6 Best Beach Towns in Florida

This Article Will Answer the Question: Where are the Best Places to Live Near the Beach in Florida ?

So you’re thinking of moving to Florida because you love the beach, or fishing or sunsets on the water.

Maybe it’s that tasty fresh seafood all great beach towns have.

With all that coastline in Florida and hundreds of miles of sand and cities and towns all along it, how do you choose which one is best for you?

This should help! Here’s the 6 best beach towns in Florida and how we chose them.

Criteria Used to Choose the Best Beach Towns

I believe beach towns must have the following to to be the best places to live near the water in Florida…

#1-The Town Must Have or be Very Close to Some of the Best Beaches in Florida

Some beaches have dark, dirty looking sand. Some have course sand that feels like it’s best purpose would be for making sandpaper.

Some beaches in Florida have been ravaged by storms, which left very little actual sandy area at the beach to enjoy. Some beaches are poorly maintained or have too much garbage in the sand.

A town had to be have beautiful, clean, well maintained beaches, or beautiful natural beaches to make it onto our list.

The sand had to be soft, the kind of sand that’s great for long walks barefoot along the water’s edge.

The town had to be very close to the beach(es) itself.

Being able to walk or bike to the beach would be ideal.

If that wasn’t possible because most beaches are on keys or islands, or in state parks, a short drive of 30 minutes or less to access them did not disqualify the city.

Most of the beaches in or near the towns below have been named as best by Dr Beach or are well known as preferred by long time local residents.

#2-The Town and the Beaches Must be Safe

There are many towns with nearby beaches that did not make our list because of safety concerns. If the beach area, city or town is affected by high crime, it did not make it onto my list.

I’ve sold homes for a living for almost 30 years, and not one buyer out of 1000’s ever said they wanted to live in a high crime area. Most expressed the area had to be safe, or the safest they could afford. The crime rate for a beach town on our 5 best list, had to be average for Florida or better.

Florida’s crime rate is higher than in most states, so average for Florida may be higher than where you are moving from. Some of the beach towns below are the among the safest towns to live in Florida. We use crime statistics based on annual FBI reporting.

We did not take into consideration if a town was affordable or not, but a couple of towns are more affordable (still not cheap for this real estate market anyway), and we point that out.

All of the towns below also had higher scores than other similarly sized towns for job availability, better schools and other quality of life factors.

So Here They Are,

The 6 Best Places to Live or Retire Near the Beach in Florida

These are also the Safest Beach Towns in Florida

In no special order…

#1 Siesta Key Florida

Best Beach Town in Florida to Retire– Siesta Key is also on our  Best Place to Retire in Florida list because it’s very close to two hospitals highly rated by Medicare.

Siesta Key Beach’s beautiful expansive white sand was just one reason the beach was named as “the best beach in the world” for 2017 by Dr. Beach. This also happens to be a personal favorite beach of mine also. If you want to experience some of the whitest softest sand and enticing clean aqua colored warm saltwater for swimming, this may be the best beach for you too.

Siesta Key Village is a beach-side collection of unique and interesting shops, tiki-bars and restaurants with a Key West kind of feel, but in much safer environment. The violent and property crime rate here are just a small fraction of the national average. So you can eat, drink, sunbath, party and swim (not necessarily in that order) without having to worry about your safety.

Siesta Key is located just off of the south-west coast of Florida and just across the bridge from Sarasota Florida. It’s also about a half hour south of the Tampa and St Petersburg area. So when living on Siesta Key, you would have all that the Sarasota-Bradenton and the Tampa-St Petersburg major employment markets have to offer, two international airports and any kind of shopping, dining and entertainment you could possibly desire, all less than an hour away.

Siesta Key is truly one of the best beach towns to live or retire to in Florida. Places in Florida that offer a very high quality of life and are at the beach are not inexpensive, especially at the tail-end of a Florida boom when housing prices are at there highest like they are now. However, if you can find an apartment, condo or home on Siesta Key you can afford, you’ll get something included with that which most people only dream of but will never experience. And that’s an “island lifestyle”.

Learn more in these videos of Siesta Key Beach, winner of a “Best Beach in the World” award from Doctor Beach


2) Key Biscayne Florida

Best Beach Town in Florida for Families with School-age Children– Students in this beach town have test scores far higher than the national or Florida average.

If you bought Google stock when it was cheap, Key Biscayne, just a few miles out in the water from Miami may be the ultimate town for beach lovers in Florida. Unlike it’s nearby but totally separate neighbor Miami Beach, Key Biscayne is safe.

It has access to some of the most beautiful beaches and water in all of Florida. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park’s beaches were named among the best in the world by the famous “Dr Beach”. Crandon Park has great beaches, tennis, rollerskating and a golf course to top it off. Compared to Miami Beach that gets packed crazy with tourist (or with crazy tourist), Key Biscayne’s incredible beaches are almost a secret.

Key Biscayne scores extremely well in all the other quality of life factors too. The schools are highly rated. When you’re on Key Biscayne you feel a world away Miami, but all of Miami’s amenities and job possibilities are just minutes away. If you can afford the good life, love the beach, prefer quieter places but want access to a crazy world class city when you feel like it, Key Biscayne might be the perfect Florida beach town for you.

Learn more about Key Biscayne in this video.

florida move guide book cover and discription

3) Apalachicola Florida

Best More Affordable Beach Town in Florida  This is one of the few places in Florida with high quality of life scores near beautiful beaches that also has housing costs lower than Florida’s average (as of this writing in August 2018). However, this town is small and our experience has been that not long after we name a place that’s “cheap” many of the almost million unique visitors to this website will enter the real estate market of this pick and change pricing due to increased demand.

Residents of this small town have access to miles of uncrowded pristine natural beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. Apalachicola is located east of Panama City and southwest of Tallahassee, the capitol of Florida. This part of the panhandle still has much of that old time Florida charm and friendliness, and the beaches really are amazing.

This area is ideal for those who want to really get away from it all and escape into another world, one where it’s all about the water and taking it easy. The area is uncrowded but there are plenty of shops, restaurants, pubs and fish shack bars. If you never drank away the afternoon in an old time fish shack bar with a totally relaxing atmosphere overlooking the water, well, put it on your to do list. Then quit your job and go to Apalachicola.

Be sure to bring money though, because although this area is as safe as it gets in Florida, and cheap, job prospects aren’t plentiful. This would be a perfect beach town to retire to, or own a vacation home.

Learn more about Apalachicola in this video.


4) Bonita Springs Florida

On southwest Florida’s gulf coast, south of Fort Myers and just north of Naples is where Bonita Springs is located. There are numerous beautiful beaches to comb like Barefoot Beach Preserve State Park. This is a relatively quiet, uncrowded relaxing beach but with amenities like restrooms, showers and picnic tables.

Within an hours drive, there are lots of different beaches, each with it’s own unique charm. That variety is important because it’s not impossible to get bored after you’ve gone to the same beach for the 200th time, trust me.

Bonita spring’s crime rate is about average for the sunshine state. It’s cost of living is just above average for Florida, but access to restaurants, shopping, good schools and employment are better than most of Florida.

If you like warm, clear water with mostly gentle waves and looking for a more upscale beach town that you can afford, Bonita Springs might be right for you.

See Bonita Springs in this short video.


5) Safety Harbor & Dunedin Florida

These two small towns are north of Tampa and St Petersburg, and just north-east of Clearwater. While they may not appear on other best beach towns lists, I’ve chosen this area for a few very good reasons.

First, they are very safe small towns, some of the safest places you’ll find in Florida. They are just a short drive from two of the best, but distinctly different great beach areas on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico Coast, Clearwater Beach (Clearwater the city doesn’t make the cut because of crime) and Caladesi Island State Park.

It’s extremely rare to find safe towns near great beaches with easy access to big city amenities, and still be among the most affordable places to live in Florida. One caveat, it doesn’t take much of an increase in buyers to a small area to push the prices up, and I believe that’s happening in these areas now. Even if it becomes less affordable, this area is likely to remain safe and have above average quality of life factors like better education system ratings and employment outlook. Both of these towns are on other best places lists of ours for 2015.

Dunedin Video

Safety Harbor Video


6) Islamorada Florida

No list of great beach towns in Florida would be complete with a town in the Florida Keys. Islamorada is one of my personal favorite vacation spots in Florida.

Once you cross the bridge onto Key Largo you start to feel different. Your cares start to melt away as you drive by marinas, tiki bars, fish restaurants, surf and dive shops. Islamorada is the first major key south of Key Largo.

The beaches here are unique, and there aren’t many places you can watch the sun rise over the water in the morning on one side of the key, and walk across to the other side and watch the sun set over a different body of water on the other side. Sunrises and sunsets on the water, ahhh.

Islamorada is a very safe place to live, especially for the Keys. That’s why you’d have to sell some of that Google stock you bought early to afford to live here. The schools are great, and there are jobs available but you’d have to hold down five of them to afford the housing.

If you can afford the ticket, the Keys offers a lifestyle unique from anywhere else. Be sure to pick up some Jimmy Buffet on the way.

An Islamorada Video.

Bottom Line: The Sunshine State has lots of coastline, sand and water, but only a few places qualify to be the best beach towns to live in Florida.


Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.