7 Secret Beaches in Florida for a Non-Crowded Getaway

These lesser-known Florida beaches offer a quieter atmosphere, pristine nature, and endless shelling opportunities.

With over 1,300 miles of coastline, Florida is a beach lover’s paradise. But despite the state being home to numerous sandy shores, it can be hard to find a quiet and secluded beach not yet spoiled by the masses.

Fortunately, there are still a handful of lesser-known spots where you can enjoy a sense of discovery (and have ample space for your beach blanket). Some locations are only accessible by boat but, like many natural treasures, are well worth the adventure. Below, we’ve outlined seven of the best-kept secret beaches in Florida.

01 of 07

Boneyard Beach, Jacksonville

Boneyard Beach
© Dawna Moore / Alamy

Step into the ethereal scene inside Big Talbot Island State Park just south of Amelia Island, where salt-dusted skeletons are all that remain of the oak and cedar trees that once guarded this stretch of coast. Stroll the shore and take note of the scent of the maritime forests directly behind the towering sand dunes.

Stay: Enjoy a sprawling, crescent-shaped pool deck overlooking 1.5 miles of beachfront at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Golfers flock to its 18-hole championship golf course surrounded by marshes and moss-covered oaks.

02 of 07

Santa Rosa Beach, Walton County

Santa Rosa Beach
© Ron S Buskirk / Alamy

You’ll think you’ve stumbled into the Caribbean when you first gaze at this 26-mile stretch of north Florida beach, which draws comparisons to both Aruba and Curaçao. Quartz crystals wash down from the Appalachian Mountains, collecting here and making the sugar-white sand sparkle. The gemstone-hued water explains the area’s moniker as Florida’s Emerald Coast — its calm, flat surface is perfect for paddle boarding.

Stay: Cottages and villas surround the main square in the West Indies-inspired town of Rosemary Beach, home to bookshops, boutiques, and cafés with a penchant for Southern cooking.

03 of 07

Playalinda Beach, Brevard County

© James Schwabel / Alamy

You’ll have to drive through a wildlife refuge to reach this sweet swath of Canaveral National Seashore. With bald eagles, manatees, and loggerhead turtles hiding in wetlands, it’s like playing nature’s version of “I Spy” on your way to one of the most peaceful stretches of sand in the state. Perhaps what’s more impressive is what you won’t see on these 24 miles of uninterrupted shoreline: buildings, traffic, or motorized watersports. You will, however, see azure waves that keep the soundtrack soothing and the bodysurfing fun.

Stay: Bustling Cocoa Beach is the closest beach town, but the Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores is more suitable for sustaining a relaxed mood.

04 of 07

Boca Beach, Gasparilla Island

Gasparilla Island

“Hush, don’t rush” is the unofficial mantra on Gasparilla Island between Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. The one-mile stretch of powdery white sand is strewn with driftwood and shells, turning the beach into an organic art installation. The aquamarine waters are considered some of the best for both sailing and tarpon fishing, and there's a good chance of spotting dolphins and sea turtles.

Stay: The elegant Gasparilla Inn & Club is for those who love porch swings, clapboard shutters, and afternoon tea.

05 of 07

Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin

© Charles Crust / Alamy

Fall off the grid with a 20-minute ferry ride to pristine Caladesi Island, where good things come in threes: three miles of beaches with enough mollusk shells and sand dollars to lure collectors; a three-mile nature trail through tropical mangrove forests; and three miles of paddling trails. Watch the nature show as gopher tortoises burrow in sand dunes and shorebirds wade in the surf. A snack shack provides picnic supplies, kayaks, and beach chairs, so all you have to pack is a swimsuit.

Stay: With architecture inspired by its namesake Spanish province, the hacienda-style Hotel Zamora in nearby St. Pete Beach offers roomy balconies, a rooftop bar, and a tapas-style restaurant.

06 of 07

Pensacola Beach, Santa Rosa Island

Pensacola Beach
© Colin D. Young / Alamy

Sitting on a pristine 40-mile barrier island, Pensacola Beach has translucent waters that are best appreciated at low tide, when you can walk hundreds of yards and see nothing but a sandy, winter-white bottom and maybe a few minnows. This postcard-worthy beach sits within the nation’s longest stretch of protected seashore, and with less than 3,000 people calling it home, you may be the only person you see while you’re out there.

Stay: The luxury waterfront villas from Paradise Beach Homes rent for a fraction of the cost of more popular Florida beaches — and have better views.

07 of 07

St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park 

Baby in the sand in St. Lucie
Courtesy of Visit St. Lucie

Located an hour north of West Palm Beach, the 1.7-mile-long beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park is accessible only by boat. The pristine barrier island features a boardwalk with views of mangrove forests, live oaks, paradise trees, and wild limes. Most people picnic, sunbathe, and swim, while others take advantage of the excellent scuba diving and snorkeling conditions. If you’re visiting during the summer, watch where you step — the island is an important nesting site for loggerhead, leatherback, and green turtles. The best way to reach this beach is via the kayak trail, which starts from Seabranch Preserve State Park and meanders through mangrove estuaries before reaching the south beach access point.

Stay: Campsites and cabins are available at nearby Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The sprawling Sandpiper Bay Resort in Port St. Lucie offers all-inclusive packages with sports-focused activities including tennis, golf, pickleball, and soccer training sessions with professional coaches.

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