The 15 Best Beaches Near Ocala Florida You Must Visit

Photo of author
By Erin
Last Update:

Our website is supported by our readers. We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. For more details see our disclaimers page.

Looking for the best beaches near Ocala Florida? I’m someone who knows Ocala like the back of my hand, so you’ve come to the right place.

Ocala is the ideal location if you’re searching for somewhere with clean air, a relaxed pace of life, and stunning natural beauty.

Because of its closeness to famous freshwater springs, World Equestrian Center, and scenic horse farms, there is plenty of fun things to do in Ocala.

If a day on the water is all you need, join us as we explore the best beaches near Ocala, FL.

St Pete Beach

St Pete Beach is one of the best gulf beaches near Ocala Florida. White sands and plenty of paddleboarding and volleyball options - as shown in Upham Beach. It is one of the Closest gulf beach to ocala florida.
St Pete Beach is one of the Gulf beaches near Ocala Florida
  • Distance from Ocala: 126 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 53 minutes 
  • Things to Do in St Pete Beach: Boat Tours, volleyball, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and more!

To kick off our favorite beaches near Ocala, we must start with St Pete Beach, the #1 beach in the US by TripAdvisor in 2021. It’s known for its white sandy beaches and clear water. It is a laid-back environment and is family-friendly.

St Pete Beach offers a variety of water sports, such as parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. In addition, the area is known for its thriving social scene and has several beach bars and rooftop lounges. The two “major streets” of St Pete Beach, Corey Avenue and historic 8th Avenue in Pass-a-Grille, are also suitable for strolling. 

St Pete Beach has a long list of fun things to do with lots of affordable hotels, bars, and restaurants! For an unusual restaurant experience head to Rumfish on St Pete Beach where you can snorkel with snook, tarpons, and stingrays in their 33,500-gallon aquarium.

☀️ Recommended Hotel in St Pete Beach: The Saint Hotel ☀️

ett divider

Clearwater Beach

  • Distance from Ocala: 121 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 54 minutes 
  • Things to do in Clearwater Beach: Boat tours, miniature golf, Pier 60, and more!

Clearwater Beach is distinguished by its barrier island location and 2.5 miles (4 km) of white sand beaches that run along the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County.

This popping beach town is known for its gorgeous water, Pier 60 sunset performances, and fun vacation vibe. It’s the most popular tourist hot spot and famous beach near Ocala.

The white sandy beaches and clear blue-green water will captivate you. In 2019, Clearwater Beach was the #1 Beach in the US by TripAdvisor’s Best Beaches.

It is connected to Sand Key Park, another barrier island, on the southern end by a short bridge and has a complete marina on the Intracoastal Waterway side.

☀️ Recommended Hotel Near Clearwater Beach: The Sand Pearl Resort ☀️

Read Next: St Pete Beach vs Clearwater Beach – Which is Best for You?

ett divider

Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach photo of palm trees, white sand, and blue water gulf of Mexico view.
Indian Rocks Beach
  • Distance from Ocala: 123 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 56 minutes
  • Things to do in Indian Rocks Beach: fishing, boating, swimming, and sunbathing

If you are looking for a quiet beach setting with Gulf of Mexico views, then you must add Indian Rocks Beach to your list. It is situated in Pinellas County with easy access to Clearwater Beach for restaurants, bars, and stunning sunsets and celebrations at Pier 60.

One of the city’s biggest features is the number of tourists that visit it, as people travel from all over the globe to Indian Rocks Beach to enjoy the city’s wonderful beaches and stunning sunsets.

Read Next: 23 Fun Things to Do in Ocala Florida + Top Must Know Picks

☀️ Recommended Hotel Near Indian Rocks Beach: Holiday Inn & Suites at Indian Rocks Beach ☀️

ett divider

Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area

Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area in Ocala Florida.
Silver Glen Springs
  • Distance from Ocala: 38.8 miles
  • Traveling time: 45 minutes
  • Things to do in Silver Glen Springs: Fishing, boating, scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, canoeing, and hiking in the wilderness 

One of the main springs in the area, Silver Glen Springs, releases its essence into a creek that empties into Lake George. Many smaller springs provide its waters, some of which you can view from the Spring Boils Trail.

There is a private swimming area where boats are not allowed to disturb the water. With the consistent 73°F crystal-clear water, it’s no wonder why Silver Glen Springs is a favorite place to swim.

Kayaks are available to rent for an additional fee. There are also 58 picnic tables and 30 outdoor grills for the public to use.

The admission fee is $8 on weekdays or $11 per person on weekends.

The Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area is also an important archaeological site surrounded by middens from antiquity covered with fossilized snail shells.

☀️ Recommended Hotel Near Silver Glen Springs: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Silver Springs ☀️

ett divider

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach, Florida with hotels and resorts shown on the beach.
Daytona Beach is a favorite beach nearby Ocala.
  • Distance from Ocala: 78.2 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 25 minutes
  • Things to Do in Daytona Beach: fishing, hiking, biking miles of trails, exploration of parks, and outdoor activities

As a local to Ocala, Daytona Beach is where we would most often visit due to its proximity. It is truly a vacation spot that caters to families.

Daytona Beach, the “World Center of Racing” and the headquarters of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) are among the top things to do beyond the beach. Daytona International Speedway has multiple events throughout the year beyond the Daytona 500.

Of the seven neighboring towns, Daytona Beach is the most well-known. Even though 9 million tourists visit Daytona each year, the expansive 23-mile length of white sand beach is still the main draw and provides enough space to not feel overly crowded. Each year, over 500,000 visitors come to Daytona Bike Week. This is one of the most crowded times to visit.

Supercross and kart racing are other frequent events. Since people like their automobiles so much in Daytona, cars are even permitted on beaches.

If you’re seeking a spring break vacation or an adrenaline rush, Daytona Beach should be on your list.

☀️ Recommended Hotel Near Daytona Beach: The Hard Rock Daytona Beach ☀️

ett divider

Gamble Rogers State Park

  • Distance from Ocala: 81.6 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 35 minutes
  • Things to do in Gamble Rodgers State Park: Swimming, boat ramp, camping, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and birdwatching

The Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean each have a boundary with Gamble Rogers State Park to the east and west, respectively. This modest half-mile beach is made of 145 acres off State Road A1A. 

🌴 Fun Fact: This state park is named after Gamble Rogers, a folk singer from Florida.

But sometimes appearances are deceptive, particularly now that a second campsite has been built out of a coastal hammock, increasing accessibility and bringing greater attention to its facilities.

You have the components for a fantastic location, particularly for campers, when you add three miles of gorgeous shoreline at North Peninsula State Park nearby.

The disadvantage is that such beach campsites are not suitable for tents. They are arranged like parking lots, are hardly private, and provide little shade.

Gamble Rogers State Park charges $5 per vehicle. Open 365 days a year, 8 am until sundown.

ett divider

Hampton Beach

  • Distance from Ocala: 19.5 miles
  • Traveling time: 30 minutes
  • Things to do in Hampton Beach: Swimming, fishing, camping, bird viewing, paddleboarding, boating

In 1981, Hampton Beach on Lake Weir is the closest version of beaches in Ocala FL. This lovely park was donated by the Hampton family to Marion County as a public beach. While it’s the closest beach to Ocala FL, it is not a standard beach like you would see on the east or west coast of Florida.

A well-liked beach destination, Hampton Beach has a bustling boardwalk full of arcades, ice cream shops, pizzerias, and souvenir stores. The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom hosts big-name touring acts and comedians, while the Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium offers touch tanks and tours conducted by biologists.

Hampton Beach is a relaxed beach area with a minimal admission fee of $5 per vehicle. You may spend the day on the lake swimming, grilling, and having fun.

Excellent location for gatherings with relatives and friends. For a good time, bring food and have a BBQ day by the lake.

ett divider

Peacock Beach

  • Distance from Ocala: 133 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 59 minutes
  • Things to do in Cape Canaveral: Sunbathing, hiking, seeing animals, fishing, swimming, surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, bodyboarding, skimboarding, paddleboarding, and parasailing 

The Kennedy Space Center is not far from Ocala, so Peacock Beach is another great option in Cape Canaveral, FL.

Peacock Beach is considered a hidden gem since it’s not congested, even at peak times. The beach is lovely and clean, with beautiful sand and crystal-clear water. Keep in mind, there are no public restrooms or facilities at this entirely public beach.

Aside from a beach day, visitors to this location like coming for some windsurfing and other water activities. It is more than simply a creative name for the beach. You will find peacocks roaming here which adds to its appeal.

ett divider

Wilbur Beach

  • Distance from Ocala: 85.4 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 40 minutes 
  • Things to do at Wilbur Beach: Fun activities, water activities, swimming, surf breaks, and sunbathing

Wilbur Beach is one of the best beaches in proximity to Ocala, Florida. Located in Port Orange (Volusia County) not too far from Daytona, we considered it a hidden gem since it tends to be uncrowded compared to nearby beaches.

No automobiles are permitted on the beach, but you can park in the vicinity. The seas are welcoming, and the sand is always beautiful and white.

There aren’t any amusement parks here, of course, but if you’re looking for a straightforward beach day, you won’t miss Wilbur Beach. If you want to relax, tan, swim, and escape crowds, this beach is ideal.

Wilbur Beach is free to use with no admission fees.

This beach has the following facilities: a beach restaurant, showers, restrooms, and dressing rooms. A lifeguard is on duty seasonally to watch over this stretch of beach.

ett divider

Fort Island Gulf Beach  

  • Distance from Ocala: 50.6 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 9 minutes 
  • Things to do in Fort Island Gulf Beach: Boating, fishing, and spending time near the boardwalk.

Fort Island Gulf Beach is located just southwest of Ocala in Lecanto, Florida. This beach is great for families with public restrooms, barbeque grills, and opportunities to see bottlenose dolphins. There is access to both the dock and the boat ramp. 

You may bring your fishing gear with you and fish from the pier, or you can take a stroll down the gorgeous boardwalk and view some of the natural wildlife.

Located on 15 acres, the park is open from 6 am to 9:30 pm.

The waters here tend to be calm and not as clear as St Pete Beach or Clearwater Beach. However, it is closer in proximity to Ocala and nearby to manatees in Crystal River.

ett divider

Sunset Beach Park

Ariel photograph of Treasure Island and the Gulf of Mexico with green water and sandy beaches.
Sunset Beach Park in Treasure Island, FL
  • Distance from Ocala: 127 miles
  • Traveling time: 2 hr 4 minutes 
  • Things to do in Sunset Beach Park: Swimming, boat launching, and water sports

Locals and tourists alike love to picnic, go swimming, and launch boats at Sunset Beach Park. If you want to avoid crowds, this beach is the ideal place to visit.

This beach park was made possible by the Sunset Beach Causeway, which improved a popular leisure spot in the city. This location lives up to its name as the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico.

ett divider

Fred Howard Beach 

Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs Florida, showing beach sunset with palm trees and orange sky.
Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida
  • Distance from Ocala: 107 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 57 minutes
  • Things to do in Fred Howard Park: ball field, playground, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and picnic areas

On Florida’s west coast, Fred Howard Park is located in Tarpon Springs. It is roughly 20 miles north of Clearwater and about 30 miles northwest of Tampa.

This 155-acre park is full of wildlife including gopher tortoises, fox squirrels, and birds including eagles.

Whether you like to kayak, walk, fish, picnic, or just chill on the white sand shoreline, you’re bound to enjoy this park. Kids and families also have plenty to do with playgrounds, ball fields, public restrooms, and showers.

You’ll see some of the best sunsets in Tarpon Springs at Fred Howard Park.

The cost is a minimal fee of $5 per vehicle or free if you visit on foot. Open daily from 7 am to sunset. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Read Next: Tarpon Springs Splash Park: Best Free Waterpark in Tampa Bay

☀️ Recommended Hotel Near Fred Howard Beach: Hampton Inn & Suites Tarpon Springs ☀️

ett divider

Crescent Beach 

Crescent Beach sunset
Crescent Beach in St. Johns County
  • Distance from Ocala: 81.4 miles
  • Traveling time: 1 hr 35 minutes
  • Things to do in Crescent Beach: Swimming, beach volleyball, nature trails, and hikes with amazing views

Crescent Beach is located in St. Johns County, just south of the historic city of St. Augustine.

Another fantastic beach on the east coast is Crescent Beach. It’s a lovely beach and a great option for families in particular. On the beach, there are several designated picnic sites, bathrooms, and showers.

There is a nominal access fee of $10 dollars if you are driving on the beach during peak months. Off-beach parking is available to utilize at no charge.

A beach is an excellent option for individuals who want to avoid other people since it is not too crowded.

ett divider

Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest, ocala fl beaches. nearest beach to ocala Florida.
Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest
  • Distance from Ocala: 28.2 miles
  • Traveling time: 35 minutes
  • Things to Do in Juniper Springs: Boating, camping, hiking, nature trails, and swimming

One of the oldest and most well-known recreational spots on the East Coast is Juniper Springs. While it is not your traditional beach, it is a unique and peaceful setting you must visit in the Ocala National Forest.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built a complex of swimming and picnic areas, a campsite, and trails in the 1930s, and it is situated along SR 40 between Ocala and Ormond Beach.

This area is an oasis in the middle of the desert-like scrub ecology, with hundreds of little bubbling springs and large springs bursting out of the ground under a thick canopy of palms and oaks.

ett divider

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park in Ocala Florida. Photo of the glass bottom boats in and water views of the historical structures in the distance.
Photo: Silver Springs State Park; Park Credit: Jackdude 101
  • Distance from Ocala: 6.3 miles
  • Traveling time: 12 minutes
  • Things to do in Silver Springs: Glass bottom boat tours, kayaking, camping, and hiking. No swimming is allowed.

A Florida state park on the Silver River in Marion County is called Silver Springs State Park. It was once known as Silver River State Park. Even though we did add it to our list, it is not considered a true beach, and swimming is not allowed in the park.

Silver Springs is considered the first tourist destination in Florida. A fun fact is that the original Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller were filmed in the park’s turquoise waters.

Silver Springs is encircled by beautiful tranquil gardens, granddaddy oaks, and old-fashioned buildings that transport visitors back to the time when steamships from the North made frequent stops there.

The park charges a minimal fee of $8 dollars per vehicle or $5 per motorcycle or a single-occupant car. Kayak rentals and museum tours are an additional fee.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fun things to do in Ocala too!

☀️ Read Next: The 15 Best Hotels in Ocala, Florida ☀️

ett divider

Final Thoughts on Beaches Near Ocala Florida

Well, there you have it, my absolute favorite beaches near Ocala for the perfect day on the water. You won’t go wrong with any of these beautiful destinations. All of them are easily accessible for a day trip, but sometimes it’s even more fun to make it a full vacation. Whatever your plans are, you’re sure to have a great time!

Read Next: 23 Fun Things to Do in Ocala Florida + Top Must Know Picks

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to go to Fred Howard Park?

The Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs cost is a minimal charge of $5 per vehicle or it’s FREE if you visit on foot. Open daily from 7 am to sunset. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Are dogs allowed on Fort Island Gulf Beach?

No, dogs are not permitted on Fort Island Gulf Beach. There are plenty of other dog-friendly parks near Fort Island Gulf Beach including Lecanto Park, Citrus County Dog Park, and Bark Central Dog Park.

Does Ocala, FL have beaches?

No, Ocala does not have a beach. However, there are desirable waterfront areas

Did You Find This Article Helpful? Share It!

If so, I would love to hear about your visit to beaches near Ocala! You can follow me on Instagram, and tag your images to @erinstraveltips and hashtag #erinstraveltips. I look forward to seeing you there!

Related Florida Travel Articles

Photo of author
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.

Leave a Comment