20 Best Beaches in Central Florida: East and West Coast

Beach in central Florida coast

With 189 official beaches and 360 miles of coastline, Florida is THE place in the nation for getting some waterside relaxation. Since you won’t ever have time to visit all of those beaches, even if you retire to a sunny Florida community, we have put together a list of the 20 best beaches in Central Florida for you to explore. Discover the best the east and west Florida coasts have to offer in sand, sun, and surf.

Beaches Near Orlando

The city of Orlando does not have its own access to the beach, but it DOES sit 2 hours or less from many of the state’s most gorgeous beaches. Not only do these seaside locations offer you stunning views, endless sunbathing opportunities, and any water activity you can imagine, but they also give you the opportunity to soak up history, entertaining, dining, and shopping.

1. Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is just an hour from Orlando and is famous for surf and space (as in outer). Located along the Space Coast, you can view launches from Cape Canaveral and explore historical  attractions such as the Air Force Space and Missile Museum. Alternatively, you can catch the beach’s incredible surfs and even take surfing lessons if you feel up to adding a new hobby to your retirement.

2. Ormond Beach

If you want a quieter beach experience, you should explore Ormond Beach, which is just north of Orlando on the east coast of Florida. Defined by its beautiful dunes, this less refined beach offers coarse sand, stunning views, and easy access to the restaurant-infused Granada Boulevard.

3. New Smyrna Beach

Located just over an hour from Orlando, and within driving distance of our Country Squire community, New Smyrna Beach sits on central Florida’s east coast and offers many opportunities for surfing, and sun, alongside sparkling white beaches. While parking is a little sparse on the south end of the beach’s 13 miles of coastline, but provides incredible access to some of Florida’s most beautiful views.

Beaches On East Coast

With two coasts’ worth of beaches, Florida has stunning seaside locations no matter where you choose to retire. When it comes to the east coast, here are some of the area’s most appealing beaches to explore.

Lifeguard post in tranquil beach in Central Florida4. Flagler Beach

Quieter than some of Florida’s bigger and better known beaches, Flagler Beach boasts golden sand and fewer crowds, as well as a quaint feel. Walk into town to enjoy a number of shops and restaurants, or fish off the beach’s charming pier.

5. Vero Beach

Situated on Florida’s Treasure Coast about 2 hours from Orlando, Vero Beach is a quiet beach where the occasional exciting treasure washes ashore from one of the area’s numerous wrecks. Enjoy kayaking, sunbathing, or swimming, and choose from both upscale and more laid back dining to fuel your beach adventures.

6. Sebastian Inlet State Park

If you love to fish, then you will love Sebastian Inlet State Park. This natural area nestles along the barrier island on the east coast of central Florida and offers the best saltwater fishing in the state. Add onto the fun here with kayaking, surfing, and more for an unforgettable beach getaway that is within driving distance of areas like our Crescent View community.

Beaches On West Coast

Florida’s west coast has as many opportunities to enjoy beach fun as does its east coast. WIth Tampa as one of the area’ biggest cities, you can find many of the state’s west coast beaches within driving distance of that city. Here is a look at some of the area’s most appealing west coast sandstrips.

Central Florida birdeye view of coast7. Clearwater Beach

Less than an hour from Tampa and just two hours from Orlando, Clearwater Beach is also one of the most highly ranked beaches in the entire nation. One of its most outstanding features is its pure white, powdery soft sand. The white sand stretches into a stunning view of the water, which, because of its location in the Gulf of Mexico, is peaceful and perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or taking a beachside stroll. A short walk will also get you to some of the area’s top dining and shopping options so you can enjoy a full day of entertainment and fun. A short drive from our New Ranch community, this beach is ideal for enjoy the best in Florida seaside attractions.

8. Ben T. Davis Beach

As Tampa’s most popular beach, Ben T. Davis Beach offers the powdery white sand that Florida is famous for, alongside picnic shelters, volleyball courts, and a walking/biking trail. Enjoy breathtaking sunset views, and don’t forget to hop in the water for refreshing swimming in warm Florida sun.

9. Treasure Island

Way more fun (And definitely safer) than the Treasure Island in the famous novel, Florida’s Treasure Island is a Tampa gem. This 3-mile stretch of white sandy beach is bustling with restaurants, hotels, bars, shops, boats, and more (And drinking is allowed on the beach). Especially perfect for kite flying and within walking distance of the village of St. John, this beach is a fun, active, and very populated area.

10. Fred Howard Park

Enjoy the beach, and nature preserve, just one mile from Tarpon Springs. Here you can enjoy Sponge Docks, Greek restaurants, and entertainment. Visit the beach for glimpses of gorgeous wildlife, along with access to picnic areas, playgrounds, and other amenities.

11. Indian Rocks Beach

For a quiet beach experience similar to St. Pete and Clearwater Beach but without the crowds, explore Indian Rocks Beach. This secluded area offers few amenities but a rich array of rentals, skimboarding opportunities, surf lessons, restaurants, and bars.

Beaches For The Family

When it is time to hit the beach with kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews, you will want to check out these central Florida gems. Packed with activities for all ages, they can keep your whole crew entertained for hours, or days, on end.

Couple holding hands and waling along coastline12. Canaveral National Seashore

New Smyrna Beach connects directly to another of central Florida’s best beaches: Canaveral National Seashore. This beach’s 24 miles of coastline provide breathtaking ocean views, along with some seriously impressive family fun. Take a short drive to Cape Canaveral. Watch rocket launches. Explore natural wildlife like manatees and sea turtles. As a protected barrier island, this area overflows with 14 species of endangered or threatened animals, while still offering recreational opportunities such as kayaking, horseback riding, and swimming.

13. Daytona Beach

While Daytona Beach has a reputation as a spring break party spot, you don’t have to worry about encountering wild 20-somethings every day of the year. You should be aware that Daytona is a busy beach, so you won’t spend much of your time relaxing in the peace and quiet. What you will find is 23-miles of sparkling beach, turquoise water, and the famous Daytona Boardwalk packed with activities and dining to enjoy.

14. Sand Key Park

Sand Key Park boasts powdery white sand alongside a wealth of amenities, including easy parking, picnic shelters, restrooms, and affordable cabana rentals. Add in a playground for the kids, a boardwalk, a nature trail, and a quieter atmosphere, and you have a great spot for a family getaway. As an added bonus, this beach serves as a home for sea turtle nests, which you can take a peek at if you stop by the beach at the right time of year.

15. Fort De Soto Park

This family-friendly beach getaway on the west coast of Florida has both the stunning natural areas of a preserve and the bustling seaside vibe of the state’s bigger beaches. Enjoy the 1,000-acre natural park teeming with wildlife and go camping in a wild natural area. Or, enjoy a quiet lagoon, 7-mile walking and biking trails, kayaking, fishing (with no licenses required) and even a dog park for your furry friend.

Beaches For Seniors

Older adults should take advantage of any of the gorgeous beaches available in Florida, but some beaches offer certain advantages, such as a quieter feel, and more convenient amenities that make them appealing to anyone enjoying their retirement years.

16. Melbourne Beach

Named one of the best beaches for couples, Melbourne Beach has romantic vibes for you and your loved one to enjoy, as well as affordable restaurants and shopping. Expect to see stingrays and manatees, as well as crystal clear water and a pier that can fulfill your dreams of fishing in the ocean.

17. Honeymoon Island State Park

Even if you aren’t on your honeymoon, this beautiful beach provides a romantic getaway for you and your loved one. And, even if you are flying solo, you can still soak up this beach’s 4 miles of white sand, nature trails, bird observation areas, the Rotary Nature Center, and amenities such as restaurants, kayak rentals, and covered pavilions. This is a true Florida getaway.

18. Caladesi Island State Park

Seniors looking for a quiet area to enjoy the best in Florida beaches may want to check out Caladesi Island State Park. With the whitest sand and bluest water anywhere in the nation, this beach promises endless shell hunting opportunities in the middle of exquisite natural beauty. Do be aware, this nature preserve is only accessible by boat or ferry and has few amenities, but for enjoying wild, secluded Florida nature, it is unmatched in the state.

19. St. Pete Beach

Renowned as one of the world’s best beaches, St. Pete Beach offers a much different beach experience for seniors than does Caladesi Island State Park. This beach is packed, not just with white sand and sparkling water, but hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, shops, and amenities of every kind. Explore the beach’s endless activities, and enjoy a laid back environment that focuses on fun, relaxation, and great food and drink.

20. Anna Maria Island

Situated on Florida’s west coast near St. Petersburg and Sarasota, Anna Maria Island is overflowing with fun. From numerous upscale golf courses to more traditional beach activities, such as pier, nature tours, turtle viewing, swimming, boating, sunbathing, and pure white sand, this beach has something for everyone. Don’t forget to check out some of its unique attractions, including a maritime museum, the Desoto Super Speedway, and the Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

Living in Florida promises endless beach fun, and living in one of our 55+ communities promises endless access to some of the state’s most desirable areas. If living in the sun and enjoying the seaside is on your list of favorite activities, hop on over to Florida, where you have your pick of oceanside entertainment, all year long.

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