Travel & Outdoors

Best Beach In South Florida

January 17, 2012 9:00 AM

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There are lots of reasons to visit South Florida, but near the top are the beautiful beaches that draw tourists from around the world, year round. South Florida offers secluded beaches, businesses for people watching, and even beaches where clothing is optional. The shape of the coastline can affect the waves hitting the shore, so under some weather conditions we have beaches perfect for surfing. Virtually all of South Florida’s shoreline is accessible to the public, but these beaches offer the combination of easy access, great views, and a wide range of options. Truly, the best beach is the one that suits you, but if you start here you can’t go wrong.
bahia honda beach Best Beach In South Florida

(Source: Bahia Honds State Park)

Bahia Honda State Park

36850 Overseas Hwy
Big Pine Key, FL 33043-3517
(305) 872-2353

This regularly ranks as one of the top ten beaches in the US published by Dr. Beach, and once you’ve visited here, you’ll know why. The beach is in a state park that features as a highlight one of the most unique bridges created for Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad. No longer used, it’s a fascinating piece of old Florida, at the south end of the state park. The beach itself is meticulously preserved, with mangroves, sea oats, and a huge, sandy area that parades into the bluest water imaginable. At times, the surf can be brisk, but those are the days para-sailers, surfers, and kite surfers come out. You can camp within feet of the beach, and the park has several beaches. Most have a wild, feel. The beach offers wading-birds galore, and if you camp here, make sure you get up for sunrise; it’s breathtaking. Campsites and cabins are available, and at Calusa beach in the center of the island, you can find a bathhouse with cold-water showers, though the water is never really cold at Bahia Honda.

south beach1 Best Beach In South Florida

(Source: CBS)

Lummus Park Beach (South Beach)

10th St & Ocean Dr
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 673.7730

It’s the beach to the stars. Look to the right, and you might see a sunning supermodel. Turn to the left, and you could spot a commercial photo shoot. The wide, wide strip of sand, much of it imported from the Bahamas, stretches from South Pointe at the end of Miami Beach to the giant hotels 30 blocks to the north. If you’re early, you can find parking, but a lack of parking spaces is easily the most annoying thing about an otherwise beautiful beach. There are volleyball courts around the park before you enter the beach. You can rent beach chairs and an umbrella and use them until 5 p.m.. If you do this you stake out your spot, so around lunchtime you can walk across Ocean Drive to one of the open-air cafes or bars and recharge. Then, it’s back to the sand and your little oasis to catch some rays and people-watch. The best area is is between 5th and 15th along Ocean Drive. One note: the beach attracts a lot of Europeans who are not as hung-up about topless sunbathing as are Americans. If this bothers you, or if you bring kids, keep this in mind.

bill baggs beach Best Beach In South Florida

(Source: Bill Baggs State Park)

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

1200 S. Crandon Boulevard
Key Biscayne, Florida 33149
(305) 361-5811

If you like your beaches natural, this beautiful park and it’s friendly beach is for you. Located at the tip of Key Biscayne, stately pines march almost to the ocean, leaving an inviting strop of sand between. This gives you a place to find shade if the sun gets too much. “Dr. Beach” regularly ranks Cape Florida’s 1 and a half miles of pure white sand among the top 10 beaches in Florida. If you want to do more than sun, the park’s concession offers rental chairs and umbrellas as well as ocean kayaks and hydro bikes, and there are two restaurants in the park. You can also picnic under the trees. An offshore reef keeps the wave action down, and on the west side of the park, you can get a spectacular view of downtown Miami. Beyond the beach, the park is home to the Cape Florida lighthouse, a spectacular specimen of the seafaring past. The light is no longer active, but the lighthouse has been meticulously restored, and exploring it is lots of fun. The park was heavily damaged by Hurricane Andrew, but has returned better than ever. This beach is a true Florida treasure.

virginia key beach Best Beach In South Florida


Virginia Key Beach

4020 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, Florida 33149
(305) 960.4600

Want to get away from the world? Try Virginia Key Beach. This is a secluded strip of sand that offers a view of where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay, and is definitely off the beaten path. The beach shares the key with municipal sewage treatment plant, but don’t let that stop you. You’d never know it was there, and the newly restored beach area is gorgeous, family friendly, and comes with a bit of history. In segregated Miami, this was the only beach black residents could enjoy. As segregation ended and black residents were allowed to sunbathe where they chose, the beach fell into disuse. It was recently restored to great fanfare, and now features a pavilion, a dance floor, a huge meadow, a carousel, and a miniature railroad. You you want to bake in the sun and then have more fun, this is the beach for you.

john u lloyd beach Best Beach In South Florida

(Source: Lloyd State Park)

John U Lloyd State Park

6503 N. Ocean Drive
Dania Beach, Florida 33004
(954) 923-2833

You can certainly sunbathe, but this state park beach offers so much more, especially if you’re planning to bring the family. Located near Port Everglades, it’s a great place to watch cruise ships come and go. The park also offers surf fishing, canoeing, swimming, nature study, boating, and picnicking. If your interest extends below the sun and waves, the beach has one of the easiest and most interesting shore dives in the area. For fun on land, you can rent  canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, pontoon boats, gazebos, barbecue grills, and volleyballs. There’s a lot to do on a beach that still offers a less commercial feel.

fort lauderdale beach Best Beach In South Florida


Ft. Lauderdale Beach

7 Miles of beach starting at
State Rt. A1A and SW 17th Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
(954) 828-4597

Frankie and Annette put this beach on the map, and Spring Break made it famous around the world. Those days are long gone, as the city decided to shoo away the hordes of college kids that turned the strip into one huge drunken party 2 months out of the year. Now, the Beach has been re-invented as a family destination, as marked by the hotels located across State Rt. A1A from the sand and the surf. The whole beach is available without hotels trying to segregate areas for their own guests, and it’s a long, glowing strand of white and azure blue. The city is proud of the Beach’s Blue Wave status including passing a monthly water quality test, having emergency care nearby and environment preservation. The City’s award-winning wavewall and signature beachfront promenade highlight Fort Lauderdale’s world famous coastline, which is punctuated by an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues. The views are breathtaking, and offshore it’s easy to watch big cargo ships and cruise liners head up the coast. Arrive early for the best parking.

View Comments
  • raymond

    excuse me … Hollywood Beach ?!?!

    • Tony

      The best beach in ALL Florida is Siesta Key in Sarasota # 1 !!!! i love Siesta Key

    • jayjay


  • bpeckhart

    The list is missing the greatest beaches of Florida and seems to favor the lame ones for some reason. Certainly Haulover should have been up somewhere on the list as was indicated by other members. The beaches mentioned are perhaps falling behind the times because you cannot shoo-away people simply because its spring break. They made their own cake and now they have no business. Seems like they should have thought twice about what they did. They need to change until they attract people. Haulover went nude and although under a mile of shore, its packed ! Also the clothing is an option. You don’t have to go nude. People and especially from more open countries don’t have issues with that. We could lear a great deal about our own selves from this. Ft. Lauderdale needs to get real.. They need something to attract business. Chasing the young spring break cowd off is wrong no matter how you look at it. They may need to go nude to collect more attraction. As much as they may not want to it is reality.

    • Susan

      What about Del Ray beach? and New Smyrna? even Cocoa Beach….why is Virgina Key beach on this! Who is the world complied this list obviously didnt visit the beaches, a big joke. Thanks anyway.

      • krkeleher

        Reading must not be your strong point. The article is on SOUTH Florida not the whole state. I agree the southern beaches aren’t as nice but that was not the point of the article.

    • Janet

      Bull hockey! It would be an atrocity if Ft Lauderdale Beach went nude. What a stupid thing to say. Have you been there lately? Or in the past? They are not starving for attention, or need to attract business. Get your facts straight.

    • JB

      Haulover Beach??? are you kidding me. the beach isn’t all that g reat and the crowd there double sucks!

  • Pat

    Deerfield Beach is no.1 anywhere in Fl., it just happens to be in S.Fl.

    • Greg Kramer

      I totally agree about Deerfield !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • bob

      Deerfield Beach not in South Florida! geez..

      • Rhea Terrell Larson

        Deerfield Beach is in s. fl.

    • jonathan

      strongly agree!

  • frankiebonesNYC

    3rd Street Ocean Drive easily the best location with the most attractive people and killer footvolley matches …. the other beaches are for fat americans

  • Captain Richy

    I used to be a little purturbed that clothing optional Haulover Beach is never mentioned in these types of articles. However after thinking about it, I have concluded that it is better that it is not mentioned as doing so would probably vastly
    increase the number of people that go there making the beach more crowded and encourage the authorities to increase the fees charged.

  • DFBblonde

    Deerfield Beach!!! One mile from home (mine anyway), great little resturants, bareable parking, beautitul water, nice sand, shade if needed, bars…whatever ANYONE wants…but don’t go cuz you’ll add to the bareable parking

  • Stephen Goddard

    The best beaches are away from the condo canyons that trash our coastline. We used to bonfire and volleyball all summer in Pompano Beach until the retirees in their bird cages put a stop to the honest clean fun. Does your local government force you to pay for a brief park on the beach? It’s no wonder our kids prefer the tube.

  • MHJ

    I also thought it strange that Haulover Beach was not mentioned on the Best Beachesw list but two on hte Rickenbacker Causeway were. As for parking and crowds, I only once could not get in (Memorial Day Monday) and there is plenty of sand. Could it be the “clothing optional” aspect affecting your prudery or that of your perceived viewers? Another beach that should be on the list is Lauderdale by the Sea. there is even surf there at times.

  • mari

    Key Biscayne is off the Miami mainland (it is, as named: a Key!) It is not in Key West!!!! and Cape Florida ROCKS!!!!!

  • MangoSmoothie

    Matheson Hammock. The tidal pool thingy, and the mangroves make it unique enough to mention. I too like Deerfield Beach.

  • Ruth Lee

    Virginia Key Beach?! John. U. Lloyd Beach? It’s as if they’re just trying to GET people to go to these beaches. People don’t right now because the tides at both of these beaches are too strong. At Virginia Key, the signs even say, don’t go into the water. So you stay out, but the concession stand only ever had 5% of what’s on the menu, blasts loud hip-hop ALL DAY, and the train and carousel are never working. At John U. Lloyd, if you can push past the huge waves and take a dip, you taste the oil from the cruise ships and barges a couple hundred feet away, and you get to drink their ballast water. Yum!

  • gina white

    I live in Memphis TN and would love to have a few days at any of these beaches, the pictures are so inviting. It’s been years since I have been to a beach anywhere. Here in Memphis we don’t even have a nice lake we can go to. So be happy with what you have becuase you wouldn’t like it up here if your use to sunbathing everyday. I am missing the beach and the smell of the ocean and hearing the tide roll in and out.

  • Luna Keren

    What about Oleta Park in Sunny Isles? it’s so beautiful…

  • Carri

    Virginia Key Beach Park should not be on any list. I was badly bitten by sand flies when there in April. Most of which formed very large blisters and became infected, Over the counter bug sprays, ointments, etc were no help. Prescriptions for an oral antibiotic and an ointment was required. Now that the sores have started to heal I am left with terrible scars that will take a long, long time to hopefully fade away.

  • Gloria

    We pay $1.50 toll just to drive into Key Biscayne. Why would we want to pay another $5.00 to enter Virginia Key????

  • Dana

    Sunny Isles is the best! Groomed each morning, wide, and wonderful.

  • Rose

    No one mentioned Hollywood Beach. It offers the Broadwalk, which has restaurants, shops and bicycling. The beach is never crowded during the week and is clean and beautiful.

  • dave

    It said south Florida not central Florida.

  • dave

    for that matter the south west gulf beaches are great until mid summer then its to hot .North west florida beaches are nice in mid summer.

  • james patrick

    Deerfield beach is the best and I live in Delray.

    • Pat

      Deerfield Beach is the best anywhere in in south Fl, the grass is great, you walk on the grass.

  • Gina Walker Kilgore

    MY favorite is Hollywood Beach…

  • Mike

    Juno Beach.

  • Tess

    You have no ideà how lucky you are to have any of those beaches so close to you. I’m from Norway and I find them all beautiful, I go to SOFLA every winter for a month or so. Leaving snow and ice behind and being able to chill on the beaches in Fl is awesome! Enjoy:)

  • Ellen

    I live in Sunny Isles and we have lovely beaches, but I am tired of trying to find a spot where the Condos don’t have their Umbrellas. It’s true you are by law allowed to put your umbrella in the middle of this sea of people. But who wants to?Ellen

  • Earleen J Lovell

    Deerfield Beach is beautiful and has everything you need for a nice family outing, with lots of dining. I’m from New Smyrna Beach it’s a great beach, but it’s not in South Florida.

    • Diane Micocci

      Deerfield Beach is in So. FL. It is in Broward County. Duh!

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