Florida population

My 11 Favorite Florida Beaches to Avoid the Crowds

Florida is known for its beaches, and with over 1,300 miles of coastline, there’s plenty to choose from. But sometimes, even with all that coastline, it’s hard to find a spot for a quiet day at the beach. Florida has more than 22 million inhabitants, plus millions of tourists who visit it every year. Many of our beaches can get very crowded.

In many cases, simply finding a place to park near the beach is a hassle. And then once on the beach, you find that hundreds of other people have had the same idea. I don’t like crowds on the beach and have traveled all over Florida to find the best secluded beach spots. Spring break and holiday weekends draw crowds everywhere, but here is a list of a dozen beaches and two bonus beaches, where you have a chance to find yourself in a little sand dune solitude. .

Photo credit: Fred Mays

1. Canaveral National Waterfront

Canaveral National Coastline is a 40-mile stretch of undeveloped beach on the Atlantic coast that stretches from Kennedy Space Center north to New Smyrna Beach. There is a north entrance at New Smyrna Beach and a south entrance at Titusville. There are only 193 parking spaces at the north end of the park and 1,100 spaces at the south end. Holiday weekends draw a crowd, and sometimes parking lots fill up. But for the most part, you can find some privacy if you walk a short distance from the beach-accessible boardwalks. During the week, chances are you will have the beach almost to yourself. If you like beach hikes, the central part of the coastline is undeveloped with no roads. Hiking in this area is completely on your own, with just you, the seabirds, and the occasional coyote.

Satellite beach in Florida
Photo credit: Fred Mays

2. Satellite range

This beach is located south of Cocoa Beach. There are six parking lots, and usually the two parking lots on the north end, at South Patrick Shores, attract the smallest crowds. Even on summer weekends, you can usually find a patch of sand that belongs to you. Along the same beach is the Patrick Space Force Base, with beaches open to the public. Just a note of caution: These beaches are not very wide and many beaches disappear at high tide.

Bahia Honda State Park in Florida
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3. Bahia Honda State Park

Located on the Florida Keys (Big Pine Key in particular), south of Marathon and the Seven Mile Bridge, beachgoers at Bahia Honda State Park are mostly campers from the park campgrounds. Been there twice and had the beach pretty much to myself both times. This is an ideal beach for small children as the offshore reefs calm the waves and the water is shallow for a good distance from shore.

State parks in the Keys are usually fully occupied with RV campers during the winter months. Campsites are hard to find. But, you can still pay a fee and enter the parks without a campground reservation. Beaches at all Keys state parks are generally uncrowded, even in winter.

Sunset Beach on Treasure Island Florida
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4. Sunset Beach

The setting sun on the beach is located at the southern end of Treasure Island, a beach community in St. Petersburg. It is mainly used by local residents. The white sand beach is stunningly beautiful, and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are normally less rippled than the beaches on the Atlantic side of the state. While the crowds are small, so is the public parking lot. There are only two car parks which fill up quickly on weekends. On weekdays, you often have the place all to yourself.

Lifeguard station at Crandon Park
Photo credit: Fred Mays

5. Crandon Park

It’s a Miami Dade Park on Key Biscayne, the southern end of Miami. There is plenty of parking and plenty of beach, almost 2 miles away. I only went twice, both times in the week, and the beach was deserted. Weekends are busy, but it’s a big park with plenty of beach for everyone. The sunrise here is a glorious display of red and orange colors framed by the coconut trees that line the beach.

St. Joseph's Peninsula State Park
Photo credit: Fred Mays

6. St. Joseph’s Peninsula State Park

Located in Port St. Joe, this might be my favorite beach in all of Florida. Its remote location on the Florida panhandle keeps crowds sparse at St. Joseph’s Peninsula State Park. The sugary white sand and towering sand dunes create natural beauty. At one time it was named the best beach in the country by the famous Dr. Beach. The only issue is that most of the park, including the campgrounds, remains closed while it is being rebuilt following Hurricane Michael in 2018. Only a small portion of the beach is open for the day at this time. Park officials are targeting 2023 for the reopening of the entire park.

Gulf Islands National Coast
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7. Gulf Islands National Coastline

Beautiful beaches don’t come any better than the white sands of this National Coastline at Gulf Breeze on Florida begging. Stretching from Pensacola to Navarre, the Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches over 26 miles in length. There are a few access parks with parking and showers. Other than that, it’s just pristine sand and stunningly beautiful blue and turquoise water. People park along the road haphazardly and line their own seafront with rarely anyone else in sight.

Captiva Beach in front of Fort Myers, Florida
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8. Captiva Island

Located across the causeway from Fort Myers, Sanibel-Captiva is known for its beaches and shelling. Captiva Island is at the end of the chain of islands and the beaches are pretty much used primarily by island hotel guests. There are three public beaches, with restrooms. Your day at the beach can be a bit pricey. There is a $9 roadway toll for non-locals and parking at the beaches is $5 per hour.

Anna Maria Island in Florida
Photo credit: Fred Mays

9. Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island lies off Bradenton. There are three communities on the island and the less crowded beaches are on the northern end. The beaches of the Gulf of Mexico are wide and white, and I have never seen them crowded, even on a holiday weekend. Most beachgoers here are local residents or guests of the island’s hotels and guesthouses. The problem here is parking. There is no public parking near the beach.

Sebastian Inlet State Park
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10. Sebastian Inlet State Park, Melbourne Beach

Sebastian Inlet State Park in Melbourne Beach is located north of Vero Beach and is divided by an Atlantic Ocean channel and a bridge. Of the northern and southern beaches, the southern one is the least crowded. There are no restrooms or structures of any kind. Parking is at stops along the A1A freeway. Been here several times and never seen more than a handful of people on the beach. Access to the south beach is free.

Watchtower on Flagler Beach in Florida
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11. Flagler Beach

Located on the Atlantic coast, north of Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach is not so far away, but few people use the beach here – mostly local residents. You park along the highway and there are plenty of crosswalks in the dunes. The sand isn’t the nicest, but there’s plenty of it. There are restaurants and convenience stores along the road, but no public facilities or restrooms.

Bonus tracks

It may not be fair to include these two bonus beaches, as they are not easily accessible. But their lack of access makes up for the lack of crowds.

Anclote Key State Park

Anclote Key is a small island off Tarpon Springs in the Gulf of Mexico. You can only get there by boat or kayak, and kayak paddling is a long and arduous journey through open water. But once on the island, you are usually completely alone. There is a wild beach with lots of birds and you will only occasionally encounter other people.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas State Park is one of the least visited parks in the national park system which is found in the lower 48 states. Located 70 miles southwest of Key West, you can only get there by boat or chartered seaplane. Most people are day trippers arriving by ferry from Key West. If you’re one of the warm souls who choose to camp on the island, you’ll find yourself pretty much alone after the ferry departs in the afternoon. The beaches are the only part of the attraction here. Visitors spend a lot of time touring historic Fort Jefferson, which was built in the mid-1800s.

Florida beaches are some of the best beaches in the world. Some are very busy, such as South Beach in Miami, Daytona Beach on the Atlantic coast and Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. And even those places have smaller crowds on weekdays. But with a bit of adventure in your heart, you’ll find the beaches in this article are your best bet for getting away from the maddening crowds. Grab that beach chair, don’t forget the sunscreen, and find yourself a sandy piece of heaven.