Nestled along the tip of Florida’s peninsula, Miami is a city surrounded by saltwater, where one white sandy stretch of beach seamlessly blends into the next. It’s not hard to find a beach—just head east, or, better yet, cross over one of the causeways leading to “islands” like South Beach or Key Biscayne. Narrowing down the best beaches in Miami is another story, since it’s such a personal decision; some beaches are more secluded while others are more public or even nude-friendly.
The Best Beaches in Miami
To help point you in the right direction, here are nine of the best beaches in Miami, catering to everyone from families to travelers with pets in tow.
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South Pointe Park
South Beach is synonymous with Miami, but the official beach only stretches from South Pointe Park to Collins Park on 21st and 22nd Streets, right across from the Bass Museum of Art. For that Instagram-worthy shot, post up at South Pointe Park, where you’ll come across South Beach’s iconic, pastel-coated lifeguard stands. Take in 360-degree ocean views from the renovated pier, or take the kids to play at the mini water park. Pup in tow? This spot is pet-friendly and features a dog park nearby.
For a calm, family-friendly atmosphere, one of the best beaches in Miami lies north of the North Shore Open Space Park. Dubbed Miami’s “uptown beachtown,” Surfside is where the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor would hide away in the swanky Surf Club, where the Four Seasons recently opened its doors with a luxe oceanfront spa perfect for winter (or summer!) detoxing. A waterfront walking path lines the mile-wide beach town, which is also home to Harding Avenue, a downtown area dotted with smoothie shops like The Carrot and yogurt cafes like Serendipity.
Haulover Beach Park
The 1.5-mile Haulover Beach Park constantly ranks one of the best beaches in Miami for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most famous is its stretch of clothing-optional sand between lifeguard stands 12 and 16. The beach is also dog-friendly, with a pup playground between lifeguard towers 2 and 3 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and a Bark Park open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. The whole family can fly kites on the grassy stretch of park looking out to Biscayne Bay. If you happen to be in town on a Tuesday evening, local food trucks roll up to the Bill Bird Marina, dishing out some of Miami’s best eats.
Crandon Park Beach
One of the best beaches in Miami for families, Crandon Park offers everything from volleyball nets to a nature center where you can discover exotic plants and wildlife. This beach is so scenic that it’s constantly used as a backdrop for swimwear ads and movies. Kayak or paddleboard along the coastal hammocks and mangroves, or pause for a picnic under a canopy of live oaks, where you’ll find plenty of pavilions and grills sitting nearby. One of the park’s best-kept secrets: the 200 acres of gardens tucked along the south end in what was once a coconut plantation.
Oleta River State Park Beach
Even some locals are unaware that Florida’s largest urban park lies in Sunny Isles Beach. Located on the Oleta River on Biscayne Bay, Oleta River State Park is the perfect place for families and nature lovers to spend the day (or night), with miles of off-road cycling trails for all skill levels and a river prime for kayaking or canoeing. The 1,200-foot sandy beach offers crystal-clear water great for swimming or saltwater fishing, with picnic pavilions available for rent. Want to spend the night? “Camp” in one of the air-conditioned river cabins, complete with covered porches, picnic tables, and a barbecue grill.
Lummus Park Beach
If you want to say you’ve really experienced South Beach, head to Lummus Park Beach. It’s one of the most popular beaches in Miami for its central locale in the Art Deco District along Ocean Drive, stretching from about 6th to 14th Street. Cyclists and rollerbladers cruise along the paved pathway winding through the palm tree-lined park separating the beach from Ocean Drive. This is the perfect place to get your bearings in South Beach, but don’t expect to have the water all to yourself; supermodels and celebrities flock to this stunning sandy stretch.
Hobie Beach/Windsurfer Beach Causeway
Over the past 20 years, Hobie Beach (also known as Windsurfer Beach) has become a Miami fave for two reasons: water perfect for windsurfing and a pet-friendly beach with shallow surf sans current. Tucked along the north side of the Rickenbacker Causeway, the overpass leading to Key Biscayne, Hobie Beach offers windsurf rentals and lessons, ranging from two hours to an entire day. Not only is this beach a calm one—both in terms of current as well as crowds—but it’s also one of the best spots to catch the sunset, with sweeping skyline views of the skycrapers downtown.
Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
This beach can be a tough one to find if you don’t know the landmark clues, making it a favorite for locals who want to keep some of their shores a secret. Located past the Rickenbacker Causeway across from the Miami Seaquarium, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is marked by a wooden sign leading to the mile-long shores of the barrier island. Kids will love riding the mini train and vintage carousel, while nature enthusiasts can explore coastal hammock trails. If you want to hit the water, rent a board and paddle out on Biscayne Bay, where you’ll catch stunning views of Brickell and Downtown Miami.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Home to the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County—the historic lighthouse built in 1846—Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park offers a respite from the bustling (and sometimes rowdy) beaches lining Miami’s main shores. Stretching across the southern third of the island of Key Biscayne, this quiet hideaway makes you feel like you’ve jetted off to a piece of paradise in the Caribbean, despite being just a 15-minute drive from South Beach. Take a guided tour of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s cottage (offered twice daily) or cast a line from the seawall along Biscayne Bay, where you’ll find some of the region’s best shoreline fishing.
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—Original reporting by Lane Nieset