7 Best Beaches Near Gainesville, FL

June 20th, 2023

7 Best Beaches Near Gainesville, FL

Best Beaches Near Gainesville

Are you looking for the best beaches near Gainesville, FL? Visit these ten great beaches near Gainesville. 

Located in Northern Florida, the beautiful city of Gainesville might not have its own beaches, but luckily the city is situated near some of the best beaches that Florida has to offer. Found closest to the Atlantic Coast, taking a day trip to the beach is easy and convenient since Gainesville is within an hour and a half drive to white sand and stunning blue water. 

Best known as the home of the University of Florida, Gainesville is the perfect place to live if you are searching for affordable housing, top-rated amenities, excellent restaurants, tons of entertainment options, and of course, proximity to the coast. Many college students, young professionals, and families call Gainesville home, particularly for its small college-town atmosphere and driving distance to the beach. 

If you are moving to Gainesville and are concerned about being landlocked, there is no need to worry. Whether you enjoy sunbathing, shelling, fishing, or participating in water sports activities, having fun in the sun with friends and family is possible at one of the top-rated beaches near Gainesville. 

Here are some of the best beaches near Gainesville 

Flagler Beach 

Location: Flagler County 


  • Boat ramp
  • Campgrounds
  • Picnic pavilion
  • Canoe and kayak launch
  • Shower station
  • Restroom facilities
  • Pet-friendly access
  • Fishing pier 

Parking: Five free parking lots are available.

Flagler Beach in Flagler County is a beautiful beach located 50 minutes south of St. Augustine and about two hours east of Gainesville. Even though it is part of the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach metropolitan statistical area, Flagler Beach is considered one of the best beaches near Gainesville. An excellent place for a day or weekend trip, many residents from Gainesville love visiting the area to enjoy fun in the sun. 

Located along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, Flagler Beach is beloved for its friendly people and laid-back atmosphere. Flagler Beach is a true gem in Florida, featuring multiple free accesses to the beach, a fishing pier, many open-air restaurants, and shops. Flagler Beach is a must-visit with friends and family, a great place to be for beachcombing, fishing, sunbathing, walking, and enjoying fantastic views of the water. 

For those visiting who love horseback riding, check out Equestrian Adventures of Florida. This horseback riding touring company offers visitors the chance to horseback ride on the beach during low tide in the surf and sand. Beach rides are $135 per hour per person, and there must be at least two riders. 

Flagler Beach, Florida waves on the rocks

Jacksonville Beach

Location: Jacksonville, Florida 


  • Sheltered picnic areas 
  • Oceanfront park
  • Sand volleyball court 
  • Handicapped accessible ramp 
  • Two dune walkovers
  • Children's playground
  • Boardwalk
  • Fishing pier

Parking: Free parking is available to residents, and paid parking is open to visitors for $3 for the first two hours and $1 per hour for every additional hour for a maximum of $7. 

Jacksonville Beach in Jacksonville, Florida, is a top-rated and expansive beach that attracts many visitors daily and is only 17 miles from Downtown. Found in Duval County on Florida's Northeast Atlantic Coast, Jacksonville Beach offers many fun things to do all year round. Known for having some of the best waves in the region, many people flock to this beach for surfing and other water sports activities. 

Known for having more shoreline than any other city in the nation, Jacksonville Beach is home to a popular fishing pier that is 1,300 feet long, a world-class golf course, and no shortage of activities and entertainment. Whether you enjoy playing beach volleyball, fishing, shelling, jet skiing, boating, sunbathing, or watching the sunset, Jacksonville Beach is the place to be for a great day by the water.

Also home to many delicious restaurants, local shops, family-friendly parks, and recreational activities, every day is perfect in Jacksonville Beach. Many people love visiting Jacksonville Beach for its pet-friendly beach accesses and stunning views. 

Jacksonville Beach, Florida, aerial view of the water and condos

Amelia Island 

Location: Nassau County, Florida 


  • Shower station 
  • Equestrian trail
  • Wildlife viewing 
  • Shelling
  • Fishing areas 
  • Picnic areas

Parking: Entrance fees are $2 per person, and 4x4 beach driving access is available. 

Amelia Island in Nassau County is part of a chain of barrier islands on North Florida's Atlantic Coast with 13 miles of pristine beaches. This barrier Island sanctuary is a popular destination for families, retirees, and anyone looking for a relaxing getaway. 

Worth the visit, Amelia Island is home to numerous luxury resorts, beautiful golf courses, pristine waters, stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and uncrowded beaches. Open from 8 AM to sundown daily, this Island is the perfect place to surf, fish, horseback ride, paddleboard, kayak, shell, look for shark teeth, relax, and take a pleasant stroll. 

Described as a true paradise filled with plenty of outdoor adventures, Amelia Island is full of family-friendly activities and fun for all ages. Offering tons of top-rated seafood restaurants, unique places to stay, wildlife viewing, and several unique experiences, this Island is a place unlike any other. 

Amelia Island aerial view during beautiful orange sunset

Crescent Beach

Location: St. Johns County, Florida 


  • Picnic gazebos 
  • Restroom facilities
  • Footbridges 
  • Walkover points 
  • Dune crossovers

Parking: Convenient parking is available with handicapped accessibility. Driving on the beach is permitted from May 1st through September 30th from 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM and October 1st through April 30th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 

Crescent Beach is a census-designated place in Anastasia Island, Florida, just south of St. Augustine and east of Gainesville. Named after its crescent shape, Crescent Beach is best known for its beautiful white sand and family-friendly shoreline on the Atlantic Coast. 

A popular tourist attraction and vacation destination, this beach at the southern end of Florida's Historic Coast offers a quiet, friendly, welcoming beach vibe. Home to many safe and laid-back residential areas, Crescent Beach, is beloved by locals and tourists alike. 

Described as a small community with many great restaurants, local shops, beach accesses, and parks, there is always something to do in Crescent Beach. Whether you enjoy relaxing on the beach or participating in water sports activities, some of the best things to do here include surfing, swimming, boogie boarding, bike riding, beach volleyball, and kayaking. 

Crescent Beach aerial view of blue water and beach houses

Tigertail Beach 

Location: Marco Island, Florida 


  • Picnic areas 
  • Playground 
  • Restroom facilities
  • Volleyball court 
  • Boardwalk
  • Beach equipment rentals

Parking: $10 a day per vehicle or $1.50 per hour for non-beach parking pass holders. There are 226 parking spaces available.

Tigertail Beach in Marco Island, Florida, is a must-visit beach for adventurers and ocean lovers. Though this beach is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Gainesville on the Gulf Coast of Florida, traveling to Tigertail Beach for a long weekend or during summer break is worth the travel time. 

Surrounded by mangrove islands and the Everglades, Tigertail Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida for its white sand, tidal pools, spectacular sunsets, and stunning views. As a stop along the Great Florida Birding Trail, Tigertail Beach is Ideal for bird watching, shelling, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, picnicking, playing, and relaxing. 

Named after the shape of the sand bar, the only way to access the undeveloped sands of the beach is to wade through the shallow lagoon waters or to rent a kayak or paddleboard. Once across the lagoon, visitors will be met with excellent shelling opportunities, soft white sand, and dolphins swimming just offshore.

Open year-round from 8 AM to sunset, Tigertail Beach is home to various wildlife, including horseshoe crabs, needlefish, dolphins, osprey, and pelicans. Unfortunately, dogs or other pets are not permitted. 

Neptune Beach 

Location: Duval County, Florida 


  • Great surfing conditions
  • Beautiful sunrises 
  • Fishing areas 
  • Small-town feel 
  • Clear water

Parking: Residents can register their vehicle with the North Beaches Parking Program to take advantage of free parking in designated parking spaces for up to three hours. 

Neptune Beach is a small coastal community that is situated between Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach in Florida. An hour and a half drive from Gainesville, Neptune Beach is a welcoming and beautiful community in Duval County that is a great place to relax and enjoy the cool ocean breeze. 

Spanning about seven square miles and only home to just over 7,000 residents, this beloved northeast Florida beach is the perfect oceanfront destination full of history and charm. Not only is Neptune Beach home to the oldest bar in the area, but this sought-after vacation destination is full of exciting activities, dining options, and local shopping opportunities. 

Attracting tons of new residents and visitors for its friendly residential atmosphere, pristine beachfront, and family-friendly parks, it is no surprise that Neptune Beach is one of the most popular beaches around Jacksonville and near Gainesville. Offering stunning pink and orange sunrises, tranquil days by the water, and quiet nights, make sure to add Neptune Beach to your Florida beach bucket list. 

Vilano Beach

Location: St. Johns County, Florida 


  • Restroom facilities 
  • Showers
  • Dune walkovers
  • Pavillions 
  • Seasonal lifeguards

Parking: Off-beach parking and limited on-beach parking and driving access are available from March 1st to the end of September. 

Vilano Beach is a census-designated place North of St. Augustine, North of the Matanzas Inlet, and an hour and a half drive east of Gainesville. Described as a quiet coastal community on the Atlantic Coast and considered one of St. Augustine's best-kept secrets, Vilano Beach is a lovely area perfect for your next family vacation or romantic getaway. 

Due to its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings, Vilano Beach has been a favorite among the locals for a long time. Offering spectacular sunsets and plenty of fun activities, including surfing, skimboarding, fishing, jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and wildlife viewing, the fun never ends in this popular beach town. 

The Vilano Beach Pier is located here, which is accessible to the public and is an excellent spot for fishing, watching the sunset, and looking out over the water and also features multiple events throughout the year, such as the Vilano Beach Artisan Market Walk, the Vilano Bridge Run, and the Whiskey, Wine, and Wildlife Festival

Dogs are permitted on the beach as long as they are kept on a leash at all times. 

Vilano Beach aerial view on a beautiful sunny day


As one of the best places to live in Florida, here are some common questions about the best beaches near Gainesville. 

What is the closest beach to the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL? 

The closest beach to the University of Florida is Crescent Beach which is located just south of St. Augustine on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. 

What is the distance between Gainesville and the beach? 

Gainesville, Florida, is 72.78 miles from the Atlantic Coast, making spending the day at the beach easy and convenient. 

What is the prettiest ocean water in Florida? 

Best known for its clear water and white sand, Palm Beach on the east coast is home to some of the prettiest ocean water in Florida, perfect for boating, fishing, diving, and other water activities. 

What is the most laid-back beach in Florida? 

Key Biscayne is considered one of the most beautiful and scenic beaches in Florida, best known for its stunning views, delicious restaurants, and nature preserves. 

The Best Beaches Near Gainesville, FL - Final Thoughts

Not only is Gainesville one of the cheapest places to live in Florida but Gainesville is located near some of the best beaches in Florida. If you are moving to Florida and would like to call Gainesville home, whether for its beaches or beautiful real estate, then please get in touch with one of our knowledgeable Realty Specialists. UpHomes is ready to help you find your dream home in this wonderful college town that is only a quick drive to the Atlantic coast. Please feel free to contact us today. We are always ready to help and answer questions. 

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.

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