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Beaches in Florida
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, and smack in the middle of the Gulf Stream, the beaches of the West Coast offer warm, calm seas, and are generally regarded as very safe for swimmers. Try to stay late because the sunsets here are nothing short of spectacular. The most popular beaches are St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Both are famous for well groomed white sands, and their delightful mix of resort amenities and relaxed beach living. (2 hours drive). To get away from the crowds, drive a little further south to Longboat Key, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, Naples, and Marco Island (A drive of just 3 to 4 hours).
East Coast Beaches
This is the place to go for surfing. The East Coast beaches offer the best waves (they generally get better the further north you go), and the Atlantic water is a tad cooler here than at the other beaches.
Daytona Beach is a wide, flat beach where you can drive your car onto the sand. That explains why Daytona is the home of "Race Week" and the Daytona 500 in February, and "Bike Week" in March (1 - 2 hours drive). Cocoa Beach, home to the 'Ron Jon's Surf Shop' is the closest beach to Orlando, (1 hour drive). South of Daytona, New Smyrna Beach is also wide and flat with vehicle access, but much less crowded than its northern neighbor (1¼ hour drive). Melbourne Beach is easily reached from the Kissimmee area, and offers a clean narrow beach more popular with locals than tourists (1½ hour drive).
Links to just two most popular beach sites