Top 12 Beaches in Miami

With over 20 miles of sparkling white and golden sand kissed by turquoise waters, Miami is blessed with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Beach NameHighlights
South BeachLegendary, vibrant, iconic nightlife
Haulover BeachFamily-friendly, kiteboarding, nudist area
Surfside BeachQuiet, hometown feel, dog-friendly area
Sunny Isles BeachLuxurious, exclusive amenities, reef snorkeling
Key Biscayne BeachesTropical tranquility, historic lighthouse
Virginia Key BeachAdventure, solitude, historic significance
Lummus Park BeachIconic selfies, bustling promenade
Matheson Hammock BeachAtoll pool, family-friendly, scenic
Oleta River State Park BeachNature lover’s dream, kayak/bike rentals
Hobie BeachWind and water sports, adaptive sports access
South Pointe Park BeachSunset views, modern art installations
Bal Harbour BeachPlayground for the rich & famous, luxury shopping

Each Miami beach has its own unique vibe and scene, from the glamorous parties of South Beach to quiet nature destinations. Read on for the top 12 beaches every visitor to the Magic City simply must check out.

South Beach – The Legendary Landmark

Name and Location: South Beach, or SoBe, runs along the southern end of Miami Beach island bordered by 5th Street on the north end and runs south to South Pointe Park. The area alongside Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue contains the iconic Art Deco District.

History and Significance: World famous as a tourist destination and residential enclave, South Beach’s development began in the 1920s. Its architecture, culture, nightlife and coastal scenery along the Atlantic Ocean have given Miami’s SoBe global allure as a glittering must-visit spot.

What to Expect: Visitors descend on South Beach year-round to enjoy warm turquoise waters, a lively ambiance, Art Deco aesthetics and plenty of preening. Expect crowds, street performers, clubs, restaurants plus a carnival vibe that anything goes in this adult playground for the chic, famous and adventurous.

Visitor Information: South Beach sizzles daily but peak nights and summer months draw maximum crowds. Metered parking is scarce. Take ride shares instead. Public beach access across the boardwalk with lifeguards on duty.

No list of Miami beaches is complete without the most legendary – South Beach. Locals flock here to see and be seen along the 2-mile stretch lined by the colorful lifeguard stations, which have made South Beach globally famous. By day, the expansive sands bustle with tanned bodies playing volleyball, swimming, and trying stand-up paddleboarding. By night, the beach comes alive under the moonlight and Art Deco street lights. Stick around after dark to experience Miami’s iconic nightlife scene.

Haulover Beach – For Fun and Excitement

Name and Location: Haulover Beach Park occupies a 1.4 mile stretch of sand between the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean north of Bal Harbour at 10800 Collins Avenue just beyond Sunny Isles as the last public beach before Broward County.

History and Significance: Despite the clothing-optional, adults-oriented northern section drawing mixed reactions for its overt displays of skin since 1991, Haulover reigns globally as one of most visited nude beaches with over 1 million annual guests who appreciate its open, judgement-free shoreline party atmosphere.

What to Expect: Aside from encountering birthday suit sunbathers around Marker 11, Haulover offers elegant waves drawing surfers, volleyball nets, a restaurant, marina and ample parking that keep the beach consistently lively while attracting young hot-bodied exhibitionists and gawking spectators to its carnival vibe mile.

Visitor Information: Lifeguards on duty. Section north of Lifeguard Tower 15 clothing optional only. Public parking $5 per day. Concessions and facilities like showers available to purchase.

Haulover sits on the more residential North Shore yet offers plenty to do for families, couples, and groups. The long pristine sands have lifeguard stations, a kiteboarding zone, beach volleyball courts, concession stands, kids splash playground, and even a nudist area at the north end. Or relax at the nearby marina to charter boats, kayaks, parasails and more. Haulover packs a lot of punch into 1.5 miles of sand.

Surfside Beach – For an Escape from the Crowds

Name and Location: The town of Surfside on Collins Avenue borders Bal Harbour to the north for roughly one mile spanning from 87th Terrace down to 96th Street along a pleasant, quieter residential stretch of golden beach allowing some respite from crowded neighboring sands.

History and Significance: While lesser-visited than South Beach or Sunny Isles, the small oceanside village of Surfside flourished as a Jewish beachside retreat starting in the 1930s, maintaining today a peaceful family-oriented vibe along its gently sloping shoreline and historic deco architecture around the commercial village core.

What to Expect: Mostly locals visit this access point appreciating ample parking, a scenic pedestrian shopping promenade across palm tree-dotted brick paver sidewalks and a tidy, level beach area offering relaxing space to swim without crowds plus a spacious oceanside lawn for picnics welcoming respectful travelers seeking repose.

Visitor Information: Public beach access with lifeguards between 91st and 94th Street. Metered parking available along Collins and Bay Drive. Beach wheelchairs available. The main village area offers restaurants, cafes and shops.

Just north of South Beach lies a quieter oasis with a hometown feel. Surfside Beach allows escaping the hype but remaining near all the action of Miami Beach. Sink your toes into the sand, build castles, play games, layout to relax – no distractions. Many shops, restaurants, parks and hotels/condos back right onto the sand for convenience. Neighboring Indian Beach even provides a dog-friendly space.

Sunny Isles Beach – For Luxe Vibes

Name and Location: Sunny Isles Beach refers to the shoreline stretch paralleling Collins Avenue for about 2.5 miles north up to Haulover Park Beach sandwiched between the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean hugging high rise hotel skyscrapers with few obstructions of open sand.

History and Significance: Once a mid-century resort, Sunny Isles incentivized mega development so luxury behemoth architecture now dominates the oceanfront boulevard housing brands like Trump, Acqualina and JW Marriott that draw international jetsetters to enjoy white sand imported during nourishment projects creating this engineered paradise.

What to Expect: Manicured and pristine thanks to imported sand, Sunny Isles’ shore attracts well-heeled Russian tourists, families and Northeast transplants to unwind near upmarket amenities from gourmet dining to designer shopping mere steps across the boulevard from beach chairs facing crashing waves under Lifeguard towers.

Visitor Information: Public beach access throughout with restrooms and showers available. Pricier parking at hotels around $20 daily otherwise north lot at Haulover $5 all day. Beachside food and drink available from hotels.

Some of South Florida’s swankiest resorts, hotels, condos, and residences line the shores of Sunny Isles, including Trump and Acqualina brands. Visitors enjoy luxurious amenities like beach chairs with umbrella service, jet ski rentals, spa days, and exclusive dining and bar access – no coolers allowed! When you tire of the pampering, head out snorkeling on a reef accessible directly from shore, a unique Sunny Isles perk.

Key Biscayne Beaches – For Tropical Tranquility

Name and Location: Over 7 miles of protected Atlantic beaches line the ocean side of Key Biscayne, a barrier island south of Downtown Miami accessible via the Rickenbacker Causeway revealing Crandon Park, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and smaller access dots like Beach Club at the Ritz Carlton.

History and Significance: Once a coconut plantation, Key Biscayne transitioned into a haven for wealthy residents like the Massey family and later Richard Nixon built seaside respites across the tropical isle now populated by cypress trees, parks and vacationing families appreciative of beautiful natural beaches near the city but isolated from crowds.

What to Expect: Lush foliage backdrops meet talcum soft sands and aquamarine waters perfect for swimming, walking or lounging inside quiet parks seeing fewer crowds than Miami proper with amenities from cafes to bathrooms sprinkled across zones like the family-filled Crandon Park Beach allowing tranquil immersed relaxation.

Visitor Information: Access via Rickenbacker Causeway toll route. Main beaches offer parking around $15 daily. Several beaches allow alcohol. Restaurants like Boater’s Grill on Crandon Park Beach plus nearby lodging available across the Key.

This barrier island village offers over 2 miles of some of Miami’s most gorgeous tropical shores and calmest swim spots. Key Biscayne’s beaches boast pine forests, coastal wetlands, and the crystal blue Atlantic in the background. Families adore Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park with its historic Cape Florida Lighthouse providing panoramic views. Meanwhile, Crandon Park entices with two miles of sand, concessions, cabanas, and watersports rentals.

Virginia Key Beach – For Adventure and Solitude

Name and Location: Virginia Key Beach Park spans over 800 acres on a barrier island accessed via the Rickenbacker Causeway south of Downtown Miami at 4020 Virginia Key Beach Road containing hiking, biking, picnicking opportunities and nearly a mile stretch of tranquil beachfront along the island’s interior Biscayne Bay side.

History and Significance: Once known as “Cola Beach” serving African-American populations during the era of segregation as the sole public beach available only by ferry pre-Civil Rights Act, Virginia Key Beach now commemorates that cultural heritage while providing an escape from city energy across nature trails and sandy shores seeing few crowds.

What to Expect: Wind through mangrove forests or bike amongst mahogany hammocks before claiming a deserted spot to temporarily call home on lengthy sandy corridors ideal for beach yoga beside gentle bay waves kissing the North Point Conservation area. Enjoy picnics while relishing scenic isolation.

Visitor Information: North and south entrances see parking rates around $5 per vehicle. Bathhouse available. Cafe on premises seasonal. Various private event rentals sites across grounds. Open 8am-sunset daily. Cash only payments.

This manmade beach island provides visitors with a gorgeous nature escape without ever leaving Miami! Reachable only by the Rickenbacker Causeway, Virginia Key hosts bike trails, kayak launches, lots of parklands, as well as a dog beach at the south end. Once America’s ‘colored-only’ beach until 1945, Virginia Key now offers solitude and room to adventure seldom found elsewhere in crowded metro Miami.

Lummus Park Beach – For Iconic Selfies

Name and Location: Lummus Park Beach parallels Ocean Drive in South Beach across 11 blocks between 5th to 15th Streets featuring pedestian paths dotted by palm trees immediately east of the busy restaurant- and bar-lined tourist epicenter also fronting several iconic deco hotels like Clevelander, Park Central and award-winning Life House.

History and Significance: Considered “ground zero” for Miami Beach’s global fame thanks to nonstop crowds and lively atmosphere, Lummus Park Beach serves as a picturesque gathering spot seeing continous day-night activity against the backdrop of pastel architecture where influencers and visitors document memories solely for quintessential Miami photo optics.

What to Expect: Count on barely-there bikinis, lively beach balls bombardmenting azure waters, impromptu dance sessions stepping in sand to salsa or reggaeton beats, vendors selling coconut water and mojitos feet from towels, European fashion shoots on the promenade and curiosity-seeking tourists gawking at the spectacle.

Visitor Information: Always open, Lummus Beach offers front row seating to Miami’s carnival along South Beach. Cafe concessions nearby. No direct public parking but garages and street metered zones within blocks. Free to access.

Sitting right along famous Ocean Drive, Lummus Park Beach allows visitors to soak in the excitement of the bustling promenade while relaxing on the sand. Capture selfies with the iconic lifesaving station houses and Art Deco resorts as your backdrop. Watch the Colorful Deco bikes, Rollerbladers, volleyballs, and more beach action parade by as you work on your tan. Then duck straight across the street into some of Miami’s hottest cafes, shops, and clubs!

Matheson Hammock Beach – Escape the Highrises

Name and Location: Matheson Hammock County Park contains a mile-long atoll beach surrounding a compact marina accessing Biscayne Bay at 9610 Old Cutler Road just north of Coral Gables inland from Palmetto Bay across 600 acres of protected South Florida wilderness sanctuary.

History and Significance: Matheson Hammock Park originated in 1930 as one of South Florida’s first public county parks aimed at preserving native tropical hammock forest environments and Barrier Island ecosystem microcosms that today invite beachgoers into tranquil swimming beside mangrove & palm hammocks rather than tall condos.

What to Expect: trade rowdy Ocean Drive for untamed wetland wilderness filled with butterflies, birdlife and dense foliage surrouding Matheson’s compact manmade atoll beach that sees calmer crowds enjoying magnificent dramatic sunsets, warm bathtub-like bay waters for floating effortlessly while clouds streak pink-purple hues reflecting across the marina.

Visitor Information: Open sunrise to sunset year-round. Parking fee $5 per vehicle. Concession stand on premises with grill foods. Leashed pets permitted across park grounds on select trails but not beaches.

In Coral Gables suburb just south of Miami, this urban wilderness park hides a glorious atoll pool beach that appears straight from the Caribbean. Matheson Hammock’s calm manmade lagoon offers families a chance to swim safely while admiring views of the picturesque surrounding marina. Enjoy the park’s scenic bike trails, nature paths, picnic grounds, and concession stands when not playing beach volleyball or simply relaxing streamside.

Oleta River State Park Beach – A Nature Lover’s Dream

Name and Location: Biscayne Bay’s Oleta River State Park occupies over 1,000 acres of coastal mangrove habitat at 3400 NE 163rd Street on the northern edge of North Miami Beach between the Intracoastal Waterway and bay waters.

History and Significance: Once the site of railroad magnate Henry Flagler’s retreat accessing the Oleta River, North Miami’s enormous state park preserves sublime beaches, wildlife and ecosystems where Biscayne Bay meets a winding mangrove estuary delta snaking inland revealing calming natural splendor beyond city limits.

What to Expect: Beachcombers traverse sandy paths to claim reclusive shoreline escapes alongside docile waves promoting relaxation. Surrounding shady trails filled with butterflies tempt discovery pass immense banyans, strangler figs, native birds and scurrying lizards across scenic mangrove terrain.

Visitor Information: Open 8am until sundown year-round. Nominal entry fee per vehicle. Canoe & kayak launches access serene mangrove trails. Swimming area marked along the beach with picnic sites and restrooms. Call park office to reserve campsites.

Tucked away on Biscayne Bay lies one of Miami’s largest urban parks, ideal for nature lovers. Rent kayaks or bikes to fully explore or keep to lazy beach days. Wake early to catch incredible fiery orange sunrises and wait for manatees to surface while sipping Cuban coffee. The calmest swim areas allow both families with kids and adventurous paddleboarders to play safely. After sunset, the clear waters dazzle with unmatched stargazing.

Hobie Beach – For Wind and Water Sports

Name and Location: Hobie Beach occupies the southern end stretch of beach paralleling famed Ocean Drive in Miami Beach wedged between 5th & 1st Streets bookended by Lummus Park and South Pointe Park alongside the Atlantic Ocean just above Government Cut.

History and Significance: Taking its name from the portmanteau of “Hobe Sound” where surfing legend and catamaran pioneer Hobart “Hobie” Alter long tested board designs nearby, this lively section of South Beach encourages wind-powered watersports thanks to dramatic breakers, steady offshore gusts and protected designated recreation areas allowing kayak, Hobie Cat and board rentals galore.

What to Expect: Novices cling nervously atop zipping personal watercraft while pro windsurfers with triangular sails and standup paddleboard yoga groups peacefully navigate the rolling surf against a Deco castle playground evoking southern California vibes thanks to countless rentals capitalizing on dependable breezes.

Visitor Information: Lifeguards patrol the beach daily ensuring safety along maintained towers and equipment locker areas for watersport participants to enjoy ample space off-limits to regular beachgoers designated solely for launching boats amidst a bustling recreational ambiance.

Those wanting to take full advantage of Miami’s famous breezes flock to Hobie Beach on Virginia Key. With the Atlantic on one side and Biscayne Bay on the other, conditions couldn’t be better for windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and kayaking. Rent your gear or take lessons from the friendly staff at Shake-a-Leg Miami, an adaptive water sports nonprofit supporting people with disabilities. Kick back with a burger and shake from concession stands post-adventure.

South Pointe Park Beach – Sunset Views for All

Name and Location: South Pointe Park occupies the southernmost tip of Miami Beach at 1 Washington Avenue below 5th Street containing piers, a beach, concessions and vast grassy areas affording unbroken 180-degree panoramas of the ocean, marina, Fisher Island and cruise ships entering Government Cut.

History and Significance: Designed by Miami-based landscape architectural firm EDSA in the mid-1980s, this 17-acre park transformed a former dump location into Miami Beach’s ultimate sunset showcase with winding walkways across two levels descending gently towards panoramic Biscayne Bay outlooks couples and photographers adore at dusk.

What to Expect: Sunset lovers immerse on provided lounge chairs towards the horizon or against protective seawall boulders as a blazing orange fireball ignites the sea air on its descent followed by diverse downtown highrises silhouetting postcard memories and LED-lit cruise ships gliding by through purple haze skies rewarding attendees.

Visitor Information: Free to access 24/7 with $15 parking available only at the surface lot otherwise surrounding garages fill at peak hours. Cafe and restrooms on premises. Guarded swimming section provided during daytime hours.

Locals head to South Pointe to catch one of the Magic City’s most magnificent sunset views with downtown Miami’s skyline glittering across the water. The 17-acre park contains plenty to keep visitors busy like a kids splash area, pier fishing spots, rollerblading paths and beach walks dotted with modern art installations. Bring some wine and blanket to toast another perfect Miami day coming to a close.

Bal Harbour Beach – Miami’s Playground for the Rich & Famous

Name and Location: The affluent beachside village of Bal Harbour spans only four oceanfront blocks on northern Collins Avenue between 96th and 97th Streets before Surfside immediately adjacent to Haulover Beach where ritzy oceanfront high-rises descend directly onto extensive manicured white sands with few signs of crowds thanks to exclusive allure.

History and Significance: Originally envisioned during a 1947 town planning session by a Miami banker and real estate investor for wealthy northerners who wintered locally, Bal Harbour both village and beaches entice moneyed Russian expatriates today alongside designer shops infusing glamour into this sandy enclave seeing Five-star accommodations neighboring turquoise waters attracting bourgeois sun seekers.

What to Expect: Pristinely landscaped sandy corridors groomed flawlessly throughout the morning hours welcome smartly-dressed guests suitably adorned behind designer shades occupying rows of cushioned loungers spaced comfortably apart flanked by towering palms and tropical gardens for the ultimate in oceanside luxury and exclusivity.

Visitor Information: Private but accessible to respectful visitors not disturbing hotel guests, with peripheral public parking available in north lot. Valet parking offered for dining at beach clubs. Gelato, cocktails and upscale eateries on premises behind The Ritz-Carlton.

The glitziest people in Miami strut their stuff along exclusive Bal Harbour beach, backed by ultra-luxury shops, hotels and condos. Observe Miami’s beautiful people sip champagne, zoom by in exotic vehicles, and climb aboard private yachts. Lesser mortals can still experience Bal Harbour’s soft white sand beaches too – simply arrive early to claim your spot. Then wander through the lush tropical gardens along the beachwalk to work up an appetite before indulging in Miami’s ultimate luxury shopping.

Each unique Miami enclave beach has its own charm and personality. But one thing remains constant – spectacular golden shores caressed by gentle waves of the Atlantic lapping under the Florida sunshine. It comes as no surprise why Miami beaches continue to top ‘best beaches in America’ lists routinely. Each deserves a top spot in any Miami beach-lovers itinerary!

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