It may be best known for its theme parks however if you want to head to the coast there are plenty of beaches near Orlando. There are none in the city itself but if you’re willing to drive to the coast you’ll find some of Florida’s best beaches within easy reach.
There are so many beaches near Orlando that it can be tricky deciding which one to visit. Are you looking for the closest beach to Disney World? The best beaches for surfing? Or beaches near Orlando for families? In any case, you’re sure to find a beach that ticks all of your boxes.
The east coast is home to some of the closest beaches to Orlando; these are on the Atlantic side and have bigger waves and more beachfront attractions. Beaches on this side of the state are great for swimming, watersports and spending fun days (or nights) out. Meanwhile, the west coast offers a calm and more idyllic vibe that makes it worth the extra traveling time.
Read on for our insider’s guide to the best beaches near Orlando complete with distances, driving times and highlights.
Beaches near Orlando
If you’re looking for the closest beach to Orlando, head to Florida’s east coast – the nearest beaches are just over an hour’s drive from Orlando. The east coast beaches are hailed as some of the very best beaches near Orlando and are popular for their lively Atlantic surf and their distinctly different personalities.
The closest beach to Orlando in miles is Daytona Beach, located around an hour’s drive northeast of Orlando. The other beaches near Orlando span from Daytona Beach southwards all the way down to Melbourne Beach just southeast of Kissimmee, and they are all within easy reach.
Daytona is the closest beach to Orlando, it’s also known as one of the liveliest and best beaches in Florida. Daytona Beach isn’t just a beach; it’s a city packed with some of the world’s most famous resorts and attractions. Popular with race fans, friends and families alike, the region is home to the Daytona International Speedway, the Motorsports Hall of Fame and around 23 miles of golden sandy beaches.
Looking for things to do? There’s the iconic Daytona Beach Pier and Boardwalk which is packed with family friendly entertainment. There are also an array of restaurants, bars and arcades lining the seafront. The Daytona Beach Bandshell stages free summer concerts, and just a stone’s throw from the beach is the Daytona Lagoon splash park and entertainment center.
The beach itself has designated driving zones so you can park right on the sand which makes it extra convenient if you’re packing a picnic or some water sports equipment.
It’s an easy drive to Daytona beach from the main vacation resorts in Orlando. These communities are home to plenty of great-value condos and villas making them ideal if you’re looking for somewhere to stay.
How far is Daytona Beach from Orlando?
New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is a fantastic drive-on Atlantic beach. This is one of the best quiet beaches near Orlando if you want some wind down time. The quaint coastal community is located in Volusia County, and is one of the oldest settlements in Florida. It boasts a traditional ‘old town’ vibe with lots of little shops and cafes, some fascinating historic sites and miles of wide flat beaches with golden-hued sands.
Named by National Geographic as one of the best surf destinations in the world, it’s a top spot for water sports. You’ll also find the New Smyrna Beach Sugar Mill Ruins here.
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How far is New Smyrna Beach from Orlando?
Cocoa Beach Florida
Just an hour’s drive east of Kissimmee, Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Disney World and the go-to place for swimming, shopping and nightlife. Located on Florida’s beautiful Space Coast, it’s one of the best beaches near Orlando for families with plenty of of exciting things to see and do.
This popular beach town is home to a world-famous fishing pier and the world’s largest surf shop. There are restaurants and bars galore and, if you time your visit right, you can catch a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center at nearby Cape Canaveral. The beach itself is a mecca for surfing and water sports. It’s also a wildlife-spotter’s paradise, especially around the Thousand Islands area where you’re likely to see manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.
When you get back to Orlando after a long day at the beach you’ll find plenty to do on your doorstep (hello, Disney World and Universal). When you’re done, you can head back to your vacation resort and make the most of the water parks, golf courses, restaurants, kids clubs and other fantastic facilities.
How far is Cocoa Beach from Orlando?
Canaveral National Seashore
Located on a barrier island between New Smyrna Beach and Cape Canaveral, this quiet 23-mile stretch of coastline is home to some of the best beaches near Orlando. You’ll find no resorts or high-rise buildings here, just miles of pristine beach and boardwalked dunes fringed with swaying palms. Even with no shops or entertainment, the region still attracts tourists who come for the stunning natural beauty.
You can swim, snorkel and sunbathe at Canaveral National Seashore, and you can spot the local wildlife to your heart’s content. At night you can join a ranger’s tour to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge where you can see sea turtle hatchlings, manatees and other local wildlife. And, if you visit at the right time, you can watch rockets take off from the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
How far is Canaveral National Seashore from Orlando?
Driving time from Orlando: 1 hour 15 minutes
Distance: 65.4 miles
Fastest route: Via I-4 E and FL-44E (take Apollo Visitor Center entrance)
Not only is Melbourne Beach one of the closest beaches to Orlando, it’s also one of the most peaceful with an old-town vibe that makes it a welcome break from the vacation crowds. Situated between the Banana River, the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic, this lovely Space Coast beach is a must-visit for all the family.
Little ones will love the wide sandy bays and shallow waters which are perfect for paddling. The beaches are mostly empty and rich with cinnamon-hued sand which makes them a real treat. Those who visit in the warmer months can spot manatees floating serenely in the surf and see turtles laying their eggs on the beach at night – you can find out more about the weather in Florida here.
How far is Melbourne Beach from Orlando?
Driving time from Orlando: 1 hour 20 minutes
Distance: 75.3 miles
Fastest route: Via FL-528 E
The west coast beaches
If you’re prepared for a slightly longer journey then the beaches along the west coast are well worth the extra driving time. Located along Florida’s gorgeous Gulf Coast, these are still in the ‘beaches near Orlando’ category but they boast whiter sands, calmer seas and more idyllic surroundings than their east coast counterparts.
Voted as one of the best Gulf beaches near Orlando, Clearwater offers all the natural beauty you’d expect from the Gulf Coast. Located in Pinellas County around 2 hours west of Orlando it boasts clear waters, white sands and a beautiful palm-fringed promenade.
You can walk or cycle along the boardwalk or take a dip in the designated swim zones without worrying about boats or water skiers. Besides the beach, there is a charming town with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can visit the Clearwater Aquarium, or time your trip for the annual Super Boat Championships, the Clearwater Jazz Festival and the Phillies’ Spring Training games at Spectrum Field.
If you don’t fancy the drive from Orlando, there are some great places to stay along the Gulf Coast. The villas in areas like Cape Coral are all located along the waterfront and some even have their own boat docks.
How far is Clearwater Beach from Orlando?
Caladesi Island State Park
Located just north of Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island is one of the few completely natural islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
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Its powdery beaches are perfect for sunbathing, strolling or just sitting and relaxing while the little ones build sand castles. If you fancy a bit of wildlife spotting there’s a 3-mile walking trail through the dunes. You can also take the designated kayak trail around the island’s scenic bays and mangroves.
Picnic tables and shelters are located around the beach. There’s also a marina with electric and water hook-ups, as well as a snack bar and a souvenir shop. You can get to Caladesi Island by boat or ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park at the northern end of Clearwater Beach.
How far is Caladesi Island from Orlando?
Situated on a barrier island not far from St Petersburg, Treasure Island boasts miles of white sand, warm gentle waters and a laid-back ‘Old Florida’ atmosphere. You can take a walk along the paved beach trail between the ocean and the sand dunes to the beach recreation center, home to a 9-hole golf course and numerous tennis courts.
There are a multitude of water sports on offer including fishing, jet skiing and sailing. The beach also has a vibrant nightlife scene with restaurants and bars lining the streets adjacent to the sand. Treasure Island has many awards bestowed upon it including ‘largest white sand beach on the Gulf Coast’ and ‘the best beach near Orlando with white sand’.
How far is Treasure Island from Orlando?
Just a short drive south of Sarasota on the Siesta Key barrier island is family-friendly Siesta Beach. The powdery sand here is nearly pure quartz crystal, and the clear turquoise water attracts throngs of swimmers and snorkelers. It’s no wonder this place has won numerous ‘best beach’ accolades including Trip Advisor’s best beach in the US.
The kid-friendly shallows and full-time lifeguards make it ideal for families. Opportunities also abound for the active set with kite-surfing, biking and beach volleyball particularly popular. Amenities include picnic tables and grills, rest rooms and showers, volleyball courts, tennis courts and a few kids’ playgrounds.
Away from the beach is Siesta Key Village with its colorful shops, restaurants and ice cream parlors. There are a handful of other attractions including a marine laboratory and aquarium, a number of caves and lagoons, and 50 miles of pretty canals and waterways.
How far is Siesta Beach from Orlando?
Pine Island Florida
Part fishing village, part artist’s enclave, Pine Island is a world apart from anywhere on the mainland.
Located just a few miles from Cape Coral and around 3 hours from Orlando, it has a quiet main town and a handful of super-quiet beach bays. The town has mostly escaped any modern development so there are no busy resorts, just a handful of brightly colored buildings that house shops, restaurants, markets and art galleries.
There aren’t many beaches on Pine Island, but there are a handful of small bays where you can spend the day feeling as if you’re on your very own desert island.
How far is Pine Island Florida from Orlando?
Driving time from Orlando to Pine Island: 3 hours 15 minutes
Distance: 202 miles
Route: Via I-4 and I-75 S
So, which is the best beach near Orlando?
There is no ‘best beach near Orlando’ as it all comes down to your own personal preferences. If you’re looking for the closest beach then places like Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach are ideal. If you prefer your beaches a bit quieter then opt for New Smyrna Becah or the Canaveral National Seashore. The best beaches with white sand are over on the west coast. And if you want a beach that’s more like your own private desert island, then the bays around Pine Island are where to head.
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