18 Top Rated Best Beaches in St Petersburg, Florida in 2023

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By Erin
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Looking for the best beaches in St Petersburg & Pinellas County? You’ve come to the right place for hidden gems and local tips.

If you’ve ever wanted to take some time off and unwind on a gorgeous beach, what are you waiting for? You can’t do better than these gorgeous beaches for a good time and fun vibes.

I moved to St Petersburg years ago for work with no plans to permanently stay here. However, something about its gulf breezes, natural beaches, and laidback lifestyle, got me permanently hooked. Just don’t book a hotel in downtown St Pete very long – you’ll want to move like me!

St Petersburg/Pinellas County has a wide variety of fun things to do with a multitude of charming nearby cities including St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin, Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, and the list goes on!

To narrow your hunt for the best beaches in St Petersburg, I have listed my top 18 by category. Some will naturally fit under a couple of these areas.

  • Best Beaches for a Lively Atmosphere | Most Popular Beaches
  • Best Beaches for Families
  • Best Remote Natural Beaches

Without further delay, here are the best beaches in St Petersburg & Pinellas County, Florida.

Read Next: 25+ Best Things to Do in St Pete Beach + Local Top Picks

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Best Beaches for a Lively Atmosphere

Looking for beach party vibes or busier beaches that offer a lot of fun things to do nearby? Then, this is the list for you. I don’t have them in a particular order – since I love each one of these locations for different reasons (and here’s why).

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, beaches near New Port Richey.
Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is widely considered one of the best beaches in America. It has been repeatedly ranked in the top ten several times bringing home the #1 spot most recently in 2019, as well as 2018, and 2016. So, if you haven’t been to America’s top beach pick, you need to see it at least once and maybe even book a weekend getaway. It also tends to be a very popular Spring Break destination.

Clearwater Beach has plenty of fun activities suitable for the whole family, especially with a lifeguard on duty.

The waves at this beach are mild, and the shoreline is relatively flat. Because of its generally clean and calm waters, it offers various exciting recreational opportunities. Activities such as watersports, parasailing, and sunset party cruises are just a few examples.

Don’t miss Pier 60 when in Clearwater Beach! There are fun attractions for the whole family with a kid’s playground, beach rentals (i.e., beach chairs and cabanas), fishing, stores, and rides. In the evening, two hours before to two hours following sunset, there is a sunset celebration with street performers, local artists, and music to make it even more memorable!

And after a day of watersports, there are plenty of beach bars with live music nearby.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 18 miles
  • Nearest City: Clearwater Beach
  • Best Hotel Nearby: Sandpearl Resort
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St Pete Beach

Upham Beach Park
St Pete Beach at Upham Beach

St Pete Beach is not only one of the best beaches in St Petersburg, but in the world. Tripadvisor ranked St Pete Beach the #1 Beach (and #5 in the world) in 2021. It has been repeatedly voted in the top 10 in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014. So, if you weren’t sure this was a fantastic beach, now you know!

Experience the ultimate beach fun at St Pete Beach. This scenic coastline provides a white sand beach, turquoise water, and various things to keep you and your traveling partners active the whole time. There are several beach hotels, boutiques, restaurants, breweries, ice cream shops, and other fun things to do.

Make time for an amazing beach day of activities like beach volleyball, swimming, making sand sculptures; and enjoying a cool drink while relaxing on a beach chair while watching beautiful sunsets.

St Pete Beach tends to be my favorite mainstream beach for a local’s vibe, especially Upham Beach. It has everything from beach volleyball courts, rental paddleboards and beach chairs, and lots of room to spread out. You can even borrow basic gear from their small beach library at the edge of the beach.

Plus, Paradise Grille, a beachfront restaurant is located at Upham Beach for food and refreshments – so you don’t have to pack a picnic.

If you’re looking for a true comparison of Clearwater vs St Pete Beach, you’ll want to read my article found here.

🌴 Pro Tip: Upham Beach has a secret garden close to beach bars and restaurants. If you have time for a short walk, you’ll love this unique spot.

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Madeira Beach

Madeira Beach at John's Pass Village
Madeira Beach at John’s Pass Village

Madeira Beach, also known as Mad Beach is a flat, white sand beach ideal for long walks or jogs. You’ll see some breathing sunsets from this gorgeous beach town.

Plus, you won’t run out of fun things to do in Madeira Beach being steps away from Treasure Island, and a short drive from Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, and downtown St Petersburg.

John’s Pass Village with its 1,200-foot promenade is impossible to miss.  It draws more visitors than any other site in all Pinellas County. In all, over a hundred unique stores and eateries line the waterfront, many of which provide breathtaking views. Parasailing, deep sea fishing charters, watersports, and dolphin tours are all available.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 11 miles
  • Nearest City: Madeira Beach
  • Best Hotel Nearby: Cambria Hotel
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Treasure Island

Treasure Island Beach - View from Treasure Island Beach Resort
Treasure Island Beach – View from Treasure Island Beach Resort

Treasure Island maintains a hive of activity as one of the best beaches in St Petersburg. This beautiful strip of sand is bustling with activity and is perfect for individuals who want to spend an active day at the beach swimming, shell hunting, watersports, or enjoying an evening sunset boat cruise.

Treasure Island is a great place for a weekend getaway, especially with easy walkability to restaurants, hotels, and shops on the Treasure Island Beach Trail. This paved trail along the beach runs between 104th and 119th Avenues; it is ideal for walking, skateboarding, and bicycling.

There are plenty of walkable beach resorts and smaller local motels in Treasure Island.

🌴 Pro Tip: For great Mexican food or margaritas, try VIP Mexican across from the beach. The ambiance isn’t much to look at, but the chips and queso, churros, and entrees are fantastic.

Treasure Island Wheelchair Accessible Beach

Treasure Island is truly one of the best beaches in St Petersburg for everyone since it’s ADA accessible. At Gulf Front Park, located at 10400 Gulf Boulevard, the MobiMat was installed which gives 400 feet of beach access towards the Gulf of Mexico. It provides those with mobility limitations the ability to also enjoy this amazing beach.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 8 miles
  • Nearest City: Treasure Island
  • Recommended Hotel in Treasure Island: Treasure Island Beach Resort
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Best Beaches for Families 

Picking beaches for families is truly a matter of personal preference. However, with my family, I prefer beaches that offer a less crowded atmosphere and a laid back vibe. Here are the best beaches in St Petersburg for families.

Pass-a-Grille Beach

Pass-a-Grille Beach Sunset
Pass-a-Grille Beach sunset at Paradise Grille

If you have made it to Pass-a-Grille Beach, you have literally found a little heaven on earth for beach lovers. Technically, it is a part of St Pete Beach, but it feels like its own little village.

This piece of paradise is full of charm that you will soon be saying this is your favorite quaint beach town. Those that travel with dogs will also appreciate the dog friendly park on the southern tip of Pass-a-Grille Beach.

As a local, this is one of my go-to places for the perfect laid back beach day. Pass-a-Grille Beach is a place for connecting with nature or yourself, plus you can take deep sea fishing or ferry rides from Merry Pier. And perhaps, when you’re done enjoy some fresh seafood at the local restaurants. Check out my favorite things to do in Pass-a-Grille Beach.

🌴 Pro Tip: Grab a cold beer and take in the sunset at Paradise Grille on the beach for a perfect sunset view and live music. There are also plenty of beach bars just across the street.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 11 miles
  • Nearest City: St Pete Beach
  • Recommended Hotel at Pass-a-Grille Beach: Inn on the Beach
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Sand Key Park

Sand Key Park
Sand Key Park

Sand Key Park is located on 95 acres in Clearwater. It is a barrier island, separated away from Clearwater Beach by the Clearwater Pass. Sunsets in Sand Key Park are among the best in the area. The park offers two picnic areas, a kids’ playground, restrooms, and a dog park.

Travelers and locals visit this white sand beach for spectacular views. It’s one of the parks nearest Clearwater Beach that provides a parklike peaceful setting to explore. The breeze will refresh you, so it’s best to rent a cabana and settle down for the day.

Seasonal lifeguards keep an eye on everything. A wide variety of bird species and endangered sea turtles may be seen on the salt marsh nature walk at Sand Key Park.

Sand Key Park charges a $5 per vehicle parking fee and is open all day from 7 am to sunset.

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Sunset Beach

Treasure Island Boardwalk and views of Sunset Beach with park benches and white sand
Sunset Beach in Treasure Island

Tucked away near Treasure Island’s southern tip is where you’ll find the beautiful Sunset Beach. The sunsets at this picturesque beach are second to none. Due in part to the beach’s separation from the mainland and in part to its melancholy beauty, it has a distinctly peaceful feel.  You may see some dolphins or stingrays depending on the season.

Houses and businesses here are works of art themselves, and the colorful tiki huts and collection of shabby outdoor beach bars make for a memorable day trip. Both residents and tourists love the laid-back atmosphere at this beach, since it is primarily residential.

At sundown, Sunset Beach comes to life with the sound of live music and the clink of beer glasses at the beach bars. Take in the breathtaking scenery while you enjoy a refreshing drink at Caddy’s.

Sunset Beach has more parking than some of the more prominent beach destinations. Parking lots have pay stations (cash or card) to pay by the hours for metered parking or by ParkMobile App.

☀️ Pro Tip: Check out the Treasure Island Boardwalk while you’re at Sunset Beach. This is a peaceful walk that provides great views.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 10 miles
  • Nearest City: Treasure Island
  • Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Roth Hotel
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Gulfport Beach Park

Gulfport Beach Park
Gulfport Beach Park

Gulfport Beach Park is a public beach available to the public for enjoyment. Come out and soak up some rays on the beach. All the outdoor comforts and activities are at your disposal, so kick back, play some bocce ball or horseshoes, or eat a picnic lunch under a tent.

While it’s not located on the Gulf of Mexico, it does have beautiful views of Boca Ciega Bay. While the beaches are not as pristine, there is plenty to do here and everything is FREE. You can enjoy outdoor workout equipment, large covered playground, covered picnic areas, public restrooms, and free parking. There is also basketball, softball, and beach volleyball as part of the Gulfport Recreational Area.

You won’t run out of fun things to do in Gulfport with the downtown across the street in this quaint artsy, Old Florida town.

🌴 Pro Tip: Skip packing a lunch. Gulfport restaurants are some of the best in the St Petersburg.

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Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park

Located far to the north of the rest of the Pinellas County beaches, Honeymoon Island State Park is highly recommended for anybody with an interest in nature and an eye for animals including gopher tortoises and armadillos.

There are beautiful sandy beaches at Honeymoon Island State Park, which is located on a barrier island. Head to North Beach for beautiful natural palms to rest under and it’s usually not overly crowded. It’s also a perfect place for a gorgeous sunset. South Beach is also nice but tends to be rockier.

Honeymoon Island Island Park has a little something for everyone such as swimming, shelling, sunbathing, a massive kids’ playground, and a dog beach. In addition, the island is a great place to go hiking since it has so many different kinds of nature trails and so many different kinds of birds such as eagles and great horned owls. This is an excellent place to host a wedding or special event since there are large covered picnic areas and a cafe.

The park is open daily from 8 am to sunset, and the cost is $8 per vehicle.

⛳️ Pro Tip: Best avoid Honeymoon Island State Park on major holidays like Memorial Day, due to one road in and out traffic congestion.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 29 miles
  • Closest City: Dunedin, Florida
  • Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn Dunedin
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Archibald Memorial Beach Park

ROC Park across from Archibald Memorial Park - showing the sign and beautiful bay water views and pier.
ROC Park across from Archibald Memorial Park

Archibald Memorial Beach Park is also located in the city of Madeira Beach.

Crystal clear water, a powdery white sand beach, swaying palm trees, and a wealth of onsite facilities make this a popular destination among visitors and longtime residents. 

Spend a wonderful day at Archibald Memorial Beach Park with the people you care about. Fun activities that will bring people closer together include beach volleyball, beach chair rentals, and more.

There is also restrooms, outdoor showers, plus there’s the Snack Shak available for food and drinks. Archibald Memorial Beach Park has the greatest swimming conditions due to its pristine water and mild waves. It’s another beautiful place to take in a sunset.

Parking is paid via ParkMobile App or at the kiosk.

🌴 Pro Tip: For families, you’ll want to check out the ROC Park (Remember Our Children Park) located directly across the street. It has a lot to offer (and it’s free) including a splash pad, tennis courts, baseball fields, playground, fishing dock, etc.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 12.2 Miles
  • Nearest City: Madeira Beach, Florida
  • Recommend Hotel Nearby: Cambria Hotel
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Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach is an expansive sandy beach excellent for strolling and exploring in search of shells. There is a good chance that you may see dolphins playing in the water as well.

Indian Rocks Beach has been a long-time favorite destination for families from Tampa or Hillsborough County looking for a beach weekend getaway. It has a slower pace than Clearwater Beach, but it certainly has a fantastic Gulf of Mexico view.

🌴 Pro Tip: Located directly on Indian Rocks Beach is the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary. This quaint place dedicates its time to the rescue, rehabilitation, and future release of birds back into the wild. Plus, it offers free admission (donations are appreciated).

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Redington Shores

north redington beach
Great Blue Heron at North Redington Beach

Visitors may enjoy a calm and relaxing atmosphere at Redington Shores Beach. Located between Madeira Beach and Indian Shores, Redington Shores tends to fly under the radar.

Spend time with your travel companions relaxing on Redington Shores Beach and getting the most out of your holiday. This stretch of coast is perfect if you want to lay back and take it easy or get out and do some exciting stuff. 

Lazing on the soft sand, getting some sun, taking lots of photographs of the beautiful scenery, going for a stroll, spreading out a blanket for a picnic, etc., are all great ways to spend a day at the beach.

Paddleboarding, wave running, playing volleyball, going on a boat tour, and many more activities are just some ways to liven up a day.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 14 miles
  • Nearest City: Redington Shores, Florida
  • Recommend Hotel Nearby: Legacy Vacation Resorts
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Spa Beach Park

st pete pier
Spa Beach (located on the right)

If you are looking for the closest beach to downtown St Petersburg, you’ve found it. Located at the St Pete Pier, you truly can’t have a better location with world-class museums, restaurants, and fun things to do all within walking distance.

Keep in mind, you won’t get the traditional beach experience but the kids will love having a playground, regular musical performances, and concessions nearby.

If you’re staying at a downtown St Pete hotel, this is the most convenient place to take the family for a quick beach day.

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Bellaire Beach

If you prefer to hangout with locals, Bellaire Beach should be added to your list. It’s a super laid back beach for families. It is known for having some of the most beautiful upscale waterfront homes in the surrounding area. Boaters can easily access this beach via the Municipal Marina or 7th Street boat ramp.

Since it’s largely residential there are no public ammenties or restaurants on this long stretch. You’ll appreciate the peacefulness of Bellaire Beach because it’s home to nesting birds, endangered sea turtles, crabs, and other wildlife.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 22 miles
  • Nearest City: Bellaire Beach
  • Recommended Hotel Nearby: Belleview Inn
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Best Remote Natural Beaches

With the long list of best beaches in St Petersburg, it’s hard to believe there are more options! As a boater, exploring more remote beaches became a weekend pastime. While a couple of these are very popular places, they also are remote and you’ll feel more at peace here if you’re looking for solitude.

Fort De Soto Park

ft de soto park
North Beach at Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto Park tops my list of remote beaches because there’s something here for everyone. To start, you’ll have miles of beaches and a total of 1136 acres to explore.

Fort De Soto Park has some of the best waterfront camping spots in the state of Florida. It also boasts one of the best dog beaches. The area encompassing Fort De Soto consists of five islands, all of which include long sections of beachfront. 

Put your feet up and take in the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Take to the water in a canoe or kayak for a more energetic outing. For those that love to fish, there are two fishing piers you can enjoy in this lovely park.

You can rent equipment including bikes and beach equipment (i.e., beach chairs and umbrellas) to make your trip a breeze! There are also concessions on site, as well as picnic shelters, playgrounds, outdoor grills, etc.

Fort De Soto Park is open daily except on Thanksgiving and Christmas from 7 am to sunset. Parking costs $5 per vehicle if you arrive by car.

🌴 Pro Tip: Make time to tour the old fort (history buffs will appreciate this stop). You’ll get amazing views from the top.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 14 miles
  • Nearest City: Tierra Verde, FL
  • Recommended Hotel Nearby: Residence Inn Tierra Verde
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Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park

One of the finest unspoiled beaches is the beautiful Caladesi Island State Park. The 20-minute ferry ride from Honeymoon Island is the most convenient route since it’s only accessible by vessel. I prefer Caladesi Island State Park slightly more than Honeymoon Island because of its beautiful beach conditions and crystalline waters.

More and more things to do await you on Caladesi Island State Park as you go around the nature trails and explore the water. You may catch flounder, snook, trout, snapper, whiting, and sheepshead with a valid fishing license. Caladesi Island is also a great place for shell hunting and swimming.

  • Distance from Downtown St Petersburg: 27 miles
  • Nearest City: Dunedin, FL
  • Recommended Hotel Near Caladesi Island State Park: Hampton Inn Dunedin
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Shell Key Preserve

Shell Key Preserve
Shell Key Preserve

Shell Key Preserve is a picture-perfect island just outside of downtown St Petersburg. You will drive through Tierra Verde as if you’re going to Fort De Soto Park.

Shell Key Preserve is only accessible by watercraft. Over the years its one of my favorite places to pull up near the shoreline, and enjoy a private day at the beach. Boaters coming from downtown St Petersburg or South Pinellas County appreciate this island’s close proximity. You won’t have to travel far to feel at peace in nature.

Shell hunting, swimming, fishing, and picnicking are just some of the other activities that may be enjoyed by guests. Keep in mind, there are no restrooms or any other facilities on this island.

If you like kayaking, one of the best nighttime kayaking tours explores Shell Key Preserve.

🌴 Pro Tip: As a local, I often would come to this quaint island for a couple of hours and then head over to Island Grille for fresh seafood or live music, just a few minutes away on Tierra Verde with dock access. They also have a pool for patrons to use.

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Egmont Key State Park

Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key State Park

Visit Egmont Key State Park to take in the splendor and peace of the natural world – a private island only accessible by watercraft. If you don’t have a boat, it’s an easy ferry ride away from Fort De Soto Park or boat tour. On you’re boat ride, you’ll see views of the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Enjoy the miles of pristine, unspoiled beach. Spend the day at this remote stretch of beach relaxing in the sun, searching for seashells, and topping up your tan. 

The blue-green water is shallow and clear at Egmont Key, so it’s easy to see the beautiful shells and fish. You can also see manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and other marine life while snorkeling around this island.

Take a break from snorkeling and see the island by walking the nature trails. The brick paths will lead you to several structures and a lighthouse that are historic ruins of Fort Dade that date back to 1858. History buffs fall in love with this beautiful island. You’ll also see plenty of gopher tortoises along the walking trails.

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Final Thoughts | Best Beaches in St Petersburg Area

If you’re like me, you’ll be impressed by all of the best beaches in St Petersburg.

Every beachgoer has their ideal beach experience, whether a peaceful stretch of sand with gently waving sea oats or a bustling beach where people play volleyball, swim and frisbee with their family. This is a great place to spend time alone or with loved ones.

Relaxing beach days, watersports, entertainment, and wildlife-watching are all possible at one of the many nearby sandy areas in and around St Pete. 

Once you’re done enjoying the beach, make time to see some of the nearby cities in Florida: St Petersburg, St Pete Beach, Tampa, Gulfport, Madeira Beach, and more!

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Authored By: Erin
Welcome to Erin’s Travel Tips, a Florida Travel Website. I specialize in unique family travel destinations, outdoor getaways in Florida and beyond! I’m a proud Floridian who loves a good cup of coffee, boating, and of course, traveling with my family to some of the most interesting places in the world.

1 thought on “18 Top Rated Best Beaches in St Petersburg, Florida in 2023”

  1. We are always looking for recommendations for great beaches when we head to Florida. I love the variety in the beaches around the St Petersburg area. I like to find beaches that have lots of activities. But do like it when you can wander and get away from the crowds tool. Good to see some options for more remote beaches too. And who could pass o a beach known for its sunsets?


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