A Guide to Tampa’s Best Beaches

With an average of 361 days of sunshine a year and stretches and stretches of caster-sugar white sand beaches, it comes as no surprise that the Tampa Bay Area draws in millions of visitors each year. 

But with so many paradise beaches to choose from, it can be tough deciding which to visit (we know – it’s a hard life). 

To help fast-track your travel research, we’ve listed some of the best Tampa beaches and what makes each one so special. Welcome to our Tampa beach guide.

Clearwater beach sunset

Clearwater Beach: The Ultimate Party Destination

If dancing to thumping tunes with your toes sunk in the sand with a margarita in your hand sounds like heaven to you, then Clearwater Beach is a must-visit.

Not only is Clearwater Beach the ultimate party destination, but it’s not too bad on the eyes, either. With its soft, pale sand and glimmering green-blue waters, Clearwater Beach has been ranked twice as the best beach in the country.

But if beach partying isn’t your jam, don’t worry – there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Clearwater Beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and various water sports, like jet-skiing, parasailing, and kayaking. 

Plus, there’s always something happening on the famous Pier 60. Be sure to cap off a beach day with a visit to the nightly sunset celebration, complete with fire breathers, dancers, and musicians.

And if you’re travelling with kids, there’s plenty to keep them occupied and happy, from the adventure playgrounds to the numerous ice cream shops. 

For the grown-ups, there are an abundance of bars and restaurants to wine and dine in, offering freshly-caught seafood and hand-crafted cocktails. Make sure to stop by Bar Tiki to try their ‘Niu Colada 10,’ a unique twist on the classic piña colada.

Entry: Free

Parking: There are several public parking lots located throughout Clearwater Beach, with prices ranging from $2 to $3 per hour, depending on the lot and the time of day. These lots include the Clearwater Beach Marina Parking Lot, the Surf Style Parking Lot, and the Pelican Walk Parking Lot.

Dogs Allowed? You’ll need to leave the pups behind for this beach trip – dogs aren’t allowed.

St Pete beach

St. Pete Beach: A Laid-back, Florida Classic

If you visit just one beach on your vacation in Tampa, make it St. Pete Beach. Known for its powder-white, sandy shorelines and clear, glittering waters, you’ll find St. Pete Beach just off the coast of St. Petersburg. 

St. Pete Beach is the perfect spot for swimming, parasailing, and jet skiing – or simply lying in the sand soaking up the sunshine with a good book as the world whirrs by.

One of the unique features of St. Pete Beach, compared to other Tampa Bay beaches, is its laid-back vibe. Unlike some of the more crowded, hedonistic Florida beaches, St. Pete Beach is more peaceful and a lot less touristy.

Plenty of restaurants and shops are nearby, making St. Pete Beach an excellent destination for a day trip or a longer stay. We recommend the Palm Pavilion for chilled beachfront dining and fresh seafood or Woody’s Waterfront for live music with a relaxed retro vibe.

Entry: Free

Parking: Several parking lots can be found throughout St. Pete Beach, with prices ranging from $1 to $3 per hour, depending on the lot and the time of day. These lots include the Upham Beach Parking Lot, the Corey Avenue Parking Lot, and the Pass-a-Grille Beach Parking Lot.

Dogs allowed? Yes – you’ll find a dog beach at the northern end of Pass-a-Grille Beach, which is just south of St Pete Beach.

Honeymoon island

Honeymoon Island State Park: A Nature-Lover’s Haven

Just north of Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park could be described as the complete opposite of the renowned party spot. Famed as a nature-lover’s haven, Honeymoon Island State Park is surrounded by verdant vegetation and exudes a tranquil and calming atmosphere.

Honeymoon Island State Park is home to plenty of wildlife, including ospreys, eagles, and dolphins. And if you visit between May to October, you may get lucky and even spot a sea turtle nesting on the beach. But know that you’ll need to plan to stay until it gets dark, when sea turtles are less likely to be disturbed by predators or humans.

Entry: $8 per vehicle (two to eight people), $4 single-occupant vehicle, $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, and passengers in a vehicle holding the Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Parking: The park has several parking lots, including the main parking area near the entrance and additional parking lots by the beach.

Dogs allowed? Yes – a dog beach is accessible via a short stroll on the nature trail that runs along the coast.

Caladesi island state park

Caladesi Island State Park: A Remote Retreat 

Looking for an exclusive beach escape? The Caladesi Island State Park, located just off the coast of Dunedin, is a tropical slice of heaven that’s only accessible by boat.

Due to its remote location, there are no hotels or restaurants on the island, making it the ideal beach to escape from the hustle, bustle, and stress of everyday life. So, pack a scrumptious picnic if you plan to spend the day, or place an order of lip-smacking Mexican fare to go from Casa Tina on the way.

If you can drag yourself away from the shorefront, consider hiking one of the many nearby trails. For example, the half-mile Hammock Loop takes you through a cool, shaded hammock area.

Entry: $8 per vehicle (two to eight people), $4 per single-occupant vehicle

Parking: Visitors can park their cars at the Honeymoon Island State Park’s parking lot, which is located on the mainland in Dunedin.

Dogs allowed? Yes – there’s a designated dog area at the park’s southern end near the kayak launch area.

Davis island dog beach

Davis Islands Beach: The City Hangout

Situated just south of downtown Tampa, Davis Islands Beach is known as a local’s favorite. The small stretch of sand is conveniently close to downtown Tampa, making it easily accessible for locals who want to enjoy a day at the beach without having to travel far from the city.

Enjoy scenic views of the downtown skyline and activities like fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

Entry: Free

Parking: There are several public parking lots located throughout Davis Islands, with prices ranging from $1 to $2 per hour, depending on the lot and the time of day. These lots include the Marjorie Park Marina Parking Lot, the Sandra Freedman Tennis Complex Parking Lot, and the Peter O. Knight Airport Parking Lot.

Dogs allowed? Yes – there’s a dog park for your furry friend to run about in at the southern end of the beach.

Where to Stay in Tampa

Whether you’re staying in Tampa for a sun-soaked week away or are looking for a monthly rental for a longer stay, we’ve got a comfortable vacation home with your name on it. Book a vacation rental in Tampa, St. Pete, or Clearwater today and settle into your perfect beach-hopping base.

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