Florida has a great climate, stunning natural beauty, and is also home to some of the world's best beaches. The west coast of Florida, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, is famous for it's white sand and emerald water. Although all are beautiful, these are the top 3 beaches on the west coast of Florida you won't want to miss.
Where is the clearest water in Florida?
This is a tough question to answer because most of the Florida west coast beaches have clear, beautiful water. In our opinion, the following are our top 3 beaches on the Gulf coast in 2022. Hurricane Ian has forced us to leave out some southwest Florida favorites for now.
They meet the criteria for:
North Beach Fort De Soto Park
Fort De Soto Park is not only a beach destination, it's a historical site as well. Located near St. Pete Beach, the park has 5 islands and 1,136 acres bordering the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. It's not only a great place for families, but it's also perfect for a beach wedding or camping adventure. To get to the park, you will have to use some toll routes but the daily parking fee is only $5. What a deal to enjoy 3 miles of white, sandy beach!
Picnic areas, trails, fishing, playgrounds and a beach dog park make this a paradise no matter how many legs you have! If you feel like exploring, take a walk through the fort to see the historical cannons. There is a museum too. Stop for ice cream or burgers at the concession area. You can also rent bike, kayaks and canoes. Plan to spend the entire day at Fort De Soto Park. There is just so much to do in this unspoiled and mostly uncrowded beach location. You can choose to do nothing and just enjoy the calm water and warm tidal pools. Shelling is good at North Beach. You can even find sand dollars.
Almost every Florida west coast beach will provide you with a stunning experience of a sunset. Fort De Soto North Beach is special because it may be less crowded. After a day of wandering through mangroves or taking a ferry ride to Egmont Key State Park, you will be ready to relax. The sunsets here are spectacular so get your camera ready. For more information about Fort De Soto Park click here.
Sand Key Park
Peaceful and pleasant describe this Clearwater Beach location. If you want to escape the crazy crowds at the main Clearwater Beach, then Sand Key Park is for you. Just pay the cheap beach parking fee of $5 and spend the day relaxing. Like Siesta Key, it is a long walk to the beachfront so make sure you gather all your beach gear. No gear? Don't worry you can rent an umbrella and beach chairs. Once you reach the shore, you'll appreciate the emerald water and white sand. There's plenty of space on this beach for everyone.
Views are great in every direction at Sand Key Park. You can walk over to Clearwater Pass and watch the famous pirate ship go by. You will likely see dolphins feeding and jumping out of the water. Manatees are often spotted and they may come up close to you. If you want something to eat there is a food truck right on the beach. Otherwise, you can sit under one of the shady pavilions away from the beach. There are restrooms and changing areas near the parking lot.
If you love Sand Key Park as much as we do, you might want to stay a few days in the area. Close by hotels include the Belleair Beach Resort Motel or Sheraton Sand Key Resort. It's always easier to access the beach when you stay right there. Driving around Clearwater Beach can take a long time due to traffic delays. We've been visiting the area for 30 years and traffic is getting worse. Why not stay and dine right there? It's five o'clock somewhere so enjoy!
Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach makes you feel like you are in the Caribbean. Everything here is beautiful and well maintained. There is plentiful, free parking but get there before 10 am to take advantage of it. If parking is full you can also use the Siesta Key Breeze beach trolley. It is free and you can download the app. Add in playgrounds for kids, multiple group gathering spots, and beach volleyball courts. White sand and crystal clear water are the icing on the beach cake!
Siesta Key Beach has a concession stand in the pavilion that even offers a breakfast menu for those sunrise beach visitors. The bagel breakfast sandwich comes highly recommended. They also have frozen sangria (yes!) and snacks. There is something for everyone: classic american food, wings, hummus and salads. A small souvenir shop is available too. Although Siesta Key will be more crowded than Sand Key Park or Fort De Soto Beach, you may enjoy the fun vibe of this busy and famous Florida beach destination.
Siesta Key beach is famous for its white, quartz sand. The sand is soft and cool even in the mid-day sun. It doesn't stick to your feet which makes it perfect for walking. Showers near the parking lot will let you wash the salt off at the end of your beach day. The Siesta Key Beach sand is so famous they have a Master Sand Sculpting Competition featuring 24 talented sand carvers. You can even vote on your favorite sand sculpture or take sandcastle lessons at this event. This sugary sand is perfect for building sandcastles.
Everyone talks about the sunset at Siesta Key Beach. It's worth hanging around for. These 3 west coast Florida beaches are our top picks this year. Of course, it's just our opinion, but we hope you take time to visit Florida and enjoy all they have to offer.
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