Florida’s beachgoers are genuinely spoiled when it comes to choice! The Atlantic side offers a traditional seaside experience, whereas the Gulf is unique in its watery setting. My family and I enjoy Florida’s beaches for their atmosphere and how they can complement our lifestyle. However, what side of Florida has the best beaches?
Florida’s Atlantic east coast offers colder waters, larger waves for surfing, deepsea fishing, and less seaweed variety. The Gulf has warm, calm, clear waters with few waves with varied weather. You can parasail, jet ski, go on dolphin cruises, and see more seaweed variety.
The beaches of Florida are unique in personality, setting, and amenities. Let’s explore some of the most popular beaches and discover which ones are great for families and which ones are better suited to a day of volleyball.
East Coast Or West Coast Beaches: What’s The Difference?
Whether you’re on the east or west of Florida, you’ll find no short supply of beaches, each offering a unique atmosphere and natural setting fit for families, sports, and relaxation.
The Gulf Coast offers gifts of glittery silver sea sand and a fair amount of seaweed on the water’s edge. Plus, the sea is generally warmer, too. The Atlantic east waters bear traditional brown sea sand with no seaweed. The ocean waters are generally much colder for a truly refreshing experience.
If you’re one for the soothing sound of crashing waves and the sight of hopeful surfers, the East Coast beach will be your kind of place. You can also expect boogie boarders riding the waves. However, some people still prefer the icy-blue-colored water and fine sand despite its lack of surfing activity.
Although the East Coast Atlantic waters are slightly colder, the difference is marginal. More precisely, the currents from the south tend to make the ocean warmer most of the year. The water becomes warmer the farther south you go.
Some of the best times to visit Florida’s beaches are in May and late September through October. You’ll find that the weather is moderately hot compared to scorching summers, and few people are wandering the beaches. Remember that hurricanes are always a tiny possibility, but it’s not worth planning your day around.
There are also numerous hotels, rooms with complimentary breakfast, resort flats with a kitchen and multiple bedrooms, and cozy villas to find accommodation. You can find these amenities on both Florida’s east and west coasts.
What Can You Expect On The West Coast, Gulf Coastal Plain
The Gulf Coast is renowned for its beaches, mainly its silvery sand, beautiful sunsets, and pretty seashells. The water is typically serene and clear, and the sheen from the sun makes for exciting photography opportunities. For this reason, these waters also have a reputation for being warm.
Watersports play a big part in the Gulf Coast’s water activities, so you can expect to see people enjoying parasailing, jet skiing, and dolphin or sunset cruises, among other popular activities. Although seaweed is most common on the east coast, you can expect to see some seaweed on the Gulf Coast, too.
Water temperatures will be comparable on both sides, with the Atlantic being warmer in most circumstances during the winter months (not that swimming at that time is desirable, mind you).
At the coast, the weather may be rather varied. Though daily thunderstorms are possible in Orlando during the year, summer storms tend to build along the beaches, so you may miss them on some days. The weather and circumstances in the Southeast (Miami Beach) and Southwest (Texas) are likewise distinct.
How Different Is The East Coast, Atlantic Ocean Waters?
The Atlantic side is akin to a traditional beach experience, unlike the Gulf Coast. Therefore you’ll see many aspiring surfers conquering waves. That said, each beach is slightly different in color and setting. Sunrises have a traditional, coarse element, and the sea sand tends to be more tan in color than the white hue of the Gulf.
Sunrises are more prominent than sunsets, and you could have the opportunity to see a full moon rise. Beachgoers can enjoy boogie boarding, deepsea fishing, and surfing, among other activities.
If you’re touring an attractions area, knowing the Atlantic is a more leisurely trip than the Gulf coast is helpful. Cocoa Beach is a close and popular beach, and it has the added benefit of seeing the cruise ships depart. Also, you may be fortunate to observe a rocket launch; they still do them even though the shuttle program has ended.
Although the Atlantic Hurricane Season is from June 1 through November 30, it tends to have the best beach weather during these months. April, May, and October have nice weather with lesser rain chances and less humidity. If you’re looking for the best beach months on the east coast, these are the times to visit.
Best Beaches On The East Coast, Atlantic Ocean Waters
The east coast of Florida has some of the best Atlantic Ocean beaches for families, canine companions, and sports!
This area is popular with families because of its safe and pristine beaches. It boasts a Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a car-free brick promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels along the palm-lined Atlantic beach.
If you’d like a day of swimming and sunbathing, head to Hollywood North Beach Park for a day. Health enthusiasts will find it ideal for biking, jogging, rollerblading, pushing strollers, or riding tricycles. You can also enjoy concessions, a picnic area, fishing, volleyball, and an observation tower, among the activities.
Charnow Park, a beachside park on the Broadwalk with covered sitting picnic pavilions, playgrounds, and an interactive fountain, is a great place to take a breather from swimming in the water and creating sandcastles.
Take the kids to Topeekeegee Yugnee Park’s Castaway Island, a water park featuring slides, refreshments, and a separate pool for toddlers.
Bayview Dog Park And Beach
The Bayview Dog Park allows dogs to wander off-leash play in the park and swim in the bay. If you need to freshen up, water fountains exist throughout the park for both dogs and their owners.
You can also find benches, an abundance of shade, pooper scooper stations, a separate small-dog area, trash cans, picnic tables, and a dog-washing station – all available in Bayviews park!
On Saturdays, it’s a fashionable gathering location for dogs and their owners since it’s nice, clean, and well-maintained. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., pets must be on a leash from July through August. It’s excellent for a doggie dip because of the lovely white beaches and gently sloping shoreline.
Dogs can roam off-leash any other time of the year and at any time as long as their owners have their leash in hand. Waste bags are available at various Bay View Beach gates.
Amelia Island is a tiny island off the coast of northeast Florida that is easy to get to yet difficult to forget. This barrier island has long been a favorite destination for travelers and locals alike, with 13 miles of lovely beaches, plentiful natural animals, and pure waterways.
Consider visiting Amelia Island if you’re looking for a calm beach getaway with old-world charm. Amelia Island is roughly 30 miles northeast of Jacksonville, boasting 13 miles of beaches, including Amelia Island State Park and Main Beach Park.
There are fun activities to enjoy, such as horseriding, picnic areas, volleyball courts, and outdoor skate parks for the young ones. When you need a timeout from the sun, play a round of golf on one of the island’s championship courses or enjoy a leisurely stroll beneath the Spanish moss-draped oak trees.
Daytona Beach, the Atlantic coast’s counterpart to Clearwater on the Gulf Coast, is a tourist hub with a vast white-sand beach, surfable waves, and enough things to keep you busy for a week or more.
Locals and tourists alike can enjoy the coast for a break from Orlando’s theme parks! When visiting with small children, keep an eye out for rip current warnings and dedicated drive-your-car-on-the-beach parts. It’s also the site of the annual Biketoberfest motorcycle event, which is open to everyone aged 21 and above and takes place in mid-October.
Daytona Beach is particularly great for taking a stroll with that special someone, or marvel at skilled individuals on skimboards.
Additional attractions include shopping outlets, marine aquariums, and a fancy lighthouse to subdue your adventuruous spirit. The local restaurants offer delicious foods of every kind; you can expect mouth-watering burgers and steaks, shellfish, crabs, salads, and beverages perfect for the beach.
Best Beach On The West Coast, Gulf Coastal Plain
Saint Pete’s Beach
St. Petersburg is known as “The Sunlight City” because it holds the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine. The city offers a unique combination of classic beach retreat and metropolitan character.
The white, sandy beaches provide breathtaking sunset views, and the 7 miles of waterfront parks encourage visitors to participate in camping, kayaking, and hiking.
The enaissance also provides a diverse cultural experience, whether at the world-renowned Dal Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts.
Saint Petersburg hosts over 1,000 events every year, ranging from the St. Anthony’s Triathlon to Ribfest, a festival featuring barbecued ribs and touring musicians. These events frequently happen in downtown areas, densely packed with stores, restaurants, and craft brewpubs that come alive when the sunsets.
With so much to offer, the sunny city is a popular destination for guests of all ages: families will enjoy the serene outdoor settings and abounding animals, while the younger ones can experience an interesting bout of the busy downton nightlife.
Destin was a peaceful fishing hamlet until a bridge joined the thin peninsula with Florida’s mainland in the 1850s. Destin, also known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” has become one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Florida Panhandle. This town maintains a friendly feel with 13,000 residents (25,000+ during the summer).
Each year, families from the Midwest and South go to Destin’s beaches to enjoy the city’s signature dazzling white beaches, constructed of pure Appalachian quartz. This unique sand not only keeps you cool in the summer heat but also gives the water an emerald color thanks to the sun’s reflection.
While golfers navigate beachside bunkers, children play around at water parks. More daring guests can go snorkeling, scuba diving off the shore, or rent a boat to go deep-sea fishing. Casting a line is, after all, an essential aspect of this peninsular paradise.
Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach has everything, no matter what you’re into or how much you want to relax in the sun: parasailing, charter fishing boats for deep-sea fishing, water skiing, sailing, and boating. In addition, the pier is a great place to go fishing.
Fort Myers Beach is famous among families because of its variety of activities, broad beachfront, and miles of white sand. Skimboarding is popular here, and certain sections of the beach have hard-packed sand, perfect for your next biking adventure! Dolphin-sighting experiences are also available through jet ski and boat charters.
Most dining and nightlife activity takes place on the north end of the beach, at the pier and the Times Square. The southern end is a bit more tranquil.
Naples, Florida, is recognized for its laid-back ambiance, calm elegance, and world-class golf. Its name originates from the coastal Italian city of Naples. Despite the absence of its namesake’s history, scenery, or artwork, its opulence is reminiscent of European waterholes around the Mediterranean.
Those who escape from the coast will discover high-end restaurants and first-class hotels instead of ancient riches and superb Italian cuisine. America’s Napoli exists as one of the most tranquil and romantic beach resorts in the United States, with softly lapping waves on the white-sand beaches of southern Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Because relaxing is the name of the game here, party animals and young families will want to go to another beach. Pick up your special someone, leave the tots with your parents or the keg at the frat house, and head down to Florida’s city of love.
If you prefer a quiet, relaxing visit to the beach, and you long for the sweet sound of crashing waves, the Atlantic east coast is the side you want to visit. If you want a lot of action, and prefer more opportunities for activities, opt for the Gulf Coast.