What Are the Most Dangerous Beaches in Florida?

Whether you prefer the glistening white-sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast or the shiny golden beaches of the state’s Atlantic Coast, the Sunshine State has a whole lot to offer for every kind of beachgoer out there.

In fact, Florida is home to many of the world’s most famous beaches, including the Siesta Key, Miami, and Clearwater beaches.

That being said, these beaches aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, they’re included in our list of Florida’s most dangerous beaches.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit these beaches; you just have to be cautious. It’s a good idea to research the beaches in-depth and do your due diligence before taking the plunge (puns intended).

Thankfully, we’ve simplified the research for you by compiling a list of Florida’s ten most dangerous beaches.

Table of Contents

1. Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach

The “World’s Most Famous Beach” tops this list because of its high petty crime and shark attack rates.

Outforia reported 581 crimes in this location between May and September 2021, although most of these crimes were non-violent.

150 of these crimes were thefts and robberies, so visitors should always be vigilant especially if they’re bringing valuables.

Daytona has also seen a whopping 39 shark attacks, with 13 “surf zone fatalities” being recorded since 2014.

Still, Daytona Beach sees about nine million visitors each year, many of whom visit to watch NASCAR races at the famous International Speedway, participate in the city’s biannual Bike Week, or just enjoy the location’s gleaming sands.

2. Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach

Famous for its shiny quartz sand, stunning turquoise waters, and high-end shopping options, Siesta Beach, also referred to as Siesta Key Beach, is Florida’s second most dangerous beach, according to Outforia.

Although Sarasota, where Siesta Beach is located, has a reasonably low crime rate, at least one lightning strike fatality and five shark attacks have been reported.

This location also experiences high average temperatures, so it’s important that visitors wear lightweight clothing, hydrate, and schedule their beach activities carefully.

Luckily, Sarasota offers a plethora of shopping and dining options, which means you can easily seek cool shelter when the temperatures get a little out of hand.

3. Deerfield Beach

Deerfield Beach

This shoreline south of Palm Beach has seen one fatal lightning strike and two shark attacks. In addition, its water pollution score is 47.4 out of 100.

Despite these numbers, Deerfield Beach earned the “Blue Wave” designation from the Clean Beach Council due to its “excellent water quality, beach conditions, safety services, public information, and habitat conservation policies.”

So, perhaps Deerfield Beach’s water quality and safety levels aren’t quite as bad as Outforia makes them out to be.

However, still be careful when wading in the water and make sure you’ve done your research before visiting Deerfield Beach.

4. Belleair Beach

Belleair Beach

Even with Belleair Beach’s relatively low crime rate, you must practice precautionary measures when visiting this Gulf Coast beach.

This location in Pinellas County obtained a water pollution score of 45.93 out of 100 and saw one lightning strike fatality.

Still, Belleair Beach is perfect for beachgoers looking for a small-town vibe and plenty of tourist attractions.

Some of the most popular places in Belleair are The Dalí (Salvador Dalí Museum), an art museum showcasing some of the works of Salvador Dalí and other well-known artists, and Vinoy Park, which features eleven acres of scenic green space.

5. Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach

In addition to having its fair share of crime, this beach in Broward County has clocked four shark attacks and earned a water pollution score of 47.37 out of 100.

However, if you’re looking for a beach with a vibrant arts and culture scene, a bevy of boutique shops, endless restaurant and bar options along the beach, and beautiful, captivating ocean scenery, Hollywood Beach is the place.

But, in order for you to enjoy its many attractions and amenities, including its breathtaking stretch of beach, you need to be aware of all the risks involved.

6. Miami Beach

Miami Beach

It may shock you that Miami, one of Florida’s most highly populated cities, is way down the list when it comes to crime rate, at least what’s reported by Outforia.

Also, its air pollution score is the same as or lower than smaller Florida beaches like Hollywood Beach, Belleair Beach, Deerfield Beach, and Siesta Beach.

This means that, according to Outforia’s metrics, Miami Beach is quite a safe beach.

As you may already know, this coastal metropolis in Miami-Dade County is famous worldwide for its warm climate, diverse cuisine, eclectic mix of cultures (including Latin American influences), and bustling nightlife.

7. Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach Boardwalk

Even though Atlantic Beach has a reasonably low crime rate, it has a fairly high water pollution score of 66.22 out of 100.

That said, this city in Duval County enjoys comfortably warm temperatures with an average summer temperature high of 88 °F.

If your sole intention at the beach is to sunbathe, explore the Atlantic Beach Boardwalk, and enjoy the beach’s gorgeous sunset, Atlantic Beach might be the perfect place to visit.

But if you also want to swim at Atlantic Beach, you need to be particularly careful.

8. North Palm Beach / Palm Beach

North Palm Beach and Palm Beach

Together, North Palm Beach and Palm Beach have seen eleven shark attacks, with Palm Beach tying with Emerald Island in North Carolina for second place for the highest number of shark attacks (each with ten shark attacks).

It should be noted that Palm Beach’s crime rate is significantly lower than that of North Palm Beach, with 12 and 156 reported crimes, respectively.

Thus, if you really want to maximize your safety, it might be best to stay in the Palm Beach area.

Like Sarasota and Hollywood Beach, Palm Beach boasts upscale boutiques, glitzy estates, and high-end restaurants and galleries, so if you’re an arts and culture aficionado looking for a fun way to spend your free time, look no further than Palm Beach.

9. Boynton Beach

Boynton Beach

Despite Boynton Beach’s lower-than-average crime rate, it has seen its fair share of shark attacks (three recorded so far).

Still, it enjoys its status of being one of Florida’s safer beaches, with an average water pollution score and no fatal lightning strikes.

Plus, Boynton Beach is known for being one of the most attractive beaches in Florida, thanks to its sparkling golden sand and shimmering turquoise waters.

Its average summer temperature high is on the warmer side, at 89.8 °F, so visitors must make sure they hydrate, wear appropriate clothing, and schedule their beach visits for cooler times of the day.

10. Hillsboro Beach

Hillsboro Beach

At the bottom of this list (or, rather, at the top of this list in terms of safety) is Hillsboro Beach. This beach in Broward County has had no reported crimes, no shark attacks, no fatal lightning strikes, and only an average water pollution score of 47.4 out of 100.

That’s not bad considering that Hillsboro Beach is Florida’s largest beach!

To top it off, Hillsboro Beach is considered one of the best beaches in America, largely due to its beautiful white sand beaches and rich marine life.

If you’re a beach lover who wants to enjoy the best of everything (safety, beautiful scenery, magnificent marine life), Hillsboro Beach might be your best bet.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are so many beaches in Florida. How do I choose a beach?

Your choice of beach should depend on a variety of factors.

Do you prefer white sand and calmer waves or golden-brown sand and large waves? If you prefer the former, Atlantic Coast beaches might be the best choice for you.

If you lean towards the latter, Gulf Coast beaches are the way to go.

Another factor to consider is the weather. The farther up north you go, the cooler the weather will be.

And, of course, the further south, the warmer the weather.

Lastly, what are your cultural preferences? Do you want someplace upscale? Do you tend to go for old-fashioned places?

Are you a fan of miniature golf?

miniature golf

These are all factors you should consider when choosing your Florida beach.

Luckily for you, whatever your preferences are, Florida has a beach that perfectly suits you.

What are the best ways to avoid shark attacks?

Despite media portrayals, shark attacks are actually few and far between. When you calculate the percentages, you’ll see that shark attack instances are extremely rare.

Yet, it’s never a bad idea to practice precautionary measures. These include always swimming in groups, swimming close enough to shore, avoiding wearing shiny jewelry, and avoiding swimming in murky waters.

Does Florida have dog-friendly hotels and beaches?

Absolutely. Almost every beach comes with dog-and pet-friendly hotels. And most beaches will allow you to bring your dog.

But make sure ahead of time just in case. You can do that by visiting the beach’s or city’s website and reading their rules and regulations.

And of course, please be sure that you are dealing with your pet’s waste appropriately and that they do not disturb the local wildlife.