If you’re headed to Florida this summer, the beach is guaranteed to be on your mind. That means, your goal is to see a sunset or a sunrise!
The benefits of Florida is that you can actually see both a sunrise and sunset in the same day. There’s an east coast, a west coast, and even the “south” coast.
At the same time, you want to go to a beach that you’ll enjoy. Not one that you can’t wait to leave once you get there.
The Florida peninsula gives you so many choices when it comes to beaches. It really comes down to knowing where you’re going to be and going to the best beach near you.
But Florida is big. Panama City is 5 hours away from Orlando. Key West is 7 hours from Tampa.
You have to do your due diligence and pick the beaches that best fit the stops on your vacation.
You also have to decide what type of beach you want. Do you want relaxation, quiet time, and an empty beach? Or do you want a party, activities, watersports, and even a large amount of people to interact with?
In the summer, assume beaches will generally be crowded on the weekend. And the most popular ones Clearwater, South Beach, and Panama City Beach, will be crowded all throughout summer.
WIth that said, you can find some hidden spots on the beaches that aren’t so crowded. Or, you may want the crowd. So go for it!
In this guide, I’m going to lay out the best beaches you can find a sunrise and sunset in Florida based on the following guidelines:
Note: I’m really referring to the beaches and the surrounding areas. Many of the beaches in Florida are a few miles and can quickly change into a different name. But people will crowd the name that they are familiar with. If you go 10-20 min north or south, you will find a different spot with an entirely different environment that is equally, if not, better than the main beach that draws people.
Here we go..
1. Siesta Key – West Coast
It can be crowded on weekends. But it really is a beautiful beach. The sand feels like flour. And that also makes it impossible to get off. If you find yourself in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, this is the go-to beach. There are nearby beaches, such as Lido Key or Caspersen Beach that can be less crowded and just as beautiful. Just expect less activities in those areas.
2. Palm Bay – East Coast
On the Central Florida coast, Cocoa Beach is the major go-to spot. It also has the most traffic and most visitors. There is some really great food there however (see my Instagram for some taco places).
But if you go a couple of miles south, you’ll get to Rockledge, Palm Bay, and Melbourne. The beaches there are not as crowded, but you can meet a lot of locals there that love the area. People have been living there for decades and would never want to move.
Satellite Beach is a great beach just south of Cocoa that is always easily accessible.
The food is great. And the hotels are nowhere near as pricey as Cocoa.
3. Jensen Beach – Southeast Coast
If you’re traveling to the Palm Beach/Jupiter area, then Jensen is a great place to visit. It’s just a little bit north of Jupiter and doesn’t draw nearly the amount of attention. Parking is easily accessible and the beach is easy to navigate.
It’s about 2 hours north of South Beach, so don’t go out of your way to get here if you’ll be in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.
Delray Beach is another great one about an hour south of Jensen. It’s a little more crowded, which also means it has a ton of good burger joints.
And by the way, the surf is great in both spots.
4. Sanibel Island – West Coast
Sanibel Island is another great pick over Clearwater. It’s great for the family and is full of different activities. It’s really laidback and quiet because it takes a while to get there. Its closest major city is Fort Myers so it definitely has some life. But unless you’re flying into that airport (pretty pricey), expect a nice drive on the coast, which isn’t bad at all.
5. Flagler Beach – North East Coast
The major beach on the north east is Daytona. You know, the place with that huge race every year. Daytona Beach is actually really nice, but it’s just as crowded as South Beach and Clearwater year-round.
About half an hour north is a tiny strip of sand called Flagler Beach. It has a short shore. The sand is made up of larger granules compared to the powder at Siesta key, which makes it easy to get off of you.
I’ve never seen it crowded, but it’s also easy to drive up and down the strip to find a parking spot. Wherever you park, there’s a spot for you on the beach.
Also, it has probably the best burger joint in Florida, known as Turtle Shack. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen so many posts from me about them. Perfect beach food. Everything make is incredible.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t put the keys in the main list. Here’s why…
Everyone goes to the Keys in the summer. It’s super crowded, and what might seem like a 7 hour drive will quickly turn into a 10-11 hour drive because of guaranteed traffic.
Hotels are very pricey in the summer and almost always booked.
I imagine if you’re going to the Keys, you’ve already had it planned out and this list isn’t for you. You’ve planned accordingly and already have your spots picked out which is great.
And make sure you try the Key Lime Pie.
What beach would you like to visit in Florida?