Florida’s beaches are among the world’s most beautiful. With their crystal-clear water and soft white sand, a trip to the beach seems like the perfect escape from the Disney World crowds. But how far are the beaches from Walt Disney World, and which beaches are worth visiting? Here is a list of the 13 best beaches near Disney World and some beach alternatives within the park.
1. Cocoa Beach
- Distance: 65.4 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 9 min (via FL-528 E)
Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Disney World, less than 70 miles away via State Road 528 (a toll road). The drive time is just over an hour.
Cocoa Beach is a world-famous beach on Florida’s Space Coast. The spacious beach offers plenty of room for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. Cocoa Beach is an excellent spot for introducing kids to bodyboarding or surfing due to its fantastic surf conditions.
The area has several restaurants and shops, and a pier offers fishing and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. There are also restrooms and playgrounds on the beach for kids to enjoy.
Lori Wilson Park is great for picnics if you prefer not to eat out. Parking fees at Lori Wilson Park and the Pier are $15 per vehicle, which includes entry to the Pier for all vehicle occupants.
2. Canaveral National Seashore (Apollo, Klondike, and Playalinda Beaches)
- Distance: 65.6 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 7 min (via FL-528 E)
Canaveral National Seashore is another excellent option for a beach day outside Disney World.
The beach is located on a barrier island between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, only about an hour’s drive from Disney World. It offers 24 miles of undeveloped coastline and is home to some of the most pristine beaches in Florida.
There are no lifeguards on duty, so swimming here is only recommended for strong swimmers. However, the surfing conditions are excellent, and there are plenty of opportunities to fish, bird watch, or enjoy a walk along the beach.
The Apollo Beach Visitor’s Center has restrooms, rinse-off showers, picnic areas, playgrounds, and information about the area. It’s a great place to start your day at the beach.
Playalinda Beach at the southern end of the seashore has fewer services (only chemical toilets and even cell phone service is iffy), but it’s an astounding place to view rocket launches from the nearby Kennedy Space Center. Keep an eye on the launch schedule as NASA, SpaceX, and ULA activities will have a major effect on your trip to (and day at) this beach.
Visitors must pay $20.00 per vehicle to enter the park (valid for seven days).
If you’re looking to experience a natural beach setting (minus the occasional rocket launch), Canaveral National Seashore is the best choice.
3. New Smyrna Beach
- Distance: 71 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 13 min (via I-4 Ultimate Express Lanes, I-4 E, and FL-44 E)
New Smyrna Beach is located just over an hour from Disney World, making it an ideal option for a day trip.
The beach is situated on a barrier island between Daytona Beach to the north and Canaveral National Seashore to the south. The 17-mile beach is wide and sandy, with plenty of room to sunbathe, swim, or surf.
New Smyrna Beach is considered one of the best surfing spots in Florida, and there are several surf schools on the beach if you want to learn how to surf. On the other side of the open ocean are the Indian River backwaters, where kayaking and fishing are popular.
In addition to the beach, there are several restaurants and shops in the area. There is some free parking nearby, but beach parking lots charge $20 per vehicle. You can find restrooms and showers at the beach pavilions.
4. Daytona Beach
- Distance: 71.4 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 11 min (via I-4 Ultimate Express Lanes and I-4 E)
Daytona Beach is one of Florida’s most popular beaches, only about an hour’s drive from Disney World. The beach is famous for its hard-packed sand, which makes it ideal for driving on (driving is only allowed in certain areas).
In addition to swimming and sunbathing, Daytona Beach offers plenty of other activities. Visitors can take a walk or ride a bike on the Boardwalk and Pier, visit the Daytona International Speedway, or go shopping at the Ocean Walk Village. There are also dozens of restaurants and bars in the area.
Daytona Beach is an excellent choice if you are looking for an action-packed beach day. Although the beach is a famous party spot, it is still relatively family-friendly and low-key (as long as you avoid Spring Break and the Daytona 500 weeks).
5. Melbourne Beach
- Distance: 78.1 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 25 min (via FL-528 W)
Melbourne Beach lies on a barrier island between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, about an hour and a half from Disney World.
The beautiful beach stretches across 33 miles of undeveloped, unspoiled sand. Its waves are ideal for surfing, its reefs are great for snorkeling, and the shoreline is perfect for jogging.
Melbourne Beach, like Cape Canaveral Seashore and Cocoa Beach, is a must-see when visiting Kennedy Space Center because it’s nearby and worth the extra drive. There are several art festivals throughout the year, and the restaurants and bars often have live musical acts. It’s a charming and lively area to visit.
Melbourne Beach is also one of the most extensive nesting grounds for sea turtles, so many people visit this beach during the summer to observe them. If interested, stop by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society to learn more.
Several streets near Melbourne Beach have free parking, but you’ll probably have to pay for metered parking.
6. Clearwater Beach
- Distance: 92 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 46 min (via I-4 W)
Clearwater Beach is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast on a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, less than 2 hours from Disney World.
The white sand beaches and clear blue waters make Clearwater Beach a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
The Promenade stretches for over a mile, and you can find many restaurants, bars, and stores along the way. Visitors can also take dolphin-watching or pirate ship cruises, rent jet skis, visit the busy marina, or tour the Clearwater Aquarium.
You can find restrooms and rinse-off stations at the beach pavilions, and most parking spots near the beach are metered.
Clearwater Beach is an excellent choice for those looking for a family-friendly and lively beach with plenty of activities for kids. If you prefer calmer waters without the crowds and touristy feel, head to Sand Key County Park, just 10 minutes south.
7. Treasure Island Beach
- Distance: 95.8 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 41 min (via I-4 W)
Treasure Island Beach is situated between St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast, about an hour and a half drive from Disney World.
There is plenty of room to sunbathe or build sandcastles on this 3-mile beach, and the turquoise water and soft white sand make Treasure Island Beach a real gem.
Many activities are available at Treasure Island Beach, including an annual sand sculpture competition, parasailing, paddleboarding, cruises, and more. There’s also a playground and pavilion, and the main street is lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. The area has a few lively establishments and tiki bars, but it is still quieter than nearby Clearwater Beach.
The road has free parking, but you’ll probably have to park in a paid lot.
You can find several inexpensive beachfront motels if you decide to stay the night, but if you just want to go for the afternoon, Treasure Island Beach is a worthwhile day trip from Disney World.
8. St. Pete Beach
- Distance: 95.9 mi from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 40 min via I-4 W
The barrier island community of St. Pete Beach lies off the Pinellas County mainland of Saint Petersburg, Florida.
There are miles of pristine white sand beaches, year-round sunshine, and abundant recreational opportunities at St Pete Beach. Moreover, the beach is the longest stretch of undeveloped public beachfront in the Clearwater area.
Besides swimming, sunbathing, and fishing, St. Pete Beach offers exciting activities like boating adventures, kayak tours, and dolphin cruises. There are also many restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues within walking distance of the beach.
It’s no surprise that TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice rankings for 2021 named St. Pete Beach the best beach in the nation. We agree – this is one of the best beaches near Disney World.
9. Vero Beach (has a Disney Resort)
- Distance: 102 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 41 min (via Florida’s Turnpike and E State Rd 60 E)
Vero Beach is a small city located on Florida’s east coast, about an hour and a half drive from Disney World. It’s situated on a barrier island between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.
The beaches here are quiet and pristine, with soft white sand and clear blue waters. Visitors can find plenty of room to sunbathe, swim, fish, or build sandcastles. There are also a few restaurants and shops along the beach.
The area is home to wildlife species like pelicans and loggerhead turtles. If you love wildlife, you may want to combine your trip to Vero Beach with a visit to the nearby Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
Vero Beach is an excellent choice for a quiet, relaxing beach vacation. Even though the city is small, it is charming and has gorgeous beaches.
You may not know, but Disney has a property in Vero Beach. For an overnight stay to complement your Walt Disney World visit, we recommend Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Steps away from the beach, it offers spacious and elegant accommodations with the comforts of home. A highlight of each year is sea turtle nesting season. And what could be better than adding Disney magic to your beach experience?
Contact The Vacationeer to learn more about Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or help you plan a Disney World vacation.
10. Anna Maria Island
- Distance: 110 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 54 min (via I-4 W and I-75 S)
Anna Maria Island is a beautiful barrier island located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, just south of St. Petersburg. The island is seven miles long and home to three small towns: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. All three towns have their own unique character, but they all share the same gorgeous white sand beaches and clear blue waters.
The island is perfect for a relaxing beach vacation. There are plenty of restaurants and shops, especially on Pine Avenue, but it’s not as built-up as some other beach areas near Disney World. You can find plenty of room to sunbathe or take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline.
For those who prefer more active pursuits, there are also various options here. Anna Maria Island is great for fishing, boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. There are several golf courses in the area as well.
Anna Maria Island is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing beach vacation with plenty of activities to keep you busy.
11. St Augustine Beach
- Distance: 119 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 1 hr 55 min (via I-4 E and I-95 N)
St Augustine Beach is located on Anastasia Island, just across the bridge from historic St. Augustine. The beach here is wide and flat, with soft white sand and clear blue waters. It’s an excellent place for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, or simply taking a stroll along the shoreline.
There are several restaurants and shops in the area, as well as a playground and a pavilion. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is also nearby and makes for an interesting side trip.
Crescent Beach is another good option if you’re looking for a quiet beach vacation. It’s about 20 minutes south of St Augustine Beach and offers a similar experience.
12. Siesta Key
- Distance: 122 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 2 hr 3 min (via I-4 W and I-75 S)
Siesta Key Beach is situated on Siesta Key, a barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, about an hour and a half from Disney World. The island is eight miles long and home to several small beach communities. Siesta Key Beach is the most popular beach on the island and consistently ranks as one of the best beaches in the United States.
The sand at Siesta Key Beach is unique: it’s made up of 99% quartz, making it a beautiful white color and very soft to the touch. The beach also has gentle waves, perfect for swimming, boating, and stand-up paddle boarding.
There are plenty of restaurants and shops along the beach and several resorts if you’re looking for a place to stay.
Siesta Key Beach is a must-see if you’re visiting Sarasota or simply looking for something to do on your day off at Disney World. Despite the distance, it is a lovely beach that’s worth the trip.
13. Hilton Head, SC (has a Disney Resort)
- Distance: 326 miles from Disney World
- Driving Time: 5 hr 7 min (via I-95 S)
Hilton Head is one of the most popular beach destinations in the southeastern United States. This beautiful island is about five hours away from Disney World, making it the farthest beach on this list. However, the drive is relatively easy, and there are plenty of things to do in the area. It’s also right on the way for those driving to Disney from the U.S. Northeast, making it a great overnight stop to break up the long drive.
The beaches here are absolutely stunning, and visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, and more. In addition to the beaches, Hilton Head is home to several championship golf courses and world-class tennis facilities. There are also plenty of restaurants and shops to explore and various scenic hiking trails.
Hilton Head is an excellent option for those looking for a more upscale beach experience.
As with Vero Beach, Hilton Head Island has a magnificent Disney-owned hotel that offers beachfront access, swimming pools, dining, golf, and Disney magic. Contact The Vacationeer for more information about Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
Alternative to Beaches at Disney World
Water Parks at Disney World
If you’re not interested in driving to the beaches near Disney World, there are several water parks located within the park. These water parks offer exciting slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and more.
The two water parks at Disney World are Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
- Blizzard Beach is a winter-themed water park with the world’s fastest (and third-tallest) free-fall waterslide and a 3,000 lazy river encircling the entire park.
- Typhoon Lagoon boasts one of the world’s largest outdoor wave pools, several thrilling slides, and a 2,000-foot lazy river.
For those looking to cool off or escape the theme parks for a day, a visit to one of Disney’s water parks may be just what you need.
Pools at Disney World Resort Hotels
In addition to the water parks, all Disney World resort hotels have their own pools. These pools range from small wading pools to large, multi-level pools with slides and other features.
Disney’s more popular hotel pools include Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach/Yacht Club Resort (a massive water park with a lazy river), the Lava Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and The Big Blue Pool at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. These pools are more extensive than average and offer a variety of amenities for guests to enjoy.
See our Best Pools at Disney World, Disney Hotels with Lazy Rivers, Disney World Hotel Comparison, or contact The Vacationeer for recommendations.
Note: Guests staying at a Disney World hotel can use the pool at their own hotel but generally cannot use any other Disney hotel pools.
If you’re not interested in spending a day at the beach or the theme parks, there are plenty of other things at or near Disney World.
Both Disney and Orlando offer a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene for adults. Several excellent golf courses, tennis courts, and biking trails are available in the area. You can also rent a boat for the day if you wish.
There are endless possibilities at Walt Disney World Resort!
Final Thoughts on Beaches Near Disney and Orlando
It’s not hard to find beaches near Disney World that offer a great day trip for those looking to escape the heat. While some of these beaches are a little further away, they are worth the drive. And, if you’re not interested in driving, several water parks and pools on Disney property offer a fun alternative.
Thanks for reading our Beaches Near Disney World articles. Have a magical trip!