Beaches,  Florida Parks

Our Favorite Florida Beaches

 

Having transplanted to Florida from the midwest over ten years ago, we have come to love the beaches of Florida.   There is nothing like sitting on a beach, listening to the waves and watching your kids play in the surf.     We have been to a lot of beaches in Florida and are still discovering new ones to explore, but we have our favorites.  Here is a list of our top 5.

Ponce Inlet

Ponce Inlet is located just south of Daytona Beach. This is our go to beach.   We come here a lot and if we have family visiting, this is the beach we take them to.  It’s not crowded, especially during the week, so finding a parking spot is not a problem.  We usually park at the Winterhaven Park when we visit Ponce Inlet because it has restrooms, showers and plenty of parking.  This is beautiful, clean beach and so worth the trip.

Winter In Florida, Ponce Inlet

Summer in Florida, Ponce Inlet

If you go make sure to stop at the  Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse.  This is a beautiful lighthouse to tour and has spectacular views at the top.

Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse

A great place to eat nearby is  Hidden Treasure Rum Bar and Grill, walking distance from the lighthouse.  Also Crabby Joe’s is another place to check out.  This restaurant has an awesome pier to sit on while you eat, with fantastic views.  

Cape Canaveral National Seashore

This is another beautiful Florida beach to visit just south of New Smyrna.  Cape Canaveral National Seashore is a National Park, so there is a small entrance fee, but so worth it. The views are amazing and the beach is pristine.  This is a great place to view dolphins.

Cape Canaveral National Seashore
Cape Canaveral National Seashore

If you go take the hike to Turtle Mound, and check out Eldora House as well.  Also be sure to stop at the Visitor Center and gift shop.  Use the restrooms here.  They are very clean.  

This is a beach you may want to pack a picnic lunch and a cooler of drinks.  There really isn’t any restaurants or snack shops close by.  If  you do wait to eat check out Norwood’s Eatery and Treehouse Bar in New Smyrna Beach.  This is a cool place to eat, especially for adults, but kids are welcomed.

Sanibel

I love Sanibel.  This is a favorite beach for so many reasons.  The small town vibe, uncrowded beaches and natural beauty will capture your heart.

This island along with Captiva are located on the Gulf of Mexico, close to Ft. Myers.  Commercialization has not reached these islands.  You will not find chain restaurants or hotels.  You will find cute shops, unique places to eat and quaint hotels.  

There are so many things to do on these islands.  Hiking, biking, swimming, but the most popular is shelling.  There are so many different types of shells and the beaches are filled with them.  The best time to search is close to low tide.  Make sure to have a bucket or a bag to carry your found treasures. 

A little advice when looking for shells on the beach or in the water.  Wear water shoes. There are shells everywhere and some are sharp and pointy. My son learned this lesson the hard way when jumping the waves in the gulf.  He landed on a pointed shell, and cut his foot open.  Spending time at an urgent care, getting stitches, is not a great way to spend your vacation.

Sanibel Shells

If you go, check out the lighthouse and also the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  The refuge is a great place to see the wildlife around the island in their natural environment.

Sanibel/Captiva Lighthouse


J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

An  awesome place to eat on Sanibel is the Island Cow.  The Coconut French Toast is out of this world.  It’s a unique, quirky restaurant with fantastic food.  Try it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You will not regret it.

Fort De Soto

Fort De Soto is another fantastic beach to explore that we recently discovered.  It’s located just south of Tampa.  This is a county park, so there is a small fee to enter the park.  There are several beaches to chose from, each with different qualities.  I did a blog post on Fort De Soto recently.  You can read about it here.

Fort De Soto

Fort De Soto has beautiful beaches and a historical fort that my kids loved to explore.  It also has a very well kept campground for campers.

Fort De Soto Campsite

There is a gift store on the islands that has a snack shop.  The fries are wonderful, but if you want more of a healthy lunch, you might want to pack a picnic basket and a cooler of drinks.  There are plenty of places on the islands to take a break and have a fun picnic. 

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island is the last on our list, but not in our hearts.  This is such a pretty island to walk around and just relax on.  It is a true paradise. 

This is a Florida State Park located near Tampa.  The only way to get to it is by boat.  If you don’t have a boat, the ferry from Honeymoon Island will take you.  Just make sure you know exactly when the last ferry arrives on Caladesi Island, so you don’t miss it.

Caladesi Island Waves

This untouched island is a perfect getaway for a day.  There are no hotels, or restaurants.  Although a snack/gift shop is located near the dock.  You will want to pack a lunch and a cooler of drinks. 

Caladesi Island Memories

This is a great island to view dolphins and stingrays if you are lucky.

Find Your Favorite Beach

These are currently our five favorite beaches in Florida, but we love finding new ones to explore.  As you can tell, we like the less crowded beaches without a lot of development that can ruin the pure natural beauty.  

Come explore Florida and find your favorite beach.  Let me know what it is, it may become our next beach find.

Happy Camping and beach day!

 

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