Best Beaches in Tampa

Derek Dellinger portrait.
Derek Dellinger
Review author
19.07.2022 16:22
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Florida is a popular destination known worldwide for its beaches and long coastlines in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. However, of its many world-class beaches, none are perhaps as beautiful as those found in the gulf surrounding Tampa Bay, one of Florida's premier travel destinations.

Tampa Bay has a massive selection of beaches, each as beautiful as the next. Nevertheless, each piece of shoreline offers a unique experience that caters to various beachgoers, and choosing a suitable beach can be a struggle. These are the nine best beaches in Tampa guaranteed to provide the optimal experience for your visit to the city's coast. Be sure to read the benefits of each spot to decide which destination is the best suited for hosting your next beach day.

Sunset in Tampa.

Clearwater Beach

Consistently voted one of the best beaches in the United States, Clearwater Beach is not only one of the most famous beaches in Tampa but also one of the most iconic stretches of shoreline in all of Florida. Despite the heavy crowds that flock to Florida's iconic beach destination daily, visitors will find that the three miles of wide white sand beaches offer more than enough room to accommodate their beach day.

Located 21 miles east of the city's downtown area, Clearwater is a well-established tourist destination with infrastructure that caters to out-of-town visitors. The well-maintained coastline is bordered by a beach boardwalk that guides visitors to the celebrated Pier 60. The pier hosts live music every day and is one of the best spots on the beach for catching the region's majestic sunsets.

As a world-class beach popular amongst locals and international visitors, Clearwater boasts all the full-service amenities holidaymakers could hope to find.

Ben T Davis Beach

Ben T. Davis Beach is the most beautiful beach in Tampa located directly in the city. Only a ten-minute drive from the city's downtown region, the long and narrow stretch of beach lines the Courtney Campbell Causeway, and features a four-mile biking trail and pedestrian bridge. The beach's white-sand shores and calm waters are the perfect spot for an afternoon lounging in the sun or cooling off in the clear waters of Florida's Gulf coast. Despite being narrow, the long stretch of beach offers plenty of space for visitors to set up volleyball courts and other beach games. Also available on the beach are rental sites for bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards guaranteed to offer a fun, activity-filled afternoon both on the water and exploring the connected trail.

Madeira Beach

Referred to by the locals as “The Mad Beach”, Madeira Beach is located just south of Clearwater and is near the coastal city of St. Peterburg. While the beach itself provides a relaxing day soaking in the sun and swimming in the calm, clear waters, it is Madeira's boardwalk that separates this destination as one of the most popular beaches in Tampa offers.

The 1,100-footpath connects the beach directly to St. John's Pass and guides visitors through the village's massive selection of stores and eateries. Be sure to visit the area during Madeira's famous seafood festival, held throughout the final week of October.

Top view of Tampa.

Caladesi State Park

As one of the few untouched natural islands remaining in the Gulf, Caladesi State Park offers a beachgoing experience free of the large condominiums and infrastructures that have taken over the white sands of Florida's mainland coast. Only accessible by boat Caladesi State Park offers the luxury and relaxation free from the heavy crowding of many of the other beaches in Tampa featured on this list. It is the optimal setting for floating along the calming waves of the gulf or basking in the sun of what feels like your own deserted island. Along with relaxing on the white sand beaches, visitors to Caladesi State Park can embark on a kayak adventure as they explore the island's mangrove forests. Alternatively, visitors can venture inland along a nature trail walk leading to the historic Scharrer Homestead.

Honeymoon Island State Park

Considered the sister island of Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island State Park features an additional four miles of untouched beach. The beach is divided into three sections, the South, the North, and the Dog Beaches. On the southern part of the island, the beach features soft white sands and calm gulf waters, ideal for a day of relaxation. On the other hand, the island's northern beaches are known for flat tide pools, hiking trails, and rougher waters perfect for surfing. Honeymoon Island's designated dog beaches offer shoreline access to visitors travelling with their favourite four-legged companion. Still, the nearby Osprey Trail truly separates the state park as one of the best Tampa Beaches.

Honeymoon Island State Park is one of the most popular beaches in Tampa for wildlife spotting. Along with Osprey's, the island's skies are occupied by eagles and owls. Meanwhile, the island's sandy terrestrial habitats are occupied by armadillos, raccoons, and tortoises.

Sunset Beach

Hidden along the northern peak of Treasure Island, Sunset Beach offers an experience much less touristy while maintaining the idyllic charms of Tampa's beaches. The beach's soft white sands are ideal for tanning or unwinding with a book, and the calm, steady waves of the Gulf beckon swimmers to escape the heat. While built-up coastlines are not present at Sunset Beach, this seaside destination still has its fair share of beachfront bars and tiki huts perfect for grabbing a meal or cocktail.

Sunset Beach is one of the top beaches in Tampa for those looking for a day of relaxation free from the heavy crowding that can occur at some of the more popular public beaches.

St. Pete Beach

St. Pete's Beach is a popular beachside resort destination on Long Key Island in Florida's Pinellas County. Home to the iconic Don CeSar Hotel since 1928, St. Pete Beach offers an exciting experience perfect for all sorts of beachgoers. The white sands of the gulf coast are ideal for relaxing with a book while tanning in the sun, while the calm lapping waves offer relief on a warm Florida day. The Pass-A-Grille surrounding the area features well-established infrastructure that includes access to galleries, shops, and the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum.

Established as a resort area littered with hotels, shops, and restaurants, Parking at St. Pete Beach can be hard to find. Luckily, the beach offers a free energy shuttle that runs throughout the day and includes stops along Gulf Boulevard. The beach itself is one of the most famous beaches Tampa offers, with restaurants, bars, water sports, cabana rentals, and many more amenities to meet your beachgoing needs.

Water in Tampa.

Sand Key Park

Only 1-mile from the more popular clearwater beach, Sand Key Park is often referred to as the “secret beach”. Occupying a 1-mile white sand coastline, Sand Key Park is known for its abundant seashells and its Kemp Ridley sea turtle nesting areas, making it one of the best beaches in Tampa for turtle watching. It features boardwalks, showers, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a dog park for beachgoers travelling with their furry companions. Unique to this corner of Pinellas County are dunes, salt marshes, and various seaside bird species. Despite being more hidden than other popular destinations, Sand Key Park also features a selection of nearby resorts and plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy throughout your beach day.

Fort De Soto Beach

With over 1000 acres of land over five interconnected islands in the Gulf of Mexico, Fort De Soto is the largest public park in Pinellas County. The park itself features three of the best beaches Tampa offers that attract a diverse set of beachgoers. The Park's North Beach was voted the best beach in Tampa for families, with picnic tables, pavilions, bathrooms, lifeguards, and playgrounds ideal for a family outing. Fort De Soto's East Beach is the preferred destination for shell collectors. At the same time, the park's Bay Pier beach is a favourite casting spot for wranglers. Also located in the park is a 7-mile paved trail for biking and walking as visitors explore the preserved habitats of the island.

Conclusion

From Clearwater to Fort De Soto Beach, the most beautiful beaches in Tampa are some of the greatest pristine pieces of shoreline in the world. But, with so many idyllic beaches to choose from, many visitors to the city find themselves wondering where are the best beaches in Tampa. The nine destinations featured on this list are some of the city's nicest coastal destinations, and each beach is as beautiful as the next. Choosing which of Tampa's top beaches to choose from comes down to each visitor's personal preference and what kind of experiences they would like to have on their trip. Be sure to read each destination on this list carefully to decide which is perfect for hosting your next beach day.

For more information as you plan your trip to Florida or other destinations in the world, check out our other posts and resources to ensure your next holiday is as spectacular as possible.

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