From world-famous South Beach to Key Biscayne and family-friendly swaths of sand in Surfside, it’s no secret that one of the major draws of a Miami vacation is the beach.
Most of the beaches in Miami feature trained lifeguards to ensure everyone is safe while in their care. The strong winds and tides can get pretty dangerous, so lifeguard stands have a flag system that warns visitors about the sea conditions. The best thing about beaches in Miami is that all of them are open to the public. In case you get bored of lying in the sun, beaches in the Miami area offer plenty of water activities and are close to restaurants, bars, and various other attractions.
So where’s the top place to experience the sun and sand? Check out Miami’s top ten best beaches:
1. South Beach / Lummus Park Beach
South Beach, the mother of all beaches in Miami, this legendary stretch of beach runs from the southern tip of the island to 23rd Street. Turquoise-blue ocean laps against white sand beaches, Art Deco hotels flank the coastline, and the beach itself is a patchwork of lounge chairs and umbrellas. The busiest—and most touristy—section runs parallel to Ocean Drive (between 5th and 15th Streets), and gay beach, which is marked by rainbow flags near the 12th Street lifeguard stations. Locals tend to hang around the quieter patches south of Fifth Street. Lummus Park, tucked between the Atlantic and Ocean Drive, offers beach volleyball, a paved promenade for cyclists and joggers, and a convenient location only steps from shops and restaurants.
2. South Pointe Park Pier
South Pointe Park Pier is part of a park with a playground, fishing pier, and several picnic areas. For a truly special day at the park, stroll along the promenade while you take in the views of the Atlantic, lounge on a bench while you enjoy the ocean breeze. A walk on the pier is definitely for a jaw-dropping shoreline view, you can catch the cruise ships sailing out of PortMiami. There’s beach access from the park, so make your way down and catch the sunset with the spectacular views of nearby Fisher Island, Miami’s Skyline and Biscayne Bay.
3. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, at the tip of Key Biscayne, is a treasure. With rugged dunes leading to an uncrowded beach and unlimited ocean views, it’s a piece of unspoiled and natural old Florida.
The water is typically tranquil here, thanks to a barrier reef located six miles offshore. You can visit the historic lighthouse built in the 1820s, and follow nature trails that wind through the park. For refreshments, Boater’s Grill and the Lighthouse Café offer authentic Cuban fare in rustic settings. There are also shaded picnic pavilions if you bring your food.
What to do: Consider renting a bike from the park’s concession and exploring. Take a peek inside the Cape Florida Lighthouse (South Florida’s oldest) and look to the horizon for a glimpse of Stiltsville, a collection of historic homes that appear to float atop Biscayne Bay.
4. Crandon Park
Crandon Park on Key Biscayne is the place to go to be active. Vendors offer lessons and rentals for kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking, while there are trails across a mangrove boardwalk to a fossilized coral reef, and naturalist-led tours provided by the Nature Center. The beach itself is a two-mile-long sandy, tranquil stretch along the barrier island with a famous sandbar that constantly changes due to the wind and tides. Back on the beach, there are picnic tables, cabanas, and volleyball nets, and within the park a marina, golf course, and tennis center. Parking costs $5 weekdays and $7 on the weekend.
5. Virginia Key Beach Park
One of the most beautiful stretches of surf and sand in Miami, Virginia Key Beach is ideal for travelers who enjoy swimming and lazing in the sun. The beach boasts picnic benches and nearby restrooms and showers. If you’re feeling adventuresome, visit the Virginia Key Outdoor Center for kayak, bike, and paddleboard rentals. Nearby, night owls can enjoy the magic of the city under the stars during a Full Moon Paddle. Admission costs $5 per vehicle or $10 per bus weekdays and $8 per vehicle and $16 per bus on weekends.
6. Matheson Hammock Park
Located just south of Coral Gables, Matheson Hammock Park is well-known for its natural landscape of swaying palms, mangroves, and old oak trees. Matheson Hammock Park opened in 1930 as a gift to the county from conservationist William J Matheson “to preserve the wild and natural beauty” of Miami. For stellar views of the bay, take a walk around the pool to the Tenerife Reflecting Point, an area with benches surrounded by coral rock. Matheson Hammock is also the perfect spot for fishing, picnicking, kayaking, and kiteboarding. For a romantic dinner on the waterfront, head to the park’s Red Fish Grill. Admission costs $5 weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays.
7. Mid-Beach, Miami Beach
Mid-Beach is the stretch of Miami Beach between South Beach and North Beach. A raised boardwalk separates the beach from hotel-lined Collins Avenue between 23rd Street and 46th Street. Home to Miami’s most stylish hotels, like the Miami Beach Edition, Faena Hotel Miami Beach, and Soho Beach House, this area caters to a cool crowd that considers South Beach passé.
Where to stay: Check into the Miami Beach Edition, an Ian Schrager–backed reinvention of the 1955 Seville Hotel, with an Old Havana–inspired palm-fringed lobby, a slick pool area, and, of course, the beach.
8. North Beach
With chilled-out beaches, historic Art Deco architecture, and inviting green spaces, North Beach makes for a mellow, family-friendly beach destination. A beautiful oceanfront park with ample shade trees, North Shore Oceanside Park is an ideal spot to access the beach for a relaxing afternoon. After a day of soaking up the rays, stroll down to the nearby North Beach Bandshell and experience the area’s beauty under the stars and enjoy some live music. This beachfront music venue is hands down one of Miami-Dade’s best spots to catch a live show. (Collins Avenue from 75th to 79th Streets, Miami Beach)
9. Haulover Beach
Haulover Beach is home to the only nudist beach in Miami. While topless sunbathing is common throughout Miami Beach, this is where to go if you want to bare all. The tranquil white-sand strand attracts other types of visitors too. It’s a prime spot for surfers when conditions are right because of the current at the Haulover Inlet, and the park is a popular place for families to fly kites and have a picnic—there are tables and outdoor grills. There’s also a marina full of fishing and diving charters facing the Intracoastal Waterway.
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the area is a pup playground, adding wet and sloppy kisses to your beach itinerary. Let your four-legged friends frolic in the surf, cool off in style, and play in the Bark Park, open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Parking costs $5 weekdays and $7 on the weekend.
10. Sunny Isles Beach
This clean and uncrowded two-mile stretch of sand at the northernmost reaches of Miami Beach is lined with towering residential condominiums. Sunny Isles Beach is ideal for families looking for a day at the beach. Park at the lot at 174th Street and make your way to the beach through Samson Oceanfront Park – with a lifeguard tower and volleyball nets nearby, it’s a gorgeous stretch of beach. At 165th Street, Newport Fishing Pier juts over 600 feet into the ocean, and it’s a good place for a scenic stroll or a bite to eat.
Surfside is known as Miami’s Uptown Beach Town. Nestled between North Beach and Bal Harbour, it has a decidedly retro small town appeal. A day on the sands can sometimes feel like you’re on a private beach. From sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean to sunset behind the skyline, this pristine stretch of beach attracts families and anyone looking for a tranquil day under the sun. With the beach to the east and lush dunes to the west, you can use the paths for an oceanfront stroll, run, or bike ride. It’s a great way to enjoy the peaceful sounds and views of nature. You’ll find joggers on the elevated dune path and paddle-boarders and kite surfers zipping across the waves. Pack a picnic and beach blanket or simply recline on a cushy lounge chair at your oceanfront resort for an idyllic day at Surfside’s beach.