kayaking in the clear Gulf waters are popular pastimes as well.

If you’re looking for a spot to bring Fido on vacation, St George Island should be at the top of your list – it’s one of the most dog friendly beaches in the whole state. Furry friends are even welcome at local restaurants and shops, including the Apalachicola Seafood Grill, home of the “world’s largest fish sandwich” (good to know in case your pup wants a bite, too).

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - St. George Island

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The Coombs Inn is a budget-friendly choice that doesn’t skimp on style. Its 23 charming rooms, some with fireplaces and four-poster beds, are housed across three Victorian buildings filled with antique furnishings and period detailing. There’s also a wide array of included amenities like free bottled water, complimentary breakfast, and free local calls, plus complimentary use of bicycles and beach chairs so you can enjoy the beach without having to fill your car to the brim.

Coombs House Inn

Apalachicola
8.6 Excellent (884 reviews)

National Park Sanctuary on the Space Coast

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If you thought of National Parks as vast inland areas, you may be surprised to discover the breezy barrier island of Canaveral National Seashore – a sanctuary of soft white sand between Daytona and Cocoa Beach.

The 24-mile stretch of pristine shoreline feels like an unspoiled paradise and the out-of-the-way beach is a refuge to both visitors and native wildlife, including nesting sea turtles. In fact, CNS is home to 15 different endangered species, five of which are sea turtles. Nesting season is October to April, when you have a good chance of looking down and spotting the slow but steady pace of one of the gentle giants coming ashore to lay its eggs.

Don’t just look down while you’re visiting though – CNS provides a unique perspective for watching rocket launches from Cape Canaveral just south. In fact, when the timing is right, you can lounge on the beach and watch the rockets blast off while you relax.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - New Smyrna Beach

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It’s a short hop up A1A to New Smyrna, where this Sea Mist condo is set. The beachside 3-bedroom condo in the Sea Woods complex has everything you need for a relaxing beach vacation, including access to three swimming pools, tennis courts, a work-out room, and saunas. The home also offers everything you could want for a relaxing trip to the beach, including beach chairs, umbrellas, beach toys, and boogie boards.

Beach Side -beautiful, Renovated Three Bedroom Condo

New Smyrna Beach
8.6 Excellent (35 reviews)

Get Lost on a Hidden Beach

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Perdido Key Beach is tucked into a secluded barrier island near Pensacola, on the Alabama and Florida border. Perdido means “lost” in Spanish, and this hidden beach will make you feel like a modern day Robinson Crusoe. The wetlands and national parks feel like a hidden retreat

With an average temperature of 75 degrees and 343 days of sunshine, it’s always a good time to paddle a kayak, go boating, hike nature trails, or spend time on the beach swimming in the jade water that earned the area its Emerald Coast moniker. Keep an eye peeled for marine wildlife while you traverse the beach dunes on the wide boardwalks and you may spot the tiny Perdido Key Beach Mouse, nesting sea turtles, and wide-winged Anhinga birds.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Perdido Key

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This Bright, Open Condo Steps to the Beach and Entertainment has a nearly perfect rating of 9.8 on trivago and it’s easy to see why. The beautifully decorated, one-bedroom, one-bath condo overlooks both the pool and the emerald Gulf of Mexico. From the large patio, you can enjoy coffee in the morning while watching the Gulf, or sip a sunset cocktail while you look for the green flash as the sun sets. With a king-size bed in the bedroom and a separate bunk area with twin bunks and a twin rollaway, you can comfortably fit the whole family.

Bright, Open Condo, Steps To The Beach, Minutes To Entertainment

Perdido Key
8.7 Excellent (14 reviews)