Best Sandbars in Florida
Places to VisitFlorida’s Best Sandbars

Florida's Best Sandbars

Crab Island, Destin, FL

The Sunshine State’s coastline is home to a trove of spectacular sandbars housing a host of aquatic wildlife and beachgoers alike. Sandbars are exposed sand flats and shallow areas with limited wave action. These sandy sanctuaries are the perfect habitat for a range of species, from seagrass to a variety of fish. Sandbars can be found in many parts of Florida, just offshore near the southern most part of the state.

Exploring Florida’s sandbars is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re an avid fisher or a beach lover, these sandy havens provide a picturesque backdrop to whatever activity you have planned. Relax and soak up the sun, spend the day fishing, or simply jump in for a refreshing swim. With breathtaking seascapes, the possibilities are endless when it comes to sandbars in Florida.


What Are Sandbars?

Sandbars are ridges or shoals of sand that form in the ocean, typically in estuaries or near coastlines. They are typically formed by the action of wave motions, prevailing winds and tides. These actions move and deposit sediment into shallow areas, leading to the formation of sandbars. Additionally, sandbars can also form due to coastal development and human activities such as dredging and beach nourishment. Sandbars are typically semi-permanent features in the coastal environment, although they can move depending on the direction of coastal processes like tides, storms and currents.

Sandbars are found all over the coastline of Florida and vary in size and shape. Due to their varied composition, sandbars are sometimes prone to serious shifting with changes in tide. Furthermore, increasing coastal development has threatened sandbars around Florida and can have detrimental effects on the coastal system.

Anclote Sandbar
Tarpon Springs, FL

Renamed after the Spanish word for “anchor”, Anclote Keys Preserve is a unique oasis located three miles off of Florida’s coastline, only accessible by ferry or private boat. Its tranquil waters are famed for their shimmering whites and powdery soft sand that provides a picturesque setting for unparalleled sunsets.

The isolated sandbar is also a haven for numerous blacktip sharks, so visitors must remain vigilant while exploring the serene beauty. Despite having no developed amenities, it is possible to camp on Anclote Sandbar, however, one has to navigate their way there with either a boat or a jet ski. There are several operators in the area who offer that service.

Anclote Keys Preserve is a beautiful getaway and offers the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle and experience nature in its undisturbed form.

Disappearing Island
Ponce Inlet, FL
Ever heard of a magical island? Nicknamed ‘The Disappearing Island, this stretch of sand appears and disappears with the ebb and flow of the tides. This three-quarter mile strip of stunning sands features lush vegetation and offers magnificent views of Florida’s tallest lighthouse, The Ponce Inlet.

During low tide, Disappearing Island reveals itself to the world in all its glory and becomes a popular hangout spot for beachgoers and boaters alike. On any given day, one can find plenty of boats anchored off of the sandbar or even beached on the sand. On especially busy days, such as summer weekends and holidays, the island attracts incredibly large crowds, filling its expanse with laughter and chatter.

If you’re looking for a perfect day of fun in the sun, Disappearing Island offers plenty of activities to enjoy. From barbecues to making new friends, this sandbar is the perfect place to pitch up and get away from it all. Plus, there are plenty of waterfront restaurants with moorings, so you can take a break and admire the enchanting surroundings.

The Flats
Hernando Beach, FL
The Flats of Hernando Beach are a must-see for anyone looking for a blissful boating day. These shallow sand bars glimmer with the beautiful turquoise water, making them a popular destination for boats of all sizes. Visitors can take in the stunning views and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

To reach the Flats in Hernando Beach, you will need to take a boat, jets, or kayak. It’s a sandbar located right outside the canal system in Hernando Beach. All you have to do is navigate the canals and follow the channel markers until you reach marker 25 (which is one of the easiest spots to get into the flats), at which point you will take a right. You can’t miss it; you’ll see many boaters enjoying the shallow waters at any given time. Once you reach the Flats, you’ll find that the water is between 2 – 4 feet deep (depending on the tide), making it perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, hanging out in your boat, or just exploring.

Most people consider the Flats as the main attraction in Hernando Beach. During summer weekends or holidays you can easily spot hundreds of boats out there. It’s a great place for kids to jump on the floating map, collect sea shells, or just play in the water.

You can rent pontoon boats at the following places close to the Flats:

Passage Key
Tampa, FL

The Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge, located approximately a mile from the Skyway Bridge off of Anna Maria Island, was once a small island that would disappear at high tide. Today, however, it is now an inviting expanse of white sand and aquamarine waters, like spun sugar and crystal-clear waters.

Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay between Anna Maria Island and Egmont Key, Passage Key is one of the nicest sandbars in all of Florida. Desginated as a bird sanctuary, boaters can take advantage of its crystal-clear waters and spectacular beauty during the weekends and holidays. However, visitors need to be aware that 40% of the visitors there often choose to go without clothes. While nudity isn’t officially allowed, those who want to bare-all will usually find the best place to do so on the northwest corner of the island. Despite its clothing-optional nature, the water is great for swimming and anchoring and the sand is pristine white. So for those who don’t mind a bit of skin, Passage Key is an epic place to spend with friends, a cooler full of adult beverages, and of course, good sunscreen!


Crab Island
Destin, FL

For those who have ever made the trip to the Emerald Coast, especially Destin, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Crab Island—the famed sandbar that’s been featured on HGTV and Good Morning America. Boaters flock here on the weekends to take advantage of its emerald green waters and obstacles to explore, including its own floating bars! Originally an island, the Gulf of Mexico’s waves have eroded the sandbar to depths of between 1 and 4 feet all around.

Whether you want to rent a pontoon, take a shuttle, or splash around on a kayak or jet ski, the most common way to get to Crab Island is by boat. Currents are too strong to swim, and renting a pontoon boat is best for those planning to stay the whole day. Excursions to and from the Island from Destin Harbor are available, as are rental options for a variety of watercrafts. So if you’re looking for a unique beach experience, don’t forget about Crab Island! 

You can rent pontoon boats at the following places close to Crab Island:

Bunces Pass
Tampa, FL
Situated in Fort DeSoto County Park and dividing it from Shell Key is Bunces Pass; an ideal location for the whole family to spend the day at on a boat. With its unspoiled setting and views of St. Pete Beach miles away, the southern shoreline of the pass is the main point to anchor, offering shallow waters, spacious and serene interior lagoons, and a combination of both hard and soft sands.

This spot, located near the mouth of Tampa Bay, is south of St. Pete Beach and north of Anna Maria Island, within short reach of Fort DeSoto Beach, Passage Key, Egmont Key, and Pass-A-Grille. It goes without saying why this is a popular boating area, as it is the second most registered boats in the state. St. Pete Beach and Tierra Verde are also not far away, perfect for folks looking to take a quick trip to pick up essentials such as bait, fuel, or food. And the largest boat park in the world is a mere quarter of a mile from Bunces Pass! What more could you ask for?

Johns Pass Sandbar
Tampa, FL
Johns Pass Sandbar is easily one of the most popular boating spots in Tampa Bay. Situated in the western part of Boca Ciega Bay, northeast of Johns Pass bridge, and inbetween Treasure Island and Madeira Beach, the sandbar exists as sand accumulates and flows from Boca Ciega Bay to Johns Pass and out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The water around Johns Pass is usually a stunning emerald blue/green though can be unclear when conditions are not calm. The sandbar is in a highly populated area with waterfront restaurants, tours, and watersports available. It is also the place of parties, both private and official events, and lured particularly in the summer and on major holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July – when hundreds of boats can gather in the area.




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