My Top 10 list of the Best SW Florida Beaches

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I have never been to a beach I did not like. But there are some that are superior to others.  And as a born and bred Floridian if there is one thing I know, it's beaches.  It is safe to say if I am not out selling real estate, well then I am probably at the beach.  I have been to almost every beach from the Florida Keys to the Pan Handle and Jacksonville on the other side.  But I am going to stick to SW Florida.  Each beach has its unique characteristics and its own perks.  There are some beaches I go to with the grandparents and others I would only go to on the spur of the moment. Here is my list I hope you can take advantage of my viewpoint and enjoy your day at the beach.  Any day at the beach is a good day.  


10. Venice Beach 

Known as the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World" Aptly named one of Coastal Living’s "Best Places to Live on the Coast" in 2020 and “Happiest Seaside Towns in America” in 2015. I come for the perfectly clear turquoise water and white sandy beaches. The unique “sail” style pavilion at the beach is an iconic landmark along with the beach restroom building that was built in 1964. The beach is in Venice city limits but is maintained by Sarasota County, including its concession area. Parking is free and lifeguards are available. Camping is not allowed on the beach and fires are also prohibited.                 
Venice Beach provides a scenic view of the Venice Public Fishing Pier and many opportunities to see dolphins and shorebirds. The beaches along Venice are home to a large number of marine turtle nests between the months of May and October. 

Amenities: Free parking, lifeguards, food concession, shelter, two sand volleyball courts, picnic area, and boardwalks. Additional parking is available across the street to the north at Graser Park at the intersection of Barcelona Avenue and Apalachicola Road near The Esplanade. SCAT bus service is available.

                                                                                                                                                                   Location: 101 The Esplanade at the west end of West Venice Avenue

best beaches

9. Caspersen Beach

 Caspersen is one of the most enjoyable shelling beaches in the area and an exceptionally good place to find prehistoric sharks' teeth. Enjoy a 20-minute walk along Caspersen's nature trail through a coastal hammock. The southern two-thirds of the beachfront were left in its natural state and offer a more secluded experience. A dune restoration system with walkovers helps preserve the shoreline. Other habitats here include freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangroves, and tidal flats.

Amenities: Canoe Launch, Fishing Pier, Picnic Facilities, Playground, Restrooms, and Wildlife/Bird Watching

                                                                                                                                                                      Location: 4100 Harbor Drive South Venice, FL 34285

8. Siesta Key Beach

Ranked the #1 Beach in the U.S. in 2020 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards™, you will quickly understand why when you feel the quartz-crystal powdery sand between your toes, and experience the soft waves and the abundance of sun & fun at gorgeous Siesta Beach. Thanks to the large parking area, concession stands, the free trolley to get around on the island, and nearby fun Siesta Key Village, you can plan your whole trip centered around this gorgeous Key without getting bored. My favorite here is the sand and water quality.  The sand is like baby powder and the water on a good day looks like a swimming pool.  Since it is a beautiful place it is also very popular, parking can be a problem come early or expect to wait around for a spot.  

AMENITIES: Beach Access, food and drink (including beer and wine)Birding, Concession / Restaurant, Grills, Historical / Cultural Resource, Lifeguard, Beach wheelchair, chairs and umbrellas for rental  Pickleball, Picnicking, Playground, Restroom, Shelter / Pavilion, Swimming, Tennis, Tennis Court, Trail - Paved, Volleyball                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                       Location: 948 Beach Road, Sarasota, FL 34242

7. Blind Pass Beach aka Middle Beach

 This is the Blind Pass Beach access. It's also called "Middle Beach" because it's in the middle of the island. Remote away from the tourist traps and the hustle and bustle. Clean beautiful blue water and white sandy beach with adequate restrooms and showers.  Plenty of shark tooth hunting and lots of dolphin spotting on this beach.  Lots of birds and wildlife plus they have a secret boardwalk through the mangroves on the far right of the parking lot.  It takes you to the farthest part of the beach overlooking an old large tree that has shade for many lucky beachgoers. 

AMENITIES: Beach Access, Birding, Canoe/Kayak Launch, Fishing, Historical / Cultural Resource, Picnicking, Playground, Restroom, Shelter / Pavilion, Swimming, Trail - Unpaved,

                                                                                                                                                                         Location: 6725 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, FL 34223

Blind pass best beaches


6. Stump Pass Beach State Park

Visitors come to this secluded beach to enjoy year-round swimming and sunbathing. Shelling is best during the winter months. A hiking trail passes through five distinct natural communities that provide homes for many species of wildlife. Covered picnic tables are located along the trail. Fishing is popular around Stump Pass and on the nearby grass flats. Catches can yield flounder, snook, trout, redfish, snapper, whiting, sheepshead, and tarpon. But you do need a license. 

Visitors can launch a kayak and paddle around the two islands just east of the park's land base. While at the park, visitors might see West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, least terns, and magnificent frigate birds. Ranger-led nature hikes are available in the winter. 

What I like most about this beach is the quiet stroll along the 1.3-mile hiking trail that stretches to the southern end of the park and through the park’s five distinct natural communities. Along this trail, you may see a variety of wildlife such as ospreys, Southern bald eagles, fiddler crabs, and wading birds, plus plants such as prickly pear cactus, indigo berry, bay cedar, and coontie.

Printable Brouchure

AMENITIES: Beach wheelchairs are available for free. Inquire with park staff. Note: There is no park office or ranger station. Picnic facilities with tables and grills. Parking. Restrooms. Outdoor freshwater showers/rinses are available for rinsing off after a day at the park.

                                                                                                                                                                            Location: 900 Gulf Blvd., Englewood, FL 34223

Stump pass best beaches



5. South Lido Key Beach Park on the Gulf 

A wonderful little beach and park set away from the hustle and bustle of Lido Key. Beautiful white sand beach and pristine clear blue water. What could be better than sandy coastline and crystal clear water in a park setting? The best part this beach is very family-friendly.  Located at the southwestern tip of Lido Key in Sarasota, Florida the 100-acre South Lido Park (A.K.A Ted Sperling Park)  is surrounded by water; the Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou. It is a favorite with families, boaters, kayakers, personal watercraft enthusiasts, and avid fishermen. Swimmers should beware of strong currents especially on the northwest side of “Big Pass,” the waterway channel that is between north Siesta Key and South Lido Key leading out to the Gulf of Mexico! 

AMENITIES: shaded picnic areas, barbecue grills, children’s playground, volleyball, a canoe trail, nature trails, an observation tower and decks, restrooms, and free parking.


                                                                                                                                                                            Location: 2201 Ben Franklin Drive, Lido Key, FL

lido beach best beaches


4. Englewood Beach 

 This pristine beach offers white sand, sparkling blue waters, and spectacular sunset views year-round. This beach is a very popular beach and it has pavillions so it's a perfect place for parties and get-togethers. They are great for a cookout or picnic. There is a boardwalk and plenty of beach sand to share with everyone.  There are restaurants and bars within walking distance.   Retreat to the tranquil shores of Englewood, a throwback to Old Florida’s simple and idyllic lifestyle. Englewood surprises visitors with its antiques shopping and collection of cozy restaurants in Olde Englewood Village.

Amenities: BBQ Grills, Basketball Courts, Birding, Facility Rentals, Fishing, Fishing Pier, Horseshoes, Picnic Shelters, Picnic Tables, Playground, Restroom/Portable Toilet, Beach Volleyball Courts, Beach wheelchairs are available 7 days a week on a help-yourself basis starting at 7:30 a.m. and must be returned by 3:30 p.m. to be locked up for the evening. 

Facility & Pavilion Rentals
Rentals are available by request on a first-come, first-serve basis.

                                                                                                                                                                              Location: 2100 N. Beach Road, Englewood, FL 34223

  Englewood beach


 3. Gasparilla Island State/ Park Boca Grade Beach 

The centerpiece of Gasparilla is the restored Port Boca Grande Lighthouse built-in 1890. I love visiting the lighthouse and reading its old history books at its museum, it makes me feel like a tourist. It is one of only six lighthouses in Florida to be open to the public, and the only one on the west coast. The lighthouse is currently home to a museum filled with the rich history of Gasparilla Island. Learn about the Calusa Native Americans, the island’s role in the phosphate industry of the 1900s, and the world-famous tarpon fishing in the Boca Grande Pass. It also offers a family-friendly, “please touch” area featuring local bones, fossils, and shells. Knowledgeable volunteer museum docents will guide you through the history of the island. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out! The small but well-stocked gift shop has a variety of souvenirs, apparel, jewelry, and more.  Swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and nature study are popular activities that can be accessed at any of our five parking lots. Shelling is particularly good in the winter months along the gulf.

Two picnic areas (at the Range Light and the Boca Grande Lighthouse parking lots) offer pavilions for shade and scenic views of the surrounding water. 

Activities: Swimming and fishing along with shelling, picnicking, and viewing the historic Port Boca Grande Lighthouse

                                                                                                                                                                               Location: 880 Belcher Rd, Boca Grande, FL 33921

  Gasparilla Island state


2. Nokomis Beach Park

Nokomis Beach is Sarasota Counties' oldest public beach and is well-liked by families and fishing enthusiasts. Covering just 22 acres, this quiet public park has everything you need for a perfect day on the beach – free public car parking, restrooms, picnic areas, warm clear waters, fine sand…and the chance to find fossilized sharks teeth if you’re lucky. Shelling, swimming, diving, fishing, boating, birding, and building sandcastles can all be enjoyed on this beach beneath the watchful eye of local lifeguards. The local drum circle gathers informally near the lifeguard tower on Nokomis Beach every Wednesday and Saturday evening. They arrive anytime after 6 p.m. so if you linger you may enjoy an impromptu performance as the sun sets over the Gulf.

This place is also home to one of my favorite kayak rentals No Worries Beach Rentals is at Shark Tooth Beach Concessions Nokomis Beach. Providing equipment rentals for popular water sports in Charlotte & Sarasota counties Right in front of the concession stand Kayaks, paddleboards, boogie boards, skimboards, beach toys and games, chairs, umbrellas, floaties, kites, snorkel masks... they got it all

AMENITIES: Beach Access, Birding, Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch, Concession / Restaurant, Fishing Pier, Historical / Cultural Resource, Indoor Rental, Lifeguard, Picnicking, Playground, Restroom, Shelter / Pavilion, Swimming.

                                                                                                                                                                               Location: 100 Casey Key Road, Nokomis, FL 34275

Nokomis Beach best


1. Manasota Key Beach 

My favorite beach and the reason it is could be their new restroom facility and multiple public showers, It is said to have cost well over a million dollars. The beach is simply gorgeous and not crowded, the water is usually crystal clear. The sunsets are beautiful and the surf is easy.   Plus there are shark teeth galore. If you're looking for something that's different from the overbuilt, crowded, traffic-jammed beaches of Siesta Key and Lido Beach, then Manasota Key might have what you're looking for. Manasota Key offers very good, but limited access to the public. Most of the beaches are only enjoyed by residents and visitors that are staying on the island. Manasota Key has no big resorts or hotels, and no multi-story condominiums--just lots of beach houses tucked behind the greenery. Some are on the Gulf, some are on the bay, and others seem to span the width of the island. The dunes on northern Manasota Key attract many nesting sea turtles during the summer months. 

 Amenities include: Beach, lifeguard, boardwalk, fishing, boat ramps, docks, canoe/kayak launch, picnic areas, grills, volleyball court, restrooms, parking 

                                                                                                                                                                              Location: 8570 Manasota Key Rd, Englewood, FL 34223

Manasota key beach best

Manasota key beach facility

manasota key beach lifegaurd


If you didn't see any beaches and interested you, well it's your lucky day.  Below is a link for Florida's Beach Finders Guide.  Take a look and go exploring adventure is just a beach trip away.  Always remember to have lots of fun and to be safe. 

The Florida Beach Finder Guide