10 Best Tampa Bay Beaches (By a Local)

Nicola Curtis writer bio photo

Having been to Tampa more times than I can count, I believe the beaches of Tampa are the best in the USA. White sand, clear sea, plenty of space to roam, there isn’t anything else I could ask for when spending a day at the beach.

Tampa beaches are plentiful, and you’ll need to know the best spots to head to. Some are closer to the city than others, but they’re all worth the effort. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant beach or a deserted bay, there’s something for you.

To help you have an amazing beach day, I’ve compiled a list of the best Tampa beaches. Tick them all off or choose the ones that call out to you. Either way, visiting the beach is one of the best things to do in Tampa — it’s complete R&R.

☞ SEE ALSO: Best Restaurants in Tampa

10 Best Beaches in Tampa

Ocean with buildings in a  sunny day
Beaches in Tampa

Everyone has their own idea of what makes an amazing beach. It might be location, amenities, swimming, surfing, or tanning opportunities. You’ll find all of this and more on this list of stunning beaches. Whether you’re spending 2 days in Tampa, or a week, make sure to enjoy some time at the beach.

1. Ben T. Davis Beach

Ben T. Davis Beach-  a setting sun with rays reflecting the ocean
Ben T. Davis Beach

The great thing about Ben T. Davis Beach is that you don’t need to plan your visit. It’s the closest beach to Downtown Tampa, so you can just decide you’re going. This beach is also dog-friendly.

This is one of the best beaches around Tampa Bay for lazing and relaxing. It’s never that crowded as most people head to more famous spots, such as Clearwater. You’ll be able to escape the noise and enjoy your time.

Accommodation Near Ben T. Davis Beach

Grand Hyatt Hotel Building with trees below
Grand Hyatt

There are many hotels close to this beach as it’s so close to Downtown Tampa.

The Current Hotel: This hotel is seriously upmarket and located in the harbor, so you wake up to amazing views every day. The on-site restaurant is also a must-try.

Grant Hyatt Tampa Bay: If you want to be close to everything, including the beach, this hotel is the best choice. The outdoor swimming pool is huge.

Mary’s Luxury House: Large groups will find this holiday home suits their needs. It has three bedrooms, a huge kitchen, and a balcony.

Restaurants Near Ben T. Davis Beach

On the table there is a one plate of lobster.

It’s very easy to enjoy a beach day and then head to a fantastic restaurant. But where should you go? Here are a couple of great options.

Bahama Breeze: Just a stone’s throw from the beach you’ll find this fantastic waterside restaurant. I enjoyed their cocktails, and chicken tostones were the best. Click here for directions.

Rusty Pelican: This is one of my favorite places to eat with a view. If you’re going to try lobster anywhere, make it this place; it’s delicious. Click here for directions.

Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill: A fun-filled restaurant with fantastic food and drinks. This is one of the best restaurants in Tampa to try alligator. Don’t miss the gator bites; it’s one of my favorite foods in Tampa. Click here for directions.

2. Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach - A sunny day with ocean in the background and wooden alley
Indian Rocks Beach

The thing I love about Indian Rocks is that it feels as close to nature as it’s possible to get. This isn’t a spot where you’ll find huge crowds; many people don’t even know about it.

If swimming and lounging are all you want to do, you’re set. This is also a great beach for playing games, such as volleyball. There is also a small surf school nearby.

Accommodation Near Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach - aerial view of the resort with water bodies in the left and right side and buildings  beside a highway
Indian Rocks Beach

At just half an hour’s drive from Downtown Tampa, you’ll still find plenty of accommodation close to this beach.

Belleair Beach Resort Motel: Located very close to Indian Rocks, you’ll wake up to the sea every day. There is a large outdoor pool, picturesque gardens, and it’s very easy to get around.

Sandpearl Resort Private Beach: This hotel is located at the far end of Clearwater Beach, but very close to Indian Rocks. I really enjoyed my stay at this hotel, and it was packed with facilities.

Hampton Inn & Suites: There is a huge outdoor space for swimming, soaking up the sun, and the on-site restaurants are fantastic.

Restaurants Near Indian Rocks Beach

A cheesy pepperoni pizza.
Restaurants Near Indian Rocks Beach

There are no restaurants actually on the beach or directly past it, but there are several very close by.

Keegan’s Seafood Grille: Without a doubt, this is a great place to try seafood, and it’s super-fresh. The laid-back atmosphere fits in with a day at the beach, and be sure to try the mahi-mahi dinner. Click here for directions.

Guppy’s on The Beach: You can’t beat this restaurant for outdoor dining. I had the Costa Rican swordfish, and I’m desperate to go back again. Click here for directions.

Slyce Indian Rocks Beach: If you’re craving carbs after a day of swimming, this pizza spot is the place to go. It’s laid-back and perfect for relaxation. Click here for directions.

3. Cypress Point Park

Cypress Point Park - trees and ocean in the background
Cypress Point Park

One of my favorite places to see the sunset is Cypress Point Park. It offers fewer crowds than Clearwater and still gives me the shivers when I see it. This is also a great place if you want to feel like a local and avoid mass tourism. It’s definitely one of the best private beaches in Tampa Bay.

The beach backs onto a huge park, so if you’re done with swimming, you can walk a little too. There are cafes in close proximity, and the water quality is excellent.

Accommodation Near Cypress Point Park

A lamp and pillow
Cypress Point Park

Cypress Point Park is quite close to Tampa International Airport, which means there is no shortage of places to stay.

Hyatt House Tampa Airport: Packed with amenities, this hotel has a huge outdoor swimming pool. The other plus point is the regular shuttle bus into Downtown Tampa and over to the airport.

Hilton Garden Inn Tampa Airport: I stayed at this hotel, and the service was second to none. The rooms are huge and extremely comfortable.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott: This hotel offers a shuttle to the airport and Downtown Tampa, with a great restaurant. The breakfast here is fantastic.

Restaurants Near Cypress Point Park

A delicious steak getting sliced

You won’t have to go too far to find great restaurants. Here are a few of the best.

Coast: This restaurant is ideal for couples; the ambiance is cozy and romantic. The food is also fantastic, with top-quality seafood along with steaks and pasta dishes. Click here for directions.

Seasons 52: The wine menu at this hotel is huge, but this restaurant is primarily known for its flatbreads. I tried the Chipotle BBQ shrimp flatbread and highly recommend it. Click here for directions.

Doc B’s Restaurant: Doc B’s is a popular spot in this area, and when you see the menu you’ll understand why. Try the delicious candied bacon and grilled Californian artichokes. Click here for directions.

4. St Pete Beach

A wooden structure with light in a twilight
St Pete Beach

Out of all the public beaches in Tampa Bay, you’ll have heard of St Pete’s. I really enjoy this beach whenever I go, and that’s probably because it’s wide and long, so it never feels crowded. There are also plenty of amenities and a vibrant atmosphere.

This Tampa Bay beach is one of the best spots for sunbathing, but it’s also great for swimming, thanks to the warm, calm waters. There are plenty of things to do just a few steps away from the shoreline.

  • Location: 6500 Sunset Way, St. Pete’s Beach, Florida 33706.
  • How to Get There: Drive or take a taxi in 45 minutes. The line 34 bus takes 2 hours 40 minutes.
  • Best For: Families, entertainment, swimming, sunbathing.
  • Amenities: You can rent sun loungers and parasols on the beach. There are restaurants, cafes, and bars lining the beach, and water sports. Lifeguards also patrol this beach.
  • Best Tours: The Dolphin Racer Speedboat Adventure is a fun experience and takes just 2 hours. Click here for information.

Accommodation Near St. Pete Beach

A sunny afternoon, a trees and buildings in the left side while ocean bed on the right

There are plenty of hotels and holiday homes very close to St Pete’s Beach, some directly on the beachfront itself. Here are some of my top picks.

The Saint Hotel: This hotel was a really fun place to stay, with vibrant decor and a lively feel. I especially enjoyed the outdoor pool and the entertainment.

St Pete Beach Suites: Families and larger groups will enjoy this hotel as it offers a home-away-from-home experience. There are cooking facilities in each room and a large sitting room.

Hotel SOL: I enjoyed this hotel because it was surrounded by greenery, in stark contrast to the blue of the sea. The rooms were large and really comfortable.

Restaurants Near St Pete Beach

a Greek Dish having fruits and vegetables

St Pete Beach is one of the top areas in Tampa Bay, so you’ll find plenty of places to eat.

Skidders Restaurant: This restaurant is right on the beach, and if you close your eyes for a second, you might feel like you’re in Greece. The Mediterranean cuisine here tastes impossibly fresh, and the menu is huge. Click here for directions.

Shells Seafood: The seafood at this restaurant is some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and their grouper was delicious. However, it’s not all seafood; they also do steaks, pastas, and chicken dishes. Click here for directions.

The Wharf Restaurant: The first time I ever tried seafood chowder was at this restaurant, and now I’m hooked. This place has such a relaxed feel, with one of the best views you’ll ever see. Click here for directions.

5. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach- A wide body of ocean with blue tents on the side
Clearwater Beach

One of the famous beaches of Tampa. Clearwater is huge, and a fantastic spot for families, groups, and couples. It’s the best white sand beach in Tampa Bay and exceptionally clean, with lifeguards on patrol.

The sunsets from here are epic, and there are plenty of water-based activities to enjoy. You can also go on a dolphin spotting tour, or ride the famous Sea Screamer. Put simply, it’s an amazing beach and one you have to visit.

Accommodation Near Clearwater Beach

A sunny day with buildings on the background and coconut trees near the white sand

There is no shortage of places to stay in Clearwater and the nightlife around this area is fantastic.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa: Once you arrive at this hotel, you won’t want to leave. It has everything you could possibly need, including many restaurants, bars, a spa, swimming pools, and entertainment.

Devon Shores: Not everyone enjoys huge hotels, and this cozy yet extremely stylish hotel is the answer. The hotel had a homely feel, and nothing was too much trouble for the staff.

Chart House Suites: This hotel is just five minutes away from the beach, and offers a comfortable place to stay without being right in the heart of the action. Rooms also have kitchenettes.

Restaurants Near Clearwater Beach

Seafood - shrimp and shells

Clearwater Beach is home to some fantastic seafood restaurants, but there are many international restaurants too.

Clear Sky Cafe: I had a great night in this restaurant, which offers live music several times per week. The atmosphere was laid back, and the menu was huge. Click here for directions.

Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill: Spend a day on the beach and then head straight into this restaurant, still with sand on your toes. The relaxed ambiance is fantastic, and the menu is even better; the seafood platter was delicious. Click here for directions.

Badfins Food & Brew: Taco lovers should definitely head here, but that’s not all there is on offer: everyone will find something here. They also do live music at the weekend. Click here for directions.

6. Fort DeSoto

A military structures soaked in ocean water

Fort DeSoto is one of the beaches of Tampa and a hidden gem. This is the ideal spot for families who want to just spend their days splashing and building sandcastles. It’s possible to camp on the beach too.

This is a very popular beach in Tampa Bay, but the size of it means you never feel crowded in. There are many walking trails, so you can spot wildlife, and even take to the water and swim or kayak. Fort DeSoto makes for a great day trip from Tampa.

Accommodation Near Fort DeSoto

a bread, juice and coffee in the white bed  and a white pillow background

Most people choose to camp when they visit Fort DeSoto. However, if that’s not an option for you or not something you enjoy, there are some accommodation options.

Avalon Hotel: This hotel is located in St Petersburg, but it’s very close to Fort DeSoto. The plus point of this hotel is that you’re close to nature, but you’re also close to the fun of the city.

Hilton Garden Inn: This hotel is basic but very comfortable and offers everything you need as a base. The outdoor pool and seating area are large, and the on-site restaurant serves drinks and snacks until late.

Bungalow Beach Resort: I enjoyed this hotel because it was a great alternative to camping; it felt private but still had all the amenities of a standard hotel.

Restaurants Near Fort DeSoto

full of an authentic italian food on a table

Most people choose to take a picnic when visiting this area, but there are still some great restaurant options not too far away.

Sea Worthy Fish Bar: The nautical theme of this restaurant ties in really well with a day on the beach, but the food takes it to another level. The squid ink-infused bucatini and lobster is a must-try. Click here for directions.

Tony & Nello’s Southern Italian Cuisine: You’ll find many seafood restaurants around Tampa’s beaches, but this Italian establishment is a welcome change. It might sound basic, but the pizzas here are something else entirely. Click here for directions.

ALSACE French Bistro: You’ll be transported to Paris during a visit to this restaurant. The sophisticated decor means this spot is ideal for couples. Click here for directions.

7. Fred Howard Park

a setting sun with palm trees struck by sun rays

Many believe this is the most beautiful beach in Tampa Bay, and I can’t argue with them; it’s also a nature reserve, so ideal for wildlife spotting including eagles and dolphins. From a beach-time point of view, the white sand and clear blue sea are perfect and ideal for swimming.

This is one of the best beaches in Tampa Bay for families too, as the calm vibe and the close proximity of wildlife gives little ones plenty to see and do.

Accommodation Near Fred Howard Park

A trees with a large body water on the north side

There are a few hotels close to this beach, but there are several holiday homes as an alternative.

Hibiscus Hideaway: This cozy holiday cottage is the perfect base for families who want to calm their children down at the end of a long beach day. The terrace and gardens are delightful, and there is plenty of space inside, with three bedrooms.

Hampton Inn & Suites Tarpon Springs: I stayed at this hotel, and it was a great base to explore the area. Rooms were large and comfortable, and the on-site restaurant served delicious evening meals.

Fairfield Inn & Suites: Couples and small groups will enjoy this hotel, which offers an outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, and a gym.

Restaurants Near Fred Howard Park

eating the local cuisine in mykonos greece

You’ll find some great restaurants in Tarpon, most with cozy vibes and locally produced menus. There are also several Greek restaurants with delicious Mediterranean fare.

Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill: Locally caught catch is the order of the day here, and you can tell how fresh it is with the taste. The calamari here is particularly special but definitely check out the cocktails too. Click here for directions.

Jimmy’s Neighborhood Restaurant: This restaurant has a really chilled-out vibe, and it’s been family-run for years. The food is fresh and cooked from scratch by experienced chefs. Click here for directions.

Hellas Restaurant & Bakery: This place is for you if you love Greek food. The lamb chops were a particular favorite of mine and the baklava tasted as good as it did in Greece. Click here for directions.

8. Madeira Beach

a silhouette picture of romantic couple having a wine drink

Another of the top beaches of Tampa is Madeira Beach, ideal for anyone who wants chilled-out beach time and plenty of entertainment in the evening. The sunset is beautiful and romantic, making it a beach for couples in Tampa Bay too.

The sand is soft and white, and the water is very calm; it’s a great choice for swimming. It’s also very close to St Pete’s, so you can stay close by and make it a twin-center break.

  • Location: 14400 Gulf Blvd, Madeira Beach, Florida 33708.
  • How to Get There: The best way to reach this beach is by car or taxi, in 30 minutes. Public transport will take more than three hours from Downtown Tampa.
  • Best For: Entertainment, bars, sunsets, soft sand, families, couples.
  • Amenities: There are toilets and changing facilities on the beach, and lifeguards patrol the area.
  • Best Tours: Families will love the Pirate Adventure Cruise, but it’s one for adults too. Click here for information.

Accommodation Near Madeira Beach

A folded towel place in at the centre of the bed with white flower on top of it

Madeira Bay is home to many beachfront hotels, so you can wake up in the morning and just wander straight out onto the sand.

Madeira Norte: This hotel is located right on the beachfront and is a great spot for families and couples. Rooms are large, and the hotel has entertainment every night.

Cambria Hotel: This hotel was the ideal base for me to chill out, and I certainly enjoyed the hot tub in the evenings. Families will find this hotel useful as there is a children’s pool and a large playground on-site.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites: You always know what you’re getting with the Holiday Inn: a comfortable place to stay with great on-site amenities. This hotel has a spa and a hot tub, perfect for relaxation.

Restaurants Near Madeira Beach

nachos in Bath

Nightlife around Madeira Beach is vibrant and fun, and there are plenty of fantastic restaurants to enjoy a meal.

Dockside Dave’s: When you find out that a restaurant is where the locals go, you know it’s good. The half-pound grouper sandwich is famous, and a must-try. Click here for directions.

Angry Pepper: This restaurant is famous for its spicy dishes and colorful atmosphere. Although I’m not the biggest fan of spice, I really enjoyed it. I tried the angry nachos and BBQ rib combo, and it was all delicious. Click here for directions.

Lucky Lizard Tap House: After a day on the beach, you might want to dine somewhere totally relaxed, and this restaurant is it. They also have regular live music and the drinks menu is extensive. Click here for directions.

9. Honeymoon Island Beach

a dark sunny afternoon with coconut tree and blue sky
Honeymoon Island Beach

The best beach for a honeymoon in Tampa Bay is certainly Honeymoon Island. This spot is stunning and with miles of white sand to choose from, you’ll be able to enjoy time with your loved one without distractions. There are also many walking trails around, with wildlife in abundance.

Like many beaches of Tampa, the waters are calm and ideal for swimming. There are also plenty of amenities on this beach, so you’re set for a great day in the sun.

  • Location: 1 Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, Florida 34698. Click here for directions.
  • How to Get There: Drive in 45 minutes. The line 30 bus takes 2 hours 40 minutes. Click here for information.
  • Best For: Couples, walking, nature, wildlife, sunsets.
  • Amenities: You can hire a sun lounger and umbrella, and there are public toilets and changing rooms available. Lifeguards are on duty. There is also a picnic area and a small cafe.

Accommodation Near Honeymoon Island Beach

The hotels around Honeymoon Island Beach tend to be in Dunedin, offering a great base to explore the area further.

Hampton Inn Dunedin: I liked this hotel because it was central to everything and nothing was too much trouble for the staff on the front desk. The free continental breakfast was also very delicious and filling.

Best Western Plus Yacht Harbor Inn: Located in the center of Dunedin, this hotel offers a large swimming pool, on-site restaurant, gym, and free buffet breakfast daily.

Restaurants Near Honeymoon Island Beach

I’d recommend heading to Honeymoon Island Beach early in the day and grabbing some breakfast while you’re there. There are plenty of great spots to enjoy the most important meal of the day.

Benedict’s Family Restaurant: If you’re looking for a place to fuel up at breakfast, I can’t recommend this restaurant highly enough. With traditional American dishes like waffles, this family-run spot is always a good idea. Click here for directions.

Brenda’s on The Causeway: Ideal for no-fuss dining, this traditional diner is an excellent choice for families. Definitely try the fried egg with cheese and meat. Click here for directions.

Olde Bay Cafe: Located on Dunedin marina, you can chill out after a day on the beach. Try the scallop wrap for a real treat. Click here for directions.

10. Treasure Island Beach

I think Treasure Island is the best beach in Tampa Bay for families not least because of the name. This spot has an old-fashioned feel, with a wide sandy expanse and clear, calm waters for swimming. It’s one of the beaches in Tampa Bay that is also packed with amenities.

You’ll also see kite flyers here, which look fantastic when they’re all in mid-flight. There are water sports on offer, as well as cafes and restaurants aplenty.

Accommodation Near Treasure Island Beach

Treasure Island Beach is a lively spot, and there are several hotels available for you to base yourself.

Sea Jay Motel & Marina: This hotel is close to the nearby beaches of Tampa and has an old-fashioned motel feel. The rooms are large and comfortable, and the swimming pool is excellent fun.

FUSION Resort: With two-bedroomed suites on offer, this hotel is ideal for families and groups. The on-site restaurant is large and offers varied cuisine, and there is entertainment during the week.

The Beach House: If you want a homely feel, The Beach House delivers. Apartments are large and have all mod-cons, and you can have a BBQ outside.

Restaurants Near Treasure Island Beach

There are some great family restaurants around Treasure Island. Here are some of my recommendations.

Caddy’s Treasure Island: This restaurant has a ‘surf shack’ feel, and I loved the laid-back vibe. Children will love the bright decor and outdoor space. Click here for directions.

VIP Mexican American Cuisine: Here you’ll find the best Mexican food in Tampa, hands down. Try the nachos supreme for a real taste sensation. Click here for directions.

Waffle House: After a long day on the beach or simply for breakfast, waffles are my favorite. This restaurant serves some of the very best. Click here for directions.

Beaches of Tampa: FAQs

What is the best beach in Tampa Bay?

Out of all the beaches of Tampa, most would say Clearwater Beach, and I don’t disagree.

What are the best beaches in Tampa Bay for partying?

St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Treasure Island are all great spots for nightlife.

What is the best beach in Tampa Bay for families?

Treasure Island is a good beach for families, but also Fort DeSoto.

What is the best beach in Tampa Bay for couples?

The best beaches near Tampa Bay are all suitable for couples, but Honeymoon Island is a stand-out winner.

What is the best off-track beach in Tampa Bay?

While Fort DeSoto is one of the beaches close to Tampa Bay, it also has a far-away feel. It’s not necessarily off-track but it will give you that vibe.

What is the best time to visit Tampa Bay for sunbathing?

If you want the best tan, June-August are the months to go to Tampa.

What part of Tampa Bay has the best beaches?

The area around Clearwater has the cleanest beaches in Tampa Bay.

What beach in Tampa Bay has the clearest water?

St Pete and Clearwater Beach have very clear water.

Are there white sand beaches in Tampa Bay?

Yes, most beaches have white sand. The best beach in Tampa Bay for white sand is Clearwater, with St Pete in second place.

What beach in Tampa Bay has the whitest sand?

There is no shortage of sandy beaches in Tampa Bay, with Fort DeSoto, Clearwater, and St Pete featuring the whitest sand.

What beach in Tampa Bay has the bluest water?

The water at Honeymoon Island is impossibly blue.

Are the beaches in Tampa Bay safe for swimming?

Generally, most Tampa beaches are safe for swimming but always adhere to any guidelines given by lifeguards and any signs. Never go beyond the marked areas.

Are there sharks in Tampa Bay?

There are sharks in the deeper waters of Tampa Bay.

What is the closest beach city to Tampa?

Ben T. Davis Beach is the closest beach to Downtown Tampa.

☞ SEE ALSO: Best Cafes in Tampa

In Conclusion

For me, the beaches of Tampa are some of the most beautiful in the world, and all offer something slightly different. Families will love the white sand beaches and calm, blue seas. But couples will adore how romantic this area feels, with amazing sunsets.

For a day enjoying the best of nature, you’re spoiled for choice. There are so many beaches close to the center of Tampa, and all are within easy reach. The only problem you have is deciding which one to go to.

Nicola Curtis writer bio photo

Written by

Nicola Curtis

Born and raised in the north of England, Nicky is a writer of more than ten years’ duration and through that time, she has hopped around the world trying new cuisines, meeting amazing people, and experiencing different cultures. Of course, she loves to put all of that into words for others to read and be inspired by.

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