David Lyons / Alamy
Carla Torres
August 13, 2014

No trip to Miami would be complete without a day—or many days—spent on the city’s hallmark white-sand beaches. Decompress with the sound of waves rolling toward oceanfront bars, or get in touch with your inner child by crafting a sand castle. For family-friendly fun, bring the kids to one of Miami’s lesser-known beaches (which keep the party turned off and the security high). Those looking for a bit more solitude might prefer a private stretch of sand with a low-key vibe for a picnic at sunset. While we take our palm trees and mangroves for granted, tourists come to gawk at Mother Nature’s progeny in the form of shrubs, shallows amidst the Atlantic surf, and pearly white shores. Sunbathing is an integral part of the Miami culture—you think that sun-kissed look happens on its own? No, Miami has its picturesque beaches to thank for that. Take a walk on any one of these splash-worthy shores.

Miami Beach/ South Beach

Made famous by feature films, including Scarface, the vibrant cruise ship-speckled sunsets of South Beach are postcard perfect. Bikini-clad beachgoers sunbathe like it’s their job and cool off in the sparkling waters that are also ideal for water sports. Nikki Beach club quenches the thirst of daytime partygoers, while the boardwalk at South Pointe Park offers a respite from the festivities. 

Virginia Key Beach Park

For striking views of Brickell Avenue and the Downtown Miami skyline, flow over to Virginia Key Beach Park. Like a hidden treasure stumbled upon, it’s a local secret worth keeping to yourself. Explore the rocky shallows or take a ride on the vintage carousel. Avid cyclists ought to tackle the 4.1-mile bike trail through native vegetation. 

Surfside Beach

Low-key and relaxed, Surfside’s Residential Beach is family-friendly and ideal for tourists seeking respite from raucous South Beach. Parking is never a problem and the beach elicits a sense of zen. Joggers can catch the sunrise while navigating the footpath fringed with sand dunes. A walk around the beach community reveals succulent food options, such as eclectic Kosh Steakhouse and Sushi Bistro.  

Sunny Isles

Hope you packed you’re snorkeling gear, because it will be put to good use at Sunny Isles Beach. The Newport Fishing Pier has been around since the 1950s, as have the surrounding beachfront motels. Luxury apartment towers and hotels have risen, but locals and visitors still value the simple things in life—clear waters, frost-white sand, and the dive-worthy steel tug wreck that houses local marine life.  

Haulover Beach

If you prefer a beach with free spirit, the country’s top nudist beach may be for you. You don’t have to strip, though there’s nothing better than foregoing tan lines and surrendering yourself to the ocean. Don’t worry about getting carried away—there are lifeguards on duty. If anyone stares or says hello, wave back—chances are, they’re inviting you to a game of naked volleyball. 

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