Beaches

Sun, Sea and Fun

Beaches

With Orlando being very centrally positioned, both Florida's east and west coasts are easily accessible (up to an hours drive away). There are many beaches to visit; from very populated areas to more secluded one, there is lots of choice to accommodate all.

ORLANDO BEACHES

Not actually in Orlando but still known as the “East Coast Orlando Beaches” and can expect a driving time to range between 60 minutes to up to 2 hours away, the following beaches can be found.

Cocoa Beach (61 miles from Orlando)

Offers a clean, safe environment and close to all kinds of stores, eateries and beach bums-related retail shops. You can also visit its well-known landmark called Canaveral Pier, a 900-foot wooden pier which was built at the north edge of the city in 1963 and features a restaurant and lounge complex.

Driving is not allowed on the beach as well as pets or glass containers, and the only alcoholic beverage allowed is beer.

Daytona Beach (64 miles from Orlando)

One of the more famous beaches and also one of the few Florida destinations where you can drive the minivan onto the sand, park it and unload for an easy family day in the sun and surf which is a lifeguard-patrolled beach.

It boasts of its boardwalk and pier, natural wonders and kid-friendly attractions, including new beachfront parks and a dazzling water park and family entertainment center just blocks off the beach.

It also offers parasailing, snorkeling, inflatable Banana Boat rides, personal-watercraft and jet-boat excursions on and around the waterfront. The boardwalk and Main Street areas have thrill rides, restaurants and souvenir shops galore.

At the Ponce de Leon Inlet, located at the southern point of Daytona Beach, you can visit its famous Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station (Florida’s tallest lighthouse) and the “Disappearing island.”

New Smyrna Beach (64 miles from Orlando)

Located on the east coast of Florida, this beach has 13 miles of white-sand beach.

Its offshore rock ledges create excellent wave breaks, which surfers love, and less dangerous undertows. That’s also the reason why the national surfing championships (located at Ponce Inlet, north of New Smyrna) are held several times a year.

This beach is accessible to cars, but most of the beach, starting at 27th Avenue and going south, is traffic-free.

At the south end of New Smyrna Beach is the north entrance to Canaveral National Seashore where you can see its cabbage palms and palmettos framed 24 mile coastline and a 57,000-acre reserve which serves as a refuge for a variety of bird species and as the nesting grounds of loggerhead sea turtles. You can also take a walk on its winding nature trails or visit Turtle Mound, an archaeological site of the Timucua Indians.

New Smyrna is surrounded by water, so visitors can expect to find lots of fresh seafood in local restaurants, many of which have great water views. 

Canaveral National Seashore (70 miles from Orlando)

Pristine beaches of large-grained sand, heaped into dunes like Mother Nature intended. 

The Canaveral National Seashore, which includes beaches from south of New Smyrna Beach to Titusville, is one of the last of the Florida wildernesses.

Cars are not allowed on the beach, no places from which to rent rafts or buy sodas, no pier parties, no looming condos, no surf shops, no motels or lights. That means, if you need anything, you have to bring it yourself.

Canaveral is the birthing place for hundreds of sea turtles, huge creatures that lumber ashore during the night, dig nests with their flippers and deposit eggs that hatch in the late summer and early fall.

Visitors, however, need to be cautious of jellyfish and man-of-war stings, bees and other insects, sunburn, rough surf and strong ocean currents and thunderstorms.

Flagler Beach (85 miles from Orlando)

Offers a colorful assortment of beach bars, restaurants and shops around its municipal pier such as the Golden Lion Café (which offers a raw-bar dining on a rooftop deck) and the Flagler Beachfront Winery (where the Chardonnay’s and Cabernet’s are crafted in-house from imported grapes).

You can also visit Marineland, one of Florida’s earliest animal attractions. Also, there is the Ripple Effect Eco-Tours, which offers kayak and boat excursions on the Matanzas River from the Marineland Marina just across A1A from Marineland.

Leashed pets are welcomed on Flagler Beach, but only north of North 10th Street and south of South 10th Street.

Other east coast Orlando beaches include...

Melbourne Beach (77 miles from Orlando)

A family-friendly beach that’s offers nature and recreation, art and culture, upscale dining and downtown shopping.

You will find a wide variety of fine restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and shopping options galore from the modern centers to historic downtown.

You’ll surely appreciate the sunshine on the 33 miles of unspoiled Melbourne beaches by daylight or the romantic moonlit walk while enjoying an evening’s tropical breeze.

 Sebastian Inlet (94 miles from Orlando) 

One of the premier places in Florida to surf. When the waves are rolling in, Sebastian’s “Monster Hole,” about a third of a mile offshore south of the inlet, breaks the waves just right for a long ride. Look for more good surf action immediately north of the inlet.

Children can have some fun in “The Cove,” a protected, gently sloping pool of water north of the inlet.

Tent and RV campsites (around $30 per night) are situated along the inlet on the shores of the Indian River Lagoon. You can bring a motorboat or rent one or a canoe or kayak at the park’s marina.

Tourists can also have a look at the two museums within the park. The McLarty Treasure Museum, at the park’s south end, shows off salvaged treasure from the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet, which was wrecked off the coast during a hurricane and the Sebastian Fishing Museum, south of the inlet, celebrates the area’s fishing tradition by showcasing such items as a handmade fishing boat and historic fishing gear.

Vero Beach (101 miles from Orlando)

Unlike some of the most populated touristy cities in Florida, VeroBeach offers a much quieter feel, making it a great relaxation getaway. Comprised of 26 miles along the Atlantic coast, enjoy stretches of beautiful golden and unspoiled sand. As it known for its lack of crowds, here you can expect that most of your encounters will be with turtles and pelicans roaming on the beach rather than people!

Whilst the beach is stunning, that’s not all Vero Beach has to offer! Here you will find many high-end shops and unique boutiques to explore as well as plenty of restaurants and dining options for all budgets.

Vero Beach also features fantastic art galleries and museums, beautiful parks and dazzling theatrical performances.

Although a city, Vero Beach is often thought of as being more of a cosy coastal village. This is the perfect place if you are looking to soak up some sun, get some peace and/or escape from the buzz of busy Floridan areas.

West Coast Orlando Beaches (allow typically up to a two-hour drive)

Treasure Island (Near St. Petersburg)

Located on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast and is blessed with miles of gorgeous white sand beaches. It will take you approximately an hour and 45 minutes (about 105 miles from Orlando).

With its rich history, today Treasure Island is a unique blend of a small town laid back beach community and an internationally known family vacation destination.

Treasure Island’s downtown provides several clothing stores, a drug store, banks, liquor store, florist, restaurants, bars and a grocery store. Other Island amenities and activities include opportunities for a beautiful beach wedding, deep sea fishing, golf and more.

Clearwater Beach (Near Tampa)

It will take you approximately an hour and 45 minutes (about 105 miles from Orlando).

It is a barrier island off a peninsula, so it takes some bridge-hopping (but great view at the same time) to reach it. But you’ll surely love its three miles of powdery white beach and abundant family attractions.

This narrow island offers a grand beach and fun-packed fishing pier on one side, and the Intracoastal Waterway with a busy marina on the other.

Kids will surely enjoy the Captain Memo Pirate Cruise (where children acts as mutinous motley crews armed with water guns) while adults can hang out on the Poop Deck with a steel-drum band and complimentary wine, beer and champagne.

There’s also the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is a rescue, rehabilitation and research laboratory offering close encounters with dolphins, sea rays and turtles.

Its compactness, easy beach access, family fare and Jolly Trolley streetcars make this an accommodating place for kids of all ages.

Fort De Soto Park (Near St. Petersburg)

It will take you approximately an hour and 50 minutes (about 110 miles from Orlando)

Fort De Soto Park is an 870-acre patch of paradise located on the Gulf of Mexico, bearing a military name but has a spiritual heart.

It’s a mecca for migratory birds and migrating travelers who love to camp, swim, fish, picnic and otherwise duck civilization. Its wide expanse of beaches is ideal for privacy, and its waters have a blue-green Caribbean color.

Caladesi Island State Park (Near Tampa) 

It will take you approximately an hour and 55 minutes (about 105 miles from Orlando).

One of the few completely natural islands along Florida´s Gulf Coast. Caladesi’s fine, white quartz sand beaches were rated America’s Best Beach in 2008.

Beach lovers will surely enjoy swimming, sunbathing and beach-combing in the white sand beach while nature enthusiasts may see wildlife when hiking the three mile nature trail through the island’s interior or paddling a three mile kayak trail through the mangroves and bay.

Though more remote than the tourist mainstays of Clearwater or Miami, Caladesi still boasts showers, restrooms, kayak and beach-chair rentals, and a snack bar where burgers and beer are available.

Most beach goers reach the island by a 15-minute, $14 ferry ride. Visitors, unless they bring their own boat are limited to four-hour stays at the beach, which is a state park.

Anna Maria Island & Holmes Beach (Near Bradenton)

It will take you approximately two hours (about 120 miles from Orlando).

Proclaimed as the “Top Family Vacation” spot in all of the US back in 2014, Anna Maria Island the perfect relaxation spot for your next vacation.

Enjoy the many things that Anna Maria Beach has to offer, a cozy paradise that hasn’t changed much since the 70’s.

Also visit the Anna Maria Bayfront Park, where sweeping views of Tampa Bay and the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge are available from almost every angle.

Siesta Key (Near Sarasota)

It will take you approximately two hours and 15 minutes (about 135 miles from Orlando).

It is a narrow, 8-mile long, crescent-shaped Gulf Coast barrier island that manages to be busy and restful at the same time.

It boasts of its sugary white beaches that sand snobs love for being 99% pure quartz.

It is also famous for its great restaurants, a franchise-free zone with a tropical-rain-forest/coastal-village feel.

Longboat Key, Lido Key and St. Armands Key (Near Sarasota)

It will take you approximately two hours and 15 minutes (about 135 miles from Orlando).

Longboat Key, Lido Key, and St. Armands Key are ideal beach and bayfront locations for the ultimate Florida vacation.

Stretching between the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico and serene Sarasota Bay, these keys attract many visitors who come to enjoy the average year-round temperature of 73 degrees.

These waters are home to manatee, dolphins, and fish, while pelicans, osprey, and a variety of shorebirds find sanctuary here.

Well known as private island paradises, there are accommodations here to suit everyone, from deluxe suites in plush resorts and condominiums to beachfront cottages and modest hotel rooms.

You’ll surely have a terrific shopping, theater, and cultural experience.

Fred Howard Park and Sunset Beach (Tarpon Springs)

It will take you approximately two hours (about 110 miles from Orlando).

Consisting of two beaches along the Gulf of Mexico coast, this is a wonderful place to visit to enjoy breathing taking sunsets and beautiful coastal scenery.

Fred Howard Park – featuring fun play areas, fishing spots and windsurfing opportunities, this beach is packed with family fun.

Here you can find great viewing points where you can catch a gorgeous beach sunset. Expect to see some wide life as it is common to see birds and bald eagles flying around and you may even see a dolphin or a manatee splashing nearby.

Other amenities provided include rental equipment, clean wash areas and toilets. There is a charge for parking. Free entry to the beach.

Sunset Beach – Smaller than Fred Howard Park and less heard of, this is said to be a very romantic place to watch exquisite sunset views.

A popular spot for the locals, this beach provides certain areas for boats and for swimming.

Other beach facilities include clean public toilets, shelters, tables, barbecue cookers and areas to have panics. There is also plenty of free parking spots close by.

The beach further features monthly concerts and live music that take place between April and November time. There is no charge to use the beach.

Sunset beach has a strict policy on no alcohol or pets to be allowed on the beach grounds. 

Close by to Tarpon Springs is a coastal Scottish town called Dunedin. (approximately 10 miles by car).

As one of the oldest towns in West Florida, there is plenty of history and culture to learn about. The town further features annual Scottish celebrations and activates for all ages, including art galleries, museums, shopping, eateries, nightlife and much more. Dunedin also boasts its pretty parks, making it a lovely place for any nature enthusiast!

And if there wasn’t enough beaches available to choose from, Dunedin is located just a few minutes away from some of the worlds most favoured beaches, including Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park.