21 Best Gulf Coast Beaches You Must Visit in 2024

Last Updated on January 04, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Gulf Coast beaches are some of the best in the world. From Florida to Texas, the Gulf Coast offers a variety of stunning beaches that attract tourists from all over. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or family vacation, there's no better place than the best gulf coast beaches.

Are you wondering what the best Gulf Coast beaches are? With an array of breathtakingly gorgeous beaches, planning your next Gulf Coast beach vacation can be difficult. We’re going to use this article to figure it out, looking at all the very best beaches on the Gulf Coast.

We’ll look at a whole range of beaches and check out which are the quietest, prettiest, and best months to visit. This should help ensure you see the nicest beaches out there, no matter how long your trip is or what else is on your itinerary. Without further ado, let's dive into the best beaches on the Gulf Coast.

Best Gulf Coast Beaches

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1: St. Pete Beach, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Florida
Dreamstime/Felix Mizioznikov

If you're looking for the best Gulf Coast beaches, St. Pete Beach in Florida is one of the top ones to visit. It's a stunning sandy beach perfect for lazing around or swimming in the gorgeous emerald waters. Whether you want to sunbathe or go for a cooling dip, you'll fall in love.

There are plenty of restaurants, beach bars, and more, plus live music every day. This makes it perfect for couples who want to bar-hop but also ideal for families. With its stunning washes of sandy dunes, it has to be one of the best white sand beaches on the Gulf Coast, so get out there and build some amazing sand castles!

Address: St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

2: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Anna Maria Island, Florida
Dreamstime/Bonandbon Dw

Anna Maria Island has some of the ultimate clear water beaches on the Gulf Coast, and no matter which parts you go to, you'll see breathtaking scenery and stunning locations. Anna Maria Beach is a charming place to explore, and it's one of the quietest areas, making it ideal for couples who want to take a peaceful, romantic stroll together.

There aren't many facilities, which is partly why it stays quiet, so make sure you bring supplies when you go for a swim here. There's also a pier where you can fish, and the fantastic sand makes the perfect spot for anyone to sit, read, and just enjoy the sunshine. There's so much space you'll feel free from the crowds that can sometimes ruin even the best beach experience.

Address: Anna Maria Island, FL

3: Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf shores is everything you could want in a beach, with 32 miles of pristine sand dunes stretching out and sparkling waters to plunge into. You can go to one of the many restaurants alongside the beach and enjoy phenomenal fresh seafood.

If you're visiting with a family, you'll be pleased to know that there are lots of activities available here, such as water sports, nature trails, and even championship golf. There are also dolphin cruises plus an artificial reef where you can go fishing.

There's also the historic Fort Morgan, which lets visitors take a step into the past and explore the history of the beaches. You'll learn about how the water passages were once protected by cannons and the dangers the beaches faced in past times.

Address: 101 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

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4: Gulfport Beach, Mississippi

Gulfport Beach, Mississippi

With chairs and umbrellas to rent, Gulfport Beach is a super easy one to visit when you don’t want to lug a pile of gear around on a hot day. There’s free parking, and the beach is rarely too crowded to be enjoyable.

You can enjoy all kinds of activities, including flying kites, strolling along the dunes, watching the sun, and splashing around in the tempting water. There aren't many organized activities, which makes this beach ideal if you just want to relax and soak up the sunshine and the salt.

It's one of the best Gulf of Mexico beaches for unwinding and feeling a part of nature. There is a fishing pier for people who want to be a little more active, and you can catch all kinds of interesting fish here. There's also an opportunity for jet skiing, meaning you can make the most of that water.

Address: W Beach Blvd, Gulfport, MS 39501

5: Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City Beach, Florida
Dreamstime/Aj Caruso

With 27 miles of amazing beachfront to enjoy, few beaches can compete with Panama City Beach. Whether looking for the best Gulf Coast beaches for couples or seeking a memorable family day out, you'll find it here. There's so much room to play, swim, splash, sunbathe, and plenty of restaurants to try out.

You can also book things like parasailing, which will allow you to see all the breathtaking beauty of the ocean from above. You could rent a pontoon boat and go for a fishing trip. Alternatively, there's the option to go snorkeling, or you can head out for a fantastic afternoon swimming with dolphins. When you get hungry, head to one of the many restaurants and enjoy some delicious food.

Address: Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Also Read: The Best Florida Beaches You Need to Visit

6: Clearwater Beach, Florida

Clearwater Beach, Florida

If you're looking for one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families, Clearwater Beach is an obvious winner. It feels like it is soaked in permanent sunshine, and it's always buzzing with activity. It has been named a top American beach multiple times in recent years.

You can rent a cabana, and there's an amazing playground that your kids can enjoy at the base of Pier 60. If they get bored of the sand, sun, and sea, they can play for hours on the equipment there while you relax and enjoy yourself.

The north of the beach is quieter, so if you want to get away from the crowds, you just need to go for a stroll up the sands, and you can enjoy a little bit of alone time with your kids, significant other, or both.

Address: Clearwater, FL

7: Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
Dreamstime/Cheri Alguire

For those who love natural beauty, Padre Island National Seashore is one of the best Gulf Coast beaches you can visit. It encompasses 66 miles of wild coastline, representing one of the last coastal prairie habitats in the US.

It's made up of incredible tidal mud flats brimming with unique lifeforms. There are lots of things to do here, including attending a ranger program to learn more about the area or kayaking on the Laguna Madre. If that doesn't appeal, you can watch sea turtle hatching releases if you time your visit correctly.

You can even camp alongside the seashore if you choose to. This is the place to be if you love wildlife and want to see the rugged beauty of a wild beach.

Address: 20420 Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418

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Also Read: Best Beaches in the USA You Must Visit

8: Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama
Dreamstime/George Dodd

Orange Beach, Alabama, is a hidden gem located on the Gulf of Mexico. Known for its pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, this is one of the best Gulf Coast beach towns with abundant outdoor activities at any time of the year.

Check out the fishing options, or take a dolphin cruise to learn more about these extraordinary, charismatic creatures in their natural habitat. There’s also an Annual Beach Run for America’s Warriors on the 18th of March, which raises money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Whether you’re splashing in the water, running on the sand, or soaking up the sand, you’ll find plenty to do at Orange Beach.

Address: 28273 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561

9: Biloxi Beach, Mississippi

Biloxi Beach, Mississippi

With 26 miles of sugary sand beach on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, Biloxi Beach consistently stuns visitors with its beauty. It underwent significant repairs after Hurricane Katrina, offering calm, temperate waters and lots of activities.

You can enjoy a shrimping trip out in the ocean or sail in the sunset on a Biloxi Schooner. Jet skiing is another popular activity, or you can simply bury your toes in the blissful white sand, lie back, and enjoy the fantastic weather.

The climate at Biloxi beach is particularly attractive; temperatures can be high throughout the year, even in the coldest months, and in the summer, the sea is irresistible. Going for a dip when the weather is hot is one of the best feelings in the world.

Address: 1027-1031 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS 39530

10: Navarre Beach, Florida

Navarre Beach, Florida
Dreamstime/Michael Wood

If you're a couple looking for romantic beach vacations on the Gulf Coast, look no further than Navarre Beach. Relaxation is the name of the game at this stunning 12-mile beach, and it offers privacy, peace, and tranquility.

The beach is a borderline paradise, and whether you want to go for a scenic bike ride, enjoy a picnic near the surf, or simply lie in the sun and hold hands with the one you love, this is the place to do it.

The pier there is impressive, allowing you to walk right out above the sea and gaze at the waves and wildlife. What more could you want if you need some peace and soul-healing quiet away from the rush of everyday life?

Address: 8543 Navarre Parkway, Navarre, FL 32566

11: Siesta Key Beach, Florida

Siesta Key Beach, Florida

It's no surprise to learn that a beach like Siesta Key is there for relaxation. The sands offer unmatched beauty, while the waves are soft and soothing as they crash down on the beach. There's a free trolley to help you get around the island, giving you easy access to everything you need.

The surrounding area provides all you could want in terms of dining, resorts, shopping, and nightlife, and there are many places to visit. The beach itself is pretty simple but has all the more charm for that – and what do kids really need beyond a bucket, spade, and some good sand to have an incredible day out?

Address: 948 Beach Rd, Sarasota, FL 34242

12: Dauphin Island, Alabama

Dauphin Island, Alabama

Like many of the best Gulf Coast beaches, Dauphin Island is a gorgeous option, with lots of wildlife and beautiful shells to pick through. Watch the gulls wheel through the air, see the pelicans roosting on the rocks, and admire a flawless blue sky.

One of the biggest draws of this beach is that it's not quite crowded because you have to drive quite a way to reach it – and even the parking lot isn't very close to the beach. That means you can enjoy superb privacy, though, and you may even be lucky enough to see dolphins swimming near the shore.

It's also worth noting that this is among the many dog-friendly beaches on the Gulf Coast, so you can have your canine buddy along for fun! However, be aware that not all restaurants will welcome a dog inside.

Address: 109 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528

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13: Cape San Blas, Florida

Cape San Blas, Florida

If you're looking for a true beach with white sand and tropical waters, Cape San Blas is one of the best Gulf Coast beaches to visit. It's often overlooked by tourists, yet it's one of the prettiest, most breathtaking beach gems out there.

It's again a pet-friendly place, so you can bring the whole family and enjoy quiet, beautiful dunes. You can go horseback riding in the surf with calm, steady horses that will make this a dream, or enjoy some phenomenal, freshly caught seafood from the many restaurants.

Check out the bay’s fishing options if you’re a keen angler, or simply relax and enjoy the unusual serenity that this beach has to offer. Surprisingly, Cape San Blas is often overlooked even after being repeatedly voted one of the top 10 beaches in the United States. Yet, it remains beautifully quiet and inviting – so it's truly one of the best Gulf of Mexico beaches to visit.

Address: Cape San Blas, FL 32456

14: Pensacola Beach, Florida

Pensacola Beach, Florida

With surfing, paddle boarding, and excellent swimming opportunities, Pensacola Beach has so much to offer to everyone. It has breathtaking views, soft sands, and crystal clear waters to enjoy – everything a good beach needs.

There are often enough waves that you can practice surfing or simply go for a refreshing dip if you want to. If that doesn't appeal, there's the option to go fishing on the pier or to meander along the Portofino Boardwalk's shops and look at the souvenirs there.

Another great option is the Footprints in the Sand eco trail, which is ideal for families. You can also paddle a kayak around the beautiful waters or take a powerboat tour out into the sea. This beach can be busy during the season, but it's reasonably quiet in the off-season months.

Address: 41 Fort Pickens Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561

15: Marco Island, Florida

Marco Island, Florida
Dreamstime/Paul Harrison

Marco Island is home to some of the really great beaches on the Gulf Coast, including Tigertail Beach. Several beaches on this island are said to be among the prettiest in the world, and there's no shortage of activities to do.

You can enjoy water sports and bird watching, and it has stunning green water that is warm and inviting throughout the year. It isn’t as crystalline as around some beaches, but it’s still wonderful to visit, and children will love playing and splashing in the waves.

Marco Island is gorgeous and has many opportunities to go shelling, picking through stunning shells of all kinds. The line where the tide comes in is lovely for children to investigate, offering all sorts of exciting ocean debris.

Address: Marco Island, FL 34145

16: Mustang Island, Texas

Mustang Island, Texas
Dreamstime/Shengying Lin

Mustang Island State Park offers five miles of coastline, with everything you could want from beaches on the Gulf Coast.

There are opportunities for paddling along trails, and you can go shallow-water fishing.

At the same time, there are some amazing coastal birds to spot, so make sure you pack your binoculars.

There are also many campsites, so if you want to stay close to nature, you can.

The weather tends to be good, and you can also go kayaking or simply lounge on the beach and build sandcastles in the sun.

Alternatively, check out the surfing options, and enjoy coasting on the sparkling waters.

Address: Corpus Christi, TX 78418

17: St. George Island, Florida

St. George Island, Florida
Dreamstime/James Schwabel

If you want to take your dog with you, St. George Island is a great place to go.

It's an entirely pet-friendly beach, and lots of the accommodation in the area also accepts dogs.

Even some restaurants let dogs in, meaning you have a whole range of options for where to stay and what to do.

There's a plethora of options for fishing, no matter how experienced you are, and you can catch a huge range of fish in the pristine waters.

You can also head out into deeper waters with a charter boat captain.

If fishing isn't your favorite, you can rent a paddle boat, a kayak, or a boat – or use these to enhance your fishing experience.

Look out for birds as you explore because this area has some unbelievable spots.

Address: 1900 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328

18: Holly Beach, Louisiana

Holly Beach, Louisiana
Dreamstime/Kellie Guidry

For those who want to go shelling, Holly Beach could be a nice place to visit.

It's a peaceful beach, and it may not be for you if you're looking for souvenir shops or lots of activities, but its quietness gives it a blissful tranquility.

It’s also dog-friendly, so a great place to take your four-legged friend for a run and a frisk.

You can also camp alongside the water, which some people love, and there’s nothing like roasting marshmallows around a campfire with the waves whispering in the background.

It’s important to note that swimming is not always permitted at this beach, as bacterial blooms can make it dangerous.

Bear this in mind when planning your trip, and stay out of the water if advised to do so.

Address: Cameron, LA 70631

19: Destin Beach, Florida

Destin Beach, Florida
Dreamstime/Ruth Peterkin

Some of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast are found in Destin, Florida.

For example, you might want to check out Blue Mountain Beach, an extraordinary combination of geographical features, particularly unusual in flat Florida.

The highest point stands over 65 feet tall, which can make accessing the beach tricky – but it's worth the effort.

It offers sandy stretches and rich blue waters, plus stunning Floridian sun.

There are also beautiful blue flowers growing on the hillside, which may have given the beach its name.

If that doesn't appeal, you could check out Crystal Sands Beach.

As the name suggests, this is a stunning beach with sand that positively glimmers in the sunlight.

It's quiet, and there aren't many activities, making it the ultimate spot for relaxing and letting go of the stress of everyday life.

You can also try Henderson Beach State Park, one of Destin's most popular beaches, offering enticing emerald waters and the perfect spot for picnicking.

It is often said to be one of the prettiest beaches on the Gulf Coast, and for a good reason – you will be blown away by the amazing scenery.

Go for a quick swim, and then sit back and enjoy the glory of nature.

Address: Destin, FL 32541

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Destin

20: Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida
Dreamstime/Daniel Logan

Some of the best Gulf Coast beaches are also found on Sanibel Island, which boasts Bowman’s Beach.

This has a natural appearance, with a mix of stones and sand, and it offers a whole range of amenities.

You can have a barbecue or a picnic, take a shower, and watch the kids go wild on the playground.

There's a nature trail running along the top edge of the beach and as many shells as you could possibly want.

Note that it can be difficult to park near any of the beaches on Sanibel Island, but this is the best option.

There's also Blind Pass Beach, which stretches for miles and is a treasure trove for shellers, as currents tend to deposit lots of shelves up on the dunes near the mouth of the pass.

You're bound to find some real beauties here, although you should note that the parking can be very challenging since there are less than 30 spots available.

Address: Sanibel Island, FL

21: Port Aransas, Texas

Port Aransas, Texas
Dreamstime/Bobby J Norris

Another of the amazing beaches on the Gulf Coast, Port Aransas, offers some fabulous on-shore and off-shore fishing opportunities, as well as fishing tournaments in the summer.

It's a haven for anglers, with all sorts of interesting fish to catch and some great fishing stores in the town so you can stock up on supplies.

There are plenty of water sports, too; take the opportunity to jet ski, boogie board, sail, or surf in the fantastic warm waters, or consider parasailing or windsurfing across the ocean.

You can also rent a kayak or a stand-up paddle board if you prefer – so there's no shortage of things to try while you're here.

There are many beaches to check out here, and all will satisfy your longing for sand, sunshine, and surf.

You'll get 18 miles of stunning public shoreline, and the sun shines almost constantly.

You can check out the webcams for these beaches online before you go if you want to.

Address: Port Aransas, TX 78373


Q: Which is the clearest water beach on the Gulf Coast?

A: It can vary, but Destin is often thought to have the clearest waters on the Gulf Coast. The waters sparkle, and you can see deep beneath the surface, making this a delightful, inviting experience.

Q: What is the prettiest Gulf Coast beach?

A: This varies because different people have different opinions about what makes beauty, but some top options include Henderson Beach State Park, Bay St. Louis Beach, and Padre Island National Seashore. These offer stunning sands and enticing, pristine waters.

Q: Does the Gulf Coast have white sand beaches?

A: Yes, the Gulf Coast has many beautiful white sand beaches, where the dunes glitter brightly in the sunlight. There's nothing like burying your toes in the soft, warm sand, lying back, and soaking up the sunshine. The emerald seas look breathtaking against the gleaming dunes.

Q: What's the best month to go to the Gulf Shores?

A: Most people visit in the summer because of school vacations, but if you're free to travel any time, the best options are March through May and September through November. The weather still tends to be warm enough for swimming and sunbathing, and the crowds are smaller.

Q: What are the least crowded beaches on the Gulf Coast?

A: It depends a little on the time of year, but Grayton Beach in Florida is often quiet. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Fort Morgan Beach can also be peaceful options. You don't have to share with crowds if you're prepared to step off the beaten path.

Rounding Up

Hopefully, our list of the best Gulf Coast beaches has given you plenty of hunger for getting out on the beach this summer and a plethora of ideas about where you should go and what you should do. Whether you just want to chill out with your loved ones and enjoy the warmth of the sun, or you want to swim, dive, fish, and splash, you'll find places that are right for you. Beaches on the Gulf Coast are some of the most beautiful and memorable in the world, and if you're planning a vacation, they should be high on your list of places to visit.

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