If Sarasota, Florida is known for anything, it’s the beach. White quartz sand and iconic colorful lifeguard stands on Siesta Key Beach get all the recognition, but Sarasota has more than just one beautiful coastal relaxation zone. We rounded up all the underrated beaches near Sarasota so you have multiple options on your Sarasota vacation.
Casey Key Beaches
South of Siesta Key, Casey Key has a quieter vibe with ocean roads and beachfront mansions.
Nokomis Beach, Nokomis
Nokomis Beach can’t help but feel like a local spot, with the lack of high-rises along the shore and its status as the oldest public beach in Sarasota. Aside from lounging on the beach and swimming in the Gulf, Nokomis Beach is a popular spot for beachcombing, shelling and even surfing. When a storm is brewing, all the surfers in the area grab their boards and hit the waves.
Though less popular than other Sarasota Beaches, Nokomis Beach has everything you need for a day of fun for all ages. The historic Nokomis Beach Pavilion, parking, lifeguards, picnic areas, restrooms and boardwalk for easy access make it an ideal day trip for your beach vacation.
North Jetty Beach Park
On the south end of Casey Key but north of the Venice Jetty, North Jetty Beach faces the Intercoastal Waterway giving beachgoers a clear view of the boats coming and going to the Gulf of Mexico. The easy-going atmosphere here makes it easy to drop your pretenses and just enjoy the scenery. Hit the on-site bait shop, cast your line along the jetty and strike up a conversation with other fishermen as you wait to catch your dinner. Or, post up under a pine tree for some shade with ocean views.
Similar to Nokomis Beach, North Jetty Beach is a popular spot for both surfing and shelling. You’ll find lifeguards year-round, restrooms and showers, and plenty of charcoal grills near the picnic stations. If you didn’t come quite prepared to grill your lunch or dinner, the concession should do. Both kids and adults have activity options other than swimming with the on-site playground and volleyball court.
If you visit in the height of season, plan on arriving early to secure parking and a picnic area. North Jetty Beach is popular with locals and visitors and fills up fast!
Longboat Key Beaches
Often confused for its next-door neighbor, Lido Key, Longboat Key is a 10-mile coastal stretch that makes a popular getaway for local retirees and winter residents. It has a quieter feel than Lido Key and St. Armands Key but is only a quick jaunt from the action. Longboat Key beaches aren’t nearly as popular as Lido and Siesta Key beaches, so prepare for peace and quiet on your own slice of paradise. Alcohol is prohibited on all Longboat Key Beaches.
Longboat Key Beach Accesses
Cruise down Gulf of Mexico Drive and you’ll see small blue signs marking the different access points to Longboat Key Beach. In 10 miles of pristine white sand, you’ll have no issues finding a private spot to set your beach umbrella, but go prepared as there are no amenities at the beach accesses. Parking at each access is limited, so try a few access points if you don’t find a spot at first.
Beer Can Island
Nicknamed for its popularity for partying, Beer Can Island sits near the Longboat Pass Drawbridge on the north end of Longboat Key. Most visitors reach the small beach by boat, but it’s possible to walk over during low tide or paddleboard or kayak over. Due to its inaccessibility, Beer Can Island doesn’t have any facilities or lifeguards and it’s best enjoyed from the sand as there are dangerous rip currents.
One unique feature about Beer Can is the assortment of dead, weathered trees which frequently make a unique backdrop for local photoshoots.
Head over the bridge to Anna Maria Island and you’ll get that old-Florida feel on Coquina Beach. This beach has it all: white sand, lifeguards, calm waters for swimming, a picnic area with pavilions for rent, playground, beach volleyball and necessary facilities like a concession, restrooms and showers. There’s even a Sunday farmer’s market with produce, baked goods, homemade crafts and more.
Coquina Beach’s beauty and convenience is no secret. It’s packed with families and friends on weekends and a popular spot for BBQs and parties, though alcohol is prohibited on the beach.
Just across from Whitney Plaza on the north end of Longboat, Whitney Beach is a quarter-mile-long stretch of white sand. While there’s public parking close by on Broadway Street, the beach has no amenities so you’ll need to prepare accordingly. Enjoy the quiet, old Florida charm as you watch fishermen in the water and small boats pull up to the beach.
Venice is known for being quieter than Sarasota, but there’s no lack of fun in the shark tooth capital of the world. Between fishing on Venice Pier, shopping and dining downtown, and sifting for sharks teeth in the sand, Venice is a must-see area when vacationing in Sarasota.
Venice Beach often stays less crowded than its more talked-about counterparts like Siesta Key, but there’s no shortage of entertainment and fun. Between the Venice Public Fishing Pier, beach-combing for sharks teeth, on-site restaurants, beach volleyball and the “sail” style beach pavilion from 1964, Venice Beach offers much more than other beaches in the way of attractions. Sand here is darker and coarser than many gulf-coast beaches to be sure to wear sandals on the beach to keep from burning your feet. The best part is this beach is easy to access with plenty of parking and handicap access.
Brohard Beach & Paw Park
Affectionately known as the “dog beach” in the area, Brohard Beach offers paw-print covered sand and a friendly atmosphere for both canines and their owners just south of Venice Beach. As the only dog-friendly beach in Sarasota County, Brohard gets extremely busy on the weekends and parking can be a challenge, though it’s totally worth it when your best friend has their head hanging out the back window. The dog beach has everything a canine could need including fire hydrants, doggie water fountains and shower stations, leash posts and, of course, plenty of other dogs to play with.
You’ll want to pick up a sifter in one of the nearby shops before heading to Caspersen Beach. Of all the spots to find sharks teeth in Venice, Caspersen offers the best chance. It is actually visited for shark tooth hunting more than lounging on the beach. Due to natural erosion, the beach isn’t very large and there are rocks all over, so you must be extra careful not to trip or get banged up. Caspersen Beach is just 1.5 miles long but if you keep walking south for four miles, you’ll reach Manasota Key. As far as facilities, Caspersen Beach has parking, restrooms, showers, a playground and a boardwalk onto the beach, but there are no lifeguards.