22 Best Beaches In Southwest Florida to Visit

If you’re looking for the best beaches in Southwest Florida, you’re in the right place! From bustling beaches to secluded ones, we’ve got you covered!

Florida’s beautiful beaches are world-renowned, but did you know that some of the most beautiful ones are located along and off its southwest Gulf coast?

From tranquil and secluded islands such as Gasparilla Island and Keewaydin Island to pristine stretches that dot the cities of Venice, Sarasota, Naples, and Fort Myers, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where to spend your beach day.

beautiful Siesta Key Beach

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The beaches of Southwest Florida are well-varied! Some are vibrant and full of energy, while others are laid-back, peaceful, and even remote.

To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in Southwest Florida and what to expect at each. This way, you can decide on the beach that fits your preferences and vibe!

Please note: Over the years, some of the best beaches in Southwest Florida have been Lovers Key State Park in Fort Meyers, Bonita Beach Park in Bonita Springs, Barefoot beach in Naples, Lighthouse Beach Park in Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach in Sanibel Island, and more, but due to Hurricane Ian in September 2022, most of them were damaged and they’re still under renovation. So in this article, we’ll be focusing on just the SW Florida beaches you can visit now and we’ll update the article as soon as our beloved beaches reopen!

Best Beaches In Southwest Florida

Here are the best beaches in SW Florida you shouldn’t miss while in the region.

1. Siesta Key Beach, Siesta Key

Siesta Key Beach is one of the best beaches in Southwest Florida.
Siesta Key Beach is one of the best beaches in Southwest Florida.

First on our list of best beaches in Southwest Florida is Siesta Key Beach, a stretch that’s frequently ranked as the #1 beach in Florida thanks to its 99% quartz powder sand and clear waters.

Located an easy drive from downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key Beach is perfect for all types of travelers and has plenty to offer from shopping venues, dining spots, luxury resorts, and a vibrant nightlife. It also has all the amenities you’ll need from restrooms, showers, lifeguards, and more.

Popular beach and water activities here include parasailing, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, beach volleyball, and more.

And since it’s nestled along the coast, popular attractions in Siesta Key such as the Siesta Key Village, Sunset Pier, and Siesta Farmers Market are located a stone’s throw away.

The beach is also within walking distance of many restaurants with our favorites being the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Lobster Pot Restaurant, Bonjour French Cafe, and Sun Garden Cafe.

But if you don’t want to leave the beach, there are concession stands to grab a quick bite and rent some beach essentials.

While it’s perfect to visit any day, be sure to visit on Sundays to experience the enchanting Drum circle where various drummers create a fun beat and everyone is welcome to join in the drumming and dancing.

And if you’re lucky to visit in November, you may be able to see the Sand sculptures competition that takes place every year!

With all this, it’s easy to see why Siesta Key beach is one of the best Southwest Florida beaches.

2. Lido Key Beach, Sarasota

Lido Key Beach is one of the best South West Florida beaches.

Second place on our list of best beaches in SW Florida is the equally fun and beautiful Lido Key Beach.

Part of a large barrier island that lies in the west of Sarasota County, Lido Key Beach is less crowded compared to Siesta Key, but still manages to retain a fun beachy vibe.

If you find Siesta Key too overwhelming, a short half an hour drive across the causeway will lead you here.

Aside from powdery white sand and turquoise waters, Lido Key Beach is well-loved because it offers a chance to see dolphins if you’re lucky. And if you’re into shelling and birding, you won’t be disappointed either.

It also has breathtaking sunsets, plenty of free parking, fresh seafood, and clean restrooms.

If you’re looking for a spot to shop or get a bite, simply head to St. Armands Circle and you’ll find all you need, from chic boutiques to nice restaurants, salons, and spas.

3. Port Charlotte Beach

Port Charlotte Beach is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.

Built in 1972, the picturesque Port Charlotte Beach is another one of our favorite SW Florida beaches.

It is clean, relaxing, family-friendly, and not too crowded on most days.

Its location close to the city (and only a 20-minute drive from the Punta Gorda Airport) makes it a well-loved hangout spot. If you don’t want to drive too far out of town to get some sea breeze, Port Charlotte Beach is the perfect option.

The beach is well-equipped with amenities such as parking and restrooms and offers facilities for you to indulge in a wide range of beach and water sports.

There are tennis courts, volleyball courts, a fishing pier, a boat ramp, a playground, a swimming pool, shaded pavilions, lounge chairs, a dork park, and even a rentable indoor space that’s great for parties, gatherings, weddings, and special events.

You should however note that the water at this beach may come with a brown tint due to tannins released from vegetation along the course of the river, but it’s nothing to worry about! It’s absolutely clean and safe to swim in.

4. Beer Can Island, Longboat Key

Beer Can Island Beach is one of the best Anna Maria Island beaches.

Photo by OutlierForLife/Flickr

The small, human-made Beer Can Island also known as Greer Island is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets.

This secluded paradise located on the northernmost tip of Longboat Key can be accessed via a bridge from Anna Maria Island or by boat. In fact, it’s one of the best beaches near Anna Maria Island.

It’s remote, picturesque, and perfect for a relaxing beach day! You can hop on a boat to get here and spend a full day basking in the sun in paradise.

While Beer Can Island was known for its shore lined with driftwood and vegetation, the area underwent a beach renourishment project a few years back to stabilize the highly erosive shore. It is however still gorgeous and tranquil to spend time at!

Do note that facilities are almost non-existence so carry everything you might need for a day.

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, this is the best beach in southwest Florida to go to.

5. Turtle Beach, Siesta Key

Turtle Beach is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.

Fred Hsu on en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on South Siesta Key in Sarasota, Turtle Beach was named after the sea turtles that come to nest on its shores.

Turtle nesting season runs from May to October every year, and you’ll get the opportunity to see these gentle, endangered creatures come ashore to dig cavities in the sands and lay their eggs. However, don’t bother them and respect their homes.

If you’d like, you can even spend a night at the Turtle Beach Campground for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Besides being a great beach for spotting wildlife, the beach is also a popular shelling spot. You’ll be able to collect lots of beautiful shells as you walk along the stretch.

The sand here may be browner and coarser than some other South West Florida beaches, but it has lesser crowds making it the perfect spot if you’re not a fan of bustling stretches.

Some of the beach’s amenities include a playground, boat ramp, canoe launch, restrooms, parking, camping ground, and picnic shelters. There are no lifeguards on duty, however, so you’ll have to be on your guard, especially with kids.

6. South Brohard Beach and Paw Park

South Brohard Beach and Paw Park is one of the best SW Florida beaches.

You can probably guess from the name of this place that it’s a dog-friendly beach!

For those planning a beach day with their furry friends, Brohard Beach Paw Park in the coastal city of Venice features a fenced dog play yard and is your best bet on letting them run around in warm sand.

It’s also equipped with amenities such as wash-off stations, drinking fountains (for both dogs and humans), picnic tables, and a fishing pier.

While playing with your dog, keep an eye out for the signages indicating where the dog beach ends, and bring along necessities such as towels and dog waste bags to pick up after your pet.

If you’re looking for a dog-friendly beach in Southwest Florida, this is one to consider.

7. Caspersen Beach, Venice

Caspersen Beach is one of the best Southwest Florida beaches.

Located just next to Brohard Beach and Paw Park, Caspersen Beach is nicknamed the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World” and is one of the best places in Florida to find some prehistoric shark teeth.

This secluded beach stretches over approximately 2 miles and is perfect for long walks.

Most people searching for shark teeth head to the beach with a sand shovel and basket to scoop up souvenirs that are hard to find elsewhere.

Keep your eyes peeled as you dip your toes in the sand because they look like tiny black triangles and are easiest to spot during low tide and on the wet sand.

Besides being a popular spot for shelling and shark teeth hunts, Caspersen Beach is also a nationally recognized Blue Wave Beach, a certification awarded to beaches that are clean, safe, well-conserved, and carefully maintained.

Do note though that the shallow end of the water is a bit rocky and currents can be quite strong. Also, the sand is not white and powdery as at other beaches in southwest Florida.

8. Venice Beach, Venice

Venice Beach is one of the best Southwest Fl beaches.

Located close to Caspersen Beach, Venice Beach is another crowd favorite in the area.

It’s also a certified Blue Wave Beach and offers scenic views of the iconic Venice Public Fishing Pier.

Since it’s located close to downtown Venice, you’ll see many locals lounging in the sun here, especially on the weekends.

Venice Beach is a good size and is equipped with amenities such as free parking, food concessions, lifeguards, volleyball courts, picnic areas, and boardwalks.

If you’d like to stay at a hotel with beach views, there are some options right at Venice Beach, including tropical-style villas, rental homes, and family-friendly hotels.

9. Nokomis Beach, Sarasota County

Nokomis Beach is one of the best beaches in Southwest Florida.

Drive 10 minutes from Venice Beach and you’ll find yourself at Nokomis Beach, the oldest public beach in Sarasota County.

Well-loved by locals and families, Nokomis is beautiful, laid-back, not overdeveloped, and offers a beautiful sandy shore that stretches over 14 miles.

The beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, shelling, fishing, and even surfing when the conditions are right.

One of our favorite things at Nokomis Beach is the Nokomis Beach Drum Circle which takes place every Wednesday and Saturday evening!

Run by a local drum circle, this family-friendly sunset event is joined by drummers, musicians, dancers, hoopers, and spinners, and is open for public observation.

It’s a heartwarming and special local experience that’s unique to the beach. Try to catch it while you’re there!

10. South Jetty Beach, Venice

South Jetty Beach is one of the best South West Florida beaches.

Photo by Carla/Flikr

A list of beaches in southwest Florida won’t be complete without including South Jetty Beach.

With its charming Old Florida vibe that hits all the sweet spots, South Jetty Beach is a wonderful spot to sit on some huge rocks and watch the sun go down.

The waves at South Jetty Beach can get a bit rough though, so it’s not the best beach to swim at.

However, you can come here to sight some dolphins and manatees, do a bit of fishing, watch surfers and boats go by, or simply just lazy on the beach.

Feeling peckish? Get some ice cream, hot dogs, or coffee from Jetty Jack’s, a refreshment deck located at the beach! It’s the quintessential South Jetty experience that you shouldn’t miss out on.

11. Blind Pass Beach, Sanibel

Blind Pass Beach is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.

Also known as Middle Beach, Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key is the furthest beach south in Sarasota county on Sanibel Island.

The beach consists of both a bay and beachside and offers plenty of space to enjoy the gulf.

Do note though that the amenities at Blind Pass Beach are slightly sparse and there aren’t lifeguards on duty or rental stores, but if you don’t mind just relaxing for a few hours by the beach, it’s a calming place to be.

There’s also limited parking so ensure that you arrive early to get a spot. On the other hand, available amenities include a wheelchair-accessible entrance, some picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.

If you’d like to indulge in some nature, we recommend popping by the Duisberg Trail, a trail around the freshwater lake close to the beach.

You will have a peaceful walk through the shady mangrove swamp and end up at the bay. It’s an easy trail for people of all ages, including children.

While this is not the beach you go to for swimming due to its strong currents, you can do some shelling, fishing, or even windsurfing and kiteboarding

12. Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood

Stump Pass Beach State Park is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.
Stump Pass Beach State Park is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.

Open from 8 AM till sundown every day, Stump Pass Beach State Park is a gorgeous Florida State Park located in Englewood.

The pristine beaches and ocean at the Stump Pass Beach State Park are perfect for shelling, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, water skiing, paddling, and even scuba diving.

Besides beach and water activities, nature lovers will appreciate its tranquil 1.3-mile hiking trail.

The trail will take you through five distinct natural communities that serve as a peaceful home to a wide variety of wildlife, including West Indian manatees, snowy egrets, osprey, frigatebirds, and gopher tortoises.

The park even offers ranger-led turtle walks and beach walks during winter months.

13. Englewood Beach at Chadwick Park

Englewood Beach is one of the best Southwest Florida beaches.

Another popular beach in southwest Florida is Englewood Beach at Chadwick Park.

Englewood Beach is wide, clean, and well-equipped with pretty much all the amenities you’ll need, from restrooms, showers, water stations, a playground, food vendors, shelters, picnic tables, grills, large pavilions, and sports courts. You can also find some shells and shark teeth along the stretch.

There is also a 900-foot boardwalk and lots of vibrant restaurants located right across the street whenever you need a bite! Our favorites are the Lock ‘N Key Restaurant and SandBar Tiki & Grille!

However, the beach’s parking situation is not the best so try to arrive earlier in the day if you’d like to snag a spot. You’ll need to pay for it via the ParkMobile app but it’s pretty cheap.

The beach can also get rather crowded on weekends and during the holiday season so plan your visit accordingly.

14. Manasota Key Beach

Manasota Key Beach is one of the best beaches in Southwest Florida.

Located a bit off the beaten path on a quieter side of the Manasota Key island, Manasota Key Beach is an easy 15-minute drive from Englewood Beach.

It’s one of the least crowded beaches in southwest Florida and feels much like an idyllic private beach sometimes thanks to its sparse crowds.

If you find the popular Englewood Beach too overwhelming for your fancy, we suggest driving your way here for a respite from the crowds. All you have to do is cross the Manasota Key Drawbridge.

For those who’d like to connect with nature, you can easily get to the South Venice Lemon Bay Preserve, a small nature preserve that offers scenic trails.

15. South Lido County Park, Sarasota

South Lido County Park is one of the best South West Florida beaches.

Photo by Timothy Valentine/Flickr

South Lido County Park is a sprawling 100-acre haven for nature and beach lovers.

The park was acquired by the county of Sarasota in 1974 to preserve its fragile ecosystem and is now accessible to the public all year long.

From a beautiful loop trail that is fit for people of all ages and fitness levels, a hidden beach where you can escape the crowds, secluded observation platforms, and lush mangroves, South Lido County Park promises a fun adventure for all.

The park is a popular spot for bird watching, nature walks, and kayaking through the mangroves.

Keep your eyes peeled if you’re looking to spot some squirrels, manatees, or dolphins! If you’re lucky, they may come out to play while you’re exploring the park.

You should however note that visitors are advised against swimming here due to strong currents so if you’re looking for a beach to swim at, this may not be your best choice.

16. Little Hickory Island Beach Park, Bonita Springs

Little Hickory Island Beach Park is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.

Much like its name, Little Hickory Island Beach Park is quite small as opposed to other longer and bigger public beaches in Southwest Florida, but it’s still quite a good size if you’re just looking for somewhere to bask in the sun and get some ocean breeze.

It’s the sort of beach that’s great for catching a peaceful sunset, collecting seashells, and taking a refreshing dip.

Amenities at Little Hickory Island Beach Park include restrooms, showers, shelters, and picnic tables.

Parking is also available, though we suggest avoiding peak hours if you don’t want to wait around for a vacant spot!

17. Gasparilla Island

Gasparilla Island is one of the best beaches in SW Florida.
Port Boca Grande Lighthouse

Located halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers, the beautiful Gasparilla Island is one of our favorite Gulf Coast barrier islands in southwest Florida.

The Island is home to Gasparilla Island State Park which harbors a handful of pristine beaches with blue-green waters, soft white sand, and lovely tropical charm.

Unlike many other boat-only islands in the vicinity, Gasparilla Island is just a short drive over the bridge making it easy to reach.

Make sure to catch a glimpse of the most iconic historical monument on the island — a wooden lighthouse that stands on the southern end of the island.

The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse was built in 1890 and has guided thousands of ships to the safety of Charlotte Harbor.

It remains open for visiting and even doubles as a museum where you can absorb some knowledge of Gasparilla Island’s rich history.

18. Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa State Park is one of the best SW Florida beaches.

A close ‘competitor’ of Gasparilla Island is its neighboring barrier island park, the equally beautiful Cayo Costa State Park that’s located directly south of Gasparilla.

Only accessible by private boat, ferry, or helicopter, Cayo Costa State Park boasts 9 miles of gorgeous beaches, acres of pine forests, and lush mangrove swamps.

The island is remote, beautifully maintained, and pretty much an unspoiled slice of paradise.

The beaches of Cayo Costa State Park are perfect for all types of beach and water activities, and great for catching a glimpse of many wildlife that frequent the island.

This includes four different species of sea turtles, West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, snowy egrets, and eagles.

Besides spending time at the beach, we also suggest considering other popular recreational activities such as hiking and camping!

19. Tigertail Beach, Marco Island

Tigertail Beach is one of the best Southwest Florida beaches.

Located further south along the coast is Marco Island, which also offers plenty of beach fun and one, in particular, you can’t miss is Tigertail Beach which was once an offshore sandbar.

When Hurricane Wilma hit the island in 2005, the sand piled up and connected the stretch to the mainland. Eventually, Tigertail Beach was formed and now consists of an inner and outer beach.

One of the beaches can be reached by waddling across the waist-high saltwater lagoon during low tide which is a fun experience that’s unique to the island.

You can also opt to paddleboard or kayak over or even bring a float! When you reach the beach, you’ll be welcomed by soft sands and blue waters where you might even spot some dolphins.

When it comes to amenities, there is parking space which comes with a high price tag compared to other SW Florida FL beaches on this list, changing rooms, a snack bar, a bird-watching tower, and a kids’ play area if you’re traveling with kids in tow.

20. Keewaydin Island

Keewaydin Island is one of the best Southwest Fl beaches.

Photo by Visit Florida/Flickr

Located just off the coast of Naples, Keewaydin Island is another gem not to be missed.

This tranquil barrier island has no cars, roads, or bridges as a result of petitions from its residents to prevent commercial development meaning that it can only be accessed by boat.

Thanks to that, the island remains primitive, unspoiled, and pristine! You can enjoy miles of soft beach without the sore view of high-rise buildings. And, did we mention that the island has the only pet-friendly beach in the vicinity?

Though Keewaydin Island’s underdevelopment can be a pro, it can be a con in some instances since it’s not as well-equipped as other Southwest Florida beaches.

There are no restrooms, showers, garbage cans, or shelters so make sure to come prepared! Pack some trash bags to avoid leaving behind litter, as well as umbrellas if you don’t want to get sunburnt.

You won’t go hungry here though, as Keewaydin Island is known for being an anchor spot for colorful food boats that serve drinks and bites such as sandwiches, ice cream, hot dogs, beer, and soda — but only in the high season.

21. Clam Pass Park, North Naples

Clam Pass Park is one of the best beaches in Southwest Florida.

Tucked behind Naples Grande Beach Resort, Clam Pass Park is one of the most popular beaches in North Naples.

With 35 acres of coastal habitat and a boardwalk that runs through a mangrove forest, Clam Pass Park is ideal for both family beach days and an adventure close to nature.

The beach is equipped with food stands, a kids’ play area, and rental shops. You can also hop on the free electric trams that run around the vicinity all day long ferrying visitors from the parking lot, hotel, and restaurants to the beach.

You should note that the beach is rather long and crowds thin out after a distance, so if you’d like a bit more privacy, walk along a bit further and you may have some area all to yourself!

Note: the bathrooms at the beach are temporarily unavailable due to destruction from Hurricane Ian.

22. Bunche Beach Preserve, Fort Meyers

Bunche Beach Preserve is one of the best Southwest Fl beaches.

Last up on our list of Southwest FL beaches is the Bunche Beach Preserve. Located on San Carlos Bay, the Bunche Beach Preserve remains unknown to most people traveling to Florida.

Instead, it’s a favorite amongst locals, especially those with a soft spot for birds. Groups of birds such as ibises, pelicans, and spoonbills gather at the preserve in the colder winter months making it a great place for birdwatching.

Wildlife-watching and beach activities aside, Bunche Beach Preserve is an excellent spot for kayaking.

You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore its shady mangrove creeks and tunnels if you’re up for an adventure.

And at the end of the day, don’t be in a rush to leave! Stay to watch the sunset at the beach — it’s simply amazing when the skies are clear!

Final Thoughts on the Best Southwest Florida Beaches

We hope you found this list of the best beaches in Southwest Florida helpful!

Your options of sandy stretches for a beach day are limitless in Southwest Florida, and you’ll be able to find a beach that’s up your alley depending on what you’re looking for.

But before you go, consider sharing these best beaches in Southwest Florida if you found the post helpful!

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