Read on. These five hidden gems have your flip-flops written all over them.
Beaches are listed from west to east. All are located in Northwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico.
Located in Gulf Islands National Seashore in Pensacola, the Fort is an area must-see. On the way there, you’ll pass miles of pristine beaches. Make sure to ditch your sandals and check out the sand: it’s pure white quartz that stays cool and won’t burn your feet even on the hottest day. The Fort boasts a fascinating history as well: In the 1800s, Geronimo and other members of the Chiricahua-Apache tribe were prisoners at there.
Located in Gulf Islands National Seashore between Pensacola Beach and Navarre, Opal Beach was born in 1995 when Hurricane Opal flattened the dunes to create a smooth, glittering paradise of sugar-sand beach. The area is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island, a 40-mile barrier island that Spanish conquistadors once explored.
This beautiful escape largely has escaped notice, yet its waters are calm and clear, and its sand begs for attention from your toes. This lovely wonder is located between Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach on Florida’s Forgotten Coast. It stretches for nearly four miles along the water's edge of St. Joseph Bay.
This park, which encompasses the north end of Cape San Blas, is home to the beach pictured here, one of the most highly acclaimed in the nation. But almost anywhere on the peninsula, you’ll have oodles of soft, white sand and emerald-hued waters practically to yourself. The Park also features a wilderness area, camping, trails, and great scalloping. Sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming and fishing are also popular activities. You’ll find some of the highest dunes in the nation here, which provide soaring views of the park.
Nestled on the eastern end of St. George Island, the park features miles of stunning—and empty—beaches like this one. The park is a haven for nature lovers, and is famous for its birding. It’s perfect for sunbathing, fishing, swimming, canoeing, boating, hiking, and camping. Or just kick back by the shore and enjoy the quiet music of the surf.
Photos by Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA