If there’s one thing Florida is known for the world over, it’s the state’s numerous beautiful beaches (okay, and the amusement parks). Miami’s pristine beaches are some of the most crowded in the nation, while others, like Daytona, have a long history of entertainment. While these shorelines are definitely worth visiting, the sheer number of people there can be stressful and exhausting.
With nearly 700 miles of beaches and almost 1,200 miles of coastline, Florida is full of hidden gems that many locals aren’t familiar with, much less tourists. These beaches offer solitude away from the crowds in a gorgeous setting. Though some are more difficult to access, the breathtaking view (with very few people around) is well worth it.
1. Crandon Park
Just a few miles away from Miami, Crandon Park is located on Key Biscayne. The white-sand beach itself is simply magnificent, and the park is home to many other fun activities, including golf, tennis and eco-adventure tours. Whether you are looking for some crystal-clear water to go kiteboarding on or just want a relaxing day with the family, Crandon Park is a must-visit.
2. St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park
If you’re up for a challenge, St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park is a fantastic reward. It is a barrier island on the Atlantic Coast that is only reachable by kayak or a short boat ride, and the beach borders an expanse of wildlife and wilderness. Once you reach the island, you can adventure into a veritable jungle and, at certain times during the year, see leatherback sea turtles.
3. Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
Though Hobe Sound is a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, you are welcome to visit its magnificent, quiet beaches. Just north of Jupiter, it is much out of the way of civilization, with very little signage. But, the beach itself is more than 5 miles long and is virtually unspoiled. Hobe Sound connects at its northside with St. Lucie Inlet Preserve. Because it is a federal refuge, there are certain rules that must be followed.
4. Delray Beach
South Florida tourists often stick to West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale. However, just in the middle of these two cities is Delray Beach. Though the Atlantic is always inviting, this shore remains relatively empty. Bordering the beach is East Atlantic Avenue, which offers cute boutiques, refreshing ice cream parlors and relaxing sidewalk cafes. If you are driving down the east coast, be sure to stop by!
5. Clearwater Beach
Though not really “hidden,” Clearwater Beach is generally very sparsely populated, especially compared to other major beaches. It’s located near St. Petersburg, meaning there is always plenty to do if you need a break from the beach itself. Clearwater Beach has been ranked the Best Family Beach by the Travel Channel, and with one visit to the area, it becomes apparent why!
6. Tigertail Beach
Located on Marco Island on the Gulf Coast, Tigertail Beach itself used to be little more than an offshore sandbar. That all changed in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma connected the sandbar to the mainland. The park has two areas: on one side is civilization, and on the other is a wide sandspit with no amenities. Crossing the lagoon to either side on foot can be a challenge, but is highly rewarding!
7. Don Pedro Island State Park
If you enjoy the company of wildlife, Don Pedro Island State Park is the place to go. This seven-mile chain of barrier islands is accessible by private boat or a ferry. Once you arrive, there are white beaches on which to lay out and relax. For more of an adventure, you can boat, walk or ride a golf cart around the park, where you may find gopher tortoises, bald eagles, West Indian manatees and more.
8. Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi is one of the few completely natural islands on the Gulf Coast. Though it has been hailed as America’s best beach in years past, it remains fairly uncrowded. That’s because, in order to get to Caladesi Island State Park, you must take a ferry from Dunedin. If you don’t mind the trip, though, the soft, white sand between your toes is well worth it. The park also features hiking and kayaking, during which you’ll likely see plenty of wildlife.
9. Cayo Costa State Park
On the Gulf Coast, you can visit Cayo Costa State Park, another barrier island. This beach is probably the hardest to reach in Florida; it’s only accessible by boat, which is about an hour trip. However, the beach itself is massive and beautiful, with over 9 miles of coastline dotted with shells and driftwood. There aren’t many amenities on the island, making it the perfect getaway into the wilderness.
10. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park
Part of Bonita Beach, Barefoot Beach is a wildlife reserve that offers an all-but-private getaway from the bustle of Florida life. This 342-acre park offers a chance to see a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles and many different species of fish. The beach itself is about a mile long, and ends at the border of Delnor-Wiggins State Park. Though Barefoot Beach has been lauded for years, it remains virtually unspoiled.
These are just a few of the dozens of hidden beaches around Florida. If you are visiting the state, be sure to ask locals where their favorite spot is to catch some rays and waves. Who knows — maybe they know of a beach that no one else ever visits!