Siesta Key, a barrier island between the city of Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico, is blessed with three public beaches. While each has turquoise water, white sand, and incredible sunsets on most evenings, there are some distinct differences between the three beaches. Use this handy guide to the beaches of Siesta Key to know which beach will be best suited for you and your traveling companions.
At the northern end of Siesta Key, you will find Siesta Beach. It is the most popular public beach and also has the most amenities. One of the reasons it is so popular is due to its 99% pure quartz sand that stays cool under your feet. Siesta Beach was named the #1 beach in the United States in 2011 by “Dr. Beach”. It was also awarded the #1 US Beach award by TripAdvisor in 2015.
Because of its shallow waters near the shoreline and year-round lifeguard protection, Siesta Beach is a good choice for families. It has a large, shaded playground, picnic areas, concession stands, and several volleyball courts along with a café overlooking the beach. Siesta Beach is within walking distance of Siesta Key Village.
Because Siesta Beach is so popular, its 950 parking spaces fill up fast, so it is recommended to get there early, especially on the weekends. It is often a good idea to walk there if you are staying nearby.
Across Siesta Key, at the southern tip lies Turtle Beach, an area that is popular with the more active, sporty crowd. This beach has volleyball courts, a horseshoe pit, and even a boat launch area, in addition to the traditional playgrounds and picnic areas. Fishing is permitted here with a valid fishing license. Turtle Beach is also popular with shell and shark’s teeth hunters.
Turtle Beach gets its namesake because, during turtle nesting season, many sea turtles head to this beach to find a mate and look for appropriate nesting places.
While there are only about 200 parking spaces on Turtle Beach, it’s sometimes easier to get a spot here than Siesta Beach.
In our opinion, Crescent Beach is just as picturesque as Siesta Beach, but without the tourist crowds. Crescent Beach was named the “World’s Finest, Whitest Sand” at the 1987 Great International Sand Challenge. Crescent Beach is located just south of Siesta Beach and has been described as the most private non-private beach in the Greater Sarasota area. Parking can be limited here, but it’s an easy walk from most places on the island.
When you visit the southern tip of Crescent Beach, check out the area known as Point of Rocks – definitely the best snorkeling spot on Siesta Key. Point of Rocks has vibrant coral formations and a kaleidoscope of colorful marine life.
Because it is secluded, Crescent Beach does not have any public facilities, lifeguards, or amenities that Siesta Beach or Turtle Beach have.
Deciding whether to visit Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach or Crescent Beach comes down to a personal choice. Many make the decision to visit all three early in their stay, then continually go back to the one they like the best. Hopefully, this guide will make it easier to decide which one will bring the most enjoyment to their traveling companions.