Photograph by Steven Martine, National Geographic Travel
Surfers wait for the perfect wave at Gasparilla Island State Park, a refuge at the southern end of Gasparilla Island. This barrier island, about an hour's drive from Sarasota on Florida's west coast, has one city: Boca Grande, a classic beach town.
Photograph by Nicholas A Collura-Gehrt, courtesy Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater
A privately owned pier in Redington Shores has beckoned fishermen since 1962. The pier juts more than 1,200 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Photograph by Chris Livingston, The New York Times/Redux
Less developed than the Upper Keys, Sugarloaf and the other Lower Keys draw kayakers, swimmers, and sunbathers to their peaceful beaches.
Photograph by Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times/ZUMA Press/Alamy
Sparky, a five-year-old pooch from Brandon, relaxes on the beach at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County. Many Florida beaches are open to visitors of the furry persuasion.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Photograph by Baron Wolman, Getty
Colorful catamarans dot the beach at Fort Lauderdale, one of the world's most popular vacation destinations. A prime reason: this three-mile stretch of golden sand.
St. Vincent Island
Photograph by Richard Bickel, Corbis
Undeveloped and reachable only by boat, St. Vincent Island in northwest Florida is a world apart from the glitz and glamour of South Florida. A refuge for turtles, eagles, deer, and other animals, the barrier island is near the mouth of the Apalachicola River.
Bradenton and Palma Sola Bay
Photograph by Chris Bickford, National Geographic Travel
Horseback riding on the beach—and in the water—is possible in Bradenton and Palma Sola Bay, in Manatee County on Florida's west coast.
Photograph by Tony Arruza, Corbis
Longtime home of the rich and famous (think Donald Trump and the Kennedys), Palm Beach also boasts beautiful beaches popular with surfers.
Fort De Soto Park
Photograph by Lara Cerri
Once named America's best beach, Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County actually contains several picture-perfect beaches. The park also protects mangroves, palm hammocks, hardwoods, and other native vegetation.
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