Florida is a very popular tourist destination in the United States, offering a wide range of experiences from the sunny, sandy beaches of Daytona to huge, bustling metropolises of Miami and Orlando. Being a coastal state, there are quite a number of offshore islands in Florida that may not be quite as popular but are an enriching experience for visitors. Interestingly, some of these islands are closer to Cuba than Miami and are a treat to visit most times of the year, offering stunning natural sights as well as adventure activities.
The Best Of Florida Islands
Read on to know more about the best of the touristy islands that you can visit in Florida with your friends and family and all the things that you can do there:
1. Key Biscayne
One of the closest islands in Florida to Miami, this beautiful barrier island is the perfect weekend getaway if you are visiting Miami. The atmosphere here is slightly warmer than the rest of the state, which may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially in the winter months. If you are looking for beaches, head to Crandon Park where a three-mile-long stretch of beautiful white sand awaits you. Although most of the island is a quiet residential community, tourists can head to the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area for fun Florida activities such as kayaking in the backwaters or a tour of the old lighthouse. The road running along the beach becomes a carnival during the evenings and is the perfect way to enjoy the Florida vibes.
Location: Miami Dade County, Florida
How to get here: Drive from Miami via the Rickenbacker Causeway
2. Gasparilla Island
If you look at the Florida islands map, you would find this beautiful place on the western coast of the Sunshine State. Close to Port Charlotte and Cape Coral, the island is one of those perfect places where you get to see the old Florida without the glitz and glamour of the nightclubs and casinos and carnival rides of Orlando or Miami. The Boca Grande Beach here is a beautiful sunrise beach that also leads to an interesting birdwatching route called the Boca Grande Bike Trail. At the southernmost tip of the island, you will find the 1890 lighthouse that still stands in all its glory. Overall, the island named after a Spanish pirate is a delight for nature lovers.
Location: Gulf of Mexico
How to get here: Accessible by ferry
3. Siesta Key
Another barrier island, the Siesta Key is the hidden gem of the Gulf of Mexico and is located just off the coast of Sarasota. If you are looking for some good beach time on the islands of Florida, Siesta Key will not disappoint – the 8 miles of white sand of its only public beach has often been cited as one of the best beaches in the country. The island is very popular with tourists who come here just for the beach, and it is a great experience lying on the beach, soaking up the sun or going for a swim in the clear blue waters. Also, Ocean Boulevard is the go-to place if you are looking to chill off in the evenings with good food and drinks. You can also find some interesting souvenir shops selling local novelties.
Location: Gulf of Mexico
How to get here: 3.5 hours drive from Miami
4. Key Largo
The Florida Keys have long been the open secret of tropical Florida, and for people heading south of Miami into the Keys, Key Largo is the first island encountered. Quite a lot of tourists bypass the island completely or just stay overnight, but the place has a charm that merits a longer stay. If you are a certified scuba diver, or always wanted to learn, go to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park where you can find the best diving spots, or even go snorkeling. This is also where you will find guided tours that can help you explore the Keys further south on your visit to the Florida islands.
Location: Upper Florida Keys
How to get here: Overseas Highway
5. Anna Maria Island
Just when you thought Florida could not throw better beaches at you, you get to the Anna Maria Island, located south of the cities of Tampa and St.Petersburg. The Bradenton Beach and Coquina Beach are two of the most spectacular ones that you will see in Florida and perhaps the country. The barrier island draws a considerable crowd trying to escape from the cold weather up north, but a visit to the Anna Maria Island Historical Society will give you a better picture of life on the island, especially when it was inhabited by Timucuan Indians and later by Spanish settlers.
Location: Manatee County
How to get here: Cortez Bridge, Manatee Avenue Bridge
Suggested Read: Casa Florida Hotel Pereybere Mauritius
6. Marco Island
The best place to go to if you are ever in the Everglades, the Marco Island in Florida can be reached by taking the bridge that is off the main highway around Naples. The Marco Island differs from others in its completely urban setting. The towering buildings and the resorts along the coast are quite the sight to behold. Here you can get chartered boat tours of the western part of South Florida, as well as cruises meant for couples and expeditions to sight the famous dolphins off the coast. As far as beaches go, the South Marco beach is a picture perfect place to be at sunset, while the Tigertail beach is quite renowned for the beautiful shells that can be found here. Quite the souvenirs you can take home from here!
Location: Collier County, Florida
How to get here: Drive from Naples, Florida
Actually spread over four different Florida islands – Tea Table Key, Plantation Key and the upper and lower Matecumbe Keys, the city of Islamorada is often known as the Sports Fishing capital of the world. Quite a lot of visitors here are amateur or professional anglers who come here to learn about new techniques and hang out with other enthusiasts. At the Bahia Honda State Park, you can also go snorkeling at a very popular diving spot near the Overseas Highway. If you are with your family, the Theater of the Sea offers a chance to see dolphins and even sea lions, making it perfect for islands of adventure in Florida, United States.
Location: Monroe County, Florida
How to get here: 1.5 hours drive from Miami
8. Sanibel Island
The Sanibel island is one of the most popular and best islands in Florida for travelers seeking the bounties of nature. The beaches here at the Sanibel island are rockier than the white sand beaches elsewhere, consisting a lot of sand dollars and shells that provide for stunning views by the setting sun. Visitors also love the historic island that towers over the island, and there are quite a few trails that are popular with birdwatchers. One of the best Florida west coast islands, this is a wonderful place if you are looking for a relatively quiet and relaxed family vacation spot.
Location: Lee County, Florida
How to get here: Drive through Sanibel Causeway
9. Amelia Island
Another beautiful entry on this list of Florida islands, Amelia is a part of the Sea Islands Chain. While there are plenty of fun things to do here, the most prominent tourist hotspots are Fort Clinch, the sea fortification that has stood since the 1800s, the museum that is now housed in parts of the fort, and the beautiful beach that lines the ocean facing Fort Clinch. Further inland, you will find more than enough of hiking trails, as well as golfing greens as well as a boating club. A true tropical paradise!
Location: South Sea Islands, Florida
How to get here: East Coast Greenway
10. Key West Island
If you see the map of islands off the coast of Florida, you will find Key West as the southernmost city of contiguous USA. It also interestingly lies on the end of Route 1, which is the longest road running from north to the south of the country. The famous Ernest Hemingway Museum and Home is one of the biggest attractions in the country. Shopping streets like Duval Street and Mallory Square make for a great time with your family and friends.
Location: Florida Keys Archipelago
How to get here: Route 1, over 3 hours from Miami
There are also other islands in Florida which make for a great vacation. In case, you visit the US with your family, go an extra mile, and check out the islands around to enjoy a nice beach holiday. You can also book your trip with us to enjoy the best value-for-money offers!