The 25 Best East Florida Beaches
When you think of beautiful beaches in Florida, you may think of the Gulf Coast. However, there are some great East Florida beaches too! Today we will focus on the beaches on the east coast of Florida. So if you’re planning a vacation along the first coast, space coast, treasure coast, or gold coast, this list of the best east Florida beaches is for you!
When you think of the best beaches in Florida, east Florida beaches may not come to mind. Instead, you’ll likely think of beaches like Siesta Key Beach, Venice beach, Clearwater Beach, Anna Maria Island, or many other white sandy beaches that Southwest Florida is famous for. But, unfortunately, it’s not always convenient to visit those beaches if your vacation is in east Florida.
The west coast of Florida may have the best beaches (we won’t deny that!), but there are some great east Florida beaches too. These beaches on the Atlantic Ocean can be just as fun, so check out as many as possible.
If you’re going to drive around looking for the best beaches on the east coast of Florida, you’ll need to rent a car! If you decide to rent a car during your Florida vacation, I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
25 East Florida Beaches
Here are the 25 best East Florida Beaches. You may not find as many white sand beaches as you will on the gulf coast, but there are plenty of beaches in East Florida that are definitely worth the road trip. If you like surfing or watching surfers, you’ll find that the east coast of Florida is the place to be.
What is the best beach in east Florida?
The best beach in east Florida is relative because it depends on what kind of beach you’re looking for. You’ll likely need to head further south if you’re looking for white, sandy beaches, clear, calm water, and snorkeling opportunities.
If you’re looking for great surfing or even just watching some surfers, the northeast coast of Florida offers some of the best opportunities for that. There are even beaches in east Florida where you’ll have an abundance of shark teeth. No matter where you are in Florida, there’s a great beach nearby!
East Florida offers miles of beaches, so I will not list every one of them. Instead, I am going to list the top 25 east Florida beaches. They are mainly listed from north to south, but please don’t come at me in the comments if I mixed up a few of them. I had a list and added more because Florida has so many fantastic beaches!
So, let’s talk about the best beaches on the east coast of Florida.
Fernandina Beach is actually a town (but also a beach) located on Amelia Island. You’ll find that many of the “beaches” here are also towns, but sometimes also beaches too. Just know in advance that some of the “beaches” are towns or even islands. I’ll make sure to clarify to avoid any confusion.
Fernandina Beach is the Northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Amelia Island is part of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands stretching along the east coast of the United States from South Carolina to Florida. It is the southernmost island of the chain.
The islands start in South Carolina with Murphy Island, with more than 100 islands in total. Some consider Anastasia Island (which we’ll discuss later in this post) the southernmost island in the Sea Islands chain, so it really depends on who you ask. Either way, Amelia Island is part of the Sea Islands chain that stretches across three states.
Atlantic Beach is situated on a beautiful barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound. Atlantic Beach is not just one beach but offers several public beaches for you to enjoy. This is the furthest north of what are considered to be “Jacksonville Beaches,” although it is technically not in Jacksonville.
Atlantic Beach is very family-friendly, so if you’re visiting Jacksonville and looking for a kid-friendly beach, this is a great option. Atlantic Beach is highly rated and offers free parking, although the waters can be choppy so, during some times of the year, it’s a great beach to visit but may not be the best swimming beach.
Neptune is a small coastal community located between Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach. If you’re looking for a quiet beach, this is the best place to go! Neptune Beach is great for surfers and has hard-packed sand, perfect for beach cycling.
Neptune Beach has a more residential atmosphere with no major resorts or hotels. There are also plenty of local parks, which makes it a very family-friendly area.
If you’re an early riser, make sure to get up early and catch the sunrise at Neptune Beach.
Jacksonville is the largest city by landmass on Florida’s east coast. In fact, it’s the largest city by landmass (more than 840 square miles) in the continental or contiguous United States.
Jacksonville Beach is just one of the beaches in the Jacksonville area. It is a great place for surfers, thanks to the large swells. It’s also the perfect place to spot dolphins! You’ll often see them just past the surf line. If you’re looking for a quieter beach, head just north the Neptune Beach instead.
You may not have heard of this one, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best east Florida beaches! Vilano Beach is a quiet, coastal community known for its sandy beaches and small-town beach vibe.
This area is just north of St. Augustine and is definitely worth a visit if you’ll be in the St. Augustine area. You can also check out our post with the best things to do in St. Augustine with kids!
Crescent Beach is a beautiful stretch of beach just south of St. Augustine. The name Crescent Beach comes from the natural shape of the coastline. This is another beach with hard-packed sand making it perfect for bike rides, walks, or beach volleyball.
This is a wide beach with beautiful white sand. However, since not all beaches in the area have this beautiful white sand, you’ll need to get up early to ensure a parking spot.
Anastasia Island is a barrier island sitting just off the coast of St. Augustine. The island is about 14 miles long and only about one mile wide. The island offers the St. Augustine lighthouse and maritime museum along with white sandy beaches, which you won’t always find in east Florida beaches!
Anastasia State Park is more than 1600 acres of beautiful beaches, tidal marshes, and ancient sand dunes. The island is also abundant with wildlife and an excellent place for bird-watching.
There is so much more to do than swim at this Florida beach. Your beach time can be spent parasailing, paddleboarding, jet skiing, or playing a game of beach volleyball. Your family can also learn how to surf.
If you’re planning a Florida vacation during spring break, this is another area that I would try to avoid. It gets very busy and a little rowdy sometimes. But don’t worry; there are plenty of other east Florida beaches that are a bit calmer for families with young kids!
I recommend checking out nearby New Smyrna Beach or Playalinda Beach for a calmer atmosphere.
After you spend some time in Ormond Beach, I recommend also visiting Tomoka State Park. The park is along the Tomoka River. You can spend a few hours paddling and fishing in the river or even hiking the nearby trails.
Ormond Beach is unique because you get a small-town feel that is also upscale. One of the first settlers was John D. Rockafeller, and Ormond Beach prides itself on offering guests “elegant relaxation.”
Beyond visiting the beach, visitors can also spend time at the golf courses, horseback riding, hiking, and exploring plenty of water sports options.
New Smyrna Beach
If you do not like crowds, I recommend choosing New Smyrna over Daytona when you want to enjoy a little time in the sand with your family. New Smyrna Beach offers 17 miles of white sandy beaches.
You can also bring your entire family, even your four-legged friends! Yes, New Smyrna Beach is dog-friendly. There’s even a pet-friendly trail with plenty of stops and fun for the whole family.
Playalinda Beach is located on Florida’s east coast in Canaveral National Seashore. So if you’re planning to visit Kennedy Space Center, you can easily do both of these activities on the same day!
If you’ll be visiting Cape Canaveral, I highly recommend purchasing your Kennedy Space Center tickets in advance. Sometimes tickets sell out, so it’s best to ensure you have them before you go. You can purchase admission tickets online or even book a small-group VIP tour. My parents just did the VIP tour and highly recommended it!
Nearby Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge is also one of the 12 best places to see manatees in Florida.
If you’re looking for beaches on Florida’s east coast, you’ve probably already heard of Cocoa Beach. We mention several of the beaches on this list of east Florida beaches in our post about the 20 Best Beaches near Orlando for Families. If you read that, you know that Cocoa Beach is one of our favorites!
One of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach is to walk along the Cocoa Beach pier.
Satellite Beach is not an island, although it looks like one with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Indian River to the west. Satellite Beach is a great place to see some of Florida’s sea turtles and other marine life along the miles of sandy beaches.
This is also the area where it is generally considered that the climate is tropical vs. subtropical. That means that once you go south of here, you won’t likely have colder temperatures in the winter.
Now, cold in Florida is relative compared to living in, say, Chicago. That said, most parts of Florida experience cooler weather in the subtropical climates. So if you’re visiting in the winter, plan for beaches further south if you want to ensure warm weather and swimmable water!
Canova Beach is Brevard County’s only dog-friendly beach. So if your puppy is coming along on your Florida vacation, you’ll want to bring them to Canova Beach! This is a small beach, but it’s free, open to the public, and of course, pup-friendly!
Vero Beach offers approximately 26 miles of shoreline. This beach is never that crowded, probably thanks to the miles of shoreline. It is a favorite beach for those looking to expand their seashell collection.
And when you are done with the sand and water, you can venture over to Oceanside Park. You will find pavilions, a playground, and even a few walking trails.
Blue Heron Beach
Blue Heron Beach is another quiet coastal community near Port St. Lucie, Florida. St. Lucie offers 21 miles of uncrowded beaches with more public beach access points per square mile than any other coastal community in Florida.
If you’re traveling with your dog, don’t miss nearby Walton Rocks Beach. You can let your friendly dogs run on this leash-free beach.
We talk about this beach in the 20 Best Shelling Beaches in Florida. Over 200 types of seashells have been found here! Jupiter Beach also offers clear, warm water, and it’s perfect for swimming, watersports, surfing, and more.
You can also visit the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Museum. Built-in 1860, the red Jupiter Inlet light offers tours and educational experiences for adults and kids alike. Jupiter Beach is also one of the best places to find sharks teeth in Florida.
Jupiter Beach Park is an excellent place for snorkeling, making it unique as most of the east Florida beaches since most beaches north of here are not as good for snorkeling. The further south you go, the clearer the water gets! Check out some of our favorite snorkeling gear below.
We talk about this beach a little bit in our best places to find sea turtles in Florida post. Loggerhead Marine Life Center, one of Florida’s most visited nonprofit scientific destinations, is located nearby.
If you’re looking for calm water and family-friendly beaches, you’re generally better off here than some of the northern beaches on this list, where you have better surfing. But, of course, it’s always a trade-off!
West Palm Beach
Again, West Palm Beach isn’t a beach itself but rather a city in the Miami metro area. So if you’re looking for those white sand beaches typically found on the gulf coast of Florida, you’ll also find them once you get a little further into south Florida.
Some of the best area beaches include:
- John D. MacArthur Beach State Walk
- Carlin Park
- Gulfstream Park
- Lake Worth Beach
- Ocean Reef Park
- Peanut Island (one of the best east Florida beaches for calm waters!)
If you’re looking for soft sand, warm waters, and scuba diving opportunities, it’s best to go as far southeast in Florida as possible.
Delray Beach is a small city on Florida’s southeast coast just north of Boca Raton. To make it confusing, there’s also an actual beach called Delray Beach! This is a fantastic beach, but there are other great beaches in the area, including Seagate Beach and Delray Municipal Beach. Once you make it to South Florida, pretty much every beach is a great beach!
You know you’ve made it to South Florida when we start talking about Miami Beach. Like a few of the other popular beaches on this list, Miami Beach is actually a city on a barrier island connected to Miami by bridge. You’ll find miles of shoreline, clear blue water, and plenty of water activities along Miami Beach.
If you plan to take a Miami vacation or spend much time in Miami, I highly recommend a Go City | Miami City Pass. This is the best way to save money if you plan to do a lot of Miami area activities.
Many people wonder if Miami Beach is kid-friendly, and yes, it certainly can be! Miami Beach offers many activities for kids and teens, from beaches, parks, museums, botanical gardens, and more.
South Beach is famous for its excellent beaches, nightlife, and restaurants with celebrity chefs. Although it’s famous for nightlife, it’s a great place for families too (but maybe avoid it during spring break!) South Beach is one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches and is regularly named one of the best beaches in the country.
Just keep in mind that South Beach will be busy! It’s a famous beach for a reason, so finding parking or the perfect spot to camp out for the day can be challenging. If you don’t like crowds, check out one of the beaches in Key Biscayne, where you may be able to find a little more privacy.
We won’t talk about the Florida Keys today (that is another post that’s coming soon), so Key Biscayne is as far south as we’ll go in this list of East Florida beaches.
Like many of the other beaches on the list, Key Biscayne is not a beach but a town located on a barrier island. The beaches on Key Biscayne are some of the best Florida east coast beaches.
There are four beaches on Key Biscayne.
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park – This Florida State Park is home to the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, a lighthouse built in 1825.
- Crandon Park Beach – This is one of the most accessible east Florida beaches, with beach wheelchairs available for rent.
- Hobie Beach – Hobie Beach is popular for water sports, including windsurfing. It’s also the most popular beach in Miami for dog owners. Not all east Florida beaches are dog-friendly, but this one is!
- Historic Virginia Key Beach Park – This 82-acre barrier island was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a quiet area offering a playground, picnic areas, pavilions, a nature boardwalk, and a 4.1-mile bike path.
Although these beaches in Key Biscayne are no secret, they may be a little quieter and more secluded than the nearby Miami Beach and South Beach areas.
The best east Florida beaches
Did your favorite beach on the east coast of Florida make the list? If not, make sure to share it in the comments. We couldn’t possibly cover the mile and miles of East Florida beaches, but this list of 25 should be enough to get you started!
If you’re planning a Florida vacation, make sure to check out the blog. We cover the entire state with family-friendly Florida activities from Miami all the way up to Destin. Plus, we talk a lot about Orlando and the theme parks.
If you’re looking for beaches on the gulf coast of Florida, check out 30 Things to do in Clearwater with Kids and 15 fantastic things to do in Siesta Key. These are two of the best beaches in Florida and offer plenty of family-friendly activities beyond the beaches.
More Florida Travel Tips
Don’t forget to check out even more of our best Florida travel ideas:
- The best strawberry farms in Florida
- 35 Things to Do in Key West with Kids
- Unique things to do in Naples, Florida
- The 12 best places to see manatees in Florida
- Dinosaur World Florida Review | Is Dinosaur World in Lakeland, FL, worth visiting?
- 16 things to do in Crystal River with kids
- 25 Free Things at Disney World
- Things to do in Orlando for Christmas
- What to pack for Universal Studios
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here. If you want even more tips, make sure to join our mailing list. We’ll share any new tips and tricks we learn, along with Florida news and recent blog posts of our adventures.
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