If nothing else, Miami is known for its beaches. Our iconic shorelines spanning mile after mile along the city’s eastern border, we truly live where others vacation – and we live like it. Locals each have their own favorite beaches, each with its own special amenity to offer, whether you’re looking for a place to swim, a place to take the kids, a place to snorkel, a place for people watching, or a place to bbq with your friends.
With so many beaches, we’ve split our guide up geographically, starting from the southernmost beach to the top.
1Matheson Hammock Park – Best for families staying South of Coconut Grove
To be honest, Matheson Hammock isn’t really a beach. It’s more like a man-made lagoon where you can go swimming, safely removed from any of the real threats of the ocean like say, fish, or waves. It is, however, a good place to take children if they are learning to swim and you would like a very shallow incline into the water. The park is also closely located next to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, and offers a beautiful southside of the city and of sunsets. Costs $8 per vehicle (up to 8 people) to get in.
2Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park – There’s a lighthouse!
Built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, the lighthouse at Bill Baggs is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, and sits just over the McCarthur Causeway in Key Biscayne. The beach is narrow and there is often a lot of seaweed floating in the water, but the expansive vista and the various activities offered at the park such as bike rentals and nature trails. It is also a popular spot for kayaking, but be sure to bring your own as there are no rentals on site. Costs $8 per vehicle (up to 8 people) to get in.
3South Pointe Beach – Where the “Real” Beach begins
When out of towners think of Miami beaches, the beach they are inevitably thinking of is South Beach. In reality, however, South Beach is actually made up of a few smaller beaches all located on the southern tip of our barrier island. South Pointe is the southernmost of those beaches. It is a great place to sit and watch the cruise ships take off, assuming you find a place to sit, but it well worth the hunt. Weekends are exceptionally busy, and it’s the Beach, so be prepared to shell out for parking (pro Tip: use the apps).
4Lummus Park – The Definitive South Beach Experience
The boardwalk along Lummus Park is also buzzing with people. Skateboarders, yoga classes, street vendors, tourists, almost everyone can be found on this most iconic beach of South Beach, which faces the popular strip of art deco buildings that span Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th Street. There is ample beach to lounge on, volleyball courts and on-site showers, a playground for children and plenty of coconut palms to lounge under if you’ve had too much of the sun.
5North Shore Open Space Park Beach – Local Favorite
With plenty of street parking available in the surrounding area and lots of tree cover, North Shore is a popular beach for locals and also features public bbq grills, picnic tables, a bike path, a playground and private pavilions that can be rented for events in addition to ample beach space to catch some rays. If you’re planning on grilling through, be sure to get there early or send in a scout to secure your spot, as the grills are first-come-first-served-served unless you’ve shelled out to rent the pavilion.
6Bal Harbor Beach – A Beautiful Option for Those Seeking Quiet
Bordered to the south by Surfside at 96th Street and to the north by the Haulover Inlet, Bal Harbour is a beautiful beach that is typically not as busy as its South Beach compatriots but still possesses the everything you could ask for on a beach. During High tide, the shoreline tends to shrink a bit, reducing valuable beach frontage, but there is usually no need to scramble for a spot. This is good place to spend the day if you’re staying at one of the near-by Bal Harbor resorts, or just killing time while your family shops at the mall.
7Haulover Beach – Everyday day is Topless Tuesday
Miami’s famously nude beach is a must-try if you’ve never visited one, but don’t expect to be greeted with visions of ravishing tropical beauties sunbathing in their birthday suit under the scorching Florida sun when you head over to Haulover. Instead, prepare yourself for the colorful local nudists that frequent the beach and get psyched for leaving the beach with no tan lines, enjoy plenty of on-site parking ($5 per car). Haulover is also home to one of the largest remaining stretch of undeveloped beachfront in Miami-Dade County, is the site of a small plane crash near shore, and is one of the few beaches where consuming alcohol is actually legal.
8Oleta State Park – Everything you could want from a Florida beach in one place