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8 Best Beaches in the Tampa Area You’ll Love

Are you planning to visit Tampa and looking for the best beaches in the Tampa Area to soak up the sun and enjoy the cool water? The city of Tampa is pretty much surrounded by water. However, that water is Tampa Bay, not the Gulf of Mexico. There are only two classic sandy beaches in the city of Tampa itself. However, some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States are only a 45-minute drive from Tampa.

But don’t feel like sand is a prerequisite to having a fantastic time in the water in Tampa. Tampa sits on the Hillsborough River. This makes for calm waters perfect for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and loads more water activities. The bay is only nine feet deep, so it doesn’t get many big boats, making for smoother waters.

All of this makes Tampa a fantastic city for water lovers. In this article, I’ll cover the two beaches in Tampa and the closest beaches by car from Tampa. For great water activities in Tampa Bay check out my article on fun things to do in Tampa for adults.

Things to Book Before You Leave Home
Few things are more frustrating on vacation than missing out on that amazing hotel or tour because it is sold out or waiting in long lines. Here are our top things to book before your vacation.

🏴‍☠️ Most Popular Tours and Tickets in Tampa:
1. Tampa Bay CityPASS – top value
2. Skip The Line Tickets for the Florida Aquarium
3. Dolphin Sightseeing Tour – the most popular Tampa tour
4. Busch Garden Tickets – minimize time spent in lines and maximize time on roller coasters!

🛏️Where to Stay in Tampa:
1. Hotel Haya – Ybor City -super stylish boutique hotel in historic Ybor City
2. JW Marriott Water Street – if you need to stay downtown

ben t davis beach
Ben T Davis Beach

Best Beaches in the Tampa Area

Beaches in Tampa

1. Ben T Davis Beach

ben t davis welcome sign

Just 10 miles from downtown Tampa, Ben T. Davis Beach is the closest beach to the center of the city. It isn’t a huge beach but there is more than enough space for a decent number of people. The water is known for being quite calm and it has soft, white sand.

ben t davis beach
Ben T Davis Beach

There are plenty of facilities at Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa. These include restrooms, showers, a picnic area, water equipment hire (and bikes), umbrellas and chairs for hire, Sharkey’s for coffee and pastries and Whiskey Joe’s for drinks and meals (it also has outside seating). Parking is available for a fee and there are bike racks.

Ben T Davis beach
Ben T Davis Beach
Ben T Davis beach sign

2. Courtney Campbell Causeway Beach

courtney campbell beach
Courtney Campbell Beach

This quirky little beach is literally to the side of a motorway! It is not a very large beach but it is quite long. I would call it a skinny beach. It has lovely white sand, but it feels odd being so close to a motorway. It is possible to park on the beach and you can lay down your towel a stone’s throw away. Which could be good or bad. Parking is free.

courtney campbell beach
Courtney Campbell beach

There are no facilities at Courtney Campbell Causeway Beach so make sure you bring with you everything you need.

courtney campbell beach best beaches in the tampa area
Courtney campbell beach

Beaches in St Petersburg and Clearwater

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from downtown Tampa to the Gulf shore beaches of St Petersburg and Clearwater. I have written an entire article about the beautiful beaches in St Petersburg and Clearwater but here is a quick summary of the key beaches that are a reasonable distance from Tampa.

3. St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach stands out as a top destination in the region, and its allure is evident. Spanning two miles, its pristine white sand contrasts beautifully with the gentle green waves. It’s frequently ranked among the finest white sand shores in the U.S.

st pete beach sign
st pete beach sign

There are loads of choices to rent umbrellas or sun loungers. Alternatively, you can come prepared with your own beach equipment and find a space. Despite its popularity, there’s typically a spot available for everyone.

St Pete beach
St Pete beach

4. Madeira Beach

Madeira Beach, with its expansive golden sands and stunning clear blue-green waters, is celebrated as one of the top family-friendly beaches in the U.S. A major draw to this beach is the neighboring John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk.

Madeira Beach entrance
Madeira Beach entrance

This vibrant coastal town is brimming with activities. Wander the boardwalk, observing the local pelicans, or dive into one of the numerous seafood eateries for a tasty meal. The Alligator and Wildlife Discovery Centre showcases over 50 crocodilians and houses more than 200 live creatures. For the adventurous, there’s even a chance to get up close and personal with a “kiss” from an alligator.

St John's Pass
St John’s Pass

5. Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores

Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores have a relaxed, laid-back feel and more stunning white sands and blue-green waters. The beaches are not quite as wide as some other points along the gulf, but they make up for it by being more chilled.

Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach

You might enjoy reading my articles on the United States’ best beaches and exotic destinations in the US.

6. Sand Key

As you head northward, just before reaching Clearwater, you’ll find Sand Key Beach nestled within a national park. Navigate through the park to discover a spacious parking area. The beach offers rental services for umbrellas and sun chairs. And if you’re hungry, the Sand Key Beach Grill food truck is conveniently located right on the shore.

Sand key beach
Sand key beach

7. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater is renowned as one of the most distinguished beaches in the United States, and rightfully so. Its impeccable white sand stretches on seemingly endlessly, only to merge with the crystal blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Keep an eye out, as dolphins might just grace you with their presence.

Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach

While Clearwater Beach attracts numerous visitors, its three-mile expanse ensures that tranquil spots are still within reach. Clearwater Watersports provides rentals like umbrellas, sun chairs, parasails, and paddleboards.

florida clearwater beach

8. Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State Park blends pristine beaches with mangroves and rich wildlife. This is the ideal spot for those seeking a more unspoiled beach setting. The island covers 385 acres, boasting four miles of shoreline.

honeymoon island North Beach
Honeymoon Island North Beach

According to the park ranger, North Beach is arguably the most picturesque on the island, and it’s easy to see why. Its sands are softer and possess a creamier hue compared to the stark white of Clearwater and St. Pete beaches. The ambiance here is decidedly more laid-back and untouched compared to nearby beaches.

Honeymoon Island Pet Beach.
Honeymoon Island Pet Beach

Facilities on Honeymoon Island include a visitor’s center, a nature reserve, and a network of hiking and biking trails. Pelican Cove, situated at the island’s north end, is a sanctuary for many shorebirds and can be accessed only by foot or bike. To the south, Cafe Honeymoon and the South Beach Pavillion Cafe offer dining options.

A little trivia: the island’s romantic name originated from a 1938 Life magazine competition for newlyweds.

Please note: Entry to Honeymoon Island is priced at USD$8 per vehicle.

Boutique Hotels in Tampa

Hotel Haya – Ybor City

🌟Rating: 8.9/10 I 📍Location: Ybor City I 🏩View on

This is where you need to stay when you visit Tampa Bay. Located in Ybor City, Hotel Haya is a chic and modern hotel that pays homage to the area’s Cuban and Spanish roots. The hotel features 178 guest rooms and suites, each with a unique design that blends contemporary style with traditional elements.

The large open lobby feels like Soho House meets a bustling European train station. There is a respected fancy restaurant Flor Fina, a cool bar, a general seating area, and the fab Cafe Quiquiroqui, which serves outstanding coffee.

Haya Pool
Haya Pool

The pool is located on the ground floor of the hotel and it has a clean and stylish design with some comfortable poolside loungers. There was a fitness center but I must be honest, I didn’t even look at it.

The rooms are a good size and the fixtures and fittings are high-end. In addition to a very comfortable bed, my room contained a mustard yellow chaise lounge perfect for getting some work done (the room also had a desk but I prefer plush seating if possible).

Haya bedroom
Haya bedroom

The bathroom has simple black edgings on the tiles and a large walk-in shower. The toiletries are from the lovely brand Alchemist.

The staff were all extremely friendly – from the front desk to the cafe to the valet. And its location means it is perfect for grown-up evenings out in Ybor City.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for Hotel Haya

JW Marriott Water Street

🌟Rating: 9/10 I 📍Location: Downtown Tampa I 🏩View on

As mentioned above, you should absolutely stay at Hotel Haya in Tampa. However, if for some reason you have to stay downtown rather than in Ybor City check out the JW Marriott Water Street. It is huge – 727 rooms – with a sleek and modern design.

The key reasons to stay at the JW Marriott Water Street are its brilliant location on the Tampa Riverwalk and the lovely Anchor and Brine restaurant on the Hillsborough River’s edge.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for JW Marriott Water Street

Boutique Hotels in St Petersburg

Berkeley Beach Club

🌟Rating: 9/10 I 📍Location: Pass-A-Grille I 🏩View on

I absolutely loved my stay at the gorgeous Berkeley Beach Club. Let’s start with its fantastic location on historic 8th Street in the oh-so-charming Pass-A-Grille neighborhood. As the hotel is literally on 8th street, everything you need, food and drink wise, is on your doorstep, and the beach is about a two-minute stroll away (Berkeley Beach Club will supply you with nice thick towels for beach time).

Berkeley Beach Club room
Berkeley Beach Club room

The rooms are actually small apartments and they are beautifully styled with polished floorboards, high ceilings and a Scandinavian-style interior design theme. The fittings and fixtures are of good quality, so the room has a high-end but relaxed feel.

The kitchen is fantastic with a large fridge (water and icemaking in the door), hob, microwave, all the utensils you would need if you felt like cooking and a cute bar set up with stools. A small utility closet to the side includes a washer dryer, ironing table etc.

berkeley beach club exterior
Berkeley Beach Club exterior

There are large screen TVs in the bedroom and the living room. The living room has a large comfortable couch and armchairs. But perhaps best of all is the huge terrace area that comes off the living room.

Berkeley Beach Club sunset
Berkeley Beach Club sunset

The terrace comes with blue and white chairs, couches and tables. My terrace was perfectly positioned to enjoy watching the sunset over the beach. The terrace is shared with the rooms on either side, but plenty of room exists.

And there’s more! The Berkeley Beach Club has a great rooftop bar with even better views of the beach. Its restaurant, The Dewey, has received rave reviews and is worth a visit even if you’re not staying at this gorgeous boutique hotel (although why wouldn’t you be staying???).

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for the Berkeley Beach Club

Hotel Don CeSar

🌟Rating: 8/10 I 📍Location: St Pete Beach I 🏩View on

don cesar
don cesar

I had dinner and drinks at the wonderful pink Hotel Don CeSar and I was impressed with its style – the recent renovation is clearly evident. I didn’t get a chance to see any of the rooms but I believe they have all been updated as well. If you are looking for somewhere a bit over the top it would be worth checking out their availability and prices.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for Hotel Don CeSar

Visit St Pete Clearwater and Visit Tampa Bay covered all of my accommodation, food and drink, car hire and activities on this trip – thanks guys! I paid for my own flights and as always my opinions are my own. This article on beaches in the Tampa Bay area contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission.

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