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You know that our family was on a quest for the best East Coast beaches for families this year during a Florida vacation from Northeast Florida all the way to Key West. It was a press trip I certainly didn’t mind experimenting for all of you! I promised that we’d share our family vacation results to compare a few Florida beaches like Jensen, Jupiter, West Palm, Miami, Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West, Florida, to name a few. Whew! Which do you think we chose as the best family friendly Florida beaches on the East Coast?
BEST EAST COAST BEACHES
We were curious to discover the differences between the beach sand, atmosphere, shells, and water from one end of Florida to the other (Florida Gulf beaches, we’re coming for you next)! Our judging scale took into consideration the seclusion, sand, atmosphere, water clarity, and water color to choose the best East Coast beaches in Florida. More details about each beach will be at the very end!
After a couple family discussions, we’ve narrowed down the results of our best East Coast beaches contest:
This Florida beach is still a shocker to me. Miami Beach has such a nightlife reputation that I never considered it being in the running for one of the best Florida beaches on our road trip. It’s still incredibly surprising to us that Miami Beach was so unbelievably gorgeous and a place we are dying to revisit and spend more time. Our Miami beach time was cut very short because we were on a mission to arrive at our first Florida Keys resort further down the coast that day.
If we didn’t already have reservations further south, we could have definitely gotten lost on those white sandy beaches. What I do know is that the quieter, more family friendly area is closer to the upper end of Miami South Beach. We stumbled upon a park area at 22nd Street near a hotel called W South Beach.
Be sure to check out the video footage below that I snagged to show you just how gorgeous this place was. Don’t worry, we’ll return for a longer Miami family vacation and let you know why families should definitely take a vacation to Miami Beach with kids.
I wasn’t sure that Jensen Beach, Florida would be worth driving a few miles off the interstate to Hutchinson Island but I had my fingers crossed. We’d left the Florida Keys bright and early that morning and were desperately searching for a great Florida beach to spend the day on before heading back to our state.
We had already tried two beaches that ended in disappointment, Bahia Honda and Jupiter Beach. Bahia Honda State Park (in between Key West and Marathon), supposedly a showstopper, had no beach access due to lingering hurricane damage. The tiny bit of Bahia beach was roped off and completely inaccessible.
I was shocked to see that when we arrived at Jupiter Beach had a serious rocky coastline that blocked us from the sand to the ocean. I would have been up for braving an adventureous climb over the rocks to get to the water but the rocks were covered in gross, green, slippery algae. Ewww!
Apparently it makes a huge difference which beach access you choose on Hutchinson Island. We weren’t technically at Jensen Beach Park but were just South of it – which was perfect! It was secluded, had a huge free parking lot, bathrooms, volleyball, picnic pavilions, and a lifeguard. As you can see from the image below, the sand was gorgeous and the water was crystal clear and the prettiest shade of blue. WooHoo! We parked at the Jensen Beach parking lot at about this address -> 4065 Ocean Blvd.
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KEY WEST BEACHES
Have you ever heard that you couldn’t visit the beach while visiting Key West, Florida. Yeah, me either, until about a week before we were leaving for our Florida road trip. I began researching and was pretty confused and want to explain to you so that your family will know the deal.
One of the most amazing draws to the Florida Keys is the enormous coral reef that is world renown for diving and sportsfishing. This incredible barrier is also what protects the Keys but makes waves and the culmination of sand almost impossible. It also creates a rocky bed along the seashore of the Keys and Key West.
The coral reef situation is super cool but we were on a press trip to see Florida beaches, so I was determined to find white sandy beaches without a rocky seawall to access the beautiful turquoise waters of Key West. Like I talked about in Key West Vacation Ideas, Higgs Beach has a beach but much different that what you have pictured in your mind. Me too. Fort Zachary also has a great beach as talked about in my Key West post.
However, Smathers Beach (public) and the private beach behind Casa Marina Resort, although man-made, had stunning white sand and beautiful turquoise waters. It was absolutely gorgeous and never appeared to be crowed at all during our time in Key West, Florida.
The stunning, private beach behind the Casa Marina resort was the destination to begin the Barefoot Billy’s Jet Ski Adventure, and to me, the most Instagram-worthy spot in Key West. You’ll see in the footage below that the over 1,000 feet of private beach is full of swaying palm trees and luxury hammocks, as well as jet skis and other recreation. Closer to the resort has quiet lounge chairs and massage opportunities – even for those that are not guests.
One of our favorite east coast beaches
It was all worth it the many miles of our Florida road trip when we did find the best Florida beaches on the East Coast – just right for families. When we did find the white, fluffy sand and crystal blue and green waters, we all agreed that there’s nothing like a gorgeous Florida beach. Let me know if I can help you in any way when you head out on your own family vacay Florida beaches quest.
Know before you go
Miami Beach: 6261 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
Jensen Beach: 4065 Ocean Blvd, Hutchinson Island, FL
Smathers Beach: 2601 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL
Casa Marina Beach: 1500 Reynolds St, Key West, FL