Planning the ultimate Florida vacation? Spending time at the best beaches in Tampa is a great way to explore the Sunshine State’s finest seaside moment. Located near Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa is one of the most visited cities in the US. The city sits upon Tampa Bay, a waterway teeming with wildlife and beautiful beaches.
A perfect spot for Florida beach vacations, Tampa has some of the prettiest beaches in the Sunshine State. Perfect for families and couples, Tampa’s beaches offer endless water activities such as swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. Tampa also has incredible dining options and a thriving nightlife for those who like to dance or stay out late.
Ready to plan the perfect Tampa beach vacation? Find a serene oasis on one of these favorite Tampa beaches.
Top-rated Tampa beaches
Want to experience Tampa’s seaside pleasure? Clearwater Beach should be at the top of your list. Located on a large barrier island in Pinellas County, it’s one of the most popular Clearwater & St. Petersburg beaches. Clearwater Beach has even been voted the number one beach in the U.S for several years by TripAdvisor.
Relax on the white sand beach or take a dip in the calm water. Jet-skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding are some of the top things to see & do in Clearwater. Clearwater’s beaches also have several playgrounds and shallow water, making it a perfect place to bring young children.
For some nighttime entertainment, head to Pier 60. Every night the pier hosts a sunset celebration featuring street performers and small shows. Be sure to shop around the craft vendor stalls for cool souvenirs and to support local artists.
Clearwater Beach is also home to some of the best hotels in Clearwater. If you’re looking for a base for your Tampa Bay adventures, settle down in one of its luxury beachfront hotels.
If you’re in the St. Petersburg area, head to Madeira Beach. It’s one of the most popular beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. The nearby beach town has a 1,100-foot boardwalk full of ice cream shops and local eateries. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in October, you can even check out the annual Seafood Festival for amazing food and music.
The beach itself is only 2.5 miles long, but the soft sand and warm water bring thousands of tourists and locals every year. Sunbathing and swimming are the most popular activities around Madeira Beach. Fishing is also popular along the piers.
Gulf Boulevard runs right through Madeira Beach and the other beaches of Pinellas County. The boulevard is chock-loaded with restaurants, gear shops, and beachfront hotels.
For a dash of adventure, sign up for Tampa Bay cruises or snorkeling excursions at one of the nearby visitor centers.
Looking for a more relaxed beach vibe for a romantic getaway? Sunset Beach is a pristine beach on the very northern tip of Treasure Island. It’s less touristy and more residential, set away from the hustle & bustle of the larger beaches in Tampa Bay.
Based on the name you can guess (correctly) that the sunsets on Sunset Beach are spectacular. And the clear starlit skies are even better.
Sunset Beach offers beach-goers picnic shelters, public showers, and restrooms. The soft sand is perfect for tanning or relaxing and reading a book.
Beachfront bars are scattered throughout the beach along with tiki huts for grabbing a quick bite. To really get into the local vibe, rent a cottage in a nearby neighborhood or stay at one of the family-owned bed and breakfasts.
Sand Key Park
For surfing and expansive white sand beaches, head to Sand Key Park. Located south of Clearwater Beach, the sandy beach is a perfect place to bring the kids and pets. Kayak rentals and cabana rentals are available as well as umbrellas and beach wheelchairs.
On the other side of Sand Key Park, there’s an amazing park full of playgrounds and picnic spots. It’s the perfect spot for the entire family and young children. Grills are free to use if you feel like making hamburgers or grilling out. The short nature trail is also a great place to see local wildlife—and maybe even some sea turtle eggs!
Apollo Beach Nature Preserve
One of the top places to see in Tampa, Apollo Beach Nature Preserve is full of aquatic species. Part of the nature preserve is dedicated to keeping marine habitats safe. Here you can view wildlife, see a large variety of birds, or go fishing along the shoreline.
Located in Hillsborough County, Apollo Beach Nature Preserve also has a separate beach area where you can sunbathe, play a game of beach volleyball, or have a picnic. Swimming is not allowed though. It’s not the best place to come if you’re set on spending time in the water.
Make sure to stay for the sunsets on this Tampa Bay beach; they’re simply spectacular. Colors of orange and pink streak across the sky. It’s the perfect ending to a day of fun in the sun.
Caladesi Island State Park
To visit one of the only untouched islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast, head to Caladesi Island State Park. The natural island can only be reached by boat. You’ll need to drive your own boat or take the ferry to the state park. Once you reach Caladesi Island, you’ll discover incredible sightseeing and swimming opportunities.
Rent a kayak and paddle through the bayside mangrove forest. Or hike through the nature trail winding inland.
Caldesi Island State Park is also full of swimming areas and picnic tables. Visit the marina to grab some snacks. Stop in at the gift shop to grab a postcard or other souvenirs.
Fort de Soto Park
With five interconnected islands and over 1,136 acres of wildlife, Fort de Soto Park is the largest park in Pinellas County. It’s one of the top places to go in Saint Petersburg, FL, if you want to be immersed in local Florida wildlife and see some amazing turtles and birds.
Located in Tierra Verde, Fort de Soto Park has three beaches with soft white sand. There’s also a dog park, two swimming pools, and a historic fort to visit.
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If you feel like exercising, there’s a paved trail from North Beach to East Beach where you can jog, walk, or go cycling. You can also use the trail to get between the camping and boating area if you plan to spend the night.
Redington Beach is one of the top places to rent a beach condo and have a quiet beach vacation. Most beachgoers are residents, so the vibe is more casual and laid-back than other parts of Tampa and Clearwater.
Located between Madeira Beach and Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach is a top place for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing in the sun. The nearby town is only one square mile; there isn’t much to do around Redington besides laying in the sun.
The seclusion and quietness are great—if that’s what you’re looking for. But it might not be the best place to go if you want a more active vacation.
For a true beach paradise vacation, check out Pass-a-Grille Beach on Long Key Island. The beach town is quaint and quirky with amazing activities to keep you busy. It’s on the very southern tip of St. Pete Beach. You’ll get to enjoy a quiet beach but still have a buzzing town nearby, teeming with nightlife.
There are ample parking lots to leave the car and take a nice walk down to the beach. Swimming and sunbathing are popular activities at Pass-a-Grille Beach. You can also string up a hammock from the palm trees and take a nap or read a book.
Pass-a-Grille has many different restaurants, rooftop bars, and dessert shops you can visit. There’s also an outdoor market nearby that sells local art, clothes, and jewelry.
Indian Rocks Beach
If you’re traveling with young children, Indian Rocks Beach is the best family-friendly beach in the Tampa Bay area. The sand is extremely soft, making it ideal for children who love to play and build things in the sand. The water along the 3-mile beach is also warm and shallow, perfect for swimming.
Indian Rocks Beach is one of the top areas to stay in St. Petersburg, FL. It’s only a short drive to Tampa. This small beach town has great dining and shopping options as well. With 27 beach access points along the Gulf Boulevard, Indian Rocks is also extremely accessible.
Archibald Beach Park
Also known as The Hammocks, Archibald Beach Park has endless options for beach fun. The public beach has four access options all with parking lots and nice wooden walkovers to get you to the beach.
Beach volleyball is one of the top activities at Archibald Beach Park with several courts located around the beach.
Visit the Snack Shak to buy drinks or small meals. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas. A covered picnic area, outdoor showers, and public restrooms are also available.
Ben T. Davis Beach
If you want to be close to Tampa and Tampa International Airport, Ben T. Davis Beach is your best choice. It’s the largest beach on Tampa Bay. You can also get to Clearwater in just a short drive over the bridge.
The Courtney Campbell Trail is the most visited place of Ben T. Davis Beach both for locals and residents. On the 4-mile biking trail and pedestrian bridge, you can cycle, walk, or jog.
Staying close to this beach will give you an amazing view of Tampa Bay. You’ll also enjoy countless options for dining and drink with its proximity to the city.
St. Pete Beach
Looking to be close to all the major cities in Central Florida? St. Pete Beach has got you covered. St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa are all close to St. Pete Beach. It’s also closer to Orlando than some of the other Tampa beach options, in case you feel like heading to Disney World.
Don Cesar Resort in St. Pete Beach is one of the top places to see around Tampa Bay. Known as the Pink Palace, the resort is a fantastic place to stay. Even if you choose other accommodation, the resort is still a great place to get photos and grab a drink.
St. Pete Beach is on the Gulf of Mexico and has pure white sand and amazing sunsets. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities for parasailing and snorkeling.
Fred Howard Park
Fred Howard Park is a fantastic place to bring the family for a day of adventure. Rent a canoe or kayak and explore all the different habitats and wildlife that call Florida home. Dolphin and manatee sightings are also common.
Located in Tarpon Springs, Fred Howard Park has a large swimming area, a windsurfing area, and a place to launch kayaks and paddleboards. Picnic shelters are available for eating. Feel free to go fishing if you have a license or spend the day in the ball field with your kids or friends.
Davis Island Beach
For a beach close to downtown Tampa, grab a spot on Davis Island Beach. The beach was built on two man-made islands back in the 1920s. It’s since become one of the most popular Tampa Bay beaches.
Davis Island Beach gives you a quiet place to relax close to the top neighborhoods to stay in Tampa. Spend the day reading or sunbathing. You can also watch the boats come in on the serene water as they dock. The beach has tons of picnic tables, restrooms, and is dog friendly. There’s no place to swim though. Avoid this beach if swimming is on your agenda.
John’s Pass is unique as it was created by a hurricane in 1848. It’s the #1 tourist attraction in Pinellas County. Bring some comfortable walking shoes and explore the retail shopping market with stalls from more than a hundred local merchants.
If you’d rather spend the day on the water, you can go parasailing or jet-skiing. The dock at John’s Pass also offers boat rentals and shelling tours. You can also take a dolphin-watching excursion and head to popular Gulf of Mexico hotspots where dolphins hang out. End the day at one of the area’s many restaurants or pubs.