Miami is one of Florida’s top tourist destinations. While its Art Deco glam, high-end shopping, and buzzing nightlife are major draws, most visitors flock to this holiday hot spot for its beaches.
Everyone’s heard of Miami Beach. Home to bikini-clad models, toned skateboarders, wealthy shoppers, and eccentric artists, this is the place to see and be seen. It’s the spot where you can walk the boardwalk, play a pickup game of beach volleyball, or flex your wallet at luxurious oceanfront shops.
While this may be the most famous beach in Miami, it isn’t the only (or best) strand on offer. In fact, this bustling South Florida city boasts a slew of diverse strands offering soft sand, translucent water, and a charm all their own.
Whether you enjoy people-watching, windsurfing, or laying quietly on a secluded stretch of sand, Miami offers the perfect place to enjoy your vacation. Choose the best spot to lay down your towel with our list of the best beaches in Miami.
1. Lummus Park
A picture-perfect strand, Lummus Park is located in Miami’s South Beach, within the city’s vibrant Art Deco District. Nestled along Ocean Drive, it’s here that you’ll find the most postcard-worthy vistas.
This is also the place to find the stereotypes most often associated with this area – perfectly proportioned models pose for the camera, celebrities run along the pristine tan sand, and rollerbladers wind their way along the paved beachside path. People-watching is as popular a pastime at this fun and beautiful locale as are swimming, sunbathing, and bodyboarding.
Join a pickup game of volleyball, wander the tree-lined promenade, or grab a bite at one of the numerous beachfront restaurants. It’s a popular spot for film shoots (including Miami Vice) – be prepared to run into a movie set or two. Looking for somewhere close to rest your head? A stay at the Stiles Hotel By Clevelander puts you right in the middle of the action and is just steps from the sand.
Insider’s Tip: Aim to visit on a weekend, when locals sell their wares (including everything from tasty treats to freshly painted watercolors) at beachfront market stands.
2. Bal Harbour Beach
Want to rub elbows with the uber rich? Head to Bal Harbour beach. Sandwiched between Sunny Isles Beach (to the north) and Surfside (to the south), Bal Harbour is a small stretch of strand backed by the most luxurious beachfront hotels in Miami (The Ritz-Carlton and The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort) and high-end residences.
Want to feel poor? Head to Bal Harbor Village. It’s here that you’ll find top restaurants and a bevy of chic and pricey shops known conveniently as Bal Harbour Shops. Luckily you don’t need a gold card to window shop. You will need to wear shoes and cover up your bathing suit, however.
The beach itself, which is roughly three miles north of North Beach, is as luxurious as you’d expect from such an exclusive neighborhood. Plus, it boasts the softest, whitest sand.
3. South Beach
You can’t visit Miami without spending time at South Beach. Known by locals as SoBe, this iconic strand is the place to see and be seen. It’s the spot where Art Deco architecture meets high-end modern design. It’s the site of some of the city’s best restaurants, coolest galleries, and most vibrant nightlife.
More importantly, South Beach is the beach that all other Miami strands are compared to. After all, it’s the most famous beach in Miami. Offering miles of plush sand, a happening boardwalk, and plenty of things to do (like swim, shop, sunbathe, dine, and play volleyball), it’s not hard to see why South Beach is so popular.
Looking for a sliver of peace and tranquility? You won’t find it here. If you’re hoping to don rollerblades while clad in a bathing suit, dodging the city’s fittest folks, however, this is the place for you.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Miami Beach: Best Areas & Hotels
4. Crandon Park
If you’re looking for a beautiful escape from overcrowded South Beach, you’ll find it at Crandon Park. Boasting over 800 acres, this quiet, laid-back, and photo-worthy gem runs into Key Biscayne. To get here, you’ll have to cross the Rickenbacker Causeway, which connects this majestic spot to the mainland.
The turquoise waters are translucent, calm, and shallow, making them a perfect spot for families to splash about. Kids and adults will love the tennis, nature, and golf centers. There are plenty of things to do on this Miami beach – it’s also home to a winding, picturesque boardwalk.
Insider’s tip: On-site grills are popular, especially in the evening, so be sure to stake your claim on one early. Also, bring food with you as there’s not a lot to purchase nearby.
5. 21st to 45th Street Beach
At first glance, the 21st to 45th Street Beach isn’t all that impressive. Yes, it has clean, soft sand. Yes, it’s fronted by translucent azure water. And yes, it boasts a sweet fishing pier, but you won’t find the snack shops, concession stands, or lifeguard huts that pepper South Beach.
What you will find at this chilled-out beauty is jog-worthy sand, calm water, and luxurious oceanfront hotels and beach clubs. This lengthy beach also features a long section of the Miami Beach boardwalk, a perfect place to take a walk and partake in one of the most popular things to do in Miami beaches – people-watch.
Speaking of people-watching, this is the place to be for those hoping to see a celebrity. Celebs the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z, John Legend, and Leonardo DiCaprio have all been spotted sunning themselves on this strand.
6. Haulover Beach Park
Dog lovers and families abound at this famous beach in Miami. Backed by picturesque rolling dunes, Haulover Beach Park lies between Sunny Isles and Bal Harbour. It’s sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway.
In addition to its dog-friendly section, situated between lifeguard towers two and three, the area also boasts Bark Park, a sweet playground that’s perfect for your four-legged companions.
Human visitors are rewarded with stunning vistas, pristine white sand, warm turquoise water, plus all the necessary amenities, including concession stands, bathrooms, picnic tables, and water sport rentals. Don’t miss lunch at the food trucks. It’s delish.
A popular spot to spend a day, Haulover Beach can get busy, so head out early. The good news: there’s plenty of parking (for a small fee).
7. South Pointe Park Pier
Visiting South Pointe Park Pier is one of the best things to do in Miami beach. Perhaps the greenest of the area’s strands, this lush spot boasts 17 acres of a natural wonderland begging to be explored.
South Pointe features the requisite white, sandy beach you’ve been dreaming of. It’s the well-tended walking trails and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, though, that make this strand stand out from the others.
Renovated in 2014, the 450-foot-long pier is a haven for anglers. It comes complete with special stations for cutting bait and washing fish. Traveling with kids? They’ll love the fun playground, refreshing water features, and dog park.
Insider’s tip: Sick of crunching sand while eating a picnic lunch? Settle in on one of the park’s many grassy knolls for a sand-free place to eat.
8. Surfside Beach
A mile-long stretch of sand greets visitors to this tempting refuge just north of North Beach. One of its best features is the paved walking and bike path, which separates the sand from the nearby roads and buildings.
Locals flock to this area, which they refer to as Miami’s “uptown beach town.” If the locals choose to spend their time here, you know it must be good!
The beach is backed by Surfside, a quaint beach town that beckons travelers to enjoy a tasty meal, shop in an eclectic boutique, or soak up sun rays while wandering through its walkable downtown. Literally everything is reachable by foot from the beach – from a grocery store to a high-end clothing shop.
Insider’s tip: When the kids get bored of skateboarding, surfing, and swimming, keep them occupied at the Surfside Community Center. It’s home to an impressive water park.
9. Matheson Hammock Park
Bet you’ve never seen a round beach before! Matheson Hammock Park boasts just that. Golden sand surrounds a man-made atoll pool. Similar to a sandbar, the pool is surrounded by a ring-shaped coral reef, which allows the water from Biscayne Bay to enter and exit with the tide.
Talk about a dreamy place to swim. There’s no need to fear a shark invasion or giant, kid-toppling waves. This calm and beautiful spot is perfect for those traveling with kids.
Matheson Hammock Park is a palatable size, with all the facilities you’d hope for, including picnic areas, lifeguards, and a tree-lined walking trail. Plus, it boasts an impressive view of the Miami skyline.
Insider’s tip: Flotation devices are banned from this beach, so if you’re hoping to boogie board or lounge on a pool float, you’ll have to head elsewhere.
10. Virginia Key Beach Park
This mile-long, palm-tree-lined oasis sits just off the Rickenbacker Causeway, south of Lummus Park. Housed on its own island, Virginia Key Beach Park is a breath of fresh air compared to other, more popular Miami beaches. It’s also one of the most beautiful beaches in Miami.
It’s hard not to fall in love with this region’s old-time charm. An antique carousel and miniature train (which you can ride around the area) harken back to days when we spent more time admiring the incredible vistas than the screens of our phones. The beach also boasts two big playgrounds to help keep the littles entertained.
Insider’s tip: Pack water shoes. The ocean floor is a bit rocky here, so you’ll want added protection, especially if you’re planning to hang out for a while.
11. Sunny Isles Beach
Who wouldn’t want to visit a beach named Sunny Isles? It’s clean; the water is the most inviting shade of turquoise; and its long, beautiful pier (The Newport Fishing Pier) is a wonderful spot to cast a line.
A barrier island located halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, this beautiful getaway boasts two miles of luxuriously soft sand. There’s no shortage of things to do in this lovely spot. From swimming to sunbathing to diving to kitesurfing to playing tennis, it’s impossible to get bored.
Did we mention that Sunny Isles beach is uber close to luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants, impeccable golf courses, and eclectic museums? It’s also home to a bunch of impressive stores. Told you there’s a ton to do!
Insider’s tip: Hit the sand for an early morning yoga session. It’s free on Wednesdays by Samson Oceanfront Park.
12. Oleta River State Park
It’s easy to forget you’re in Miami when traipsing through the over 1,000 acres that make up Oleta River State Park. The largest urban park in Florida, this nirvana sits on Biscayne Bay and offers a multitude of secluded beaches to enjoy. It’s become a haven for big city folk looking for a little peace and tranquility.
When you’re bored of beachin’, there are plenty of opportunities to move your muscles. Whether you choose to rent a kayak, cycle along the 15 miles of bike trails, or hike through the shady mangrove forest, there’s plenty to keep visitors active.
As for swimming, this is a safe spot for families. The area features a sandbar close to shore, with shallow water that’s both clear and calm.
Also popular with anglers, this beautiful spot is known to have good fishing, especially off the pier.
13. North Beach
North Beach is SoBe’s quieter, more reserved yet widely beautiful sibling. Located to the north of its more popular counterpart (obviously), North Beach also features a boardwalk frequented by runners, rollerbladers, bikers, and dog walkers. It, too, offers great people-watching opportunities.
North Beach features all the things a great beach should: soft sand, clean water, restrooms, showers, and concessions. It’s also close to many shops and restaurants.
Plus, it’s home to North Beach Oceanside Park, which consists of 28 acres lying between 78th and 87th streets. Peppered with tall trees and pavilions, this is a fun place to hide from the sun’s hot rays and enjoy a BBQ (there are grills on hand) or let kids run around the playground.
Insider’s tip: As is the case on most Florida beaches, seaweed can pile up at certain times, so be prepared to step (and swim) around it.
14. Hobie Beach
Dog lovers unite! Hobie Beach is one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Miami. It’s also a hot spot for water sports enthusiasts. From surfing to jet-skiing to boating to windsurfing, there’s a bevy of sports on offer at this exciting locale. You can even rent a catamaran and schedule a lesson to learn how to sail it.
The water (which is often murky) is quite shallow, which makes it ideal for those traveling with kids – including the four-legged kind. While out on the water, whether you’re in a kayak or on a windsurfer, take time to appreciate the impressive views, ranging from Miami’s looming skyscrapers to the natural mangrove estuaries.
Insider’s tip: The beach is quite rocky here. If you’re hoping to spend the day lazing about on soft sand, you may want to choose another beach
15. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Technically located just outside Miami, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park sits on the southern edge of Key Biscayne and is one of the most popular beaches near Miami. Getting here is easy: it’s only a few minutes’ drive from downtown, across the Key Biscayne Bridge.
A popular destination for those looking for a more low-key beach experience, this rustic beauty proffers visitors a welcome respite from the excitement found at Miami’s bigger beaches. This tranquility helps boost the area’s ranking as one of the best beaches in Miami for families. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’ll be bored. There are plenty of activities on offer, from cycling to windsurfing to kayaking to fishing.
Feeling peckish? Grab a bite at the adorable Lighthouse Café, which offers sweeping vistas only made better by the delicious fare.
Insider’s tip: No Name Harbor boasts boat launches and allows guests to drop anchor and camp in their boats overnight (for a small fee of $20).