The 6 best beaches in Miami - Lonely Planet (2024)

With over 800 miles of gorgeous sandy shores, it's no surprise that Florida is known for its beaches. While each one has its own appeal, none are more popular than the beaches of South Florida, especially those in the city of Miami.

Millions of visitors flock to Miami every year for its food, culture, nightlife and shopping, but its beaches are the biggest draw. You can't go wrong with any stretch of sand and sea here, but here's our pick of the very best beaches in Miami, whether you're looking for a party hot spot or some family-friendly fun.

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1. South Beach

When it comes to South Florida beaches, this one needs no introduction. South Beach, or SoBe, is undeniably the most popular beach in Miami — at least for tourists.

The heart of South Beach stretches alongside the famous Ocean Drive between 5th St and 15th St, while the full length of the beach is from 1st St to 23rd St. SoBe is full of charming art deco architecture, sidewalk restaurants that are usually overpriced but worth it for the vibe, over-the-top pool parties, some of Miami's best nightlife, and a paved pathway perfect for jogging, strolling, skating, and people-watching.

But you're here for the beach, so check out the mostly clear, warm water and white sand dotted with photo-worthy colorful lifeguard stands. The crowd here is usually made up of young vacationers, so expect a party atmosphere, complete with multiple people blaring music from their loudspeakers.

Planning tip: To really enjoy South Beach in all its glory, avoid visiting during spring break season. Parties have gotten a bit out of hand in recent years, and local authorities are cracking down with measures including curfews and strict rules on alcohol sales.

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2. South Pointe Park

South Pointe Park lies at the very end of the 9-mile-long Miami Beach island. With the beach on one side and the park on the other, you can make use of the ocean-facing walking trail, picnic areas, mini dog park, small splash zone for kids and unbeatable panoramic views of the South Beach shoreline. Walk along the 450ft-long South Pointe Pier, where you can go fishing, take advantage of the picturesque photo-op, or spot huge cruise ships as they pass through nearby PortMiami.

As for the sand and sea that awaits, you can expect the same colorful lifeguard stands, white sand and dark turquoise water as you would in neighboring South Beach, but a fraction of the crowds. South Pointe is a decidedly calmer and more family-friendly option in the Miami Beach area. For added fun, go snorkeling by the jetty or the artificial Jose Cuervo Reef, about 200yd southeast of the 2nd St lifeguard stand.

Detour: Shop 'til you drop at the outdoor mallLincoln Road, whichstretches eight blocks and has over 200 boutique shops, major retail brands and restaurants.

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3. Haulover Beach

Local favorite Haulover Beach has the white sand and clear turquoise water that Miami is known for, but with a few extra perks. Dog lovers should head to the area between lifeguard towers two and three, where four-legged friends are welcome daily between 8am and 3pm. Adults looking to work on their bronze without the tan lines can head to Miami's only nude beach. Located between lifeguard towers 12 and 15, this part of the beach is well marked so you won't accidentally bump into it, but it's also wide open without any enclaves to hide behind for some privacy or shade — something that might be unnerving for first-timers.

Family-approved fun can be found at the park adjacent to the beach, which has plenty of green space and picnic areas with grills. This is a popular place to fly kites, so the park occasionally hosts kite-making workshops, while local vendors also sell kites.

Local tip: Head to Haulover on Tuesdays for the weekly food truck event from 5-10pm.

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4. Historic Virginia Key Beach Park

Beach days don't usually go with history lessons, but that's not the case here.Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is located on a small island just off the coast of downtown Miami, overlooking both Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This mile-long shoreline may offer one of the best views of the city skyline, but it's also one of Miami's quieter, more peaceful beaches with soft sand and clear water.

The park is also home to multiple cycling trails, catering to both experts and newbies, as well as one of Florida's largest mangrove wetlands, which you can explore with a kayak or paddleboard. For the ideal beach day, rent one of the colorful beach cabins, fire up one of the park grills, and don't forget to ride the antique carousel for a taste of the park's history.

What really makes this park historic, however, dates back to the era of segregation in the South, when non-white Miamians weren't allowed to enjoy its idyllic beaches. Virginia Key was the exception, welcoming people of all races. Take a deeper dive into the beach's history by contacting the park's visitor center ahead of time and scheduling a guided tour.

5. Bal Harbour

While SoBe is all about flashy glitz and glam, Bal Harbour exudes a more subdued sense of quiet luxury. Tucked away in a small neighborhood of the same name, this beach is where you might go to show off your designer swimwear and boutique swim cover-ups. This mile-long beach is peaceful and lined with palm trees and high-end resorts. In the afternoons, the poshest high-rise condos and five-star hotels provide much-needed shade.

Detour: Complete your lavish experience with a trip to Bal Harbour Shops, an open-air mall with highly acclaimed restaurants, elegant yet casual bistros and nearly every luxury brand imaginable.

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6. Oleta River State Park

For a more adventurous beach day, Oleta River State Park, Florida's largest urban park, is the place to go. Beyond the hiking and cycling trails, you can also rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard from the Oleta River Outdoor Center located right inside the park. From there, you can paddle around the mangrove forest and Intracoastal Waterway before posting up on the sandy beach and taking a dip.

The water here is on the darker side and not clear like in other parts of Miami, but what makes Oleta special is the fact that the water is calm and relatively shallow. That makes it perfect for families with young kids or people who don't like to fight with big waves at the beach.

Keep planning your trip to Miami:

Looking for more great experiences? Here are our top picks in Miami
Navigate like a local with these tips for getting around
Find out which neighborhood fits your vibe
Figure outthe best time to visit

This article was first published Feb 11, 2021 and updated Apr 5, 2024.

The 6 best beaches in Miami - Lonely Planet (2024)
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