Nicest beaches closest to WDW?

I will be with my family on vacation in Orlando, Florida at the end of September, we would like to visit one of the beaches while we are there, I know the closest one is cocoa beach but I’ve heard mixed reviews about it. We just want to find a nice, clean, safe and beautiful beach to visit so I don’t mind driving a bit further but just would like to hear some advice and feedback on where to go. Also how safe is it be in the water? Any recent shark or jellyfish incidents? Just curious. TIA!

We go to Clearwater -St.Pete’s area. Both places have easy to access public area’s. About 1hr45min drive from WDW. Gulf side is generally calmer water. As for shark or jellyfish, I don’t know. Been going to this area late September the past two yrs '14&'15 this year not until November. Always nice.

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I would say it depends on how long you plan to be at the beach. If you are just going for the day - or doing a few days

We like Cocoa Beach. It’s close at maybe an hour drive and it’s usually less crowded than some of the bigger named beaches.

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@davidtyost we will just be going for the day.

Thank you, I will look into it :slight_smile:

Cocoa Beach has a public parking area adjacent to the pier that has a life guarded area. There is also a bathhouse on the pier.

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Okay sounds cool, thank you!:+1:t3:

We went to Sarasota/ siesta key, which is about 2 hours away. It was beautiful. The beach was fine white quartz sand (that stayed cooler even in the heat), the water was beautiful, and the entire Seista key island has a real laid back vibe. No sharks or jellyfish reported any time that I am aware of. It was a great compliment to our WDW visit.

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Sounds wonderful thank you! Will look into that one too! :slight_smile:

I want to say that August and September are jellyfish “travel” season. I know I used to cruise a lot in late August and early September and would often encounter them in Bahamas, and seems like I’ve also had jellyfish in September in Florida Atlantic-side.

Oh, I would also say that some folks say there’s no real jellyfish season, but that they tend to get “blown in” with tropical storms and hurricanes, which makes sense for this August-October time frame that I’ve experienced, so just keep it in mind.

I live 30 miles north of WDW. The most easily accessible beach from WDW is Cocoa Beach. I’ve been to Clearwater and Cocoa, and you will spend more time at the beach if you go to Cocoa, although Clearwater is a nicer beach. Before we used to live here and had to fly to Florida for vacation we booked a room for two nights in Tampa so we could enjoy Clearwater. But, our go to everytime we are going to the beach from Orlando is definitely Cocoa Beach. It is so easy to get there from the 528 and it’s close to NASA and you can also see the Disney Cruise ship docked close by.

I will tell you that rip tides have been a huge problem the last few days here. We went to New Smyrna which is 1 hour north of Cocoa last Saturday and the whole beach was shut down due to riptides and…,jellyfish.

We walked into New Smyrna because you weren’t allowed to drive in, and there were jellyfish spattered all over the sand. I recommend before you make the trip in to check the conditions because there are certainly plenty of fun places to spend a non-attraction day when the beaches are a problem.

Check out Wekiva Springs as an alternative, but don’t go on Saturday because it is always packed.


That is definitely the case right now. We saw hundreds of them on the sand at New Smyrna Beach last Saturday. Needless to say, we did not go swimming, and even a couple family members were afraid to walk around on the beach for good reason.

Thank you very much for the info, that’s exactly what I’m afraid of, I’m going to see if there are any locals while we’re on vacation and ask them if they’ve been to cocoa beach recently so I know what to expect. If all else fails we’ll just enjoy the pool at our resort that day. :slight_smile: