One of my favorite things about living in Florida is having easy access to beautiful beaches, but finding quiet beaches can prove to be a little harder to do.
I already didn’t enjoy the idea of swimming in people soup at crowded, popular beaches like Clearwater or South Beach are known to be. Now that we are in the age of “That C-Word”, any hopes of getting in a beach day if you didn’t live directly on the beach seemed all but dashed.
Now that many beaches have reopened across Florida, I’m still very skeptical and concerned about venturing to the beach and finding myself surrounded by people.
But fear not my fellow mermaids and mermen! You can get some much needed beach time in your life where it won’t be even the least bit peopley and optimal conditions for safe as possible social distancing practices, that is if you know where to look!
How to Find Secluded Beaches in Florida
- Head to an island! Did you know there are more than 4500 islands surrounding the state of Florida? Many islands are accessible only by boat which is going to limit the amount of people tremendously.
- Visit a state park beach. From my experience, many state park beaches get shown love by the locals but not so much by others not in the know. The Florida State Park website is very easy to narrow down your search to find quiet Florida beaches.
- It’s worth noting that by and large people are cheap. If there is an entry fee to be paid then the less people there will be than traditional public beaches.
- You may have to take a bit of a drive but if you’re willing to do that you can find some stretches of beach that will give you the escape you crave while not endangering your health or the health of others because you will not be close to anyone at all.
- Look for nature preserve beaches or wildlife refuges. Many of these are much lesser-known and likely to have lots of space to spread out.
- Plan to visit early in the day to minimize the amount of people.
- Weekends and holidays will likely be way more crowded than weekends so I would avoid those if at all possible.
A Few of My Favorite Quiet Florida Beaches
1. Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key is an island just of the coast from Fort DeSoto State Park and it is only accessible by boat.
The water off the western shore of the island will have you thinking you have run away to a Caribbean Island! It is beautiful and pristine turquoise calm water.
Aside from the amazing beach, there are lots of old forts to explore, a lighthouse, and nature trails.
You will likely see gopher tortoises on the island as you walk around. They are so cute, just remember not to harass them or try to touch them! (Unfortunately, I have to say that because I’ve seen idiot people trying to do just that)
- Pack in what you need for the day as there are no amenities on the island.
- Bring a cooler for snacks and drinks (alcohol is not permitted)
- Since this is an island, private boats are able to access it. Weekdays will be the optimal time to visit. Weekends will likely be way more peopley with private boats. If you do decide to venture on a weekend, then I recommend taking the 10 AM ferry and making a bee line for the beach.
- Cost: There is a 75 cent toll, a $5 park entry fee, and $25 for adults and $12 for children for the ferry cost.
- There is no shortage of space on the beach to be completely away from people. It was not peopley at all and the closest people were about 30 yards away from me.
- The ferry runs from inside Fort DeSoto State Park but it is operated by Hubbard’s Marina. They are only operating at half capacity which is around no more than 25 people or so.
- Social distancing is enforced on the ferry to keep parties separate. There is plenty of space to allow for this easily and the ferry is open air and not enclosed.
- Mask wearing is encouraged. The crew did wear masks as did about half of the passengers on the ferry during my trip.
- If you want to be extra cautious, bring your own pen to sign in when you catch the ferry and bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down your seat on the boat.
- Pay the $25 fare in advance so that you will not have to interact with the crew at check-in other than to sign in. Less things for you and for them to touch the better
2. Caladesi Island State Park
Caledisi Island State Park has stretches of white sandy beach that will have you feeling very secluded.
The ferry service from Honey Moon Island State Park takes you to the island. $16 for adults and $8 for children.
The beach is open for use by boat or you can make the 3 mile hike on foot from Clearwater Beach.
There is a snack bar and chairs and umbrellas for rent.
**Check the state park website for the latest on what amenities are open.
- This state park is open for limited use. Social distancing guidelines of 6ft apart and groups over 10 people is enforced.
- If you can manage to get to this island during this time you should have plenty of space to spread out.
- Kayaks can be rented by various concessionaires if you choose to kayak to the island.
- Ferry service begins at 10am and runs every half hour.
3. Cayo Costa State Park
One of my absolute favorite places in Florida is Cayo Costa State Park in Charlotte County. Read all the details on how I camped here a couple of years ago and fell in love with this gem!
If ever there was a secluded place for a beach day, this island is just that!
- The beach is open for use but camping and cabins are not yet available. This means you can expect to pretty much have the run of the island to yourself without any campers there.
- Ferry service has resumed. The cost is $12 for adults and the run throughout the day. You’ll want to check the state park website for up to date information on times and cost.
4. Shell Key Nature Preserve
Shelly Key is a small barrier island just off Tierra Verde. It is only accessible by boat and there is a ferry that operates via Hubbard’s Marina from the Fort DeSoto boat ramp.
Once you are dropped off, I recommend walking westward and then you will follow the bend around to your right. This will put you on the open gulf facing side of the island with a long expanse of beach to spread out and calmer prettier water.
Be advised this beach is known for shelling, hence the name. Wear water shoes to protect your feet. You will definitely find huge beautiful shells and calm shallow waters if you want to swim.
- The ferry is operating a half capacity and it is open air. Social distancing is enforced and masks are encouraged.
- There is plenty of beach to spread out but be aware that people come to hunt for shells. You will want to set up your beach chair/towel further from the shell line so that you don’t impede people hunting and cause them to come near you. They honestly just aren’t paying attention as they are heads down looking at the sand.
- You will need to get the parking voucher from the boat captain to avoid the $5 parking fee.
- Cost: $20 for the ferry for adults and $12 for kids. There is also a 75 cent toll. You will not need to pay the Fort Desoto park entrance because the boat ramp is before the main park entrance gate.
5. Gasparilla Island State Park
Gasparilla Island State Park is a small beach state park on Boca Grande Island.
After driving through a long road of tall lush palms and ginormous ritzy homes the road dead-ends into this little slice of paradise.
Boca Grande became an instant favorite for me because it has 2 lighthouses and these pillars from an old pier that look like the Florida version of Stonehenge.
This beach is a photographers playground with fluffy white sand, beachy nature trails, and a stretch of rocky shore.
- The park entry is $5 on the honor system with a payment box.
- The lighthouse and gift shop were closed when we were there due to social distancing guidelines. Check the state park website for the latest information.
Please understand that if you have found this post during the time of social distancing guidelines being in affect, you will want to do your due diligence to understand current rules and guidelines in place before venturing to one of these quiet Florida beaches.
Many amenities or concession vendors may not be available for use.
I personally wore my mask on the ferry ride to Egmont, but I did not find it necessary to wear on my hike to the beach or while I was on the beach. I was in water literally by myself. That felt safe for me but I can’t speak to what feels safest for you.
There is an inherent risks now with everything we do and everywhere we go. It is a personal choice on how you proceed but whatever you decide please be respectful and courteous of your fellow adventurer. While 6ft is the recommended distance, if you can be further away then please do that!
If there is 3 miles of beach there’s really no need for you to even be within 20 feet of another party. Be considerate and aware of your surroundings. If someone has already claimed a spot, just walk a little further.
Be patient and be kind and basically don’t be an asshat.