Last Updated on May 15, 2022

Florida’s west coast has some of the most breathtaking beaches, with sparking, white sand, and the clearest, blue waters.  The west coast cities on this list are many of the best spots in Florida to take a vacation.  And not to mention, sunsets over the Gulf are incredible!

While the Atlantic Coast has great beaches, bigger waves, and better surfing, Florida’s west coast typically has calmer waters and more of a laid-back vibe.

 

The Gulf beaches also tend to have soft silky white sand, while the Atlantic beaches tend to have brown sand.

 

From the northwestern part of Florida along the Panhandle to the southwest part of the state, here are some of the best beaches on Florida’s west coast!

 

Amazing Beaches On

Florida’s

West Coast

 

1. Casino Beach, Pensacola Beach

 

 

Truly a city in the Floribama region, Pensacola sits on Santa Rosa Island, in the northwestern end of Florida just over a half-hour away from the Alabama border.

 

Pensacola Beach, with its emerald green waters and beaches stretching almost 20 miles, is a great place to spend the day, taking in the sun and relaxing at the beach with the family.

 

The beach also has a pier that’s close to 1500 feet long, one of the longest on the Florida’s west coast!

 

You can go fishing here or just check out the views and spot sea life such as sharks, turtles, and dolphins.

 

Where To Eat In Pensacola Beach?

The Dock Restaurant or Casino Beach Bar & Grill, which are both right at the beach.

See more of the best restaurants in Pensacola Beach!

Other Activities In The Area?

Pensacola Beach Boardwalk is on the Santa Rosa Sound, and is filled with shops, bars, and restaurants.

Laguna’s Adventure Park- here they have jet ski and parasailing tours, rentals, go-karts, zip lines, and a water park!

While here, also be sure to visit Gulf Islands National Seashore and Quietwater Beach.

View places to stay in Pensacola Beach

Taking A Trip To Pensacola? 

You Can Book A Dolphin Cruise And Scenic Bay Tour

2. Clearwater Beach

 

I visited Clearwater Beach for the first time on New Years Eve of 2020 and this place instantly became one of my favorite beaches on Florida’s west coast!

 

Clearwater Beach has everything you could want in a beach, white quartz sands, water equipment rentals, boat cruises, a nice fishing pier, and a playground area for kids.

 

There was a decent crowd here but it wasn’t overly crowded.

 

It’s easy to see why this was named the top beach in America several times!

 

Clearwater Beach has Pier 60, where you can go fishing or just take in the sights, and probably see some dolphins or big fish swimming.

 

Sunsets at Pier 60 are a beautiful sight to see.

 

There are also restaurants right on the beach, and a downtown area just steps away, with shopping, bars, and lots more to do.

 

Get around the beach area on the Beachwalk, where you can take a walk, stroll, or bike ride the paved path.

Where To Eat In Clearwater Beach?

Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill or Salty’s Island Bar & Grille

 

Other Activities In The Area?

Downtown, Clearwater Marine Aquarium

 

Go here to see all the best that Clearwater Beach has to offer!

 

View places to stay in Clearwater Beach

3. Miramar Beach Regional Access, Miramar Beach

 

Not to be confused with Miramar in South Florida, Miramar Beach is an awesome city and beach on Florida’s west coast, just minutes away from Destin’s beaches.

 

Miramar Beach may not be as well known as some of the beaches on the list but it’s popular in this region and gets a decent amount of traffic.

 

The beach is right on Scenic Gulf Drive, a nice road to cruise on and check out the ocean, as well as the condos and rentals.

 

Here, you can relax at the beach and check out the water activity rentals, including parasailing and jet skiing.

 

Miramar Beach is a safe, laid-back, city.  Our group had a fun time going to the beach at night during low tide to find sand crabs.

Where To Eat In Miramar Beach?

Pompano Joes on the beach

View the best restaurants in Miramar Beach. 

Other Activities In The Area?

Silver Sands Premium Outlets- 100+ Stores and restaurants. 

The Village of Baytowne Wharf- This outdoor village has activities for kids, restaurants, shops, along a beautiful waterfront.

Check out the best things to do in Miramar Beach!

View places to stay near Miramar Beach

Check Out This Catamaran And Snorkeling Tour Near Miramar Beach

4. Okaloosa Island Beach & Pier, Fort Walton Beach

 

About 15 minutes west of Destin and an hour east of Pensacola is Fort Walton Beach.

 

This beach has The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, a big complex with souvenir shops, ice cream, and waterfront restaurants with a deck overlooking the Gulf.

 

Spend the day at the beach, shops, and pier.  Stay for a quick fireworks show on the pier, every Wednesday night during the summer.

Where To Eat In Fort Walton Beach?

Floyd’s Shrimp House, The Crab Trap, or Rockin’ Tacos

Other Activities In The Area?

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone is right across the highway from the beach and shops.

 

 

View places to stay in Fort Walton Beach

 

 

 

5. Siesta Key

 

Siesta Key Beach is a top beach destination, named the best in the U.S. a couple of times.

 

Made up of 99% quartz from the Appalachian Mountains, the beach sand is thought to be millions of years old and is cool when walking on.

 

Siesta Key is an 8-mile island and close to downtown Sarasota.  Fun water activities at the beach include paddle boarding, jet-skiing, snorkeling, and parasailing.

 

There are also hiking trails, picnic areas, a playground, and a volleyball court.

 

It’s a pet-friendly beach and seasonal lifeguards are on duty, too.

Where To Eat In Siesta Key?

Siesta Key Oyster Bar

Other Activities In The Area?

Take the free trolley to the shops and restaurants on the island, or to Turtle Beach, which is on the south end of the island.

View places to stay in Siesta Key

If You’re Looking For A Kayaking Tour Near Siesta Key, We Recommend Booking Ahead Of Time Through This Company

6. City Pier- Panama City Beach

 

With its clear waters on the Gulf of Mexico and close to 30 miles of sugar-white sand, Panama City Beach is a great city and beach in the Florida Panhandle.

 

Panama City Beach claims to have “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”!

 

This beach is just across the street from Pier Park, an outdoor shopping area with more than 250 shops, restaurants, and stores.

 

It’s a nice, relaxing beach to hang out at.  My family and I came here after spending a fun afternoon at Pier Park.

 

The beach has a 400-foot dog-friendly section, called Dog Beach.  Also, be sure to take a stroll on the Panama City Beach City Pier (Russel- Fields Pier).

Where To Eat In Panama City Beach?

Hook’d Pier Bar and Grill or Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House (Pier Park and Front Beach Road have many restaurants to choose from!

Other Activities In The Area?

Gulf World Marine Park and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

The County Pier is just a few miles east from Russell-Fields Pier.

View places to stay in Panama City Beach

 

 

7. Lighthouse Beach Park, Sanibel Island

 

Lighthouse Beach Park is at the eastern tip of Sanibel Island.

 

Sanibel Island is 12 miles long and its beaches are known for their unique seashells.

 

While on the end of the beach, you can see the skyline from the neighboring islands to the east, off in the distance.

 

The beach has a pier, a picnic area, and of course, the historic Sanibel Lighthouse.

Where To Eat In Sanibel?

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille

Other Activities In The area?

Tarpon Bay Beach

There are a lot of trails and paths on the island worth checking out.  I rented a bike when I was on the island and it was fun to ride around!

View places to stay in Sanibel

8. Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island

 

Bowman’s Beach is a bit more secluded than Lighthouse Beach Park at the other end of the island, but still an awesome beach to visit.

 

This beach is on the west end of Sanibel Island.  It’s also a park with picnic tables, grills, a playground area, and a hiking trail.  

 

It’s about a 5-minute walk from the parking lot to the beach.  Pets are welcome here, too.

 

Blind Pass Beach is another beach just 3 miles further west on the island. 

Where To Eat In Sanibel?

The Mad Hatter Restaurant

 

Other Activities In The Area?

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

 

 

View places to stay in Sanibel 

Looking For An Adventure Nearby? 

Try Parasailing In Fort Myers Beach!

9. Tigertail Beach, Marco Island

 

Located in alluring Marco Island, Florida, Tigertail Beach is another of the memorable west coast beaches. 

 

What really makes this beach stand out is the lagoon; it was about a 10-minute walk through waist-high water to get to the beach.

 

Definitely worth taking the trip to the other side to get to the white sand beach!

 

The beach is a popular place to spend the day paddle boarding or take the kids kayaking.

 

Tigertail Beach is also known for its nature and bird watching.

 

The park area has a playground, picnic area, and even sells food and drinks.

 

Where To Eat In Marco Island?

The Oyster Society or stop at Sweet Annie’s for some ice cream.

Other Activities To Do In The Area?

South Marco Beach

View places to stay in Marco Island

10. Venice Beach 

 

Due to all the shark teeth that wash up on the beach shores, Venice is known as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World”.

 

Venice has 14 miles of beaches, south of Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

 

Venice Beach is also known for seasonal marine turtle nesting.

 

There are concessions, sand volleyball courts, picnic areas, and lifeguards at the beach.  This is a perfect beach for the whole family!

Where To Eat In Venice?

The Crow’s Nest or Fins at Sharky’s

Other Activities In The Area? 

Go shopping on main street downtown.

You can also ride bike on the Venetian Waterway Trail or go see the Venice Public Fishing Pier.

View places to stay in Venice

If You’re Looking To Explore Venice, Try A Kayaking Tour Through The Canals

11. Treasure Island- St. Pete Beach

 

St. Pete Beach has some of the most highly rated beaches around and took the top spot for U.S. Beaches in 2021, according to top travel websites.  

 

There’s a lot of space here, which is ideal for social distancing and not having a crowded beach.

 

Clear water, powder sugar-white sand, and the sunsets here make this beach a fantastic place to go.

 

This beach is popular for water activities including surfing, paddle boarding, and parasailing.

 

Where To Eat In St. Pete Beach?

 

Crabby Bill’s or check out these John’s Pass Restaurants!

Other Activities To Do In The Area?

John’s Pass (Madeira Beach) also has lots of waterfront shops and water activities to do. 

Pass-A-Grille Beach is a great beach, it’s just south of St. Pete Beach.

View places to stay in St. Pete Beach

12. Fort Myers Beach & Pier, Fort Myers Beach

 

About 25 minutes east of Sanibel Island is Fort Myers Beach.  Located on Estero Island, Fort Myers Beach offers 7 miles of gorgeous beaches.

 

Relax at the beach, then take a stroll to the pier to check out the incredible views or do some fishing.

 

There’s plenty of entertainment in the area at Times Square.  Lots of restaurants near the water, shops, and entertainment within walking distance and close to the beach.

 

Where To Eat In Fort Myers Beach?

Pierside Grill and Bar or Smokin’ Oyster Brewery

Other Activities To Do In The Area?

Sunset Celebration at Times Square throughout the year.  It’s family-friendly, with live music, food, and fun, and watching the sunset at Fort Myers Beach.

View places to stay in Fort Myers Beach

Taking A Trip To Fort Myers Beach? 

Book A Tiki Boat Beach Tour

13. Manatee Public Beach, Holmes Beach (Anna Maria Island)

 

Anna Maria Island has some of the nicest beaches along Florida’s west coast!  Holmes Beach is a small city in the center of Anna Maria Island, about an hour south of Tampa.

 

And at the top of the list of white, sandy beaches in Anna Maria Island is Manatee Public Beach!

 

This is a favorite beach on the island with lots of amenities including a gift shop, restaurant, playground area, grills, and volleyball court.

Where To Eat In Holmes Beach?

Hurricane Hanks or Ugly Grouper

What Else To Do In The Area?

Take the free trolley to all the stops on the island.  The entire Anna Maria Island is only 7 miles long but there is a lot to see!

We did a kayaking tour when we were on Anna Maria Island.  These are really great.

You can go on a Coastal Island Tour and check out the sights of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.  See wildlife including manatees and dolphins.

There are several tour companies but Happy Paddler is consistently ranked the best.

View places to stay in Anna Maria Island

Heading To Anna Maria Island?

Check Out This Boat Charter

14. James Lee Park, Destin

 

Destin is a city that’s right in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast.

 

I went on vacation to Destin with my family in the summer of 2020 and loved it so much that I came back in 2021!

 

James Lee Park is along Scenic Gulf Drive that takes you along the beaches from Destin to Miramar Beach.

 

The beautiful scenery and sunset views make this Destin beach an ideal place to check out.  And it’s free to visit!

 

Henderson Beach State Park is also in Destin and one of the most well-known beaches in the area.  There is a fee to get in but comes with amenities including a park area and walking trails.

 

Both are impressive west coast Florida beaches!

Where To Eat In Destin?

Harry T’s Lighthouse or Dewey Destin’s Harborside

Check out all the best restaurants in Destin!

Other Activities In The Area?

Harborwalk Village is nearby with plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment for the family.

To see more about Destin, Panama City Beach, and the Florida Panhandle area, go here!

View places to stay in Destin

Looking For A Day Trip Idea In Destin? 

Book A Pontoon To Crab Island

15. Naples Municipal Beach & Fishing Pier, Naples

 

Naples is one of my favorite places on Florida’s west coast!

 

With beautiful beachfront homes and a relaxed pace of life, Naples is an ideal area in Southwest Florida.

 

It’s about an hour south of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.

 

The pier goes far out 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico and is perfect for those that want to fish or just take in the views and spot some ocean wildlife.

 

Naples has more than 10 miles of gorgeous beaches.  There’s a beach area next to the pier, a perfect spot for lounging in the white sands and viewing the sunset over the Gulf. 

Where To Eat In Naples?

T-Michaels or USS Nemo

 

Other Things To Do In The Area?

Lowdermilk Beach Park is only a couple of miles from this beach and pier and is worth checking out.

 

Tin City is also close by and a great place with waterfront shops and restaurants.

 

For more on Naples, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel Island, check out these 15 fun things to do in Naples and Southwest Florida!

 

 

View places to stay in Naples

Taking A Day Trip To Naples? 

Try A Sightseeing Boat Tour

We Recommend Purchasing Your Ticket Ahead Of Time Through This Tour Company

16. Navarre Beach & Pier, Navarre Beach

 

Just east of Pensacola are the emerald green waters of Navarre Beach.

 

Although the area is growing, Navarre Florida isn’t a very well-known place to many people, which is why they call themselves “Florida’s Best Kept Secret”.

 

The area takes pride in being largely undisturbed from the attractions and hustle and bustle of some of the other Florida cities.

 

Relax at the beach with the family at the uncrowded beach or visit the longest pier in Florida at a whopping 1545 feet long!

 

You can rent paddleboards, kayaks, or bikes in the area.  There are also a number of fishing charter companies in the area.

 

Where To Eat In Navarre Beach?

Juana’s Pagodas or Dewey Destin’s

Other Activities To Do In The Area?

Opal Beach

Navarre Beach Marine Science Station- here you can learn more about marine life and sea turtles.

Gulf Breeze Zoo- located in Gulf Breeze, the zoo has 50 acres of animal fun.

View places to stay in Navarre

17. Bean Point, Anna Maria (Anna Maria Island)

 

Located at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island where the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay meet, Bean Point is a nice, quiet getaway from the rest of the island.

 

It’s a large beach in a more secluded area, great for social distancing and catching views of the sunset, as well as downtown St. Petersburg.

 

There are no lifeguards at Bean Point.  Also, there is no parking lot here.

 

You can either park on one of the side streets or walk from either Bayfront Park or the Anna Maria City Pier, which are about a mile away.

 

You can take the free trolley to the pier, but you’ll still have to walk a ways to get here.  Otherwise, many people bike out here.

 

It’s definitely worth coming out to Bean Point, just to take in the scenery and explore this breathtaking area.

 

Where To Eat In Anna Maria?

The Rod and Reel Pier or The Waterfront Restaurant

Check out the 17 Best Restaurants in Anna Maria Island!

Other Activities To Do In The Area?

Anna Maria City Pier

View places to stay in Anna Maria Island

When I vacationed in Destin, I was also able to see many of the best beaches along Florida’s Panhandle- Pensacola Beach, Miramar Beach, Panama City Beach, and Fort Walton Beach.

 

Scenic Highway 30A is between Destin and Panama City Beach and this drive has beautiful beaches and beachfront towns. 

 

Destin is a nice central location in the Panhandle since it’s in the middle of these cities.

 

I flew into Pensacola and flew back home out of Panama City Beach.  Both of these cities are about an hour away from Destin.

 

When I vacationed in Naples, I made it a point to visit Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, and Marco Island.

 

Naples is a nice location in the middle of these southwest cities that I wanted to see.

 

My recommendation is to find a centralized location fairly close to the other destinations on the Gulf Coast you would like to visit!

 

 

 

Final Thoughts: Amazing Beaches On

Florida’s

West Coast

 

 

From the calm emerald waters and soft white sand to the amazing sunsets, there are certainly some amazing beaches on Florida’s west coast!

 

For more Florida adventures, check out these fun things to do in the beach town of Seaside!

 

 

4 Comments

  1. beyondthemilestravelblog

    I loved in Tampa for 11 years and definitely prefer the gulf coast beaches. Siesta Key is my favorite beach, no other beach van compare in my opinion.

    Reply
  2. Hailey | The Restless Adventurer

    This is a great list, the beaches look amazing! I’ll save this for when I visit Florida next 🙂

    Reply
  3. Grace This Place

    This is great info. Thanks for sharing! We’re hoping to visit someday so this will be super helpful!

    Reply
  4. Kevin Foodie

    Florida is my most frequent destination to visit, particularly South Beach ⛱. Love the vibes, energy and warm climate. Thank you for sharing these awesome beaches in Florida. I haven’t heard of many of them. But where ever there is a body of water, lies my happy spot. ?

    Reply

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