12 Best Beaches near Orlando That Are so Much Better than Its Theme Parks!

Orlando is surrounded by plenty of beaches. It can rightly be called a beach lover's dream destination given the fact that there are many beaches to explore here, both near and far. Additionally, you have a choice between the gorgeous coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The city will indeed surprise you if you thought amusement was found only in the many theme parks here. 

A great blend of unique beaches, islands and national seashores, you are indeed spoilt for choice. What’s more? Besides their mesmerizing beauty, these also bestow you with an opportunity to undertake several outdoor activities. You cannot miss the characteristic jovial Floridian vibe either. Take a cue from these best beaches near Orlando to plan your next day-out adventure, albeit outside a theme park! 

1. Canaveral National Seashore

Image Source: Wikipedia.org

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the roller coasters in Orlando. But, it is also easy to infuse a dash of tranquility at the many serene beaches around the city that perfectly counteract the effect of a roller coaster. The Canaveral National Seashore is one such beach, secluded from the city’s mainland. Adjoining the beach’s either ends are two nude beaches. A trip here bequeaths you with sights of endangered species like sea turtles. Activities like horse-riding among plenty of watersports including surfing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming are widely undertaken here. This is also the closest beach to Disney world. 

Driving time from Orlando to Canaveral National Seashore: 36 minutes 

2. Daytona Beach 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Essentially a city in Central Florida, the Daytona Beach is counted as one of the best beaches near Orlando. Here’s why- it has a beautiful boardwalk, it is well-secured by lifeguards, on weekends there are fun fares here, there are ten oceanfront parks here and a plethora of beachside restaurants and bars. On Saturdays, there are live performances at the Ocean Walk, which is counted as one of the best things to do in Daytona Beach on weekends. You can even drive onto some beaches here. On a visit here, you will spot several local families enjoying picnics here, putting up cabanas and grills; you could follow suit! This is one of the closest beaches to Orlando

Driving time from Orlando to Daytona Beach: 56 minutes 

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3. New Smyrna Beach

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bracing the magnificent Atlantic coast, the New Smyrna Beach is a hotspot for Orlando’s surfers and sunbathing aficionados. Lying with barely an hour’s drive from the city’s center, this beach is where locals typically spend a day out. Proximity, lots of historic ruins, restaurants and cute cafes have contributed to the beach’s listing in “the best beaches in Florida”. Apart from surfing and sunbathing this beach is also favorable for sailing, fishing, and swimming. If you want to, you can even drive your car on this beach! 

Driving time from Orlando to New Smyrna Beach: 58 minutes 

4. Cocoa Beach 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Perched on Florida's eastern coast, the Cocoa Beach Orlando is resorted to by several surfing enthusiasts and those looking for a laidback time. Surfing particularly has a lot of importance here, owing to favorable, however not very orderly waves. The beach was also home to one of the greatest surfers of time Kelly Slater. The beach sprawling across six miles is also credited to be the region’s most popular oceanfront playground. Deep sea fishing and watersports including parasailing are popular besides surfing. You might also be lucky enough to watch some space launches from the Kennedy Space Center, that lies close by. All these reasons contribute to the fact that this is one of the best beaches near Orlando. 

Driving time from Orlando to Cocoa Beach: 1 hour 3 minutes 

Must Read: Things to do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

5. Flagler Beach

Image Source: Rachel Kramer/flickr.com

A great beach that can be combined with the Daytona Beach if you are on a beach-hopping spree, the Flagler Beach is a nice little, quiet beach. It is one of the most uncrowded beaches where people come to enjoy the characteristic warm waters of Florida. Head to this beach if you want to enjoy something more than just beaches, given the plethora of historic sites adjoining it. The cultural scene too is worth a glance that features local music performances, beachside shops, and restaurants that serve authentic local cuisine. On the activities front kayaking and surfing are popular. 

Driving time from Orlando to Flagler Beach: 1 hour 13 minutes 

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6. Melbourne Beach

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is no dearth of beaches in Orlando that offer you that calm, quiet and serene vibe which is such an embracing change from all the Disney jazz prevalent in the city. The Melbourne Beach is one such beach, where you can while away into infinity. Strolling around the beach you are likely to spot various species of offshore seabirds. It is hard to come off the glorious daze this beach causes to you. When you just cannot resist, check into one of the many resorts and hotels dotting the beach. These resorts attract a lot of families thus making it a great choice for those contemplating a family beach near Orlando

Driving time from Orlando to Melbourne Beach: 1 hour 18 minutes

7. Sebastian Inlet

Image Source: Jeff Muceus/flickr.com

A haven for all the surfing fanatics out there, Sebastian Inlet is considered to be an ace place to surf in the whole of Florida. The "Monster Hole" is the place to be if you plan on taking up a surfing adventure here. For those who are not so keen on surfing and prefer to enjoy the waters by their own, the inlet is blessed with several moderately sloping pools. The region is also home to some fabulous hiking trails and campsites. 

Driving time from Orlando to Sebastian Inlet: 1 hour 41 minutes

8. Fort De Soto Park

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fort De Soto Park is Pinellas County’s biggest park spanning across a whopping 1,136 acres. The park paints a leisurely picture of what ultimate relaxation is! There are plenty of factors here like the wetlands, native flora and mangroves among more that help in retaining the region's ecological balance. If you happen to visit during the months of April through September, you are likely to see many nesting turtles and migrating birds. To explore this beach at its best we suggest you walk around as much as you can. If you want to dig a little deeper kayaking and canoeing is the way to go. 

Driving time from Orlando to Fort De Soto Park: 1 hour 55 minutes 

Must Read: Most Popular Beaches in Florida

9. St Pete Beach

Image Source: Andrij Bulba/flickr.com

This one is considered to be the nicest beach near Orlando for more reasons than one. The city St Pete is a very popular tourist destination in the Pinellas County, home to several beaches and historical museums. The St Pete Beach features a gentle slope, powdery soft sands, and shops fringing its edges making this is an ideal spot for absolutely anyone. There are a lot of eateries too around the beach. If you are someone who detests touristy places, this may not be your best bet as it is pretty crowded. 

Driving time from Orlando to St Pete Beach: 2 hours 1 minute

10. Clearwater Beach

Image Source: Pixabay.com

The crisp blue waters and white sands at the beach here are likely to make you contemplate if you are still in Florida! Not surprisingly it is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the US. This fact draws a lot of visitors who simply cannot get enough of swimming in the clear waters here; very notable how this beach remains true to its name. If you are a water sports enthusiast, there is a plethora you can choose from- snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing and more. The Clearwater Beach is a staple on those taking a detour of the Gulf of Mexico’s beaches. 

Driving time from Orlando to Clearwater Beach: 2 hours 4 minutes 

Must Read: Best Beaches in Mexico

11. Anna Maria Island

Image Source: Marcus O. Bst/flickr.com

An absolutely unique place of all the beaches mentioned on this list, the Anna Maria Island is a slender stretch of a coast in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Essentially a barrier island, the beach here is best enjoyed doing nothing. Food, however, cannot be missed and thus, there are several restaurants here that offer world-class fine dining. Grab some grouper sandwiches and hit the beach with some towels and just spend a lazy day. If adventure nudges, rent a kayak and do so amidst dolphins! Segway tours available too. 

Driving time from Orlando to Anna Maria Island: 2 hours 6 minutes 

12. Siesta Key

Image Source: Pixabay.com

With a distinct horseshoe shape, the Siesta Key is a beach sprawling some eight-odd miles of an island in the Gulf Coast. A characteristic of this beach is its 99 percent pure quartz. The tropical vibe of this place accounts for several accommodations dotting the region. There is a lot to do here for both kids and adults alike, which certainly includes a lot of eating. The specialty of the beach is how it features no franchises of restaurants, these are all stand-alone restaurants serving the best quality and variety. Owing its vulnerability to hurricanes, determine the best time of your visit. 

Driving time from Orlando to Siesta Key: 2 hours 15 minutes 

Do you have a favorite beach in Orlando? Let us know in the comments section below!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEEMA NANDE SEEMA NANDE

A deep-dyed Piscean, Seema is a dreamer. This extends to the fact that she is seldom in another world of her's or dreaming of the place she would rather be. A wild-child at heart and a keen observer otherwise, Seema's free-spirited psyche is eternally quenching for new experiences. There is no poison for her as restorative as Life, she is the one who will give you the cliched 'I-am-high-on-life', should you offer her a drink. She gets hungover on the feel of a new place, food and conversations with strangers! All this adding to the way she feels and writes!

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