South Beach may be Florida’s most famous shoreline, but its nearly 1,200 miles of coastline have no shortage of secluded hideaways worth a visit. Fly under the radar at one of these understated gems—just don’t tell anyone where you are.
Step into the ethereal scene inside Big Talbot Island State Park just south of Amelia Island, where salt-dusted skeletons are all that remain of the oak and cedar trees that once guarded this stretch of coast. Stroll the shore and take note of the scent of the maritime forests directly behind the towering sand dunes.
Stay: Enjoy a sprawling, crescent-shaped pool deck overlooking 1.5 miles of beachfront at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Golfers flock to its 18 holes of PGA Championship golf surrounded by marshes and moss-covered oaks.
Only accessible by ferry, this barrier isle is both rustic and remote, so expect to have its seven miles of beaches practically to yourself. While travelers flock to nearby Sanibel Island for some of the world’s top shelling, Cayo Costa doesn’t disappoint. Master the locals’ “stoop” (head down, back bent) as you scan for the junonia, a rare shell in the shape of a tulip.
Stay: Camp on the beach or in one of the island’s primitive cabins. Plan B: The sprawling South Seas Island Resort on nearby Captiva Island is home to one of the country’s top sailing schools.
Santa Rosa Beach
You’ll think you’ve stumbled into the Caribbean when you first gaze at this 26-mile stretch of north Florida beach, which draws comparisons to both Aruba and Curaçao. Quartz crystals wash down from the Appalachian Mountains, collecting here and making the sugar-white sand sparkle. The gemstone-hued water explains the area’s moniker as Florida’s Emerald Coast—its calm, flat surface is perfect for paddle-boarding.
Stay: Cottages and villas surround the main square in the West Indies-inspired town of Rosemary Beach, home to bookshops, boutiques, and cafes with a penchant for Southern cooking.
Want more secret beaches? Read the rest of this article on travelandleisure.com.