Quiet Beaches in Florida When It’s Time to Unplug and Relax

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Two chairs on a quiet beach in Florida at sunset
Photo credit: Visit St. Pete Clearwater

With 825 miles of sandy coastline, the Sunshine State beckons to beach lovers in search of a tropical getaway. While it’s true Florida showcases miles of beautiful beaches, finding the right one for you depends on what your dream beach experience looks like.

If you like being in the center of the action, Miami may be the right fit for you. But if you want a Florida beach with more wildlife than people, finding a hidden gem is key to a successful beach vacation. Lucky for all of us, Florida is home to all types of beaches. From the inspiring sunrises over the Atlantic to the tranquil sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico, whatever you’re looking for in a Florida beach, it’s here.

For those in search of small towns, state parks, wildlife refuges, hiking trails and serenity, here are some of the best secluded beaches in Florida.

1. Rosemary Beach: An Emerald Coast Treasure

While Panama City draws throngs of visitors to its sunny shores, those seeking peaceful secluded beaches cherish the unspoiled sands of Rosemary Beach. Located just 17 miles east of Panama City Beach, the quaint seaside town of Rosemary Beach developed with a focus on preserving the crystal-clear water, gorgeous dunes and indigenous plants in the area. As a result, this small town community created a virtually untouched paradise. Follow the boardwalks to the pristine beach for a day of sunbathing, swimming and collecting seashells in the soft powdery sand.

Off the beach, pedestrian-friendly Rosemary Beach boasts cobblestone streets, upscale homes and cozy cottages all a short stroll from the beach. Skyscrapers don’t exist here. Instead, you’ll find green spaces for community gatherings, small boutiques and plenty of seafood restaurants to satisfy your cravings.

2. Find Your Tropical Paradise at Grayton Beach State Park

Looking for a quiet tropical paradise? Consider Grayton Beach State Park  where you can enjoy a beach day or stay overnight in this Florida state park’s comfy campgrounds or cabins.

Located in Santa Rosa Beach, you can expect other beachgoers to arrive after sunrise, but don’t worry, Grayton Beach State Park never feels overcrowded. Beach lovers spread out for quiet play in the surf or remain on land building sandcastles. If you want a bit more solitude, kayak along Western Lake’s 100 acres.

If hiking is your thing, Grayton Beach State Park offers trails that accommodate both casual wanderers and hardcore hikers. Warm up with a one-mile nature trail that provides an overview of the area’s ecosystem including pine flatwoods and salt marshes. If that’s not enough, check out the park’s nine-mile hiking and biking trail.

Navarre Beach Florida white sand oceanfront with pier
Navarre Beach Florida. Photo credit: Allison Taylor

3. Navarre Beach: Paradise on the Florida Panhandle

Steeped in natural beauty nestled between the Santa Rosa Sound on one side, and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, Navarre Beach offers the serenity needed to unplug and decompress from our busy lives. The secluded beach with dazzling white-sand, rolling sand dunes dotted with sea oats and warm emerald-hued water lapping at the shoreline, benefits from neighboring Gulf Islands National Seashore. One of only ten National Seashores in the country, the protected park attracts five sea turtle species for nesting along the seashore.

The calm warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico beckon to be explored by canoe, kayak or small watercraft. Or, strap on your snorkeling gear and see what’s underneath the clear water. A paved walking and biking trail attracts landlubbers.

When hunger strikes, indulge in locally sourced seafood at one of the island’s casual restaurants. Beach House Bar & Grill, Brossard’s Bayou Grill, Sailor’s Grill at Juana’s Pagodas and Windjammers on the Pier all serve a variety of fresh fare with a side of fabulous views.  

You’ll find this gem by following Highway 98 west past Pensacola to the western tip of the Florida panhandle where crossing the Santa Rosa Sound brings you to the island’s four-mile Navarre Beach.

4. Miles of Beaches Await at St. George Island

Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Apalachicola Bay, St. George Island offers 22 miles of beaches for exploration in Florida’s panhandle. On this barrier island, uncrowded pristine beaches brimming with natural beauty invite you to stop and sit a spell.

SheBuysTravel Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a beach vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we’re traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.

With plenty of family-friendly hotels, villas, old-style cottages and stunning vacation homes, you’re certain to find your style of lodging. For outdoor activities, local marinas offer inshore and offshore fishing charters. Kayak, paddleboard and bike rentals are also available. For an eco-adventure, book a boat trip to an uninhabited island for a snorkeling adventure. Be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins along the way.

5. Caladesi Island State Park – A Barrier Island Getaway

If you like long walks on the beach, watching dolphins frolic in the water and finding seashells n the sand,  Caladesi Island State Park should be on your must do list when visiting Clearwater Beach. Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to several barrier islands with Clearwater Beach being the most well-known—and for good reason. Boasting clear turquoise water, glistening white sand and brilliant sunsets, Clearwater Beach routinely appears on the lists of best beaches in the United States. But Clearwater Beach gets crowded – especially when the local schools are out for summer. If you’re looking for a bit of beach solitude, nearby Caladesi Island delivers.

While it maintains only three miles of coastline, the beach on Caladesi Island is highly acclaimed and often touted as one of Florida’s best beaches. Take some time to stroll along the shoreline, then grab lunch at the island’s marina and cafe before paddling a kayak beneath the forested shade of the island’s mangroves. Keep a watch for wading and diving birds including osprey, great egrets, blue heron and roseate spoonbills in the mangroves. If you’re lucky, you could spot dolphins, bald eagles or even a manatee as you paddle through paradise.

Most visitors to Caladesi Island State Park arrive via a 20-minute ferry ride from Honeymoon Island. The ferry crosses the calm waters of Hurricane Pass to the Caladesi Island marina where you’ll disembark next to Café Caladesi on the bay side of the island.

6. Explore Private Beaches at Palm Island Resort

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast approximately fifty miles north of Fort Myers, the white sand beaches at Palm Island Resort are simply never crowded – even when the resort is fully booked. Here you can while away the days searching for shark’s teeth in the sand, fishing in the surf or exploring by golf carts or on bicycles.

There’s plenty to do at Palm Island Resort. Keep your tennis game polished on one of the 11 tennis courts. If you need a little nudge, schedule a lesson with the resort’s tennis director. For outdoor activities, schedule a family adventure package through one of the local independent companies for fishing, sightseeing, sandbar eco-adventures and wildlife viewing. Rental items like kayaks, canoes, boogie boards, rafts and snorkeling gear help to maximize the water fun.

With oodles of old-style Florida charm, the resort is comprised of one, two and three- bedroom villas, each with a fully equipped kitchen and full laundry room. Additional amenities include a heated pool, Hydra Spa and gas barbecue for each cluster of condos.

Of course, one of the best experiences at Palm Island is watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico as dolphins, silhouetted against the fading sunlight, frolic in the warm waters.

7. Combine Beach Time with History at Fort De Soto State Park

Boasting soft sugar white sand, the warm clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and brilliant sunsets, Fort De Soto State Park combines a day at the beach with a glimpse into history. Built for the Spanish-American War, historic Fort De Soto harbors old cannons and jail cells for exploration.

The park also features a 7-mile paved nature trail for biking. If you prefer to be in the water, paddle your kayak through lush mangroves watching for pelicans, blue herons and egrets along the way. Protected by a sandbar, the North Beach’s large lagoon doesn’t get above three feet deep, making it the ideal spot for the kids to play.

Park amenities include canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals, a food concession, picnic areas and restrooms with outdoor showers.

Sbt quiet beaches in florida sunrise at new smyrna beach photo terri marshall
Sunrise at New Smyrna Beach Photo credit: Terri Marshall

8. Make the Small Town of New Smyrna Your Beach Town

Situated on Central Florida’s Atlantic coast, New Smyrna Beach provides a quiet alternative to Daytona Beach. With no vehicles driving on the beach, kids of all ages can spend hours sitting in the sand building sandcastles. The Atlantic Ocean waves beckon to surfers while calmer surf attracts sea kayakers. Surf fishing is also fun at New Smyrna Beach – just dig up a few sand fleas for bait and cast your line.

Quiet Beaches in Florida wooden walkway at Smyrna Dunes Park
Smyrna Dunes Park Photo credit: Terri Marshall

Located at the northern tip of New Smyrna Beach, the 73-acre Smyrna Dunes Park features a two-mile elevated boardwalk winding through the sand dunes. This provides a platform for viewing the unique vegetation, marine life, reptiles and animals that live in the park. There are also picnic areas, pavilions and an observation tower.

A true beach town, New Smyrna’s streets are lined with quaint restaurants and shops. There are a number of hotels and many private rentals available. Most have pools and many have tennis courts, shuffleboard, basketball and other games for family time.

9. Venture to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key

Located on Big Pine Key between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Bahia Honda State Park sit 45 minutes north of Key West. Here you’ll find some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys. Unique to the park is the historic 1912 saddleback bridge – a remnant of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railway.

The most secluded beach at Bahia Honda State Park, long and narrow Sandspur Beach stretches nearly a mile alongside shallow eater and sand flats. It’s worth a walk in the soft sand for a little extra solitude.

10. An Out of this World Escape: Canaveral National Seashore

The northernmost point of Florida’s Space Coast, the Canaveral National Seashore boasts one of the best beaches in the USA. Homes, condos and hotels remain absent on this stretch of beach. Instead, the beach serves as a seasonal home to sea turtles and native shore life. The waves of the Atlantic call to surfers looking to paddle out sans the crowds. Beach anglers seeking seclusion aim for their catch of the day while small groups and families spread out and enjoy a true crowd-free beach experience.

Surrounded by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Canaveral National Seashore delights wildlife enthusiasts. The only crowds you’ll see here are manatees and dolphins swimming in the lagoon, alligators basking in the sun and a plethora of unique migratory birds. Now that’s a hidden beach!

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