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 moments. Located near Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa is one of the most visited cities in the US, thanks to its warm weather and plenty of sunshine. The city sits upon Tampa Bay, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico that teems with wildlife and beautiful beaches.
A perfect spot for Florida beach vacations, Tampa has some of the prettiest beaches in the Sunshine State. Ideal 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!
Looking for more vacation ideas? Check out all our other beach guides and our Tampa Travel Guide and Florida Travel Guide for more recommendations on when to visit, where to go & what to do!
Top-rated Tampa beaches
Want to experience Tampa’s seaside pleasures? Cross over the Courtney Campbell Causeway to check lazing on the shores of Clearwater Beach off your bucket list. Located on a large barrier island in Pinellas County, Clearwater Beach is one of the most popular Clearwater & St. Petersburg beaches. It’s 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 with the sea breeze blowing in your hair. Water sports like jet-skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding are some of the top things to 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. The pier hosts a fun sunset celebration every night featuring street performers and small shows. Shop around the craft vendor stalls for cool souvenirs and to support local artists.
After soaking up a blazing Central Florida sunset, experience Clearwater Beach’s nightlife by enjoying dinner and drinks at one of the many restaurants, cafes, and beach bars lining the shores. Join the crowds of beach lovers to snack on some local seafood and sip cocktails into the wee hours of the morning.
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 resorts and beachfront hotels, admiring the beauty of the sandy stretch of coastline and pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
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 things to do in Madeira Beach. Fishing is also popular along the town’s fishing piers.
Gulf Boulevard runs right through Madeira Beach and the other beaches of Pinellas County. The boulevard is chock-loaded with attractions, including 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 the Tampa Bay region.
Based on the name, you can guess (correctly) that the sunsets on Sunset Beach are spectacular. And the views of clear starlit skies are even better!
Sunset Beach offers beach-goers a range of amenities and facilities like picnic shelters, public showers, and restrooms. The soft sand is perfect for tanning or relaxing and reading a book.
Beachfront bars and cafes 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 on Treasure Island.
Honeymoon Island State Park
Located just west of Dunedin, FL, Honeymoon Island State Park offers one of the Tampa Bay area’s finest Gulf shorelines. Unlike Caladesi State Park to the south, the park is accessible from mainland Florida by car via the Dunedin Causeway route. Even with its easy access, you’ll enjoy a quieter atmosphere here than at other busy beaches around Central West Florida.
Although you could spend the entire day basking in the beautiful scenery on the golden sands, there’s more to Honeymoon Island State Park than its seaside pleasures. After letting the waves lap your toes, venture inland on one of its lovely nature trails for some wildlife viewing. You’ll also find a few picnic tables along the way to refuel for your adventure.
Sand Key Park
For surfing and expansive white sand beaches, embark on a journey to Sand Key Park. Located south of Clearwater Beach, the sandy beach is a perfect place to bring the kids and pets thanks to the dog park and seasonal lifeguards. 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 areas. It’s the perfect spot for the entire family, adults and young children alike. Grills are free to use if you feel like making hamburgers or grilling out for lunch.
Nature lovers can take a stroll along the short nature trail to see local wildlife, including sea turtles. If you’re visiting during nesting season, you may even spot some sea turtle eggs!
Apollo Beach Nature Preserve
One of the top things to do 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 visitors can sunbathe, play a game of beach volleyball, or have a picnic. Swimming is not allowed, though. It’s not the ideal destination if you’re set on spending time in the water.
Make sure to stay to experience the sunsets on this Tampa Bay beach; they’re simply spectacular. Colors of orange and pink streak across the sky. It’s the perfect setting to end 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. Travelers can only reach this natural island 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. After kayaking through the mangroves, you can hike through the nature trail winding inland from the sand dunes to spot some local wildlife, including gopher tortoises and ospreys.
Caladesi Island State Park is also full of swimming areas and picnic tables. Visit the concession stand at the marina to grab some snacks or go shopping at the gift shop to grab a postcard or other souvenirs.
Fort de Soto Park
With five interconnected islands and over 1,136 acres filled with 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 animals, including sea turtles and birds.
Located in Tierra Verde, Fort de Soto Park has three beaches with soft white sand, a dog park, and two swimming pools. History buffs can also visit the namesake historic fort and Quartermaster Museum for a quick history lesson.
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If you feel like exercising, hit up the paved trail from North Beach to East Beach, where you can jog, walk, or go cycling. You can also use the trail to travel between the camping and boating areas if you plan to spend the night.
Redington Beach is one of the top destinations in the area 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 in other parts of Tampa and Clearwater.
Located between Madeira Beach and Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach is a fantastic location for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing in the sun. The nearby town is only one square mile. Although there’s a handful of seafood restaurants, cafes, and bars to the north, there isn’t much to do around here besides basking in the sunshine.
The seclusion and quietness of the community are great—if that’s what you’re looking for on your itinerary. But it might not be the best destination 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. Pass-a-Grille is located 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.
One of the best places to go in St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille offers several restaurants, rooftop bars, coffee shops, and dessert shops. Launch a quick shopping adventure at the outdoor market a short distance away, filling your bags with local art, clothes, and jewelry.
Or explore the ocean waters on a boat tour or fishing adventure from Merry Pier. (The pier is also the launching point for ferries to Shell Key Preserve, popular for everything from shelling to bird watching to dolphin watching.)
Indian Rocks Beach
If you’re traveling with young children, Indian Rocks Beach is the most 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 excellent dining and shopping options as well. With 27 beach access points along Gulf Boulevard, Indian Rocks is also highly 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 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 Courtney Campbell Causeway bridge.
The Courtney Campbell Trail is the most visited part 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 drinking 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, one of the top-rated stretches of sandy shoreline in the country. 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 Don Cesar Hotel is still a great destination to snap a few photos and grab a drink.
St. Pete Beach sits on the Gulf of Mexico and has pure white sand and amazing sunsets. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities for water sports like 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 native Florida wildlife, including eagles, gopher tortoises, and ospreys. Dolphin and manatee sightings are also common along the waterfront.
One of the coolest places to see 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 Islands Beach
For a beach close to downtown Tampa, grab a spot on Davis Islands 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 and 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 partake in water sports like parasailing or jet-skiing. The dock at John’s Pass also offers boat rentals and shelling tours where you can collect a variety of seashells as souvenirs. 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 many restaurants, cafes, and pubs in the colorful fishing village.