Beach lovers know not all beaches are created equal. The best beaches are the comfy kind where you can plop down on the sand and stretch out - without a blankie even because the sand is that soft and warm. The kind you'll find in Naples, Florida. It's a beach lovers' paradise here, a place where people squeeze every last drop of shine from the sun before calling it a day.
I live in Naples because it's the one place - the only place - I've loved coming home after traveling to more exotic places around the globe. With so many gorgeous beaches here, it's not hard to see why, and if you follow my Instagram, you'll recognize the sunset and beach pics sprinkled in between the other places my travels take me. Nine times out of ten, those pics are in Naples.
What makes the Naples Florida beaches so great? First and foremost, the soft, white sand. It's comfy to walk on with little to no debris, rocks, or seaweed. From early spring to late summer, the water is especially calm and generally clear enough to see your feet. Naples' location right on the Gulf of Mexico gives it those direct warm sea breezes, helpful for keeping no-see-ums and other ankle biters at bay. Shelling here is excellent, as is skimboarding and other watersports. Surfers and kiteboarders love it during the winter and hurricane season when waves are kicking up a bit more. So which is the best beach in Naples, Florida? Here are just 7 of my favorites, with something to make everyone in the family happy!
1. Delnor Wiggins State Park
There’s a reason Delnor Wiggins State Park is consistently rated one of the area’s best beaches. It’s one of the most natural stretches of dunes and protected beaches in Naples. Visitors have several beaches to choose from as you drive in. Walking paths wind their way through secluded dunes, and there are several picnic areas with tables throughout. There’s even a small watchtower to climb for a beautiful view over the north end of the Park. Fishing only is allowed at the northernmost beach, and swimmers should respect any anglers - rods out mean there are lures in the water, and whatever’s chasing them not far behind! State Park entrance fee. 11135 Gulfshore Drive, Naples, FL
2. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park
Often touted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, unspoiled Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs could well be the poster child for beaches in all of southwest Florida and one of the last undeveloped barrier islands here. You’ll wind your way through multi-million dollar homes on the way to the Park, and the wide white sand beaches are idyllic with shallow water, making it great for families. A one mile nature trail runs among the dunes where you can view gopher tortoises and even nesting turtles in the summer. This is a paddlers paradise and a concession stand offers canoe and kayak rentals for mangrove paddling on the inland side of the beach. Parking fee for non-residents. 503 Barefoot Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL
3. Clam Pass Beach Park
Part of the fun of visiting the beach at Clam Pass is the nearly mile long boardwalk running out to the beach through the mangroves, making it a secluded beach experience. Park in the lot just beyond the Naples Grande Hotel and take the free tram which runs every 15 minutes.
Or take your time and walk, enjoying the nature trail along the way. Clam Pass offers beautiful white sand beaches, great shelling, and calm water - though some of the beach can get narrow at high tide. At the north end of the beach you'll find the Pass, an inlet where calm waters of a back lagoon reach the ocean, and a perfect spot to explore, wade, fish, and kayak. There are picnic areas, a snack bar, public restrooms, and outdoor showers. You can also rent beach chairs, cabanas, kayaks and other watersport equipment. Parking fee for non-residents. Seagate Drive and Crayton Road, Naples FL
4. Seagate Beach
Seagate is a popular spot to catch sunset for locals and visitors alike. Head toward Venetian Village at Park Shore, and turn right onto Gulfshore Drive, then park at the small parking area at the very end. A long pavered pathway leading to the beach is dotted with benches - a lovely place to sit a spell before the main event. At sunset you’ll see locals coming straight from work peeling off jackets and shoes asking “did I miss it?” moments before the sun waves goodbye to the day. Neapolitans take their sunsets very seriously! 100 Seagate Drive, Naples FL
5. Lowdermilk Park
A must-see for any visitor to Naples is Lowdermilk Park, in central Naples. Located in one of the most beautiful residential districts in town, Lowdermilk offers clean wide beaches, plenty of parking, public restrooms, and a very good snack bar and concession stand which also rents kayaks and stand-up paddle boards by the hour. But the best part about Lowdermilk - and the reason I always bring visiting friends and family here - are the 8 thatched roof palapas that are free and up for grabs to the earliest risers. They’re shady enough for the whole family! Get there early (generally before 7:30am) to claim one. Bonus: early risers will also be treated to a wildlife show - this is the prime time of the day to spot turtles and dolphins swimming right off the beach in the summer months. Parking fee for non-residents. 1301 Gulfshore Blvd N, Naples FL
6. 3rd Avenue Beach
Not far from the bustle of glitzy 5th Avenue in downtown Naples is the 3rd Avenue Beach (not to be confused with 3rd Street South), a perfect place to retreat to after (or during) a day of shopping 'til you drop. There are remnants of an old pier here which makes for good sunset photo ops and it's quiet. This is a great option for split interest families - shoppers and beachcombers. Find a central parking spot and everyone can do what they wish and meet up for sunset! 3rd Avenue South, Naples, FL
7. Naples Pier Beach
Don’t let the reputation of the iconic Naples Pier impact your decision to spend your day at the beach right here. It can get a little crowded here in season (December through April) but there’s plenty of parking around my favorite shopping district of 3rd Street South. Spend the day strolling the beautiful shops and streets, grab a late lunch, then head to the Naples Pier Beach at 12th Ave. South. Many visitors come to Naples just to walk the famous long Pier and then go on their way to shopping or dinner reservations. The beach at the Naples Pier is one of the loveliest in the town, with plenty of action to keep the whole family busy for the day. Get there early if it’s going to be a scorcher and you may even score one of the shady spots right under the Pier. There are 4 or 5 coveted shady areas to lay out a blanket and spend the day, but be forewarned against the occasional sprinkle of sand from shuffling feet above. 12th Avenue South, Naples, FL
Truth be told, all of the beaches in southwest Florida from Sanibel Island down to the Ten Thousand Islands are beautiful in one way or another and worth a visit. These 7 are perfect for one visit!
What's YOUR favorite beach in Naples?