Beaches of the Florida Suncoast
- Beaches of the Florida Suncoast
- Anna Maria Island
- Longboat Key
- Lido Key
- Siesta Key
- Casey Key
- Venice Florida
- Manasota Key
The Suncoast of Florida is the west-central coastal region along the Gulf of Mexico that includes the Tampa Bay area as well as St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The Suncoast has been dubbed “Florida’s Beach,” as this gorgeous stretch of white sand is well-known as the ideal beach getaway location. If you’ve been to the beaches of Florida’s Suncoast, you’ll be spoiled for the rest of your life. You can find crystal blue waters that you thought were only found in the Caribbean here.
The more established beaches, such as St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, and Clearwater Beach, provide plenty of activities and beach fun, whereas the barrier islands, such as Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island, Egmont Key, and Fort DeSoto Park, provide every bit of nature that allows you to enjoy the region’s unique coastal unspoiled beauty.
Sarasota Bay, parts of Tampa Bay, the Manatee River, Charlotte Harbor, and the Gulf of Mexico’s near – shore waters are among the Suncoast’s significant waterbodies.
Water of a breathtaking blue surrounds Sarasota‘s northernmost barrier island of undeveloped, sugar-white beaches. Late in the day, be sure to catch the magnificent Sarasota sunset reflected in the glassy gulf waters. If parking is tight, take the free trolley that runs the length of the island to any of these fabulous beaches located on Anna Maria Island.
A smaller beach compared to others on the barrier island, Bean Point is a secluded paradise located at the northern tip of Anna Maria. Be sure to look for sand dollars, starfish and shells that can occasionally be found lying on the white sand. Parking is limited but Bean Point is on the convenient island trolley route.
Pack a lunch and head over to the popular Holmes Beach, largest of the three Anna Maria communities. Visitors are free to use the public grills and picnic areas as well as the shower facilities and playgrounds that are provided.
Manatee County Beach
Also located in Holmes Beach, family-friendly Manatee County Beach has many of the amenities such as restrooms and shower facilities that make for a relaxing day. Concession stands and a gift shop offer snacks and souvenirs not far from playgrounds and volleyball courts.
The main strip is where you’ll find the quiet Cortez Beach – also known as Bradenton Beach. Take the trolley from Manatee or Coquina Beaches or find roadside parking and walk to this long stretch of undeveloped white sand.
Coquina Beach, named after the tiny mollusks that burrow into the sand, is a great place to look for the remains of those tiny creatures. If you find one that is still alive, it resembles a small butterfly and comes in a rainbow of colors.
Home to one of Sarasota’s historic fishing villages, Coquina Beach is named after the tiny, colorful coquina shells that pepper the sand. Towering pine trees shade picnic areas with barbeque pits and pavilions perfect for oceanside gatherings. This popular and comfortable beach has restroom and shower facilities, a concession stand and is patrolled by lifeguards. Beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas may be rented from a rental booth on site.
Palma Sola Causeway Park
Located on the portion of Manatee Avenue that stretches across Palma Sola Bay, the Causeway Park also features a beach and boat launch. Amenities for public enjoyment include grills, tables, shelters and restroom facilities. Many visitors and residents bring their pets to this unique park.
Stretching for eleven miles between Sarasota Bay and the gulf, Longboat Key is known for luxurious living. Public access areas, marked by small blue signs, are few and secluded but lead to wide, soft beaches perfect for quiet sunset walks or shelling during low tide.
Although there are no public facilities, lifeguards or conveniences offered here, Whitney Beach attracts those who want to experience Sarasota’s natural splendor. Despite the limited parking, the ageless quality of this semi-isolated paradise attracts visitors and residents year-round.
Lido Key, located just a short and scenic drive west of Sarasota and home to one of Florida’s most pristine beaches, is well-known for eco-tourism and sunset cruises. It’s the place to go if you want to go deep sea fishing, dolphin watching, or sailing.
This twelve-mile stretch of island is home to three distinct beach areas: the private North Lido Beach, incredible Lido Beach and the beautiful South Lido Park.
Lido Key welcomes you with fine and full-featured resorts, as well as smaller hotels and time-share properties. The seafood is as fresh as it gets, and the sunsets are breathtaking. St. Armands Circle, which is also on Lido Key, is a hub of chic boutiques, fine dining establishments, and snack bars.
North Lido Beach Park
Once a popular nude beach, this secluded area has been revitalized with upgraded walking trails and new groves of oak and cedar. Shore birds and some migratory species often stop at the nature park, so some of the best bird watching is here.
Southwest of the famous shopping plaza St. Armands Circle is Lido Beach, a favorite of visitors and Sarasota residents. All the conveniences of a public park can be found here, including an Olympic-sized public pool and tennis courts. Shaded picnic areas and pavilions are great spots to enjoy snacks bought at the concession stand. To make certain your day at Lido Beach is carefree, changing areas, showers and locker rooms are provided for public use.
South Lido Beach and Park
Nature paths wind through this 100-acre park and beach located at the southern shore of Lido Key. Bring a lunch to the picnic areas before walking down to watch boats sail through Sarasota Big Pass, the channel connecting Sarasota Bay and the gulf. Volleyball nets are set up for your family match and there’s also a playground for the kids. Lifeguards are on duty from Labor Day through Memorial Day – currents near the channel are very strong and swimming is not allowed in areas close to boat traffic.
Bird Key Park
Along the portion of the John Ringling Causeway that crosses the Sarasota Bay you’ll find the pet-friendly Bird Key Park. Located near St. Armands Circle, this is a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy the gorgeous view after an afternoon of shopping. Serene waters are perfect for fishing, windsurfing or canoeing. Picnic areas and parking are also available.
Siesta Key Beach, a short drive from Sarasota, is a prized oasis known for its untouched natural beauty. Dip your toes in the soft sand made of 99 percent pure crushed quartz, where you can easily spend an afternoon partaking in water-based activities such as boating, parasailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. On a Sunday before sunset, head to the beach and join the local residents in the weekly drum circle.
Siesta Key Beach
Ranked #1 beach in the nation, Siesta Key Beach is famous for cool, sugar-white quartz sands, turquoise waters and plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy every bit of it. With over a million visitors each year, this is one of the most popular beaches in Sarasota, and there is plenty of free parking in the lot with more at each public access between Siesta Beach and Siesta Key Village. To be a world-class beach, it helps to have world-class amenities! Volleyball and tennis courts, as well as soccer fields are all available for fun family tournaments and the kids can hang out at the playground while the grill heats up.
Picnic shelters and pavilions are available for large group gatherings and umbrellas are available to rent for surfside lounging. For ice-cold drinks and fantastic snacks, swing by the concession stand or pick up souvenirs at the gift shop. Make sure you arrive early Sunday evenings for the Siesta Key Drum Circle, a wonderful oceanfront carnival of percussionists, dancers and street performers. Lifeguards patrol Siesta Key Beach year-round, and restrooms and shower facilities are available. Handicap beach chairs and access ramps ensure that all can enjoy this Sarasota treasure!
Snorkeling is popular off the southern shore of Crescent Beach, where the clarity of the Sarasota seawater yields breathtaking views of ocean life and the coral rock formations known as the “Pont of Rocks.” Lifeguards are not stationed here, nor are there restroom facilities as most visitors to this beach are staying at the condos, rentals and timeshares that line this area of the Sarasota Coast.
At the southern end of Siesta Key is the serene and spacious Turtle Beach. While lifeguards do not patrol the beach, the picnic shelters, grills, restrooms and playground create a family-friendly destination. Turtle Beach is a wonderful spot for strolling and surf fishing but be careful not to harm the nesting turtles for which this beach is named.
Immaculate white dunes and natural features grace this isolated area accessible only by boat or on foot through Turtle Beach. Preservation efforts at Palmer Point have created a spectacular haven for the birds and wildlife that can be seen along the trails and throughout the park. Removed from the busy beaches of Siesta Key, this quiet park is wonderful for swimming and fishing.
There are a few towns and enclaves worth exploring between the cities of Sarasota and Venice. Osprey and Nokomis are located on the mainland and are home to Oscar Scherer State Park, Historic Spanish Point, and the Legacy Trail, a popular 10-mile paved biking path. Casey Key is located off the coast of the mainland.
Established as Sarasota’s first public beach, Nokomis Beach has long been a favorite of Sarasota residents and visitors. Twenty-two acres include wide lifeguarded beaches, picnic shelters and a boardwalk for strolling over the dunes. From this less developed beach, the view of the gulf is uncluttered by hotels and resort hotels. Restroom facilities, free parking and a concession stand are provided so that you can spend your day bird watching, shell hunting or simply unwinding on the quiet beach. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings, bring the family and your rhythm-makers and jam with the Nokomis Beach Drum Circle!
North Jetty Park
For some of the best gulf fishing in Sarasota, take advantage of the on-site bait shop and head out onto the jetty. Although great for surfing, the rough waters around the jetty are not safe for swimming. Instead, take a picnic and challenge the family to a few rounds of volleyball or horseshoes.
Venice, located just south of Sarasota on Florida’s white-sanded Gulf Coast, has 14 miles of beaches ranging from Casey Key to Manasota Key, as well as numerous recreation activities such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and boat tours. Shelling is another popular activity in Venice, and fossilized shark’s teeth can be found by sifting through the sand.
Venice is also a Florida Main Street City, with a downtown graced by northern Italian architecture and beautifully landscaped boulevards dating back to the original city plans of 1925 and reminiscent of the Italian city of Venice from which it took its name.
Brohard Dog Beach & Paw Park
Let your four-legged friends off the leash at the county’s only beach for dogs (owners allowed as well). One acre of fenced-in grass is a great place to run before heading down to the surf for some fetch or relaxing in the shade of the trees. Dog showers are available to rinse the saltwater from your pets as well as water fountains for cooling off.
Famous for fossilized shark’s teeth that are scattered throughout the white sand, Venice Beach is treasured for its bluest gulf water. A nearby coral reef is also popular with divers and snorkelers. This spacious beach is patrolled by lifeguards and offers public restrooms and well-stocked concessions. Picnic tables and a large pavilion are perfect for small or large gatherings and there’s plenty of free parking available.
The beaches of Venice are renowned for being the best place to look for fossils. I’m not sure what makes shark teeth more likely to wash up on the beaches of Venice, but they do!
Cherished for its seclusion and preserved natural beauty, Caspersen Beach is a favorite of residents and visitors alike. The incredible four-mile stretch – the longest in Sarasota County – is home to some excellent bird and dolphin watching, shelling and shark-tooth hunting. For shorter strolls, check out the fitness course, boardwalk and nature trail. A sheltered playground is a great place for kids to burn off some energy out of the sun. In addition to restrooms, Caspersen Beach amenities include picnic areas, a covered pavilion and a fishing pier but lifeguards are not on duty.
As perplexing as it may appear, the Manasota Key area is known best for its undiscovered beaches. Manasota Beach, Blind Pass Beach, Englewood Beach (perhaps the best known of all these beaches), and Stump Pass Beach are among the pristine beaches in the area.
Manasota Beach is perhaps one of the least busy beaches in Sarasota County, allowing visitors to imagine that the entire gorgeous beach is their private beach for a while.
A well-maintained nature trail winds through the mangroves that populate this small beach. Showers, restrooms and sheltered picnic areas are some of the facilities provided. Lifeguards patrol Manasota Beach year-round and a boat-launch into Lemon Bay is located across the road.
If you’re looking for a secluded getaway, drive across the Charlotte County line to Englewood Beach. With shops and restaurants located across the street, this is the perfect spot to relax. Parking and picnic areas are available as well as showers and restroom facilities.