If you’ve been dreaming of the perfect beach day, with sunny skies, pristine sand, and crystal clear waters, you don’t have to go out of the country. There are hundreds of clear water beaches in Florida to choose from!
Florida’s 825 miles of sandy beaches are arguably among the best in the country, but they aren’t created equal in terms of clarity.
In this article, we list down where to find the best clear water beaches in Florida.
Best Clear Water Beaches in Florida: Gulf Coast
The Florida beaches along the Gulf Coast are widely considered the best in the state, especially the beaches along the Emerald Coast on the Florida Panhandle.
Known for: Being consistently voted as having the clearest water of all the Florida beaches
Nestled in the Florida Panhandle in the area known as the Emerald Coast, the city of Destin is constantly featured on lists of the best beaches in the country and is known as the clearest of the clear water beaches in Florida.
Its unique location between a bay and the Gulf is a huge factor in its water clarity.
The Choctawhatchee Bay filters out the dark sediments in the water that comes from inland before it ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving Destin with clear water.
The chlorophyll in the microscopic plankton contributes to the glittering green color of the water from the beach, ranging from emerald to aquamarine depending on sunlight and water conditions.
There are several beach access points, and Henderson Beach State Park is a popular one, with its sand dunes, boardwalk, and amenities including parking, restrooms, shower stations, and picnic pavilions.
You can also rent a boat and venture out to Crab Island, which isn’t really an island but a sandbar right in the middle of the ocean popular with watersports enthusiasts.
Popular beach access points: Henderson Beach State Park, Norriego Point Beach Park, O’Steen Public Beach Access, Crystal Beach Park
Nearby services and amenities: Restaurants, hotels, campsites, hiking trails, biking trails
Nearby places of interest: HarborWalk Village, Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Emerald Bay Golf Club
2. Rosemary Beach
Known as: A close-knit beach community providing exclusive beach access
Also on the Emerald Coast, Rosemary Beach is a beach community designed in 1995 and is increasingly becoming a popular vacation destination in Florida.
The sand on its beaches and the nearby sand dunes are made of clear quartz that is unbelievably soft to walk on. Plus the water deepens gradually, making wading on the beach a popular activity for kids.
What makes the beach here exclusive is that only residents and those staying in a rental home have access to it.
Aside from the usual water activities such as kayaking, paddle boating, and parasailing, you can also go on a dolphin sightseeing tour or a sunset tour.
Nearby services and amenities: Restaurants, bars, music venues, shops, biking paths
Nearby places of interest: Camp Helen State Park, Eden Gardens State Park, Timpoochee Trail, Deer Lake State Park, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
3. Anna Maria Island
Known as: The Florida Sun Coast’s best-kept secret
Anna Maria Island is a barrier island south of Sarasota featuring a secluded seven-mile-long beach with sugar-white sand and water so clear you can see to the sea floor.
The beach has smaller crowds than the more popular Florida beaches while still having plenty of family- and couple-friendly attractions, making it perfect for those who want solitude but still enjoy modern conveniences.
Here’s where you can see the sun rise over Tampa Bay, swim, fish, and lounge all day, and watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, all in the same day.
If you’re okay with crowds, Manatee Public Beach is right in the middle of Anna Maria Island and is popular with both natives and tourists. Amenities here include restrooms, showers, changing cabanas, picnic tables, grills, concessions, cafés, bike racks, and free parking,
Plus, you can swim with your mind at ease, as there are always lifeguards on duty.
Coquina Beach is another beautiful access point with thinner crowds. Visitors can enjoy beachcombing for shells and strolling on the boardwalk.
Popular access points: Manatee Public Beach, Coquina Beach, Bean Point Beach
Nearby services and amenities: Anna Maria Island Trolley, restaurants, bars, hotels, campsites, shops
Nearby places of interest: Anna Maria Island Historical Museum, City Pier, Bridge Street Market, Pine Avenue, Leffis Key Preserve
4. Sanibel Island
Known as: The shelling capital of the world
Sanibel Island is a barrier island off the coast of Fort Myers that’s home to around 245 different varieties of shells and is hence popular as one of the best places to beachcomb for seashells in the world.
It’s a common sight for tourists collecting shells to be doing the “Sanibel Stoop”; that is, bending down to look for and pick up seashells on the beaches of the island.
One of the most popular beach access points on Sanibel Island is Lighthouse Beach Park at its eastern tip, a 32-acre park with a pier and a lighthouse, along with such amenities as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.
Time your visit during turtle nesting season (May to October) and you may get to observe baby loggerhead turtles find their way back to the water.
Nearby Captiva Island is another clear water beach in Florida popular with tourists.
Popular access points: Lighthouse Beach, Gulfside City Park Beach, Tarpon Bay Beach, Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass
Nearby services and amenities: Restaurants, sports bars, pubs, shops, biking paths
Nearby places of interest: Captiva Island, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Buck Key Preserve
Best Clear Water Beaches in Florida: Atlantic Coast
The Gulf Stream takes clear gulf water right by the Atlantic beaches while sweeping away murky water—including runoff, debris, algae, and other flotsam and jetsam— toward the North Atlantic.
The result is that these Florida beaches have some of the clearest waters along the Atlantic Coast, despite the bigger waves and colder water.
5. St. Augustine Beach
Known as: A favorite vacation destination on the First Coast
The City of St. Augustine Beach is a city in St. Johns County, five miles southeast of the historic City of St. Augustine.
It’s home to some of the most breathtaking clear water beaches in Florida facing the Atlantic Ocean and is a great family vacation destination alternative to Disney World in Orlando.
St. Johns County Ocean & Fishing Pier is a popular beach access point, with a fishing pier, volleyball and bocce courts, a playground, and a children’s splash zone. Amenities include restrooms, showers, a visitors center, and a covered pavilion for events.
Further south, Ocean Hammock Park is a sea turtle nesting site, with a nature trail and picnic areas.
Popular access points: St. Augustine Beach, St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier, Crescent Beach, Ocean Hammock Park
Nearby services and amenities: Restaurants, volleyball courts, hiking trail, picnic areas, playground, splash zone, hotels
Nearby places of interest: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
Known for: Its warm, clear water all year round
Jupiter is known as an all-season watersports destination because the Gulf stream keeps the water at a comfortable 78 degrees all year.
It differs from other Atlantic Ocean beaches in that the waters here are calmer, making the beaches great for paddle boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Loggerhead sea turtles nest along their beaches, so if you visit during nesting season (March to October) you might get a glimpse of them.
Carlin Park is a popular beach access point especially for families, with amenities such as outdoor showers, restrooms, lifeguards, tennis and bocce courts, and picnic pavilions for events.
Jupiter is also home to several dog-friendly beach areas as well as one of the few off-leash dog beaches left in Florida, so if you have a pet dog, this is a great destination.
Popular access points: Carlin Park, DuBois Park, Ocean Cay Park, Jupiter Beach Park
Nearby services and amenities: Restaurants, cafés, shops, sports courts, parking area, picnic areas, playgrounds, amphitheater
Nearby places of interest: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
7. New Smyrna Beach
Known for: Being constantly on the list of the world’s top surf towns
New Smyrna Beach is a beach town in the Fun Coast region of Florida, popular among surfers for its 17 miles of white shoreline and clear water, as well as its history, architecture, and culture.
Smyrna Dunes Park is on the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula where you can get fantastic views of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse to the north, the sunset to the west, as well as glimpses of bottlenose dolphins swimming by and gopher tortoises poking their heads out of their burrows.
You might want to be careful when going into the water, though; New Smyrna Beach is also known as the shark bite capital of the world.
Popular access points: Smyrna Dunes Park, New Smyrna Town Beach, 27th Avenue Beachfront Park, Grayce K. Barck North Beach Community Park, Canaveral National Seashore
Nearby services and amenities: Restaurants, pubs, distilleries, shops,
Nearby places of interest: Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Callalisa Creek Boardwalk, Sugar Mill Ruins, Canal Street Historic District, New Smyrna Museum of History
Best Clear Water Beaches in Florida: The Keys
You might be surprised to learn that beautiful beaches are the exception rather than the rule in the Florida Keys; you’ll have to venture out in the open water and go kayaking, fishing, or diving to appreciate the clear blue waters here.
8. Biscayne National Park
Known as: The third-largest offshore reef in the world
Biscayne National Park is a unique national park as it is 95% water and encompasses 4 different ecosystems: a mangrove forest, Biscayne Bay, the Florida Reef, and coral limestone keys.
Being mostly water, the only way you can explore most of the park is by boat; that is, if you want to venture beyond the visitors center.
Boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving are the usual activities in this national park, as well as a guided heritage tour that allows you to appreciate the park’s rich history aside from its natural beauty and wildlife.
Boca Chita Key is a popular stop within the national park, where the few swimming spots are some of the bluest clear water beaches in Florida. It also has a campground, a boat dock, a picnic area, and a short hiking trail.
Popular access points: Boca Chita Key, Elliott Key, Adams Key
Nearby services and amenities: Boat docks, campsites, swimming beaches, picnic areas, hiking trails
Nearby places of interest: Everglades National Park
9. Smathers Beach, Key West
Known as: The largest public beach in Key West
Key West is the southernmost of the Florida Keys.
Key West is composed of coral, which traps darker sediment and makes the surrounding water clear.
However, because of their coral composition, Key West isn’t known for its sandy beaches.
Smathers Beach is the exception.
At almost two miles long, it’s the largest public beach in Key West, and the sand here is imported and replenished at least once a year.
The water here is so clear that you can see the bottom even when you’re in waist-deep water.
Swimming, snorkeling, and jet skiing are the usual activities here. There are very few developments here, but vending trucks and stalls sell food, drinks, and other swimming essentials.
Nearby services and amenities: Volleyball courts, showers, restrooms
Nearby places of interest: Key West Nature Preserve, Key West Lighthouse, Key West Aquarium
Visit One of These Clear Water Beaches in Florida Soon!
There are so many Florida beaches with crystal clear water, and though this list has but a few of them, I hope it still helped you with planning your vacation.
Florida has so much more to offer aside from Disney World and its beautiful beaches. Check out our posts on Florida skateparks and museums.
If you’re looking for more beach-y inspiration, check out our list of the best beaches in the US and our picks for the best beaches in the East Coast: