Award-Winning Beaches

These St. Pete-Clearwater beaches have been recognized as some of the top beaches in the U.S. –  and even the world!

Aerial view of yellow cabanas, white sand and emerald-green water of Clearwater Beach.

Clearwater Beach is lined with relaxing cabanas you can rent for a little extra shade.

The amazing news is out: Caladesi Island State Park was named #2 Beach in the U.S. by esteemed coastal geologist Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach." And Clearwater Beach was named one of the Top 15 White-Sand Beaches in the World by Travel + Leisure. It was also named the #1 Beach in the South by USA Today! (Adding to its accolades: it was named Tripadvisor's #1 Beach in the US. in 2019, 2018 and 2016.)

St. Pete Beach was named Tripadvisor's No. 1 Beach in the U.S. in 2021 (and #5 in the world)! Nearby Clearwater Beach also earned accolades as the No. 1 beach in the U.S. in 2019, 2018 and 2016. 

The awards don't stop there. Travel + Leisure named St. Pete/Clearwater one of its Top Five U.S. Summer Trip Ideas, describing Clearwater Beach as "one of the most desirable summer getaways." Then there's a long list of awards from USA Today, whose readers ranked four area beaches (Clearwater Beach, Pass-A-Grille, Fort De Soto Park and Caladesi Island State Park) in its Top 10 in Florida.

Read on for more about these award-winning beaches.


Clearwater Beach

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One of the Top 15 White-Sand Beaches in the World 2024 Travel + Leisure
"No. 1 Beach in the South for 2023" USA Today
"No. 1 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2019" – Tripadvisor
"No. 6 on World's Top 25 Beaches for 2019" – Tripadvisor

"No. 1 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2018" – Tripadvisor
"No. 4 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2017" – Tripadvisor
"No. 1 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2016" – Tripadvisor
"No. 20 on World's Top 25 Beaches for 2016" – Tripadvisor
"No. 2 Best Florida Beach" – USA TODAY (2015)
“No. 8 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2015” – Tripadvisor
“No. 21 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2014” – Tripadvisor
“No. 18 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2013” – Tripadvisor
“Best Beach Town in Florida for 2013” – USA TODAY
“Best Place to Watch a Sunset” – USA TODAY (2013)
“Best Beaches in the U.S.” – Peter Greenberg (2013)

In addition to its countless beach accolades, Clearwater ranked #6 on Tripadvisor's list of “Top Trending Destinations in the U.S.” for 2022. The gorgeous white sands and sparkling waters of Clearwater Beach also made Travel + Leisure's list of "The 14 Best Beaches in Florida" in 2021. This sunny community is known for beachside fun for all ages, from kid-friendly water sports and cruises to dining and dancing hot spots. Area favorites include the Wave at Shephard's Beach Resort, a two-level nightclub; Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, a beachfront favorite with live music; and, across the parking lot, the Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar, which also offers stunning beach views.

Framed by its Beach Walk, visitors can take in long stretches of white sand beaches and a nightly celebration with the Sunsets at Pier 60 festival. It’s also home to the state-of-the-art Clearwater Marine Aquarium, just a short five minute drive from Clearwater Beach.

We have been coming to Clearwater for over 40 years. Excellent beach, beautiful water, white sand and sun!!!

- Tripadvisor Reviewer

Must do: Kick back, relax and enjoy sunset from the sand near Pier 60.

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St. Pete Beach

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"No. 1 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2021" – Tripadvisor
"No. 5 Beach in the World for 2021" - Tripadvisor
"No. 2 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2020" – Tripadvisor
"No. 4 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2019" – Tripadvisor
"No. 7 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2018" – Tripadvisor
"No. 3 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2017" – Tripadvisor
"No. 4 on America's Top 25 Beaches for 2016" – Tripadvisor 
“No. 2 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2015” – Tripadvisor
“No. 9 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2014” – Tripadvisor
“One of America’s Top 10 Best Beach Towns for 2013” – Parents magazine
“America’s No. 1 Beach for 2012” – Tripadvisor

This postcard-perfect beach destination provides soul-soothing, sugar-white sands and welcoming blue waters, plus opportunities for as much adventure or relaxation as you desire. St. Pete Beach has different stretches of beach for everyone  from families, to those looking to relax, to a younger set looking for vibrancy. Plus, it’s just 20 minutes from downtown St. Pete.

St. Pete Beach is the most beautiful beach we have ever been to. The water is amazing and the sand is so white. We’ve already scheduled our trip for next summer. No other beach has our heart! 
-Tripadvisor Reviewer

Interesting Tidbit: Don’t call it “St. Pete’s Beach.” Contrary to popular belief, it is not technically part of the city of St. Pete. (Plus, it will make it obvious you’re just visiting.)

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Anclote Key Preserve State Park

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“Best Hidden-Gem Beach” – USA TODAY (2014)

Located three miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs, Anclote Key is accessible only by boat. Of course, this hidden gem is worth the trip. In all, the 403 acres make a bird-watcher’s paradise, and features a lighthouse from 1887 and epic white sand beaches.

The beach is beautiful although not very big. The swimming is great because there aren't any waves and the water is warm and clear.
- Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach"

Must do: Coordinate your trip with a time when the lighthouse is open so you can get an amazing view.

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Honeymoon Island State Park

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“No. 10 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2009” – Tripadvisor

When not relaxing on the white sands, beachcombers love searching for treasures along its four miles of sandy shores, which collect a variety of intriguing shells from passing Gulf currents. Nature lovers feel especially at home here among the mangroves, tidal flats and slash pine forest that draw a variety of bird species including osprey. The park also features a restaurant, playground and concessions offering beach equipment and kayak rentals.

The reason we went to this beach is that they offer beach wheelchairs and they have a dog-friendly beach. The beach wheelchair was great. Super easy to move around the sand. And because it floats, we could go a little inside the sea. My son loved it!

- Tripadvisor Reviewer

Must do: Enjoy a beach day with your four-legged family members at one of the nicest dog beaches you’ll ever visit. 

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Caladesi Island State Park

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"No. 2 Beach in America" - Dr. Beach (2022)
"No. 7 Beach in America" – Dr. Beach (2021)
“No. 6 Beach in America” – Dr. Beach (2020)
"No. 6 Best Beach in Florida" - USA TODAY (2015)
“No. 11 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2014” – Tripadvisor
“No. 12 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2013” – Tripadvisor
“No. 1 Beach in America” – Dr. Beach (2008)

Sister island to Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island is recognized as one of the best beaches in the country. Accessible only by boat, Caladesi, which is just off the coast of Dunedin, takes visitors to a place far from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Once here, you’ll find yourself immersed in a true island paradise. Settle down in the soft, white sand and relax as the calm, azure waters tickle your feet. Wander the beach admiring the shells and sand dollars that have washed ashore. If you’re looking for a little adventure, escape to the island’s interior, where hiking and kayaking trails weave through mangrove and slash-pine forests. When you get hungry, cozy up for a meal in the Caladesi Café or claim a picnic table with a view. You'll find nature in abundance on the island, which among all its other highlights is also a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail.

The white beach is composed of crystalline quartz sand which is soft and cushy at the water’s edge, inviting one to take a dip in the sparkling clear waters.
- Dr. Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach"

Must do: Forget the ferry, have a true outdoor adventure by kayaking from Honeymoon Island.

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Madeira Beach

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“No. 9 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2021” – Tripadvisor

There is plenty to do and explore on Madeira Beach. Not only does the key offer a 2.5 mile beach of sugar-white sand, but also has John's Pass Village and Boardwalk: a 1,100-foot boardwalk along the intracoastal full of shops and eateries. Fishermen (and women) will find a productive spot to cast a line at the southern rocky point of beach.

Madeira Beach is absolutely beautiful and a fun place to visit. There is so much to do in that area for families. We spent hours at the beach and then went to John's Pass, where there are shops and restaurants everywhere.
- Tripadvisor Reviewer

Must Do: Catch a dolphin cruise or rent a jet-ski out of John's Pass Village. Or better yet, hop on a floating tiki bar.

Find more about Madeira Beach


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"No. 5 Best Florida Beach" - USA TODAY (2015)
“No. 15 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2013” – Tripadvisor

On the far south end of the more popular St. Pete Beach lies little-known Pass-A-Grille. Charming and with an off-the-beaten-path vibe, its stretch of white sand beach is protected from construction by city ordinance.

What a great little area! Beautiful beach, great shopping and plenty of dining options for breakfast to fine dining.
- Tripadvisor Reviewer

Must do: Hit up the top floor of The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant for a cold drink and stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico.

Find more about Pass-A-Grille

Fort De Soto Park

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"No. 8 Best Beach in Florida" – USA TODAY (2015)
“Best Family Beach” – USA TODAY (2014)
“No. 4 on America’s Top 25 Beaches for 2013” – Tripadvisor
“No. 20 on World’s Top 25 Beaches for 2013” – Tripadvisor
“Best Family Beach” – Parents magazine (2011)
“No. 1 Beach in America – Dr. Beach (2005)

Fort De Soto Park, one of the area’s southernmost beaches, has an awards resume to match its many attractions. It's one of the few places you can enjoy a world-class white sand beach, be exposed to classic American history and get an escape from the norm.

But the fun doesn’t end there: This gorgeous, 1,100-acre beach playground is spread out over five islands, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beach and explore the area’s natural wonders, but still within reach of tons of convenient amenities. Favorite park features include the leash-free dog beach, historic fort, boat launch, boat docks, two fishing piers, shaded picnic areas and miles of cycling and kayaking trails.

Wonderful beaches, plenty of wildlife. Even saw a dolphin. Best yet, plenty of parking :) We will definitely be back!
-Tripadvisor Reviewer

Must do: Kayak the mangroves, where you’ll often see manatees.

Find more about Fort De Soto Park