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INTERCOT - Walt Disney World Inside & Out - Info Central

INTERCOT > Info Central > Beyond Disney > Florida Beaches 

Florida Beaches


If you have a car and you are looking for an activity for your off day from the parks, visiting one of the many Florida beaches within a 1-3 hour drive is a great option!

Since Orlando is situated near the center of the state (East/West wise), you have the choice of visiting a beach on the Atlantic Ocean to the East or one on the Gulf of Mexico to the West. Each destination has its own allure.

East coast beaches are truly on the ocean. So, if you’ve never been to the ocean, this may be what you’re after. Keep in mind that the Atlantic can be a bit rougher than the gulf usually is, so if you’d like gentler waves, the gulf coast may be for you. The beaches on the gulf coast are generally softer white sand than the hard packed gray sand on the ocean side as well. And, the water of the gulf is likely warmer than that of the ocean. East coast beaches are generally 30 minutes to an hour closer to Walt Disney World than gulf coast beaches.

East Coast Beaches

Cocoa Beach is about an hour away and likely the closest beach to Walt Disney World. The area features twelve miles of beaches and has activities including airboat rides, fishing excursions, swimming and shopping and entertainment.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“I don't know how long you would like to spend driving to a beach, but going to the west coast is a lot longer than going east. Cocoa Beach is a straight shot out the Bee-line and takes approximately 45 minutes to get to. I love the tranquility of the west coast area, but in MHO, going out to the east coast for a day to play in the surf can't be beat. I am a little biased because we own condos in Cocoa Beach so we have always spent time there. I love checking out Ron Jon's surf shop also. There is a park and a pier out there with a restaurant and often there is some sort of activity to watch at the pier. Parking is fairly easy and access to the beach is also easy and open to the public.”

“I just wanted to throw my vote in for Cocoa Beach, too. It's fabulous, and you won't be disappointed. Plus, it's such a short drive!”


Daytona Beach is one of the more popular beaches on the ocean coast. Some of the activities that you can find there include swimming, fishing, surfing, sail-boarding, skiing, and beach driving. Keep in mind that in February, the Daytona 500 auto race is held and the area is extremely crowded during this time.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“I was pleasantly surprised that it was not crowded at all. We go in mid-August. We have enjoyed it so much that we go back every year now.”


New Smyrna Beach has 13.3 miles of beaches bordering the Atlantic. The area features a marine discovery center and in June/July, there are nightly watches for migrating loggerhead turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“Were you looking to go to a beach that you can drive your car on? Daytona is VERY crowded...just south of there you'll find New Smyrna Beach-it is also a drive on beach, less crowded, but not near as quiet as Cocoa.”


Port Canaveral Jetty Park features camping, fishing and swimming.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“We have found two beaches we really liked. One is near Cocoa Beach. Jetty State Park. It is clean and interesting, near the Space Center and Port Canaveral.”

West Coast Beaches
(Clearwater/St. Petersburg area)

Caladesi Island features white sandy beaches, ideal swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and shelling. The state park features a three-mile nature trail. The island is reached via a ferry that departs from Honeymoon Island.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“It is a barrier reef island and you take a ferry out. The ride is fun and the island is very nice. It is a state park too so it is just a beach-not a fancy place. You get to stay on the island for 3 hours, I think. Try to get the first ferry (it leaves around 10am-I believe).”

“A hidden gem is Caladesi Island State Park north of Clearwater near Dunedin. You need to take a ferry to reach the island and it is very secluded and beautiful.”


Clearwater Beach hosts Pier 60 Park where almost every water sport and beach activity imaginable is available. Soft sandy beaches await you. The beach is located at the west end of State Road 60.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“Clearwater Beach I believe has the most activities for people to do where some of the others are more quiet. There is also a very nice large park that is on a beach if people want to camp etc.”

“Clearwater Beach has a nice public beach and only 1.5 to 2 hours away. Go on a weekday when it isn't so crowded.”


Treasure Island Beach is sometimes referred to as the “Jewel of the Gulf Coast Beaches” and is a small barrier island on the west coast. Many water sports are available and the area features several festivals at various times during the year. From I-275 turn west onto Central Avenue across the Treasure Island Causeway until it ends at Gulf Boulevard.

INTERCOT Members’ Opinions:
“My favorite beach is in Treasure Island, right next to St Petersburg. The first time I went I had the special pleasure of two dolphins coming very close to me in the water and jumping up, it was a beautiful thing! … It's an hour drive from Walt Disney World to Tampa and another 1/2 hour drive to St Pete or Clearwater.”

If you'd like to contribute a comment on Florida beaches please email: guestrelations@intercot.com

 
 
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