Dreaming of powder white sands, warm azure waters and wall to wall sunshine? Grab your flip flops and take your pick of Florida’s magnificent beaches.
This relaxed, family friendly resort offers gorgeous white sands, an array of waterfront restaurants and myriad activities such as snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding and parasailing. Walk, cycle or rollerblade along Beach Walk Promenade. Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to rescue dolphins, plus sharks, sea turtles and stingrays. As evening approaches, head for lively Pier 60 to see the Gulf of Mexico illuminated in a stunning vermillion sunset.
Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island is celebrated for the unusual seashells that wash up on its shores, and unspoilt Bowman’s Beach is a prized destination for beachcombers. This pristine expanse of sand famed for its magnificent sunset views is the most popular on Sanibel. You’ll find picnic areas, walking trails, shower facilities and vending machines but no bars or restaurants, so make sure you pack a picnic with your sunscreen.
South Beach, Miami
You may recognise iconic, palm fringed South Beach from numerous TV and film appearances. This photogenic stretch of pale soft sand and aquamarine water is a backyard for Miami’s beautiful folk, and ideal for lounging and people watching. South Pointe Park at the beach’s southern tip has picturesque landscaping, walking trails and barbeque areas plus a kids’ water playground. Off the beach, admire the neighbourhood’s historic pastel art deco buildings, check out some of Miami’s best bars and restaurants, and shop in the independent boutiques and stores along Lincoln Road’s pedestrian strip.
Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin
Off the coast of Clearwater Beach and a 20 minute ferry ride from Honeymoon Island, Caladesi is an immaculate 3.5 mile stretch of soft white sand. Here you can explore tranquil paths amongst sand dunes, oak and pine trees, and take a kayak trail into the tangle of mangrove forest. Spot blue heron and osprey, plus the occasional manatee and bald eagle. You can rent kayaks from the café on the island.
St Pete’s Beach
St Pete’s Beach is a chilled out barrier island beloved for its idyllic white sands and warm waters. Water activities abound, including windsurfing, kiteboarding, parasailing and boat excursions. Peruse galleries, gift shops and clothing boutiques at Corey Avenue. Dine at budget friendly beach shacks or sleek restaurants. Accommodation options span affordable motels to upscale resorts such as the historic Don Cesar Hotel.
Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota
The powdery white sands at Siesta Beach are said to be the finest in the States. Comprised of virtually pure quartz crystal from the Appalachian Mountains which flowed into the Gulf of Mexico millions of years ago, this perfect sand stays cool beneath your feet even on the hottest days. Swim in warm, clear waters and enjoy water sports including kayaking, jet skiing and parasailing. There’s a shaded playground and picnic area, plus volleyball and tennis courts. At nearby Siesta Key Village you’ll find a host of restaurants and shops.
Fort de Soto Park, Tierra Verde
A glorious country park spanning five connected islands across the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. At North Beach a natural sandbar creates a calm, warm lagoon which is perfect for families. In addition to stunning beaches, enjoy seven miles of cycling and walking trails, paddle a kayak through the mangroves, or visit the park’s historic fort. The park’s scenic camping ground enjoys gorgeous waterside views.
This laid back destination in north eastern Florida offers 13 miles of pristine golden beaches backed by rolling sand dunes and fringed by the Atlantic. Enjoy guided horseback rides along the shoreline at Peters Point, and hunt for shark teeth along Fort Clinch beach. Main Beach Park has playgrounds, picnic areas, a skate park and abundant restaurants.
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin
A series of boardwalks leads you through 30ft high dunes to the white sands and clear emerald waters of Henderson Beach. A popular destination for families, the area is a bird watcher’s and nature lover’s paradise: keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, pelicans and tropical fish, along with loggerhead and green sea turtles, who use the warm sands as a nesting ground.
St Andrews State Park
Located at the southeast tip of Panama City Beach, St Andrews State Park is a 1.5 mile long peninsula of pine trees and sand dunes, sugar white sands and turquoise waters. Rent a bike to explore the park’s nature trails, where you might spot alligators, racoons, coyotes and white tailed deer. Along with two fishing piers, the beach offers a bevy of activities including snorkelling, swimming, canoeing and scuba diving. Idyllic and remote Shell Island is a short boat trip away.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com