I love the beach. Ever since I was a little girl I would count down the days until summer vacation when we would finally be off to Florida. That one week soaking up the sun was the epitome of my summer every year.
I always said that I would move to the beach when I grew up. It hasn’t happened yet, but I have been able to experience some of the best beaches in the country as I’ve grown. Learn about the beaches in The 5 Most Underrated US Destinations!
Several things go into deciding if a beach is a good beach. First, there is beach quality. Basically, I look for beaches that are clean. No trash, seaweed, or jellyfish on the shore.
Second, I’m looking at water quality. I can’t stand to go to a beach where the water feels disgusting and trust me, I have been to plenty.
Third, I’m looking at how crowded the beach can get. Most beaches in Florida are visited by tons of people in the summertime, but some can be overwhelming!
I’ve gathered the 4 best beaches in Florida based off of these criteria, Unlike me, you guys don’t have to learn by experience!
Pensacola Beach, Florida
Pensacola sits on the Gulf coast. It’s technically part of Santa Rosa Island barrier island.
Pensacola has white sandy beaches, which not only compliments your IG photos but also your tan! The beaches are typically pretty clean and family friendly.
The crowds can get moderately large around the peak months of summer, but I have always been able to find a spot without any trouble.
The water is really nice and, unless the weather is bad, the waves are usually pretty calm.
Another awesome Pensacola spotlight is wildlife. The Pensacola Echo-Trail is packed with local wildlife, and if you’re lucky you might even see a sea turtle!
There is one downside to Pensacola. There are several beaches or segments of the beach where the sand drops off into the ocean. The ocean wears away at the sand, making it almost cliff like, and it can be a really steep climb down to the water.
This is a rare occurrence, though. Most of the beaches are beautifully flat with an amazing view!
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona is definitely one of the more touristy beaches on this list. It sits on the Atlantic coast and is known for it’s racing!
Don’t go in the winter months unless you like Nascar, because the Daytona 500 is hosted there every February and people get really into it.
The beach itself has really hard sand, which is nice because you can drive your car onto it and set up camp. The beach is clean, but it can get crowded.
Like most tourist beaches, Daytona Beach is packed during spring break and the peak months of summer. Like Pensacola, I’ve never had an issue with finding a spot to sit my chair and veg out in the sun.
The water is really, really pretty, but the waves are a little stronger than Pensacola. You’ll see people skim boarding, boogie boarding, and doing other water sports up and down the beach.
Because Daytona Beach is so touristy, there are a million and one things to do here. The boardwalk is amazing, complete with live entertainment every 50 feet!
The one downside to Daytona is that it can be a party town. If you’re looking for something quieter, you may want to visit away from the peak season or move further downstate.
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater is one of my personal top two favorite beaches. The sand has always been pristine anytime I’ve visited. It’s super white and really soft. You won’t be driving on this beach!
Even though Clearwater has been ranked among the best beaches in the country, the crowds aren’t that bad. The beach is huge so there is plenty of room to spread out.
As the name suggests, the water is amazing! The waves are gentle here, making it possible to float along with the current. The entire town is laid back and holds an air of relaxation.
This is definitely not a party town, so if your idea of a perfect beach vacation is to do nothing but hang out on the beach, Clearwater is for you!
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach is my number one favorite Florida beach. It’s just south of Daytona, and with the distance comes a whole new atmosphere.
New Smyrna Beach is a surfing hub with sand that stretches for miles. The sand is beautiful and hard so you can drive your vehicle onto it and be totally fine.
The waves are really strong here, which is why it’s known for its surfing! You can see surfers all over the beach, especially at the Canaveral National Seashore.
The crowds are probably the best out of this entire list. New Smyrna doesn’t have the largest tourist population so you may find the quiet you’re looking for here.
It’s possibly quiet because New Smyrna is the shark bite capital of the world.
Don’t let that discourage you, though! Hundreds of visitors walk away unscathed every day. I promise this beach is worth it!
New Smyrna has amazing nightlife and culture to be such a small town, so you’re always guaranteed something to do!
The only downside to New Smyrna is that it’s almost a 10-hour drive from where I live!
If you are more at home at sea level than anywhere else, you may find your nautical haven on this list!
Let us know if you have a favorite Florida beach in the comments below!