Archibald Beach Park, 15100 Gulf Blvd, Madeira Beach, FL 33708
Updated: February 7, 2023. What is one of the best beaches to see dolphins in Florida? Madeira Beach, near Clearwater, has an Intracoastal Waterway that's perfect for viewing dolphins. Find out more about parking and playing at this beautiful Gulf Beach.
It's been awhile since we visited Madeira Beach: five years to be exact. We went back again to relive the memories that made our first visit so special. There are a lot of unique things about Madeira Beach. Not only does it offer a beautiful white sand beach, but it also has one-of-a-kind shopping at John's Pass, dining and a unique lift bridge. Madeira Beach was named the No. 9 Beach in the U.S. by Tripadvisor for 2021.
Madeira Beach Sand
All of the Clearwater, Florida beaches are famous for their white sand. Madeira Beach is included in this sugary textured sand that is completely natural to the area. Like Siesta Key, the sand is cooler on your feet than other beaches because of its crystal-like quality. Madeira Beach is flat with no steep drop off into the Gulf. The beaches are clean and groomed daily for visitors.
Madeira Beach Water
Madeira Beach shares the incredible clear, turquoise water found at Florida Gulf beaches like Bradenton Beach. It is perfect for wading and swimming. Most of the time you can see right down to your feet. It's not uncommon to see a wide variety of fish swimming around you, some of them quite large! It's unlikely you will find waves at Madeira Beach. Calm and gentle water is the trademark here.
Madeira Beach Parking and Amenities
There are a lot of private residences that are oceanfront, so it is not easy to get to the beachfront. Archibald Beach Park has metered parking but get there early. You may find other beach access points on Gulf Blvd. with some limited parking. Close to the John's Pass Plaza, Village & Boardwalk there is plenty of parking, but you will have to pay more for it than metered parking. In addition to surface parking spaces, John's Pass Plaza also offers a 6 level parking garage with 323 spaces. The garage is located in the Southwest Corner of John’s Pass Plaza at 179 Boardwalk Place, Madeira Beach. Here are some precise directions. Be prepared for line-ups to get in and out of the area during the busy tourist season, as well as $20+ fees to park. However, this Gulf beach area has a beach shuttle so read more below to take advantage of the service.
Madeira Beach Activities
A free local door-to-door shuttle service to the beach is available using an app you can download. Be prepared to tip the driver. Free Beach Ride is open from 8am–3am, every day. No trip to "Mad Beach" is complete without a visit to John's Pass. This well-known shopping destination is very "touristy" but has some unique shops you are sure to love. Over one hundred merchants inhabit the Village including restaurants. We took some time to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and watch dolphins swimming by. Delicious and what a view!
We have seen dolphins in the waters near Madeira Beach and John's Pass in Florida. The view from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is great. This area is known for its rich marine life and dolphins are often seen swimming and playing in the waters. To see dolphins up close, you can book a dolphin watching tour or go on a guided kayak excursion.
Look Out! This Could Happen...
Red Tide is a serious concern for Florida's Gulf Coast beaches. Harmful algae blooms can cause respiratory issues and eye irritation in humans and have devastating effects on marine life, often leaving the beach scattered with dead fish. The intensity and impacts of blooms can vary by location and time of day. It's important to be aware of red tide forecasts before planning a trip to Madeira Beach. Check the latest updates on red tide conditions for the Gulf of Mexico by clicking here. Stay safe and informed to ensure a fun and healthy beach experience.
What We Really Think About Madeira Beach
We really enjoyed visiting Madeira Beach.There is no way you can get bored at this Gulf beach location. We went shopping, walked over the lift bridge, dined on the water and enjoyed the beachfront. The parking garage was a big help although it isn't cheap beach parking. The water was warming up during our visit and walking along silky sand was perfect. It might be worth an overnight stay to do all the exploring you desire.
At the end of the day we stopped at Daly's Flame Broiled for a burger and shakes made from scratch. It's just 10 minutes inland up Seminole Blvd and has been there since the 1980's. Bruno had fish and chips: beer battered cod and hand-cut fries.
Madeira Beach Hotels
Madeira Beach Dining
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.