Best Florida Beaches
Florida has some of the best beaches in the whole of the United States and its beaches regularly appear in top 10 polls. Because of Florida’s shape, being relatively long and thin, you are never more than 62 miles (100 km) from the coast. And with 1700 miles of spectacular beaches, you are spoilt for choice.
Florida’s East coast is renowned for its many wide flat beaches, particularly around Daytona where in the 1920s and 1930s, World Land Speed records were regularly broken. Whilst on the West coast, beautiful white sands compliment calm and idyllic emerald green seas.
Whilst surveys and polls should always be taken with a pinch of salt, there is no denying that both Florida and Hawaii are deemed to have some of the best beaches in the United States.
Each year TripAdvisor carry out a Travelers’ Choice® Beaches awards and visitors voted six of Florida’s beaches into the top 10 places for the USA in 2011.
In 2012 five of Florida’s beaches made it into the top 10 for the USA with four of those making it into the top 25 for the whole world. The best Florida beaches were placed 1st for Saint Pete Beach, 2nd for Miami Beach, 6th for Daytona Beach, 7th for Fort Lauderdale and 10th for Key West. In the World placings, Saint Pete was ranked 5th, Miami Beach 9th, Daytona Beach 17th and Fort Lauderdale 18th.
The other annual top beach award comes from “Dr. Beach”, Professor Stephen Leatherman, from Florida International University. Each year for the past 20 years he has assessed some 650 public recreational beaches throughout the United States, marking them against a set of 50 different criteria covering a wide range of topics.
Again some of Florida’s best beaches appear in his America’s Best Beaches survey. However, when looking at the results do bear in mind that once a beach has been ranked as the top beach it is “retired” from the list and is no longer judged in subsequent years so the fact that it ranked top some years ago does not mean it is no longer very good.
For 2011, Siesta Beach in Sarasota was placed 1st, with St. George Island State Park in 6th place, and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne in 10th place. In 2012 St. George Island State Park and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne both moved up two places.
In previous years, Florida winners have included Fort DeSoto Park, North Beach in St Petersburg, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, St. Andrews SRA (State Recreation Area), Grayton Beach SRA and Bahia Honda SRA.
Florida Beach Sand
The beaches of Florida’s northern Panhandle are renowned for their pure white colour and amazing sparkle that comes from the high levels of fine quartz in the sand. Some of the finest and whitest sand in the world is found on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
As you move down the Gulf Coast towards the Tampa Bay area, whilst the sands retain their white colour they also contain more shells, corals and fossils like shark’s teeth. You will even find sand that is grey-black in colour because of the fossil deposits.
If you are looking for seashells then you need go no further than Sanibel, near Fort Myers in southwest Florida. Reckoned to be the best US shelling spot and one of the best in the whole world.
On Florida’s Atlantic coast, the sand tends to be more grey-brown in colour though you will even find sand that is almost orange because of the mix of shell fragments.
You can see from the map that no matter where you stay in Florida, you are not far from one of Florida’s best beaches. Don't forget to take note of beach safety whenever you visit the beach.