Best beaches in Tampa Bay

One of the main attractions in Florida is its beaches. While there are many other fun things to do in the Tampa Bay area (you can watch this video to see more of our favorite spots to spend a day), the beaches are one of our favorite things to do.

Watch video here:

Tampa is a great place to live and visit due to nice weather – more than 250 days of sunshine, although we rarely have days where it rains all day. The Tampa Bay area sits on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which is known for its beautiful white sand and calm waters. This isn’t the place to surf but to build sandcastles and enjoy the water.

Let’s have a look at what we think are some of the best beaches in Tampa Bay:

Touristy beaches

Clearwater Beach: A very popular spot with Spring Breakers, Clearwater Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand and warm, clear blue water. It is consistently named one of the best beaches in the area and was named TripAdvisor’s #1 beach in the U.S. in 2016, 2018 and again in 2019. There are lots of water sports and activities nearby including dolphin cruises, kayak and jetski rentals and more. Pier 60 is Clearwater Beach’s entertainment district with live music and performers as well as shops and beautiful sunset spots. There is a thriving nightlife district, hotels nearby and lots of restaurants.

St. Pete Beach: This 7-mile barrier island beach is very similar to Clearwater Beach, although they are 20 miles apart.  St. Pete Beach is a large, commercialized beach with cabana rentals, water sport rentals, condos and hotels nearby as well as various restaurants and shops. St. Pete Beach is also home to the historic Don CeSar resort. TripAdvisor’s named it the No. 1 Beach in the US in 2021! St. Pete Beach has many restaurants, galleries and beachwear shops.

Local favorites

Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin: A 4-mile long stretch of beautiful sand make this beach popular for shellers and families. There is also the Osprey Nature Trail through the pine forest where you can spot ospreys, eagles and great horned owls if you’re lucky. There are also picnic areas, bike paths and even two eateries on the island. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a lead.

Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin: One of the few natural islands in the Gulf, it is fairly secluded, helped by the fact that the only access is by boat. There is a public boat that makes the trip several times in the day. There are also pavilions, bathrooms and even a little snack bar on the island. It was named as a best Tampa Bay beach by Dr. Beach in 2020.

Fort Desoto Park, Tierra Verde: You can call it a beach but it is so much more. The county park covers five islands and more than 1000 acres of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. It has a beautiful white sand beach but also amenities including a boat ramp, a fishing pier and campsites. You can rent a canoe, kayak or bike to explore the park’s 7 miles of trails, or visit the historic fort. It was named "Best Beach for Families" by USA Today in 2014 and Trip Advisor’s Best Beach in 2009. Locals love Fort DeSoto because it’s one of the only off-leash beaches for dogs. There are bathrooms, a bait shop and a snack bar.

Fred Howard Beach, Tarpon Springs: Access to the beach is a 1-mile causeway. The beach is well maintained and popular with fisherman, swimmers, sunbathers and families. There are pavilions, a playground, bathrooms, kayak and canoe rentals and bike and walking trails. The area is also popular with wind surfers.

Madiera Beach: Very laid back, hosts an annual seafood festival and there is a long boardwork along the beach with shops and restaurants

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