Unique Beaches of Siesta Key
Siesta Key – an 8 mile island paradise off the Sarasota mainland – is bordered by super-fine-grain sand that is often compared to baby powder. The island is accessible by two bridges (north bridge and south bridge). If you are visiting the key, or at least dream of a visit, you need to be aware of 4 public beaches on the island.
1. Siesta Public Beach - The Jewel of Sarasota.
The public beach has everything you would ever need from a beach: concessions (food/drinks), bathrooms, grills, a playground, volleyball courts and more. If you want to set up a canopy and spend the day at the beach, come here. The beach itself is huge. Be prepared to take a walk through the sand between your car and where you'll put your butt for a few hours.
Sand Rating: 10/10
Crowd Factor: 10/10
2. Crescent Beach – Also known as “beach access 12”
Just off the south bridge, Crescent Beach is wide like the public beach but is much more secluded and often only occupied by condo dwellers. This beach is across the street from a couple restaurants and close to shopping on the main land. Also, you'll find a lot of condo rentals in this area.
If you're going to rent a place on the key, consider renting near the south bridge. The quality of this beach is on par with the public beach, but with a fraction of the crowd.
Sand Rating: 9.5/10
Crowd Factor: 5/10
3. Shell Beach – A very small, secluded beach near the north bridge.
Although the beach is public, you'll enjoy a much more private and authentic experience. Just like all beaches in Sarasota, arrive early because parking is even more scant (less than 30) than the rest on this list. Don't expect to run up and down this beach chasing a frisbee and be prepared to sit, read and watch slow waves crawl along the beach. You'll find a lot of shells and drift wood decorate this sand.
Sand Rating: 5/10
Crowd Factor: 4/10
4. Turtle Beach – The ugly duckling of the Siesta beaches.
Turtle Beach is remotely located off the south tip of Siesta, 2.5 miles (4km) from the south bridge. You won't find the throngs of people here generally, but you will also miss out on the cool, soft sand of Crescent and the Public beach. The sand on Turtle is far better than most beaches you'll find in Florida, but it's grainy and darker because it has a much lower quartz ratio. Also, the beach is narrow (grass to water) and the water is deeper and can be more turbulent.
You might actually experience some waves at this beach. Locals often attempt to surf in these parts of Sarasota - some with success. Don't expect to see barrels, but the waves on Turtle are more aggressive than any other beach in Sarasota.
Turtle is as good a place to relax and watch a sunset as any, but don't hit this beach if you haven't been to the others.
Sand Rating: 4/10
Crowd Factor: 3/10
Before you pick a beach to visit, please be aware of the following:
- There is a good chance parking is going to be a problem.
- There is a good chance there will be a lot of people – even on Turtle and Shell beach.
- Bring sunscreen. The sun is intense.
- Bring water. The sun is intense.
- Arrive early.