FLORIDA — The point of a hidden beach is that few people know about it, but a new list of those gems highlights some less-visited spots. The Family Destinations Guide has a new list of America’s 100 Best Secret Beaches, including seven in Florida.
The travel planning company surveyed 3,000 American families to determine the hidden beaches they’d most like to visit in 2023.
In Florida, the selections are:
Shell Key Reserve #2: Located in Pinellas County, the beach at Shell Key Preserve is a secluded stretch of pristine white sand, fringed by crystal clear turquoise waters and lush vegetation. The beach has no urbanization or buildings. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, or simply stroll along the shore. The beach is also a nesting ground for sea turtles, making it an important conservation area.
State Park No. 6 Lovers Key: Located near Fort Myers, this popular state park is popular because it is also close to Naples and Cape Coral. Once a collection of isolated barrier islands only reachable by boat, Lovers Key has become a romantic destination for beachside weddings. The land was donated to the people of Florida so that its beaches and mangrove forests can be preserved for the enjoyment of all.
No. 9 Dry Tortugas National Park: Nearly 70 miles west of Key West, this 100-square-mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known as the home of Fort Jefferson, blue waters, coral reefs and marine life, and the wide variety of birds that frequent the area.
No. 10 Boneyard Beach: The location is a favorite Jacksonville retreat with 3 miles of shoreline along the Nassau Sound. The beach is tucked away in Big Talbot Island State Park within the boundaries of the federally protected area of Timucuan Ecological and Historical Reserve. Its shoreline features 30-foot cliffs and a beach dotted with huge floating trees that bring to mind images of an elephant graveyard.
Navarra beach nº 13: This compact beach community just east of Pensacola offers 12 miles of pristine white shoreline. Situated between the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Navarre Beach Marine Park, its beaches are regularly named among the best in the country.
No. 17 Crescent Beach: St. Johns County beaches are home to several threatened or endangered species of sea turtles. From May 1 to October 31, vehicular access gates to the beach close at 7:30 pm and reopen at 8 am to allow nesting sea turtles a safe beach overnight. Crescent Beach is tucked between the traditional tourist attractions of St. Augustine and Matanzas Inlet to the south.
No. 23 Caladesi Island: This pristine beach and state park is one of the few pristine islands along the Gulf Coast. Caladesi Island State Park is only accessible by boat, but visitors can stroll the island’s pristine beaches or take a kayak trip through the bayside mangrove forest. Take a hike on a nature trail to historic Scharrer Homestead through the interior of the island.
The top-secret beach in the survey is Awahua Beach, located off the island of Molokai in Hawaii. It is known for its crystal clear turquoise waters and soft white sand.
Hawaii has three of the top five secret beaches: Lanikai Beach No. 3, off the coast of Oahu, and Kauapea Beach No. 4, on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii.
Also in the top five picks were the beach at Shell Key Preserve in Florida (No. 2) and the beach at Sedge Island in New Jersey (No. 5).
Florida had the most secret beaches to visit with nine, California had eight, and Hawaii had five.
Not all beaches are facing the oceans. The list included beaches in landlocked states such as Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.