One of the perks of living in Florida is getting to enjoy beach weather all year, but what good with that be without your best fur friend? Luckily, there are dozens of beaches across the sunshine state where pups are welcome! This post includes the best dog friendly Florida beaches to visit, including spots where they can run off leash.
All across the state, rules vary regarding if dogs are allowed on Florida beaches. Some cities are more lenient than others with letting four legged friends on the beach, like Fort Myers, where most public beaches are dog friendly. However, I find designated dog beaches to be the best for our corgi, Kiwi, because we can feel comfortable knowing he won’t disturb anyone. I have divided this post up to contain on and off-leash dog beaches in five different parts of the state I have visited most of these and have plenty of tips for having a fun day at the beach with your dog! Here are my recommendations for the best dog friendly Florida beaches.
Dog Friendly Beaches on the Florida Panhandle
The Florida panhandle is one of the best places to take a beach vacation in Florida and with so many condos and rentals, it only makes sense to bring your pup! Unfortunately, there are only a handful of dog friendly beaches in the Florida panhandle and zero dog friendly beaches in Destin, FL. However, I have narrowed down four beaches to take your dog in Panama City, Pensacola and a few smaller towns. Below includes four dog friendly beaches to visit in the Florida Panhandle.
Pier Park Dog Beach in Panama City Beach
Located across from the Pier Park shopping center is a dog beach right on the ocean. You can access it from Panama City Beach access points 56, 57, and 58. It’s a white sand beach with some of the clearest water and views of the pier. Keep in mind, dogs must stay on a less than 6 foot long leash and only three dogs are allowed per person. If you are hungry after, check out Hook’d Pier Bar & Grill for a pet friendly meal.
Bayview Dog Park and Beach in Pensacola
Possibly the best-off leash, dog friendly beach in the panhandle is Bayview Dog Park and Beach in Pensacola. Though it is technically on the bay, there is still plenty of ocean water for dogs to run and play in and even a fence on the sand. Dog owners love the rinse stations and the canopies that provide shade, as well as the dog park on the other side.
Carrabelle Beach on St. George Island
If you are not going too far west on the Florida Panhandle, then make sure to stop by St. George Island for dog friendly beaches. Almost all of the beaches here allow dogs and if there are no sunbathers around, they can run off leash. Locals especially love the dog friendly 1.5 mile stretch on nearby Carrabelle Beach. This is a natural spot with shallow and calm water, that is great for swimming pups.
Cape Palms Park in Port St. Joe
Another panhandle favorite for taking your dog to the beach is Cape Palms Park. Located in Port St. Joe, this beach has drive-on and walk-on access that allows dogs. Because of the cars, dogs are required to be on leash here, but can still play in the sand and the ocean. You can even have a barbecue with your family and pup with the free grills and covered pavilions here.
East Coast Florida Dog Friendly Beaches
As someone who lives on the east coast, I have managed to find a few dog friendly Florida beaches here. There are not as many as I would like, especially on the Space Coast where we live. There is also the downside that the ocean here can often be too wavy for dogs. Regardless, whether you live here or are visiting, the following four dog friendly beaches on the east coast of Florida will provide a fun in the sun day for pups and owners from St. Augustine to Melbourne.
Crescent Beach in St. Augustine
Starting at the north end of Florida, Crescent Beach in St. Augustine is a gorgeous beach to visit with your pooch. The sand here is hard packed making it great for a leisurely stroll. However, cars and even horseback riders are allowed on the beach, so your pup must be on a leash. From my research, all of the dog friendly Florida beaches in St. Augustine require leashes, including other great spots like Vilano Beach and North Beach.
Old Salt Park on the Palm Coast
For a dog beach in between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Old Salt Park is a favorite. This dog-friendly Florida beach is just north of Flagler Beach where you can find coquina and lots of shells. Dogs must be on a leash at all times while here, but don’t let that discourage you from checking out this stunning beach with free parking!
Smyrna Dunes Park in New Smyrna Beach
Over on the inlet, Smyrna Dunes Park is a dog friendly beach in New Smyrna Beach where dogs can play in the shallow water. Keep in mind, parking costs $10 and dogs must be on a leash at all times. There is also an elevated boardwalk to take a nature walk on, but dogs are only allowed on it before 10 AM. Make sure to take in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean view from the overlooks!
Canova Beach Park on the Space Coast
Although none of the dog friendly beaches in Brevard County allow dogs to be off the leash, we have found one dog beach we enjoy going to. Canova Park in Indian Harbor is situated between Cocoa Beach and Melbourne at the end of the Eau Gallie Causeway. There is plenty of room to find a nice spot in the sand with your pup and even a picnic pavilion.
Dog Friendly Beaches in South Florida
I decided to break out Southeast Florida separate from the rest of the East Coast since it is such a popular place to visit. This section covers the best beaches for dogs from Palm Beach to Miami. This is one of my favorite areas to bring Kiwi because the water is so clear, but still refreshing with some small waves. Here are my top picks for dog friendly beaches in South Florida.
Jupiter Dog Beach in Palm Beach
Hands down the best dog friendly South Florida beach is the Jupiter Dog Beach. This is a free, off-leash beach located in a natural part of beautiful Palm Beach. Owners report finding lots of shells here and love the 2.5 mile area that dogs are allowed. You can access this area between beach markers #26 and #57 on Marcinski Road and many of the crossovers have bathrooms and showers.
Bark Beach in Boca Raton
If you are looking for a dog friendly beach near Delray Beach or Boca Raton, Bark Beach is the only option. Though this is a lovely, wide sand beach, there are some catches to visiting. Only residents are allowed to bring their dogs and must get a permit for $31 per year or $11 per day. Dogs are also only allowed on the beach at designated times on the weekend, usually for a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening. Once here, your pup can frolic off the leash, but make sure to check out the current rules before visiting here.
Hollywood Dog Beach in Hollywood
Another wonderful dog friendly Florida beach is the Hollywood Dog Beach near Fort Lauderdale. This is an off-leash beach for dogs, but cost $10 for non-residents of the town to enter. Dogs are also only allowed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the evening, usually from 3 to 7 PM, but it varies. Despite the restrictions, this dog beach gets great reviews for clear water and a clean beach.
Haulover Beach Park in Miami Beach
For pets lucky enough to take a trip to Miami, Haulover Beach Park is the ideal dog friendly Florida beach to visit. Just north of South Beach, dogs can run off-leash at the beach here and parking is only $5. Even better, there are also two separate dog play areas for small and large dogs, water fountains for pups and showers. Everything is well-maintained and visitors can enjoy the amazing beach Miami is known for.
Gulf Coast Florida Dog Friendly Beaches
Without a doubt, the Gulf Coast has the most dog friendly Florida beaches to visit. From St. Petersburg to Naples, I have found these areas to be excellent for taking a trip with your dog thanks to beaches, parks, restaurants and hotels being so accepting of pups. Though the water is often clear and calm, one thing to watch out for is red tide in the summer. This can be irritating for dogs and people, so check the status of the beach before you go. Most days though, expect fantastic conditions at the dog friendly gulf coast beaches I am sharing below.
Fort De Soto Dog Beach Park in St. Petersburg
Though we have yet to take Kiwi, we have lots of great memories of taking our last corgi Charlie to the Fort De Soto Dog Beach. Located on the southern part of St. Pete Beach, this has everything to a dog owner could want. Not only can dogs be off leash on the beach, but there is also a dog park, water fountains and showers. It only costs $5 for entry and you can even spend the night camping at this dog friendly Florida beach.
Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin
Another Tampa Bay area dog friendly beach we love is Honeymoon Island State Park. This is a stunning state park with flawless beaches and untouched nature trails too. Dogs are allowed on both the beach and the trails, but must be on a leash at all times. Parking cost $8 and there is access to picnic areas, restrooms and even a ferry to Caladesi Island.
Brohard Paw Park in Venice
If you are looking for dog friendly beaches in Venice, Florida, Brohard Paw Park is the only one in the county. This beach is located right near the pier in a secluded area. Dogs are allowed off the leash at this beach, and there are also dog showers and a park for them. Due to its location so close to a pond, there were a few alligator sightings, but since a fence has been erected, visitors do not have to worry about gators anymore. Between free parking, restrooms and picnic tables, this Venice Florida dog friendly beach has everything you need!
Lee County Dog Beach in Bonita Springs
This may come as a surprise, but my all-time favorite dog friendly Florida beach is the Lee County Dog Beach in Bonita. Most beaches in Fort Myers allow dogs on-leash, but this was the best Fort Myers dog friendly beach that allows off-leash play. We took Kiwi here in April and he had the best time of his puppy life. It is free to park, and the water was clear and shallow, which was perfect for his little corgi body to play in. There are some downsides, mainly that there aren’t any bathrooms and we did have to walk through a foot of water to get here. But once we got there, we were stunned by the naturally beautiful beach and had so much fun chasing Kiwi around off leash.
Keewaydin Island in Naples
There are not really any options for dog friendly beaches in Naples, Florida, but you can take a boat to nearby Keewaydin Island to find one! This exquisite gulf coast beach is completely untouched and you can either take your own boat or the pet-friendly Keewaydin Water Shuttle. The shuttle costs $50 per person so it is definitely a splurge, but the boat ride and the beach offer opportunities to see true Florida nature. Once you get there, dogs must remain on the leash and there are no facilities for bathrooms or picnics. However, if you can enjoy some time without modern conveniences, you will be treated to an unforgettable beach day with your dog!
Dog Friendly Beaches in the Florida Keys
If you are taking a trip to the Florida Keys with your pup, you are in luck! I have found four dog friendly Florida beaches here. Though I prefer to visit the Florida Keys for the sightseeing and barhopping as opposed to beaches, there are also some nice, sandy spots to sun and cool off with your fur friend. Of course, you can always bring your dog on a boat and swim in the ocean, but if it’s a beach you are after, here are my picks for the best dog friendly beaches in the Florida Keys.
Rowell’s Waterfront Park in Key Largo
This first Florida Keys dog beach isn’t exactly a dog beach, as it is more a bayfront park. However, there is sand and ocean to swim in so I would count it! Up in Key Largo, Rowell’s Waterfront Park offers a free dog friendly area to play and swim on leash at. There are picnic tables, restrooms and a nature trail, but many people come for the boat ramp. If you want to take your pup on a kayak or paddleboard adventure, this is a great place to start from as well!
Anne’s Beach in Islamorada
For a dog friendly beach in Islamorada, Anne’s Beach is the best option. Parking is free but limited, and you can find it off the road around mile marker 73. Don’t expect a ton of sand to lay out on, as beaches in the keys like this one are usually very narrow. Dogs must stay on the leash, but there is lots of shallow water for them to play in and some pavilions for a picnic.
Sombrero Beach in Marathon
Most likely the best dog friendly beach in the Florida Keys is Sombrero Beach on Marathon Key. There is plenty of room to spread out, although dogs must be kept on leash while here. Even better, the water is clear, parking is free and there are restrooms, picnic areas and a playground. Though my favorite beach in the Florida Keys is Bahia Honda State Park, they only allow dogs in the camping area and not the beach. If you are bringing your pup along, definitely check out Sombrero Beach!
Key West Dog Beach in Key West
Lastly, if you are looking for a dog friendly beach in Key West, the only one you will find is the Key West Dog Beach. Like most Key West beaches, it is small, rocky and has lots of seaweed, but if your dog wants to cool off and swim on Key West, this is the spot to go. It is also the only off leash beach in the Florida Keys, so dogs can run around freely! If you take your dog all the way down to the southernmost point, then they might as well get some beach time here too!
Know Before You Go: Dog Friendly Florida Beaches
I hope this post helped you find a beach perfect for spending a day in the sun with your pup! I have been all over Florida and after researching many, I think these are the 21 best dog friendly Florida beaches. As of October 2021, I have made sure this info is up to date, but it never hurts to check online for sure if the dog beach rules have changed, especially those with specific hours. Some beaches in Florida can be very strict about allowing dogs, so always adhere to signage when taking your dog to the beach. Here are some other things to keep in mind before visiting one of these dog friendly Florida beaches.
- This list does not contain every dog beach in Florida, just the ones I think are best in each area of the state.
- It goes without saying, but only take your dog to a dog beach if they are friendly with other dogs. And even if your dog is friendly, always stay cognizant to make sure your dog is safe.
- Even if a beach is off leash, make sure to keep your dog close by and supervised. You don’t want your dog running up to other people and interrupting their beach day.
- Don’t bring any precious belongings to a dog beach. Though people are often vigilant and keeping their dogs away from others belongings, I have seen dogs pee on beach chairs, umbrellas and bags at dog beaches.
- If you aren’t sure about your dog swimming, bring a life vest! We have used this one for Charlie and Kiwi and it is useful for going on boats or small beaches with lots of swimming.
- Dog friendly Florida beaches are very hot most of the year! Make sure to bring an umbrella or find a way to get your dog some shade. Also bring water and a bowl, like this one so your pup doesn’t get dehydrated.
What’s your favorite dog friendly Florida beach? Mine is definitely the dog beach in Bonita! For more Florida vacation tips, be sure to check out my guide to the best Florida vacation spots here.