10 Best Florida Gulf Coast Beaches You’ll Love

by Billy | Updated: December 6, 2018

Are you searching for the best Florida Gulf Coast beaches?

After spending many hours researching, we’ve compiled the ultimate list.

Here are the best-hidden gem beaches you’ll love.

Best time to visitMay-Sept.

10. Bean Point Beach

beaches on the gulf side of florida
Courtney Ferguson / ShutterStock

Bean Point Beach is located on Anna Marie Island and is so secluded that there’s no parking lot, lifeguards or facilities.

Here’s how to get there…

You can take a free trolley to Bean Point, however, it’ll only get you to the Anna Maria City Pier. From there you’ll have to walk (around) a mile which will take you 15-20 mins. So make sure not to overpack.

Most people that go to Bean Point Beach will picnic, suntan and just hang out.

Anna Maria Island is known for having a diverse amount of plants and wildlife. It’s particularly popular with birdwatchers because many birds use it for nesting.

Some common birds on Bean Point are herons, ospreys, sandpipers, egrets, and cranes.

Bottom line:
If you’re looking for a beach that’s filled with wildlife and away from the crowds, Bean Point Beach is a great option.

9. Siesta Key Beach

florida gulf coast beaches
Suncoast Aerials / ShutterStock

Siesta Key Beach sits on an eight-mile-long island called (surprise!)… Siesta Key.

The soft, sugary-white sand decorated with seashells, make for a beautiful beach.

Siesta Key Watersports can provide rental boats, jet skis, dolphin tours, and even parasailing.

Free yoga classes are held in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Families can enjoy the playgrounds and picnic tables, while couples will appreciate the rental cottages and candlelit restaurants.

8. St Pete Beach

west coast florida beaches
Amanderson2 / Flickr

St. Pete Beach is located in Pinellas County and is about 8 miles west of St. Petersburg.

There are a number of charter boat companies that will take you on dolphin-watching, deep-sea fishing, or snorkeling trips.

You can also go windsurfing, paddleboarding, kiteboarding, or parasailing.

Attractions near the beach include The Pier, a five-story complex filled with shops and restaurants. Corey Avenue also has a number of galleries, shops, and restaurants.

St. Pete Beach is home to the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, which is housed in a century-old church.

7. Boca Grande Beach

boca grande beach
Tornadoflight / iStockPhoto.com

Boca Grande Beach is located on Gasparilla Island, which is split between Lee and Charlotte Counties.

Gasparilla is named after the pirate José Gaspar.

The name Boca Grande means “big mouth” and refers to the mouth of the waterway at the island’s southernmost tip.

Selkie Adaptive Paddle takes people on tours of various waterways in the area. Some places are known for their manatees, bonnethead sharks, and sea turtles.

The company is committed to helping people with disabilities enjoy the natural beauty around them, providing the needed adaptive equipment.

Boca Grande Beach is also two miles north of Gasparilla State Park. It’s the home of the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, which was originally built in 1890 and has recently been restored.

6. Indian Shores Beach

Jewelzz / ShutterStock.com

Indian Shores Beach is located on a barrier island in Pinellas County.

Parts of the beach have sand dunes with native plants like seagrass and sea grapes.

Island Marine Rentals provides a variety of boats, plus scooters and bicycles.

They also offer “adventures” that include charter boat trips to places like Caladesi Island State Park and bicycle tours.

Its staff works with 2500 to 3000 birds every year, and 100 disabled birds are permanent residents. Admission and parking are free.

5. Clearwater Beach

florida gulf beaches
Ginosphotos1 / DepositPhotos

Clearwater Beach sits on the Pinellas Peninsula – it’s an island that’s connected by a bridge to the city of the same name.

Clearwater Beach’s most famous attraction is probably the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter the dolphin, who starred in the movie “Dolphin Tale.”

There are many charter boat companies in the area, including Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise in which guests travel aboard a three-masted galleon.

Clearwater Beach is also near two parks, Sand Key Park and Caladesi Island State Park.

Pier 60 is another popular attraction; it’s a fishing pier that’s home to an outdoor movie theater, playground, and various live performances.

4. Fort Myers Beach

west florida beaches
Timothyvail / Wikipedia

Fort Myers Beach, which is seven miles long, is located on Estero Island, a barrier island near the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

The crystal-clear water is quite shallow, making it an ideal beach for families with small children. Visitors can go parasailing, kayaking, or jet skiing.

Salty Sam’s Marina provides an array of sea-going options that include charter boats, rentals, and cruises – including one aboard a replica of a pirate ship.

People who own boats can use the marina for storage and supplies. Salty Sam’s Marina also has a couple of seafood restaurants.

Rental options include cottages and one-story buildings that give Fort Myers a small-town vibe.

The beach is also roughly six miles north of Lovers Key State Park and Estero Bay Aquatic Reserve.

3. Madeira Beach

beaches on the west coast of florida
Madeira Beach Florida Gov.

Madeira Beach sits between the Gulf Coast and St. Petersburg.

The beach is 2.5 miles long and is popular with swimmers, sunbathers, and anglers.

Madeira Beach also has charter boat companies that can take you dolphin-watching, deep-sea fishing, or snorkeling. These charters can take you to visit specific places like a historic lighthouse or the underwater ruins of a fort.

The south end of the beach is home to John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, which boasts over 130 shops and restaurants. St John’s Pass also hosts the Seafood Festival every October.

Another attraction is Alligator Attraction, an interactive zoo featuring reptiles and amphibians that are native to Florida.

2. Bowman’s Beach

best gulf coast beaches in florida
PetersonBD / ShutterStock

Bowman’s Beach, which is another one of the best Florida gulf coast beaches, is a public beach owned and operated by Lee County.

It’s located on Sanibel Island, just north-west of the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Reserve – open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Bowman’s Beach has experienced less development than other beaches on Florida’s islands.

It has plenty of amenities including public restrooms, picnic tables, grill areas, pavilion, and bike racks.

While you may bring pets, you do have to keep them on leashes.

It’s about a ten-minute walk from the parking lot to the beach, so if you have small children, bring a wagon or beach cart. Bowman’s Beach also has no concessions beyond a soda machine, so it’s recommended to bring your own snacks.

1. Lido Key Beach

Ryan McGill / ShutterStock.com

Lido Key Beach is actually three beaches that are side-by-side.

The three beaches are…

The park associated with the South Beach is a nature reserve established in 1977 by the city of Sarasota. It’s known for its sand dunes and birds.

Shorebirds and migratory birds are frequently seen, but some visitors have even seen bald eagles and great horned owls.

The south beach is also near a waterway where you can go kayaking or canoeing. The beach itself has such amenities as a volleyball court, picnic tables, a playground, nature paths, and restrooms.

The Public Beach is in the middle, and its amenities include lifeguards, a pavilion with shaded picnic tables, a playground, a concession stand, and a public swimming pool. There are several resorts in the area, including the Lido Beach Resort, which has a poolside Tiki bar.

The North Beach is wide with plenty of space for sunbathing, reading, or shell collecting. All of the beaches have white sand and clear blue water.