Miami Area Beaches

Your guide to Miami area beaches

Editor's note: Beaches and parks are listed geographically from north to south.

Beaches with this symbol have beach wheelchairs available, either provided as a courtesy, or available for (prearranged) rent and delivery from private companies.

 Miami is where the Atlantic Ocean merges with the Caribbean Sea; where sands turn soft and white and the waters from light blue to nearly-clear aqua. There are more than a dozen areas in this part of the state, ranging from the more subdued North Miami Beach to the world-renowned South Beach, the southern city that doesn't sleep. So whether you are looking for a lazy day on the beach or feeling the need for some serious partying, this is the place to visit.

Sunny Isles Beach
Sunny Isles Beach was incorporated in 1997, making it one of Miami-Dade County's newest cities. This is a thriving town where you'll notice many young families. There are 13 beach access points along the shore. Sunny Isles Beach and Pier features a mix of entertainment and relaxation. From the pier you can gaze over the azure ocean and perhaps see a sea turtle below (note: the pier is currently being rebuilt due to storm damage). Swim, fish or sun on these warm beaches. The more than two-acre Gilbert Samson Oceanfront Park has showers, restrooms, a volleyball court and picnic tables.

Oleta River State Park
Located at the northeast corner of Miami-Dade County, Oleta River State Park is the largest urban park in the state at 1,043 acres, and there is definitely something for each member in your family to do. Canoe and kayak the river and the Intracoastal Waterway, fish off the pier or bike through a tree hammock. There are also 14 primitive cabins where you can spend the night.

Haulover Beach
This 180-acre park features a 1 ½-mile beach with lifeguards, picnic areas and beautiful vistas of tropical shoreline. This area is perfect for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. The park has a marina, concessions, picnic facilities and restrooms. Keep in mind that the northern part of the park is considered clothing optional.

North Shore Open Space Park
This lush park features a boardwalk, picnic table, showers and restroom. This quieter part of Miami is ideal for families avoiding the crowds.

North Miami Beach (46th to 78th Streets)
Small neighborhood beaches can be found along the glimmering shore of North Miami Beach. This beach community offers all of the beauty of turquoise waters and golden sand without the city bustle. There is a community center and a band shell where you might catch a concert. You'll find there are plenty of restrooms, showers and chair and umbrella rentals for a comfortable day. You are also close to some quaint sidewalk cafés along Collins Avenue.

Bal Harbour
This island to the north of Miami Beach is a mostly private enclave that houses the rich and famous. Two miles of sandy shoreline overlook the city to the south, and jogging and exercise courses can be found along the beach. Nearby, there are upscale shops, spas and restaurants and golf courses.

Surfside Beach
This residential community spans less than 10 blocks. There are limited facilities and parking, but for a fee you can use the facilities at the 93rd Street Beach Lifeguard Stand. This is one of the more quiet beaches in the area, still perfect for swimming and sunning.

Miami Beach (21st to 46th Street)
The beaches here are wide and soft. Enjoy a walk along the boardwalk that winds along the dunes. It's a good spot to rollerblade or stroll. There are a number a lifeguard stands, concessions, showers and restrooms along this stretch of beach.

South Beach
Movie stars and models on fashion shoots are just the start of the beautiful sights to be seen on South Beach. Sultry and pulsating, this is non-stop fun from white-sand beaches to international bistros. Palm trees and art deco buildings mesh along the cityscape. South Beach is the center of high fashion and high society in Miami. The beaches are just steps away from trendy restaurants, boutiques and nightclubs. You can't miss the whimsically painted lifeguard stands. There is a great concrete promenade along the beach where you can rollerblade, jog or simply people watch - definitely the hottest pastime here.

South Pointe Park
This two-mile stretch of newly refurbished beach features a fishing pier. This spot at the southern tip of South Beach is the perfect spot to watch the sunrise or those massive cruise ships set out to sea.

Virginia Key Beach (North and South)
Located on Biscayne Bay, this is a favorite local hangout with a calm atmosphere. The south side of the beach is a perfectly secluded spot with shady areas, nature trails and a bird sanctuary nearby. The north side boasts fantastic views of the Miami skyline and features windsurfing and seaplane rentals.

Hobie Beach/Windsurfer Beach
Located along the Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne, good winds and smooth waters make Hobie Beach the place for windsurfing, sail boarding and sailboats. So if you've always wanted to try, go for it. There are beautiful views of the Miami skyline. There are concessions and restrooms, and dogs are allowed.

Crandon Park Beach
Set on the northern half of Key Biscayne, this three-mile county beach is a popular spot in Miami. An offshore sandbar protects swimmers from heavy surf. Take a swim out to the sandbar and then take a walk, enjoying a look back at the beach. Crandon Park is popular with families thanks to its marina, picnic facilities, barbecue pits and volleyball rentals, as well as Crandon Amusement Center. Play a round at the nearby 18-hole golf course designed by Bruce Haggen.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
In 2005, Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, voted this the eighth best beach in the United States. The beautiful tropical park is located on the tip of secluded Key Biscayne and is illuminated by its historic lighthouse. The park features biking and hiking trails and has calm shores and emerald-green waters. So bring a picnic and some fishing poles and prepare for a perfect day at the beach.

Matheson Hammock Park
This park has an unusual feature - a man-made island pool, which is flushed naturally with the tidal action of nearby Biscayne Bay. Its tranquil breeze-swept beach is a haven if you need a warm, safe place for your family to play. The park also has beautiful waterside views, a marina and a snack bar and restaurant built into a historic coral rock building, picnic pavilions and nature trails.

Homestead Bayfront Park
Another park that is perfect for your family, with its atoll pool beach, snack bar, barbecue grills, picnic shelter, playground and plenty of palm trees. The sandy atoll pool fluctuates with the tidal action of the Atlantic Ocean.

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