Sun, sand and water are three things Sarasota has an abundance of, but not all Sarasota beaches are the same. Six islands line Sarasota's extensive coastline, each revealing its own personality, recreational options and natural beauty. Don't worry, you don't have to choose just one.
Named number one in the world in 2011 by Dr. Beach, Siesta Key's beaches are the beach benchmark for which all other beaches are judged. Miles of fine white sand stretch along the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Siesta's western shore, perfect for blemish-free sandcastles, long walks, or a soft place to soak up the sun. For something different, try the more laid-back atmosphere at Crescent Beach in the middle of Siesta Key, or find fertile ground for shell collecting in the coarser sand at Turtle Beach on Siesta's southern end.
Although smaller than Siesta, Lido Key's beaches pack a surprising variety into a compact area. Lido's north end features unspoiled beach backed by a public park, with nature trails from the water to the tranquil Florida pine forest. Head south and you'll find a popular public beach that's similar to Siesta, with white sands and many recreational amenities. On the island's southern tip is South Lido Park, bordered by Sarasota Bay on the east, Big Pass to the south, and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. There, boaters drop anchor in the calm waters of the pass to come ashore and picnic in the park or enjoy the waves crashing on south Lido's Gulf side beaches.
Longboat Key is a more private beachfront community than many areas of Sarasota, geared more to people staying at the island's fabulous resorts than to casual visitors. Still, Longboat's world-class dining scene draws people from all over.
Venice Beach is one of the best places in the world to find shark's teeth, easily sifted from the sand and shells by people of all ages. (Don't worry; these pointy, triangular fossils -- naturally shed by sharks over their lifetime -- are due to a quirk of ocean currents, not sharks off the coast.) There's also a massive fishing pier that extends into the Gulf, as well as dining options overlooking the beach.
Also in Venice is Caspersen Beach -- easily the largest in Sarasota -- featuring an unbroken vista of rolling dunes as far as the eye can see. Even your furry friends can get in on the action at Brohard Paw Park, a Venice beach where dogs can frolic in the surf and dig to their hearts' content.
Casey Key is regarded as a private refuge studded with multi-million dollar homes, including one belonging to famed author Stephen King. That privacy has its advantages for visitors, as well. Casey Key's public beaches -- including North Jetty Park and Nokomis Beach -- feel like a burst of old Florida. Each Casey Key beach is a cozy nook packed with amenities without the hassle of crowds or development.
The beaches on Manasota Key off the coast of Englewood in southern Sarasota are hidden gems. Even the two most popular beaches on the island -- Manasota Beach and Englewood Beach -- are rarely crowded. But Blind Pass Beach and Stump Pass Beach are so unknown you can pretend to be stranded on a deserted island. At least until it's time to drive into Englewood for dinner, that is.
No matter where you're staying, or what your particular beach personality is, Sarasota's sandy shores offer enough options to satisfy even the most exacting beachcomber.
Get in touch with nature, have fun with the whole family and do it all on a budget. Camping is an exciting and economical adventure for both visitors and locals. While locals love getaways at Sarasota's big camping spots, visitors can also spend a vacation on Sarasota's...
Whether you bike or drive the winding street (only one) of Casey Key, you'll discover a mix of "Old Florida" among the newly budding exclusive waterfront mansions. At the southern tip the public has access to a public beach at the Venice Jetty where fishermen cast their...
With wide stretches of powdery, quartz crystal sand, occasionally cooled by a Gulf sea breeze, Siesta Key Public Beach is prime property for big-time volleyball and soccer tournaments.Having claimed Dr. Beach's 2011 Best Beach in America award, Siesta Beach has some of...
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