By Mike Miller Updated April 26, 2023
There are many wonderful beach towns in Florida on both the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
Unfortunately, many of them have beautiful beaches that are almost invisible from the highway because of the high rise condominiums and hotels that line the beach.
Some of the best beach towns have remained small and not quite so covered with high rises. The beach towns we have selected here all have populations of less than 10,000.
SEASIDE, Population 148
Seaside is on the Gulf of Mexico about halfway between Panama City and Fort Walton Beach in the Florida Panhandle. It is on scenic Walton County Highway 30A along what is known as the Emerald Coast.
CAPTIVA ISLAND, 318
BADLY DAMAGED BY HURRICANE IAN SEPTEMBER 2022
Captiva Island is immediately north of Sanibel Island just west of Fort Myers. It fronts the Gulf of Mexico on the west and Pine Island Sound on the east.
BRINY BREEZES, Population 502
Briny Breezes is a small town of mobile homes on State Road A1A across the Intracoastal Waterway from Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.
GRAYTON BEACH, Population Not Many
Grayton Beach is a genuine old Florida beach town that has been welcoming tourists for generations. It is located on Scenic Highway 30A in Walton County about 23 miles east of Destin.
ANNA MARIA, Population 968
Anna Maria is a small residential town on the north end of Anna Maria Island. The seven-mile long island is reached by a causeway from nearby Bradenton.
APALACHICOLA, Population 2341
Apalachicola, Florida is the county seat of Franklin County. The population of this little town is about 2,500, and it is 80 miles southwest of Tallahassee on the Gulf of Mexico. It is located at the mouth of the Apalachicola River on Apalachicola Bay.
CARRABELLE, Population 2,606
Carrabelle is a working fishing village and laid back Old Florida tourist town just west of Florida's "Big Bend" Gulf coast. It is about 53 miles southwest of Tallahassee and has a population of about 2,600.
INDIALANTIC, Population 3,010
Indialantic is a beach town immediately east of Melbourne. It's an imaginative and creative name: this small town of less than 3,000 is on the barrier island separating the Indian River Lagoon from the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the best places to watch sea turtles nesting.
MELBOURNE BEACH, Population 3,231
Melbourne Beach is a quiet bedroom community of about 3,000 people on the barrier island across the Indian River Lagoon from the larger city of Melbourne. It is Brevard County's oldest beach community. It is not far north of Sebastian Inlet, which has one of the nicest state parks in Florida.
PONCE INLET, Population 3,357
Ponce Inlet is south of Daytona Beach on the peninsula bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Ponce de Leon Inlet and the Halifax River. In historic times, the inlet was known as Mosquito Inlet. It's most famous feature is the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station, built in 1887.
PORT ST. JOE, Population 3,357
Port St. Joe is on Florida's "Forgotten Coast" at the intersection of US-98 and State Road 71 about 23 miles west of Apalachicola. Its population is about 3,400.
JUNO BEACH, Population 3,858
Juno Beach, Florida is in Palm Beach County about 6 miles south of Jupiter Inlet. It was incorporated in 1953. It is an upscale community with an interesting history.
MADEIRA BEACH, Population 3,895
Madeira Beach, Florida is on the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County across Boca Ciega Bay from St. Petersburg. Locals refer to their little city as "Mad Beach." It is the location of Johns Pass Village.
FLAGLER BEACH, Population 5,160
Flagler Beach is a small town on the ocean between St. Augustine Beach and Ormond Beach. The town has a clean sandy beach that is almost completely uncluttered by the high rise condos and hotels that loom over most Florida beaches. It still retains it small-town charm.
SIESTA KEY, Population 5,454
Siesta Key, Florida is an eight mile long sandy barrier island off the shore of Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. The total population of the communities on the island is about 5,600.
SURFSIDE, Population 5,689
Surfside, Florida is a small town on the Atlantic Ocean in the Miami metropolitan area with a land area of only 361 acres. It is tucked in between the town of Bal Harbour on the north and the North Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach on the south.
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, Population 6,198
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida is an example of how a town or neighborhood in a large urban area can still have a distinctive small town feeling. The first thing to know is that it is not Fort Lauderdale. For those of you who know the area, the town is at the ocean end of Commercial Boulevard.
SANIBEL, Population 6,382
BADLY DAMAGED BY HURRICANE IAN SEPTEMBER 2022
Sanibel is an incorporated island city on the Gulf of Mexico in Lee County, Florida. It has a population of 7,400. The island is connected to much smaller Captiva Island on its north end by a short bridge over Blind Pass. It is great for shelling and also has one of the largest wildlife refuges on this coast.
INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH, Population 9,019
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida is on the barrier island in Brevard County across the Banana River from the southern tip of Merritt Island known locally as Dragon Point. It has the Atlantic Ocean beach on its east side and the Banana and Indian Rivers on the west side.
PALM BEACH, Population 9,245
Palm Beach, Florida is on the east coast barrier island across from West Palm Beach. It is a separate town considered by many sources the richest town of its size in the state. It is very different from its larger neighbor, West Palm Beach.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Population 9,972
The City of Cape Canaveral is south of and adjacent to the major cruise destination of Port Canaveral and nearby Kennedy Space Center. It is immediately north of Cocoa Beach on State Road A1A and shares much history and culture with its neighbor.
There are many other Florida small beach towns that are not on this list because of our definition of small: less than 10,000 people.
Other didn't make the list because we limited the number to 21.
Some of these include Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island; Ormond Beach; New Smyrna Beach; Vero Beach; Key Biscayne; and Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island.
Population data is from Florida Demographics, which has a list of Florida towns and places ranked by population.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
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