By: Kara Franker
From South Beach to Sunny Isles Beach and more, explore Miami’s selection of pristine white sand beaches.
Whether you’re searching for the ultimate party hotspot or a family-friendly oceanfront oasis, Miami has a beach made just for you.
An Island Escape on Key Biscayne and Virginia Key
Situated just a few miles south of Downtown, the Rickenbacker Causeway stretches across Biscayne Bay out to both Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. Both islands offer a wide array of beach locales perfect for soaking up some rays and playing in the surf.
Before you arrive on Virginia Key, you’ll notice a thin stretch of beach along the side of the road. Hobie/Windsurfer Beach got its nickname because just like it’s name suggests, windsurfers like to hang out here. You’ll also find a variety of stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers. And one of the best parts about this beach is that it’s dog-friendly, so bring your pup to splash in the calm shallow water.
Located across from the Miami Seaquarium is Virginia Key Beach, offering excellent skyline views of Brickell Avenue and downtown Miami. Find some shade under a tiki hut and spend a day enjoying Miami’s year round tropical weather.
Jaunt over to the next island and you arrive to Key Biscayne, home of both Crandon Park Beach at the entrance to the island and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park at the end. Both beaches are perfect for families and offer some of the most picture perfect ocean views in the area. For the best vistas, climb to the top of the Cape Florida Lighthouse, originally built in 1825. Free guided tours are available Thursday - Monday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Miami Beach’s Most Famous Stretches of Sand
Stroll down the beach along Ocean Drive and you’re in the heart of Miami’s most famous beach. It’s the one you’ve seen on the big screen and read about in magazines. South Beach stretches from the South Pointe Park Beach all the way to Collins Park on 21st and 22nd Streets, where you’ll find the Bass Museum of Art and the W South Beach.
Most of the locals with families opt for South Pointe Park Beach because of it’s kid-friendly facilities, mini splash and play area and the South Pointe Park Pier. Not only does the park have beach access, there’s also a Blissberry frozen yogurt stand and a Smith & Wollensky restaurant featuring incredible views of the water.
South Beach's 12th Street Beach is marked by two large gay pride flags. This gay-friendly section of the beach flanks famed Ocean Drive and is located within walking distance to restaurants and shopping.
Head a little farther up the coast and you’ll be on Miami Beach’s central stretch of sand, spanning from Collins Park to Indian Beach Park around 46th Street, near the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach. This area is famous for towering beachfront resorts and features an elevated boardwalk that’s great for a jog with a water view. This beach tends to offer a more laid back vibe than the always busy South Beach.
After 46th Street, you’re in the northern part of Miami Beach, which stretches up to the North Shore Open Space Park near 79th street. Enjoy free movies under the stars at the North Shore Park Bandshell located at 7275 Collins Avenue. It’s also the home of the Miami Beach Food Truck & Music Fest, featuring free entertainment and music on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 5 to 10 p.m.
From Surfside to Sunny Isles Beach and Everything in Between
Located north of the North Shore Open Space Park, the beach in Surfside is a favorite for locals because of it’s laid back vibe and access to a waterfront walking path. Continue north along the path and you’ll run into Bal Harbour Beach, famous for it’s luxurious hotels and shopping mall, the Bal Harbor Shops.
To get to the next stretch of sand, you’ll have to cross the bridge separating Bal Harbour from Haulover Park. Famed for its clothing-optional policy, Haulover Beach is just as popular with locals as it is with tourists.
For a family-friendly beach option nearby, Oleta River State Park Beach is located right on the Oleta River and Biscayne Bay and provides a serene atmosphere for canoeing, kayaking and biking through the winding trails.
Miami’s northernmost beach is Sunny Isles Beach, a two-mile stretch of gorgeous white sand and turquoise water. This is a great spot for the whole family and features an array of water sports like snorkeling and diving. Or perfect your cast and go fishing at the Newport Fishing Pier.
Family-Friendly Beaches Located Down South
While many travelers are attracted to the more famous beaches surrounding South Beach, there are a few hidden gems farther down south on the mainland that are off the beaten path.
Nestled in the picturesque community of Coral Gables, Matheson Hammock Park Beach offers tranquil waters that are perfect for the littlest of swimmers. You’ll find a lazy lagoon surrounded by picnic tables and shady palm trees. There’s also a marina and a great restaurant called Red Fish Grill (only open for dinner; reservations required).
Miami’s southernmost beach before you hit the Florida Keys, Homestead Bayfront Park Beach offers a natural atoll pool and beach. A favorite for locals, the La Playa Grill is located inside the park and features freshly caught seafood.
Looking for a great place to stay on the beach? Check out this list of beachfront hotels in Miami.
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