Unwind with the Best Beaches Near Disney World, Florida

Beach Near Disney World
by Vacation Central Florida

Are you planning a family vacation to Walt Disney World Resort? While the theme parks offer excitement and adventure, sometimes you need a break from the hustle and bustle. Luckily, Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and many of them are just a short drive away from Disney World. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best beaches near Disney World, both on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast, so you can add some sun, sand, and relaxation to your Disney vacation.

Overview of Beaches Near Disney World

When it comes to choosing a beach near Disney World, there are several options to consider. The closest beach to Disney World is Cocoa Beach, located just over an hour east of Orlando. With its miles of pristine coastline and vibrant surf culture, Cocoa Beach is a paradise for surfers and beach lovers.

Other nearby beaches on the Atlantic coast include Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and Canaveral National Seashore. These beaches offer a variety of features and attractions, from family-friendly amenities to unspoiled natural beauty.

If you prefer the Gulf coast, there are also stunning beaches within driving distance of Disney World. Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key are two popular options on the Gulf side, known for their powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters.

Importance of Choosing the Right Beach

Choosing the right beach near Disney World is essential to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience. Factors such as proximity to Disney World, amenities, water conditions, and attractions should all be considered when making your decision.

For families with kids who love marine biology and wildlife, Sarasota is a fantastic choice. With its proximity to Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, this beach offers opportunities for eco-tours and learning about Florida's diverse marine life.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a classic beach experience with plenty of activities and dining options, Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach are excellent choices. These beaches are known for their lively atmosphere, water sports, and vibrant beachfront communities.

Beaches on the Atlantic Coast

Cocoa Beach

Location and Distance from Disney World

Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Disney World, located just over an hour east of Orlando. Its convenient location makes it the perfect choice for a day trip from Disney World.

Features and Attractions

Cocoa Beach is a local favorite and offers miles of pristine beaches with plenty of activities. Whether you're a surfer looking for great waves or a family seeking a fun-filled day at the beach, Cocoa Beach has something for everyone. The Caribbean-style teal blue ocean and soft white sand make this beach a paradise for relaxation and recreation.

In addition to its natural beauty, Cocoa Beach also boasts a variety of family-friendly restaurants and attractions. Dolphin watching, bike riding, and fishing are popular activities in the area. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, where you can enjoy stunning ocean views, dine at waterfront restaurants, and even catch live music performances.

Daytona Beach

Location and Distance from Disney World

Daytona Beach is located just over an hour northeast of Disney World, making it another convenient option for a day trip.

Features and Attractions

Daytona Beach is famous for its expansive shoreline, perfect for long walks and beach games. The hard-packed sand also allows for driving on the beach, a unique experience that you won't find in many other places. If you're a motorsports enthusiast, don't miss the chance to visit the Daytona International Speedway, home to the iconic Daytona 500.

In addition to its beautiful beaches, Daytona Beach offers a lively boardwalk with amusement rides, arcades, and souvenir shops. The Daytona Beach Pier is a popular spot for fishing and enjoying panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. With its mix of natural beauty and entertainment options, Daytona Beach is a great choice for families and thrill-seekers alike. If you're looking for a break from the beach, there are plenty of other attractions to explore in Daytona Beach. The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum is a must-visit for history buffs and offers stunning views of the coastline from the top. For a more low-key experience, head to the nearby Marine Science Center, where you can learn about local marine life and even meet sea turtles up close. And if you're a golfer, Daytona Beach has some of the best courses in the state, including the LPGA International and the Daytona Beach Golf Club. With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that Daytona Beach is a popular vacation destination year-round.

New Smyrna Beach

Location and Distance from Disney World

New Smyrna Beach is located just over an hour east of Disney World, making it easily accessible for a day trip.

Features and Attractions

New Smyrna Beach offers a laid-back atmosphere and a wide stretch of sandy shoreline. This beach is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions, attracting surfers from all over the world. If you're new to the sport, there are surf schools and rental shops available for beginners.

If you prefer a more relaxed beach experience, you can simply soak up the sun, swim in the clear waters, or take a leisurely stroll along the shore. New Smyrna Beach also has a charming downtown area with unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants, perfect for exploring after a day at the beach. For those who enjoy fishing, New Smyrna Beach has plenty of opportunities to cast a line. The nearby Mosquito Lagoon is a popular spot for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, with a variety of fish species to catch. You can also go on a fishing charter for a more guided and adventurous experience. Additionally, nature lovers can explore the Canaveral National Seashore, just a short drive from New Smyrna Beach. This protected area boasts diverse wildlife, including sea turtles, manatees, and over 300 bird species, making it a great spot for birdwatching and wildlife photography.

Canaveral National Seashore

Location and Distance from Disney World

Canaveral National Seashore is located near Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, offering a unique coastal wilderness experience.

Features and Attractions

As a national seashore, Canaveral is known for its unspoiled beauty and abundant wildlife. With nearly 60,000 acres of land, this area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities such as camping, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, surfing, and hiking are among the best ways to explore this protected area.

Canaveral National Seashore is home to two popular beaches: Apollo Beach and Playalinda Beach. These beaches are cherished for their pristine, undeveloped landscapes and abundant wildlife, making them perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and connect with nature. Keep in mind that parking can be limited at these beaches, so it's a good idea to arrive early. In addition to the beaches, visitors to Canaveral National Seashore can also explore historic sites and learn about the area's rich cultural heritage. One such site is Eldora State House, a restored 1913 Cracker-style house that offers a glimpse into Florida's pioneer past. Another popular spot is the Turtle Mound, one of the largest prehistoric shell middens in the United States. This ancient mound is believed to have been created by the Timucuan Indians over 800 years ago and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Whether you're interested in history or just want to enjoy the great outdoors, Canaveral National Seashore has something for everyone.

Beaches on the Gulf Coast

Anna Maria Island

Location and Distance from Disney World

Anna Maria Island is located about two hours southwest of Disney World on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Features and Attractions

With its laid-back atmosphere and stunning turquoise waters, Anna Maria Island offers a true Gulf Coast paradise. The island features miles of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

Anna Maria Island is also home to a variety of family-friendly restaurants and activities. Dolphin watching, bike riding, and fishing are popular pastimes in the area. With its charming beachfront communities and diverse range of activities, Anna Maria Island is an ideal destination for families seeking a peaceful and picturesque beach vacation. Apart from its scenic beauty, Anna Maria Island is also known for its rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. The island was discovered by a wealthy businessman who saw the potential of this land as a tourist destination. Since then, it has transformed into a popular vacation spot that attracts tourists from all over the world. One of the unique features of Anna Maria Island is that it has managed to retain its old-world charm despite the influx of tourists. The island's architecture reflects the influence of various cultures, including Spanish, Cuban, and Italian. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the streets lined with quaint shops and cafes that offer a glimpse into the island's past. Overall, Anna Maria Island offers an unparalleled experience that combines natural beauty, history, and modern amenities.

Siesta Key

Location and Distance from Disney World

Siesta Key is another popular Gulf Coast beach destination, located approximately two hours southwest of Disney World.

Features and Attractions

Renowned for its powdery white quartz sand, Siesta Key offers a unique beach experience that's perfect for relaxation. The calm, crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, while the gentle waves make it a great spot for learning to paddleboard or kayak.

Siesta Key Village, the island's vibrant shopping and dining district, is home to a variety of restaurants, boutiques, and nightlife options. Whether you're looking to indulge in fresh seafood or sip cocktails by the water, Siesta Key provides a diverse range of dining and entertainment options for vacationers. In addition to its stunning beaches and bustling village, Siesta Key also boasts a rich cultural scene. The island is home to the Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle, a weekly gathering of musicians, dancers, and spectators who come together to celebrate the beauty of the beach and the power of music. Visitors can also explore the local art galleries and studios, which showcase the work of talented artists from around the area. For those interested in history, the Siesta Key Historical Society Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the island's past, with exhibits and artifacts that highlight the unique heritage of this beloved destination.

Other Gulf Coast Beaches

Locations and Distances from Disney World

There are several other stunning Gulf Coast beaches within driving distance of Disney World, including St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Sarasota. Each of these destinations offers its own unique charm and attractions, making them ideal for a day trip or extended stay.

Features and Attractions

St. Pete Beach is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and vibrant arts scene, while Clearwater Beach offers a wide range of recreational activities, including fishing and parasailing. Sarasota, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for nature lovers and eco-tour enthusiasts, with its access to the diverse ecosystems of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you're seeking a quiet beach retreat or a lively coastal city, the Gulf Coast has something for everyone. Make sure to explore the unique features and attractions of each beach to find the perfect destination for your family vacation. If you're looking for a more secluded and serene setting, Anna Maria Island on the Gulf Coast is the ideal getaway. With its pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, it's the perfect spot for beachcombing, kayaking, and snorkeling. In addition to that, explore its rich history by visiting the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum, which houses artifacts and exhibits tracing back to the island's early settlers. If you're lucky, you may even spot some dolphins or manatees while lounging on the beach. Whatever your preferences are, the Gulf Coast has a wide array of options for every discerning traveler.

How to Choose the Perfect Beach

Tips for Making the Right Choice

To help you make the right choice, here are some tips:

·         Consider the preferences and interests of everyone in your family.

·         Read reviews and recommendations from other travelers.

·         Check weather conditions and water quality reports before your visit.

·         Plan your visit during off-peak times to avoid crowds.

·         Pack essentials such as sunscreen, towels, and snacks.

By considering these factors and following these tips, you can choose the perfect beach near Disney World that suits your family's needs and preferences.

Final Thoughts on Beaches Near Disney World


Adding a beach day to your Disney World vacation can provide a refreshing and relaxing break from the theme parks. Whether you choose to visit the lively beaches on the Atlantic coast, such as Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach, or opt for the tranquil shores of the Gulf coast, such as Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key Beach, you're sure to create lasting memories with your family.

Remember to consider factors such as proximity, amenities, water conditions, and attractions when choosing the perfect beach for your family. Each beach has its own unique features and attractions, so take the time to explore and discover what makes each one special.

Whether you're lounging on the powdery white sand of Clearwater Beach or exploring the unspoiled beauty of Canaveral National Seashore, these beaches near Disney World offer a welcome retreat from the excitement of the theme parks. So grab your swimsuit, pack some sunscreen, and get ready to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you still have questions about the best beaches near Disney World, here are some FAQs to help:

Q: How far are these beaches from Disney World?

A: The distance varies depending on the beach, but most of these beaches are within a 1-2 hour drive from Disney World.

Q: Are these beaches family-friendly?

A: Yes, these beaches are great for families. Many of them have calm waters and soft sand, making them perfect for kids to play in.

Q: Are there any fees to access these beaches?

A: Some beaches may have parking or entrance fees, so it’s best to check ahead of time. However, many of these beaches are free to access.

Q: Can we rent beach equipment at these beaches?

A: Yes, many of these beaches offer rentals for beach chairs, umbrellas, and other equipment. However, it’s always a good idea to bring your own if possible.

Q: Are there any restaurants or food options near these beaches?

A: Yes, most of the beaches near Disney World have a variety of restaurants and food options nearby. From casual beachfront eateries to fine dining establishments, you'll find something to satisfy your cravings.