Do you love traveling but hate the crowds that come with many of the world's most beautiful destinations? Hordes of people can really take away from an experience, which is why many people never find themselves traveling to highly populated areas, like Florida and its lovely islands and beaches. However, while it may seem impossible, there are still countless destinations in Florida that allow you to escape the crowds.
With a name like the "Treasure Coast," there's perhaps no better place to hunt out a hidden gem — and Jensen Beach is by far one of the most stunning. You're just an hour's drive away from West Palm Beach, but here you'll feel like you're in your own look tropical getaway with a laid-back setting and delicious, fresh local food.
South Walton's Miramar Beach gives you beautiful coastal views with a mixture of resorts, scenic drives, and plenty of fresh fish eateries. You can enjoy uninterrupted views of the Gulf of Mexico and even see it up-close with a parasailing or jet ski adventure. Yet, you won't run into the usual droves of tourists who flock to many of Florida's beaches. Instead, you'll be able to kick back with the locals and enjoy plenty of your own space on the stretches of sand.
If you thought a small Floridian island would have no chance of escaping the crowds, then the quiet paradise of Amelia Island will pleasantly surprise you. Far away from the crowded tourist spots off much of Florida's coast, Amelia Island is serene, with more than 13 miles of sand for visitors to stretch out on. In addition to the coastal views, you'll enjoy stunning wildlife and plenty of chances to dine on local fish. You can even catch your own with a fishing excursion or just take a boat out for the day. This is the best destination around if you want some "Island time" that's low-key, with no fuss.
Situated right in the middle of Florida, most people overlook Sebring in favor of the coast, but a trip here by no means requires you to give up your waterfront vacation. Over a hundred lakes dot the area, each one offering skimming, jet skiing, fishing, and swimming opportunities with just as much sun and fun without the big crowds. Plus, you can enjoy plenty of land-based activities, from hunting and golfing to biking and hiking, like at Highlands Hammock State Park. If you want to get off the ground, there are even hot air balloon operations nearby.
Did you think all of the Florida Keys were overcrowded? Perdido Key might just shock you. This little stretch of white-sand dunes lines against the warm Gulf waters, making for the perfect escape from your stress and all the hustle and bustle of tourist spots. With plenty of space to sunbathe, you can also take in the views on a hike, go crabbing, or head out on a fishing adventure.
This little waterfront town is ideal for walking, with a balance of beach, art, brews, and nature. You just have to venture about a half-hour out of Tampa, and you'll find yourself walking quiet streets lined with stores and restaurants galore. Or, head away from the people with a walk up the paved trails, like the 32-mile Pinellas Trail that connects Tarpon Springs to St. Pete.
Florida's stunning Emerald Coast may be a popular destination, but Santa Rosa Beach stands out for its lack of crowds. It's situated between Panama City and Pensacola, which means you can always head out for a bit of nightlife, shopping, or other action while skipping back to Santa Rosa for the crystal clear waters and sparkling sand. Just watching the horizon as the blue skies fade into the blue coast is entertainment enough, though you can find some boating and biking opportunities if you want to be active.
Locals love St. George Island, not just for its lack of crowds but for the fine white sand, gentle waves, endless boardwalks, and scenic sand dunes, all of which give way for peaceful days under the big blue sky. When you arrive, you're sure to feel like you've escaped the country and made it to the Caribbean, with landscapes that look like they could have come right out of a tropical work of art.
If you want to immerse yourself in nature and surround yourself with wildlife, go to Homosassa. Multiple state parks cover the region, with opportunities to meet manatees and other mammals that live in the estuaries of Crystal River and Homosassa Springs. Take it all in with a wildlife tour and see the local foxes, otters, birds, bears, and deer up close.
While it's less than an hour from Tampa, Caladesi Island is an off-the-grid type of spot you can only reach with a boat. If you don't have your own means of water transportation, a ferry does run to the island for visitors, but you won't find it very crowded. It will feel like your own deserted island where you can soak in the sun's rays and take in the untouched natural beauty without towering vacation homes or crowds of people getting in the way of your views.
Another local favorite, Pass-A-Grille Beach, offers four miles of shoreline that remains completely undeveloped, with unpretentious vibes and a laid-back feel that allows you to enjoy the coast without the distractions of touristy spots. Meanwhile, you can certainly kill time at some of the outdoor markets or grab a bite at one of the ice cream shops when you need to cool down.
Cape San Blas not only houses St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, but it also stands alone as one of the best beaches in Florida, yet it lacks the hoards of people thanks to its miles of sand and out-of-the-way location. For you, that means plenty of room to enjoy the pristine waters and spend a weekend climbing, boating, or paddling around.
North of Fort Myers, you'll find Gasparilla Island. This tiny strip of land juts out into the Gulf, and it's known for its tarpon fishing and local birds that roam in the skies. While the small size may make you think "crowds" right away, most tourists don't venture here due to the lack of typical touristy things, making it the ideal getaway spot.
Located 35 miles east of Key West, this state park offers a chance to see the most captivating landscape in all of Florida and, again, it's another spot without all the development and touristy vibes that you get in much of the state. You can enjoy an afternoon enjoying the colorful marine life as you snorkel or stay on land with one of the many trails that give you views of nearby Pine Key Island.
Just 50 minutes from Sarasota, Manasota Key boasts Blind Pass Park, a hidden beach that's prized for its shell hunting (and shark finding) adventures. It's also a nesting place for sea turtles, with the highest number of nests in all of the gulf coast. It's not a city, technically, but it is home to around 1,200 locals. It's relaxing, quiet, and gives you the feel of a private island escape without the cost.