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The Best Clear Water Beaches In Florida To Visit

Clear Water Beaches in Florida
Photo by Crystal Bolin Photography from iStock

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Florida is famous for its year-round sunny weather and its beautiful shores, with millions of tourists flocking to the Sunshine State to swim and sunbathe every summer. With the sheer number of beaches you can visit, it can be tough to narrow down which spots to visit for your vacation.

If you’re looking for picturesque shores with crystalline water, these clear beaches in Florida are must-visit spots. From the Florida Panhandle to the Keys and the Emerald Coast, our guide will tell you all the best places to visit and what to do when you’re there!

Must-Visit Clear Water Beaches In Florida

Need help determining where to go for your vacation in the sun? Consider visiting these Florida beaches for crystal-clear waves, soft sand, and relaxed vibes.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater

Laidback Clearwater Beach is one of the Gulf Coast’s most well-known beaches because of its powder-white sand and clear blue water. It’s a busy beach where local events are regularly held, like music festivals and fishing tournaments. It may not be as tranquil as the other beaches on this list, but there’s plenty of fun in the sun to be had here!

Take a dip in the warm waves or try one of the many water activities here, such as kayaking, fishing, and parasailing. After spending a day at the beach, you can grab a bite of fresh Florida seafood at one of the many local restaurants along the beachfront promenade. 

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

Key West

Some beaches have enhanced their shores with Caribbean-imported sand, but Fort Zachary Taylor Beach in Key West is still a completely natural beach. Its sand composed of crushed coral is a touch rockier than other spots on this list, so wear flip-flops or beach shoes while you’re here. Your patience will be rewarded with shallow, clear water perfect for swimming. It’s also an excellent snorkeling spot to see local marine life.

New Smyrna Beach

Volusia County

Boasting a 17-mile stretch of powder-white shores, New Smyrna Beach is a popular destination for both amateur and expert surfers. If you’re looking to catch some waves, this will have some of the best action you can find on the East Coast.

With the county’s relaxed atmosphere, rich culture, and historic sites, you can plan an exciting New Smyrna Beach weekend packed with plenty of activities. Volusia County boasts other exciting attractions, such as the De Leon Springs and the Sugar Mill Ruins. 

Destin Beach

Destin

Located in the Florida Panhandle, Destin Beach is an ideal destination for those looking for clear water and a quiet day at the beach. Its crystalline emerald waters have earned it a reputation as one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. Because Destin isn’t as populated as other Florida beachside cities, you won’t have to worry about overcrowding here while you’re going for a swim. 

Destin is also home to many attractions perfect for large groups and families, such as Big Kahuna’s Water Park and the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. If you’re looking for more thrilling activities, try the different water sports available here, like jet-skiing and kiteboarding.

Miami Beach

Miami

Located in South Florida, the iconic Miami Beach is a top choice amongst locals and tourists alike for its clear blue water. Needless to say, Miami Beach is a must if you’re a sun worshiper who wants clear waves without having to go off the beaten path. 

While snorkeling and swimming are always popular here, consider renting a boat or playing a game at the volleyball courts, too. The sheer number of hotels, bars, and beach activities here are so numerous that they could easily make up their own article. 

This beach is also close to South Beach and the LGBT-friendly city of Fort Lauderdale, so consider adding all these spots to your vacation itinerary for fuss-free planning.

Fort De Soto Beach

Tierra Verde

Located just off the coast of St Petersburg, Fort De Soto Beach is best known for its historical attractions and clear water. Because it has miles of beautiful sand and crystal-clear water, it can get pretty crowded here on the weekends and in the summer. 

If you’re planning a trip here, it’s highly recommended that you check out the big campground nearby. It has over 200 available sites with amenities for laundry and picnicking, so it’s worth getting a spot for easy beach access.

Apart from the gorgeous beach, the nearby namesake fort is also here for visitors to explore and learn more about the history of the Spanish-American War.

Caladesi Island State Park

Dunedin

Caladesi Island State Park has earned a spot on this list because it has both crystal-clear waters and well-maintained nature trails. Accessible only by boat, this Gulf Coast barrier island truly feels like a place where you can get away from it all. Its beach is composed of three miles of natural sand, making it a hidden gem for shell collecting.

Bahia Honda State Park

Big Pine Key

The Keys are famous for their scenery and lovely beaches, and Bahia Honda State Park is one of the best you can visit here. Its translucent blue water makes it a top-notch destination for swimming and snorkeling. 

It’s just a short boat ride away from Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, so rent some gear or bring your own to spot species like the queen conch or the spiny lobster there.

Siesta Key Beach

Sarasota County

Siesta Key Beach is another Gulf Coast gem with a unique feature: its sugar-white sand is almost entirely made up of quartz from the Appalachian Mountains. Apart from swimming and sunbathing, Siesta Key is known for its many excellent beachfront restaurants, eco tours, and boat charter and rental services. Hit the beach for some fishing or Gulf cruising when you’re done taking a dip!

Though its shores stretch an impressive 8 miles, it can get really crowded during peak season here. We highly recommend visiting during a less busy time of the year or on weekdays if you want to swim in its crystalline waters.

Dry Tortugas

Near Key West

This beautiful, remote beach is found within the seven islands that comprise the Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s only accessible by ferry, boat, or plane, but your efforts will be well-rewarded by transparent blue water and picturesque beaches. 

The national park is also home to the third-largest coral reef in the world and the only tropical one in the United States, making it a top snorkeling spot for spotting anemones, Goliath groupers, and even octopi.

Anna Maria Island

Manatee County

Anna Maria Island is a quaint barrier island just south of Sarasota. It’s more secluded, making it a good spot for those who want a tranquil or romantic getaway. It can feel like a private beach at times because there are far fewer tourists here, allowing you to enjoy the clear, emerald-green water and sugar-white sand with plenty of peace and quiet.

Despite this, it also has several hotels, restaurants, and shopping options so you can still enjoy your creature comforts on your serene weekend off. If you need to get around the island after a day at the beach, the local trolley is a fun way to travel while taking in the local sights.

Crab Island

Near Destin

Found on the north side of Destin Bridge, Crab Island is an unusual beach that’s quickly becoming popular for its shallow emerald-green waters and floating bars. It may not have the vast stretches of sand that other beaches on this list have, but its pure water and relaxing atmosphere make it a good choice for solo travelers, families, and groups of party animals alike!

You have to rent a boat or kayak to reach this submerged sandbar, where you’ll find many boats anchored for a day in the beautiful, clear waves. Enjoy a waterside meal in one of the many floating restaurants, play water volleyball, or kayak around the sandbar. 

Jupiter Beach

Palm Beach County

Found in Palm Beach County, scenic Jupiter Beach has 3.4 miles of sugar-white sand and some of the warmest, clearest water you can find in the state. Because of its mild temperature and panoramic views, it’s a great spot for swimming, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. You can also hike, bike, or walk along one of the many beach and park trails here.

Jupiter Beach is also one of the few dog-friendly beaches left in Florida, so consider going here if you want to bring your pet on vacation. Take your dog for a stroll in the sand, spread your blanket out, relax under the Florida sun, or go for a turtle hatchling walk nearby. 

Biscayne National Park

Miami-Dade County

Biscayne National Park has pristine waters, dive sites, and well-preserved local ecosystems like mangrove forests and coral reefs. Not only is it a great place to relax in clear water, but it’s also a wonderful destination where nature lovers can spot dolphins, pelicans, and turtles.

It’s best to explore this park by boat after swimming, so consider taking a tour with the Biscayne National Park Institute to see its natural wonders by water. You can also take a heritage tour on land that takes you around the park’s numerous trails. 

Our pro-tip? Add this to a trip including the nearby Everglades National Park, especially if you want to do other nature-centric activities like birdwatching and boating.

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Lauderdale

Because of the nearby Gulf Stream, the water at Fort Lauderdale Beach is typically warm and clear blue – perfect for swimming! If you’re done relaxing on the soft white sand, check out one of the many water activities here, such as paddleboarding, snorkeling, and surfing.

This clear water beach also has plenty of upscale hotels and cafes nearby if you need to chill after a day in the sun. We highly recommend strolling down the beach promenade and picking from one of the many alfresco restaurants, where you can enjoy fresh seafood with a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Tips For Visiting Florida’s Clear Water Beaches

Once you’ve decided which clear water beach to visit, it’s time to plan your vacation. Here are some tips to keep you well-prepared and worry-free during your trip:

Go Early Or During Off-Peak Season

Because Florida’s beaches are so famous, many of the best beaches quickly get packed with tourists, especially on weekends or peak times like spring break. If you want to enjoy a beachside vacation without too many people around, consider planning your trip on off-peak months or weekdays.

Check Weather And Beach Advisories

There are times of the year when beaches are closed for public safety. Keep an eye out for “no-swim” advisories and weather advisories. Severe rainfall, strong winds, or turbulent waves can make it dangerous to visit beaches. 

As a general rule, the weather in Florida is best around March to April and September to October.

Check The Rules For Water Activities

Some beaches allow fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. However, in other places, you may need a permit or they’re completely off-limits. Do your research to find out if your preferred water activity is allowed at the beach you’re visiting, as well as any requirements you need to submit for permits.

Be Prepared For Emergencies

While many Florida beaches have access to emergency services and help like lifeguards and clinics, some are a bit more remote. It’s best to be prepared for any situation, so always note the contact details and location of emergency services near the beach you’re visiting. It’s also a good idea to pack an emergency kit with basic first-aid supplies like bandages and antiseptic solutions.

The Bottom Line

Florida is home to plenty of clear water beaches, but these are some of the best that you simply can’t miss if you’re going on vacation here. Whether you’re looking for a busy beach with bars aplenty or a quiet one off the beaten path, there’s definitely a place for you here. These breathtaking spots have pristine water, gorgeous sand, and different atmospheres for different kinds of visitors. 

The Sunshine State also has many beautiful natural springs if you’re looking for other ways to rejuvenate yourself. Check out our guide to Florida’s best natural springs to find new, exciting places to refresh your mind and body!


**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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