Hi there!

 

So you want to go to some of the best beaches in Florida!

Welcome to Southwest Florida!

Southwest Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast!

This makes Southwest Florida a perfect area to do some beach hopping in Florida!

Yes, it’s located towards the southern and western part of Florida!

 

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Best beaches in Southwest Florida. best southwest florida beaches. beach gulf coast beaches in sw florida. fl travel blog

Best beaches in Southwest Florida. best southwest florida beaches. beach gulf coast beaches in sw florida. fl travel blog

 

 

Can you swim at Southwest Florida beaches?

Best beaches in Southwest Florida. best southwest florida beaches. beach gulf coast beaches in sw florida. fl travel blog

 

Yes, it is possible to go swimming in Southwest Florida!

There are lots of beaches in Southwest Florida that can be perfect for swimming.

Summer is the best time for swimming in Southwest Florida, but you may find people swimming any time of year.

The spring and fall months can also be reasonable for swimming for many people, and some people may even think that it’s worth it to go swimming in winter months if you’re coming from cold weather!

In the winter, the highest water temperature you will encounter will probably be in the mid 60s, maybe the high 60s.

For many people, a water temperature in the 60s is too cold for swimming.

But there will almost always be a few people swimming along Florida’s gulf coast even in the 60s!

And even if you don’t want to full on immerse yourself in the water, the shoreline along many of Southwest Florida’s beaches are shallow so you can just wade out in the water to feel that sea water without fully getting in!

So really, you can get in the water at least a little bit any time of year!

 

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For the lowest temperature it gets in Southwest Florida generally speaking, high temps for the air in the winter are generally high 60s to low 70s which is on the cooler side.

But nothing that will prevent you from getting in the water if you really want to, right?!

 

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👆 In April, the water temperature at Southwest Florida beaches may be in the mid-70s. This can be a comfortable water temperature for swimming! The air temperature can be in the 80s.

 

See more for your Southwest Florida beach trip:

 

 

Shelling beaches in Southwest Florida

The beaches of Southwest Florida are also considered to be the best beaches in Florida for shelling.

Even more than that, Southwest Florida is said to have the best beaches for shelling in all of the United States!

 

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best southwest florida beaches for shelling. best shelling beaches in southwest florida. florida travel blog
👆 Southwest Florida beaches are some of the best shelling beaches in Florida and the entire United States! It doesn’t take much to go shelling in Florida, but you may want to pack extra things for your Florida shelling trip!

 

best southwest florida beaches for shelling. best shelling beaches in southwest florida. florida travel blog
👆 Southwest Florida beaches are some of the best beaches in Florida to look for shells! It’s not unusual at some Southwest Florida beaches to see people sitting in shallow water in search of shells!

 

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👆 Southwest Florida beaches are some of the best beaches in Florida to look for shells! It’s not unusual at some Southwest Florida beaches to see people bending over in shallow water in search of shells!

 

 

 

The boring safety message about swimming at Southwest Florida beaches!

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In short, take care!

Some Southwest Florida beaches may have a lifeguard, other beaches may not.

 

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👆 There are beaches in Southwest Florida that don’t have lifeguards.

 

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👆 Lifeguard station in Southwest Florida: There are beaches in Southwest Florida that do have lifeguards.

 

Swimming in Southwest Florida CAN be generally safe… IF the water is calm!

The ocean is powerful!

The Gulf of Mexico is powerful!

Rip currents exist!

Know before you go!

According to the National Ocean Service, rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues.

 

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do southwest florida beaches have lifeguards? lifeguard station at southwest florida beach. florida travel blog

 

Before heading off to the beach, talk with your group about what to do if you find yourself in a rip current!

 

do southwest florida beaches have rip currents? southwest florida rip currents swimming beach. florida travel blog

 

In short:

  • Don’t fight the current.
  • Swim parallel to shore.

Learn about rip currents from the National Ocean Service (NOAA).

 

Take care out there!

If the beach you are going to has a beach flag, take extra caution based on the color of the beach flag!

You will see a green flag, yellow flag, or red flag.

 

southwest florida beach flag colors. florida travel blog

southwest florida beach flag colors. florida travel blog

southwest florida beach flag colors. florida travel blog

 

And even if there is a beach flag indicating “calm conditions” meaning it’s relatively safe for swimming in Southwest Florida, it’s still the ocean, so take care!

 

 

 

See below for where to go along the Gulf Coast for the best beaches in Southwest Florida!

 

 

🌞

 
More photos/info below, but first...
Side note!
Here's some info on Florida trip prep!


I have a lot of 30-90 second Florida outdoor travel videos. A few of them might be on this page. If you can't see the video directly below, it might be because you have an ad blocker. Save the Southwest Florida video playlist to watch on youtube later!



Southwest Florida is where Hurricane Ian made landfall in September 2022 which resulted in historic destruction. If you are looking to help but not sure how, consider donating to the Florida State Parks Foundation: DONATE HERE. One of the notable Florida state parks in Southwest Florida is Cayo Costa State Park. Cayo Costa is mentioned as the first spot that the hurricane made landfall.

Are Florida state parks open after the hurricane? Check the Florida Park Service website for current closures. (There are many state parks that are closed.)

Are Florida national parks open after the hurricane? As of December 2022, the Miami side of Everglades National Park is open, while the Gulf side is closed. For current updates, see: What is closed in Everglades National Park?

Is Sanibel Island open after the hurricane? Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island were among the hardest hit by the hurricane. The Sanibel Island bridge that links the mainland to Sanibel Island and Captiva Island was destroyed during the hurricane. As of December 2022, Sanibel Island is not yet open to visitors. For current updates, see: What's open in the Fort Myers area? (scroll down to Sanibel Island)

 

 

Best beaches in Southwest Florida

This list will take you down the coast from north to south.

 

1. Lido Key

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There are many little islands along the Gulf Coast in Southwest Florida.

Lido Key is one of them.

This is where you will find Lido Beach!

 

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best southwest florida beaches: lido key beach, lido beach. best beaches in southwest florida for swimming. florida travel blog

 

You’ll pass through St Armands Circle on your way to Lido Key where you will find lots of restaurants and shops.

 

See more about planning your Southwest Florida beach trip:

 

 

2. Siesta Key

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Siesta Key is another island in Southwest Florida, and it’s one of the most popular beach destinations in Florida.

It has been named one of the best beaches in America.

At one end of Siesta Key is the famous #1 beach that is Siesta Beach.

This is where you’ll find an amazing white sand beach with a wide stretch of sand.

 

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best southwest florida beaches: siesta key beach, siesta beach. best beaches in southwest florida for swimming. florida travel blog

southwest florida beach water temperature: siesta key water temperature in april. florida travel blog

 

On the other end of Siesta Key is the quieter end, and it’s where you’ll find Turtle Beach… along with the Turtle Beach campground! If you want to go camping on Siesta Key, the Turtle Beach campground is it!

There is a direct path from the campground to the beach, so your campsite will just be a few minutes walk from being able to see the amazing Gulf coast.

I also saw dolphins swimming along the shoreline from Turtle Beach!

You need to get lucky in order to find camping availability, as campsites get booked up pretty much as soon as they are available months in advance. But people do cancel.

 

Camping near the beach in Southwest Florida:

 

See more about planning your Southwest Florida beach trip and beyond:

 

 

3. Cayo Costa State Park

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Cayo Costa State Park is on an island in Florida.

To go to Cayo Costa State Park, you’ll need to leave the car behind!

That’s because the way to get to Cayo Costa State Park is by boat!

 

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southwest florida beach state parks: boat to cayo costa state park beach. florida travel blog

southwest florida beach state parks: boat to cayo costa state park beach. florida travel blog

 

You can make it a day trip to Cayo Costa State Park, or if you’ve got some time to spare, you can make it a night (or more!) on the island of Cayo Costa!

This will be a mostly rustic stay!

There are no traditional accommodations like hotels or resorts.

Instead, you can get an epic island tent camping experience in Florida.

 

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Or you can get a rustic cabin experience in Florida!

 

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southwest florida beach cabin: cayo costa state park cabin near beach. florida travel blog

 

Either way, it’s pretty much bring your own everything!

 

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southwest florida beach camping: cayo costa state park camping near beach. florida travel blog

 

There’s a small store on the island, but it’s not much to depend on.

So it will require a bit of an effort in the form of planning a trip to Cayo Costa, but no matter how you choose to stay on Cayo Costa, you will be just a few minutes walk from the beach!

Is there a lot to do on Cayo Costa island? No, not really. Your time will be spent at the beach or walking around the island on the beach… or in search of another beach!

 

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southwest florida beach state park island: cayo costa state park beach. florida travel blog

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southwest florida beach hike: cayo costa state park hiking to beach. florida travel blog

 

And you can watch an epic sunset!

 

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southwest florida beach sunset: cayo costa state park beach sunset. florida travel blog

southwest florida beach sunset: cayo costa state park beach sunset. florida travel blog

 

You can also go shelling in Cayo Costa State Park.

 

southwest florida beach shelling: shelling at cayo costa state park beach. florida travel blog

 

The “real Florida” as the people of Florida state parks like to say! It’s a quiet Florida island experience!

 

See more about planning your Southwest Florida beach trip:

 

Camping near the beach in Southwest Florida:

 

 

4. Sanibel Island

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Sanibel Island is known for having some of the best shelling in Florida.

And even more than that, Sanibel Island beaches are known for being the best beaches for shelling in all of the United States!

You can go to any of the beaches on Sanibel Island and you will find shells.

Along the shoreline, you can find tons of small shells, and the more you look, the greater your chances are for finding different types of shells!

 

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To get you started, you likely will not be disappointed if you make Bowmans Beach your one and only Sanibel Island shelling beach to visit!

 

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best southwest florida beaches shelling: sanibel island beach shelling. florida travel blog

 

 

Even if you’re not interested in shelling, you will find beautiful views by going to Sanibel Island beaches!

 

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best southwest florida beaches: sanibel island beach. florida travel blog

best southwest florida beaches: sanibel island beach. florida travel blog

 

The Sanibel Island beach parking fee is hourly. See current fees.

There is the Sanibel Causeway toll for driving the bridge to Sanibel Island.

And then once you pass that toll bridge, you are driving along the Sanibel Causeway to get to Sanibel Island.

 

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You will soon see places that you can stop along the bridge.

You can make this a picnic stop or just stop to take in the views!

It’s a part of the Causeway Islands Park, and it’s located directly along the road.

 

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southwest florida beaches: sanibel causeway islands park. florida travel blog

 

See more about planning your Southwest Florida beach trip and beyond:

 

Camping near the beach in Southwest Florida:

 

 

5. Captiva Island

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And there is also Captiva Island for beaches and shelling!

You will drive through Sanibel Island to get to Captiva Island.

There’s a small bridge that you can drive across… or walk across… or bike across! (Lots of people rent bikes on Sanibel Island.)

 

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best southwest florida beaches: sanibel island and captiva island. florida travel blog

best southwest florida beaches: sanibel island and captiva island. florida travel blog

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best southwest florida beaches: captiva island beach. florida travel blog

best southwest florida beaches: captiva island beach. florida travel blog

best southwest florida beaches: captiva island beach. florida travel blog

 

 

Plus you might make some bird sightings on the beach!

 

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southwest florida beach birds: captiva island birds. florida travel blog

southwest florida beach birds: captiva island birds. florida travel blog

 

See more about planning your Southwest Florida beach trip:

 

 

6. Marco Island

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Marco Island is another popular beach destination in Southwest Florida.

To get you started, the 2 main public beaches on Marco Island are South Beach and Tigertail Beach.

You will probably have an easier time with parking at Tigertail Beach.

Tigertail Beach is known as the best shelling beach on Marco Island, although you can look for shells along any Marco Island beach.

It’s also known for the lagoon water crossing to get to the beach, although there is also an alternative walking route that is not so bad.

If you want to walk normally to the beach, you’ll want to park at the far end of the parking lot as far as you can drive, and then start walking from there.

Then, after a few minutes of walking, you see a wide expansive white sand beach of Marco Island!

It’s possible you might walk around 10 minutes from your parking spot to where you want to set up camp on the beach.

 

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best southwest florida beaches shelling: shelling at marco island beach. florida travel blog

 

And if you will be staying an overnight on Marco Island, be sure to catch a Marco Island sunset!

 

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Tampa to Marco Island drive: marco island. sunset between tampa and marco island. florida road trip travel blog

Tampa to Marco Island drive: marco island. sunset between tampa and marco island. florida road trip travel blog

 

See more about planning your Southwest Florida beach trip:

 

Camping near the beach in Southwest Florida:

 

And that’s a bit about some of the best Southwest Florida island beaches!

 

More for your Florida road trip:

 

HAPPY SOUTHWEST FLORIDA BEACH TRIP!

 

 

👇 Explore the Florida Keys map on google maps!
florida keys map. florida keys snorkeling map. florida keys campground map.

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Things to pack for your Florida vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming.

More for your Florida packing list



Watch the videos to see Florida in action!

Find more amazing things to do Florida: Watch my Florida videos on youtube
If you see an activity you like, look in the description below the youtube video for the individual blog post about that specific activity!