Disney World, Trip Planning

Beaches Near Disney World: 13 Gorgeous Picks!

July 20, 2023

Have you been on the hunt for beaches near Disney World that’ll give you a break from waiting in line? Join me as I uncover the absolute best beach spots near the parks that’ll have you relaxing and recharging in no time!

It’s no secret that most of us visit Disney World for incredible rides, themed treats, and a bunch of family fun.

But a week or two at Disney can be exhausting.

As well as walking miles and busting your belly by eating and drinking around the world, the constant crowds can be testing.

And don’t even get me started on waking up early to meet the 7 AM siren call of Genie + (if you know, you know!).

So, I’ve decided to round up a list of the finest beaches near Disney World that’ll help you recharge those batteries.

From kid-friendly hotspots to oases for couples, these picks on both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts are top-notch!

Oh, and you might even be lucky enough to spot some of Florida’s most gorgeous local wildlife!

Can you say score?

How to Choose Which Beaches Near Disney World to Visit

Before diving into my rundown of beaches near Disney World, let’s take a look at the factors to consider before shortlisting spots.

Gulf Coast vs. Atlantic Coast

This is more of a location-based thing, but you’ll want to decide whether you want to explore the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Coast.

The Atlantic Coast is THE place to be for water sports as the waves are unbeatable.

But the Gulf Coast is far better if you’re visiting the beaches near Disney World for sandy beaches and clear waters.

I’d say that the Gulf Coast is a better pick for families with younger children as the water is warmer and more tranquil.

That doesn’t mean the Atlantic Coast won’t work for families, but they tend to be more surf-heavy!

Kid-Friendly vs. Adult-Friendly

Most of the beaches near Disney World are completely kid-friendly (and none of them explicitly discourage children!).

But it’s always worth checking what the most suitable beach is for your specific needs.

Whether that means scouting out picnic tables or looking for a more secluded spot as a couple, it’s always good to do your research first.


There’s nothing worse than rocking up to a beach and find out that there’s nothing there to do.

Seriously, we’ve all been there (and been stuck without toilet facilities!).

So, you’ll want to weigh up the options on this list carefully before picking a remote spot with no restaurants or attractions.

It’s especially important to choose a Boardwalk-based beach if you’re visiting with kids.

Trust me, it’s a lot easier to distract kids with an ice cream and a meal than drive back on empty stomachs!

But it’s worth noting that most of the beaches near Disney World are right by small and quaint towns.

And that means you’ll never be too far from any creature comforts.


Does Disney World Have a Beach?

Disney World resorts don’t have “official” big beaches like those you’ll find further on in this post.

But there are a few beaches right on Disney World property!

You’ll find these beaches at:

  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort (the clue’s in the name!)
  • Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Polynesian Resort

They’re nowhere near as large as the beaches near Disney World, but they’re great for dipping your toes in some sand!

13 Best Beaches Near Disney World

1: Clearwater Beach

Distance from Disney World: 92 miles

When it comes to the best beaches near Disney World that are naturally beautiful, Clearwater Beach takes the cake.

This is a Gulf Coast spot that’s approximately 2 hours from Disney World via the I-4.

The traffic can be a bit of a drag on the way here (which is why you’ll rarely get here in the advertised 1 hour and 40 minutes). But you’ll typically be fine if you’re visiting outside of the peak summer season.

What I love about this beach is the fact that it’s incredibly family-friendly.

Not only can you go paddle boarding and kayaking, but the wonderful Pier 60 offers crafts, live music, and dance performances!

So, kids certainly won’t complain about being bored after a couple of hours on the beach.

I recommend spending at least a couple of hours exploring the popular Promenade and hitting the Clearwater Aquarium.

But otherwise, you can do virtually anything you feel like (including hitting the glorious restaurants!).

As most of the eateries here are incredibly popular, it’s worth booking tables at spots like Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill.

If all else fails though, Guppy’s is a great casual option that usually serves quickly and has a good turnover rate of tables.

I’ve rarely ever waited that long for a table – even at busy times!

2: Madeira Beach

Distance from Disney World: 96.7 miles via I-4 W

Madeira Beach is one of the best beaches near Disney World that’s tucked right on the Gulf Coast.

It’s easy to hit Madeira and St. Pete Beach on the same day as they’re just 11 minutes from each other (5.1 miles!).

I’d say that this was an excellent beach to check out if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the parks.

And that’s because it’s largely seen as a local hotspot with plenty of sunbathing space and a relatively relaxed atmosphere.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to do around here!

For one thing, this beach boasts an impressive 1100-foot boardwalk that’s packed with over 100 stores.

But you can also head to the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center, R.O.C Park, or Hubbard’s Marina for Deep Sea Fishing!

And if you’re up for an adult beverage, you can head to The Florida Winery for an award-winning wine slushy! Talk about the perfect way to cool down in that Florida heat.

This is one of the largest beaches near Disney World as it covers an impressive 2 miles across the coast (with miles of soft sand!).

All in all, it’s the perfect family-friendly beach that can easily fill a day or two if you have some time to spare between park days.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s home to Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf which is an amazing spot for mini golf in Orlando?


3: Melbourne Beach

Distance from Disney World: 81.7 miles

Next on my list of the best beaches near Disney World, it’s the lesser-known Melbourne Beach.

This beach is just under an hour and a half from Disney World via FL-528 E and I-95 S (or 81.7 miles!).

Despite being relatively close to the Disney Parks, this spot feels world’s away from the high-octane vibe of Lake Buena Vista.

And hey, it’s adored by surfers and sunbathers alike as the wind and waves here are amazing.

I’d say that this place was a great pit-stop if you’re planning to stop by the Kennedy Space Center as it’s just 35 miles away.

Plus, you can easily take a break from the sand to visit Brevard Zoo or Sebastian Inlet State Park!

It’s not quite as popular as other beaches near Disney World, which makes it an excellent place to visit for a true escape.

But you should know that it’s a large nesting ground for sea turtles between May and October.

So, visitor numbers tend to see a major uptick and you’ll need to be mindful of the sea turtles and keep the sand unobstructed.

Top Tip

If you’re planning to visit Melbourne Beach, I suggest heading over to Curtis Byrd Park to take advantage of the free parking. It’s super close to the beach and is an easy place to dump your car for the day. Just remember to rock up early before all the spaces evaporate!

4: Daytona Beach

Distance from Disney World: 71.4 miles

Daytona Beach is one of the beaches near Disney World that are 100% worth your time (and gas!).

This spot is approximately an hour and 15 minutes from Disney World via I-4 Express and I-4 E.

It’s slightly less family-friendly than other options on this list as it’s typically seen as one of Orlando’s typical party beaches.

I wouldn’t say it’s completely unsuitable for Disney-loving tykes, but I wouldn’t head here during major holidays or Spring Break.

Just trust me on that one – the Daytona 500 is tricky to navigate and there’ll be a lot of drunken revelry happening nearby!

Despite being a party haven for some visitors, this place isn’t packed to the brim with cheap hostels.

Instead, you’ll find a collection of luxurious spots like the Hard Rock Hotel, The Daytona, and the Daytona Grande.

These are all excellent resorts on the beachfront, meaning you won’t need to rush back to the parks if you’re feeling wiped!

Between those hours on the balmy sands, you can head to the Boardwalk or the Ponce Inlet (with its glorious lighthouse!).

There’s also a Marine Science Center and the famous Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory which kiddos adore.

And hey, there’s nothing stopping you heading to Tuscawilla Park for a spot of ziplining if you’re an adrenaline junkie.

It certainly makes a change from zipping around on the fastest rides at Disney World!

5. Cocoa Beach

Distance from Disney World: 65.4 miles

One of the most popular beaches near Disney World is Cocoa Beach – and it’s easy to see why!

You can reach this beach in just over an hour (approximate 1 hour and 9 minutes!) by taking the FL-528 E.

So, it’s easily doable if you’re planning a day trip to Florida’s Space Coast from Disney World.

Not only is this the absolute closest beach to Disney World, but it’s an incredible place to visit for surfers.

You’ll find a selection of surf schools here (complete with gear rentals, of course!), and the waves are genuinely excellent year-round.

In fact, it’s even been called the East Coast Surfing Capital thanks to its top-notch surf scene.

Although the beach is usually occupied by well-seasoned surfers, you can easily book in lessons for beginners.

If you’re visiting Cocoa Beach and are looking for a unique experience, I highly recommend going on a bio-luminescence tour.

It’s essentially a kayaking tour at nighttime that takes you past the magical bio-luminescent plankton that live around these parts.

It turns the water bright blue and it’s genuinely one of the most incredible things to do at Cocoa Beach.

You’ll be able to reach the beach from Lori Wilson Park, Alan Shepherd Park, Disney Fischer Park or the Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park.

So, take your pick and see where you can grab parking!

Oh, and don’t forget to head to Coconuts on the Beach for an amazing cocktail and a spot of live music.

Top Tips

Although Cocoa Beach is over an hour from Disney World, the drive is super pleasant and easy.

But you DO need to be aware of tolls along the roads – so, come prepared!

Also, I highly recommend heading to Lori Wilson Park while you’re here. It’s perfect if you don’t want to shell out cash for the pier restaurants (they can be PRICEY!).

You can park here for $15/car and you can set up for a relaxed picnic before you head back to your hotel.

6. Vero Beach

Distance from Disney World: 102 miles

If you’re on the hunt for gorgeous beaches near Disney World, you need Vero Beach on your list.

It’s approximately 2 hours from Disney World (depending on traffic!) and is typically less busy than other major beach spots.

You’ll find this spot on the Atlantic Coast and it’s regarded for its water sports and fishing opportunities.

But you’ll also be able to head to the local town to explore its quaint museums, art galleries, and shops!

Believe it or not, this beach is 26 miles long (yep, really!), and the balmy sands and towering palm trees make it feel like the Caribbean.

Well, almost.

It’s by far the closest beach to Disney World if you’re on the hunt for an Atlantic Coast spot.

Plus, this is where you’ll find Disney’s iconic Vero Beach Resort (so, it’s worth the trip for die-hard fans!).

While you’re in town, make sure you check out the Vero Beach Museum of Art and McKee Botanical Gardens.

They’re both family-friendly attractions that’ll set you back very little cash (hey, we’re all strapped on those Disney vacays!).

Oh, and did I mention that you can visit Round Island Beach Park to go manatee-spotting on the area’s many hiking trails?

Speaking of wildlife, make sure you head to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge before leaving. It’s home to pelicans and loggerhead turtles that you might not spot elsewhere in the state!

7. Anastasia State Park

Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/visitsta/

Distance from Disney World: 121 miles

Okay, so Anastasia State Park isn’t the closest beach to Disney World as it’s pretty close to St. Augustine.

That’s over 2 hours from Walt Disney World, BTW.

But believe me when I say that it’s well worth checking out as it’s possibly the most beautiful beach on this list.

You’ll need to pay the regular $8 entrance fee to access the entire park, but there’s tons to do here.

You can go beach-combing, hiking, sunbathing, and even visit the Coquina Quarry if you’re an archaeology buff!

And that’s not all.

You can also explore the many tidal marshes, bird-watching boardwalk, and nature trails around this impressive 16,000-acre state park.

That’s right folks, this place is huge.

Although you’ll probably need to stay overnight as you’re over 2 hours from the parks, it’s worth booking a hotel for – trust me.

The Courtyard by Marriott is always a reliable pick, but any of the hotels in nearby St. Augustine will work!

And hey – there are also a couple of charming little spots on Anastasia Island which are just minutes away.

Top Tip

If you’re planning to swim here, you’ll want to stick carefully to the designated swimming areas. I don’t want to scare you, but the rip currents can get radical around here. So, keep an eye on the rip flags and make sure you know when they move.

8: St. Pete Beach

Distance from Disney World: 95.9 miles

St. Pete Beach is another fabulous clear water beach near Disney World that’s worth checking out.

You’ll find this spot just under 2 hours from Disney World via I-4 W and the drive is relatively painless.

But if you’d like to avoid the tolls, you can take a short detour along the I-27 S!

This is a great beach on the Gulf Coast with glimmering azure water, balmy golden sands, and plenty to do for visitors.

And honestly, the Don CeSar hotel is worth the trip alone as it looks oddly reminiscent of Paris’s Disneyland Hotel.

Don’t worry – I’ll pop in a photo for reference as it’s totally uncanny!

Aside from the hotel, this spot offers sunbathing, swimming, and fishing opportunities as well as classic kayak tours.

If you’re willing to shell out for them, you can also hop on a dolphin cruise (although seeing them is never guaranteed!).

I’d say that Clearwater Beach is a gorgeous spot, but St. Pete is usually WAY quieter in comparison.

So, if you’re not into crowds, this is the place to be.

When you’re not on the beach, you can spend your time at The Salvador Dali Museum, the Sunken Gardens, or Merry Pier!

Whatever you do, make sure you’re reapplying your sunscreen every 2 hours as the UV index here is intense.

9: Siesta Key

Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/jojofll/

Distance from Disney World: 122 miles

Next on my list of the best beaches near Disney World, it’s Siesta Key!

You’ll find this beautiful beach in Sarasota and it’s just under 2 hours from Disney World (well, 1 hour 50 minutes on a good day!).

It’s regarded for its glittering turquoise water, but you’re not likely to scoff at the soft quartz sands either.

Believe it or not, the sand here is 99% quartz. So, it looks truly gorgeous on holiday snaps.

Oh, and the warm breeze and tranquil currents around the Gulf Coast are a huge plus too!

I wouldn’t say that this was one of the most family-friendly beaches near Disney World as it’s serene and laid-back.

It’s not that kids aren’t welcome, it’s just that it exudes Honeymoon energy that kids might disrupt while building sandcastles.

While you’re here, you can ride the Siesta Key Breeze Trolley or shop ‘til you drop at Siesta Key Village!

And hey, you’re not far from Busch Gardens if you want more theme park magic while you’re away from the House of Mouse.

10: Canaveral National Seashore

Distance from Disney World: 86 miles

Canaveral National Seashore is absolutely enormous and spans nearly 60,000 acres near Daytona Beach.

For that reason, it’s super popular with hikers, bikers, and outdoor adventurers of all kinds.

That’s right – this is basically a haven for anyone who’s a fan of Mother Nature’s wonders.

It’s just over an hour and a half from Disney World, which makes it a manageable trip for most families.

Just so you’re aware, Canaveral National Seashore is home to a couple of separate beaches, including Playalinda Beach and Apollo Beach.

Apollo Beach is typically quieter, but it’s a bit lacking on the parking front which might stress out visitors.

I’d also say that Playalinda Beach was a better option for families traveling with kids as it’s slightly more “hopping”.

Although it won’t be the right vibe for everyone, this is one of the beaches near Disney World that’s entirely unspoiled.

Not only will you be able to visit archaeological sites like Turtle Mound (which are prehistoric!), but there’s tons of wildlife around here.

From wild birds to turtles and marine life, you’ll quickly fill up your vacation scrapbook with colorful creatures!

Top Tip

You’re pretty close to the Kennedy Space Center here, so you might even be able to catch a rocket launch! You’ll need to be here at the right time, but it’s certainly a major selling point.

11: New Smyrna Beach

Distance from Disney World: 75 miles

If you’re on the lookout for a stunning Atlantic Coast Beach, New Smyrna Beach should absolutely be on your shortlist.

It’s just over an hour from Walt Disney World (hello, quick road trip!) and is just south of Daytona Beach.

Did somebody say a quick trip to the Daytona International Speedway for a spot of NASCAR?

What makes this one of the best beaches near Disney World is partially down to its beautiful scenery.

But I’d also say a huge selling point was down to the wildlife that resides here.

You’ll often be able to spot dolphins out in the water here, but you’ll also be able to see manatees if you’re visiting at the right time!

If you’re even remotely worried about manatee-spotting, there are designated tours that go out during the fall and winter.

So, don’t stress!

Looking for a change from all that wildlife? Why not catch some waves and hang out around the sandbars?

And if you have time to spare, you can head to the Smyrna Dunes Park and the New Smyrna Museum of History for a hit of culture.

12: Treasure Island

Distance from Disney World: 98 miles

I couldn’t write a list of the best beaches near Disney World without mentioning Treasure Island.

This spot is around 2 hours from Disney World and is a serious hidden gem (well, sort of!).

And don’t worry, you won’t run into Long John Silver or his band of pirates around these parts!

Although this spot is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches and transparent waters, it’s not quite as popular as other areas.

I’m talking to you, Siesta Key and Daytona Beach!

Oh, and it’s worth saying that this is the Sand Sculpture Capital of Florida (a real thing, BTW!).

So, you’re bound to see a few incredible sculptures if you’re visiting during the annual Sanding Ovations event.

This is basically where amazing sculptors come to the Island to build their finest creations (and it’s fabulous).

If you head slightly off the beach, you’ll find the beautiful Gulf Boulevard which is stuffed with boutiques and restaurants.

For visitors who are on the hunt for adrenaline-pumping fun, you can head on a parasailing adventure (for great views!).

Before you head back, you’ll totally want to stick around the sunset here – the sandy beach is the perfect place to perch.

13: Anna Maria Island

Distance from Disney World: 106 miles

The final spot on my list of amazing beaches near Disney World is Anna Maria Island – and it’s a GREAT one.

I won’t go as far as to say that I’ve saved the best for last, but it’s certainly one of the more unique picks on the Gulf Coast.

This beautiful island stretches for seven miles and is perched between the Gulf of Mexico and peninsular Florida.

So, you can expect perfect white-sand beaches and glimmering waters from virtually every angle!

If you want a break from the beach at any point, you can take a stroll over to Historic Bridge Street.

It has a glorious Old Florida feel and the restaurants here are truly fantastic (including Beach House Waterfront Restaurant!).

Prefer going shopping? You can hop over to Bridge Street Jewelers to treat yourself to a handmade piece of bling!

As there are several beaches on the island to explore, you’ll want to shortlist the best options before heading down.

I personally think that Coquina Beach is the best for families, while Bean Point is a great pick for couples.

But honestly, each beach is just as beautiful as the last!

Tips for Visiting Beaches Near Disney World

Always check for parking

There’s nothing worse than trying to scout out a reasonable parking space in an unfamiliar setting.

For that reason, I always recommend checking for several nearby parking options before driving down.

Many beaches will have designated parking lots, but others are a mile or so away at local parks.

It’s good to pick a close parking lot as a first option, but always come with a backup in case it’s full!

Consider heading to places nearby (that aren’t beaches!)

This might sound ridiculous considering this is an article all about the best beaches near Disney World.

But it’s always worth scoping out the relaxing activities at Disney World before hopping in the car!

Most hotels have wonderful pools attached to them, and there are several incredible spas at Disney World for TLC.

You can also find smaller beaches at resorts like the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, and Disney’s Contemporary!

They’re not quite the real deal (obviously!), but they can be close enough if you can’t face leaving the resort.


What Is the Closest Beach to Disney World?

The closest beach to Disney World is Cocoa Beach and it’s 64 miles from Disney World! You can usually cut the time down slightly if you’re driving outside of peak periods. But the overall driving time is just over an hour (around 70 minutes usually!).

What is the closest clear water beach to Disney?

The closest clear water beach to Disney is the aptly named Clearwater Beach or St. Pete Beach! These beaches are both around 1.5 hours from Disney World.

There you have it: the ultimate guide to the best beaches near Disney World!

Have you ever seen any of these beaches up-close? Do you have any questions about particularly beaches? I’d love to hear your thoughts (or help you out!) in the comments below.

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