World Famous Siesta Key Beach (aka Crescent Beach), Sarasota FL

The secret of Siesta Key beaches started getting out several decades ago and it has been winning awards and accolades ever since.

 In 1987, Siesta Key Beach was judged “the World’s Finest and Whitest” beach. Made from 99% pure quartz, the beach sand is soft, floury and cool to the touch.

It is a favorite among people from all over the world. The beach facilities include picnic areas, restrooms, concession stands, playground, trails, and tennis and volleyball courts.

Siesta Key Beach has been ranked the #1 beach in the U.S. May 27, 2011: Siesta Key Beach Named the Nation’s Best! As the AP put it, “After years as a head-turning bridesmaid in the best-beach rankings, Sarasota’s Siesta Beach is finally the bride.” The wide slice of brilliant white sand and warm, emerald water on Florida’s southwest Gulf coast was named the best beach in the United States today in an annual survey by Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach.”

In 2015 Siesta Beach was named TripAdvisor’s best beach in the U.S.

And again in 2017 – TripAdvisor “Travelers’ Choice;” Siesta Beach voted #1 in the USA (#5 of all the beaches in the world)!

Siesta Key Beach, 40 acres of almost pure quartz sand on the Siesta Key barrier island, was runner-up in Leatherman’s rankings the past two years (2010 & 2009) and was third in 2008.

“The sand is like sugar,” said Leatherman, director of FIU’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. “Some people can’t believe it. You have to have sunglasses because it’s so bright. It’s super soft, super fine. I use 50 criteria to rate every beach, and in terms of sand alone Siesta Key is definitely the best in the world,” Dr. Leatherman said. Science backs up the hyperbole: Siesta Key’s beach is 99 percent limestone quartz, which stays consistently cool and silky. Why the other archipelagic islands nearby didn’t get the same sacred sand is harder to explain. Hop over to Lido Key to the north, or Casey Key to the south and you’ll find the more typical crushed-shell beaches that are beautiful but make bare footing a painful proposition when the sun is searing. Leatherman’s 50 criteria include the look and feel of the sand, water quality, weather, facilities and crowds. The highest possible score is 250. Siesta Key Beach scored in the 230s.

Now that Siesta Beach has reached the pinnacle of Dr. Beach’s list, it has been retired from consideration for future rankings.

Travel Channel named Siesta Key Beach as the “Best Sand Beach in America” for 2003. Siesta Beach was chosen to the “Elite” list by a panel of beach experts using various criteria including cleanliness, sand quality and surrounding areas. The panel experts praised the sand’s color, powder-soft touch and cool temperature.

Turtle Beach on Siesta Key

If you enjoy collecting shells and sharks teeth, try Turtle Beach, at the south end of the island. A good place for taking children, swimming is permitted in the lagoon. Fishing in the lagoon & docks is also permitted. While not as powdery as Siesta Beach, it is less crowded and has restroom facilities, picnic shelters and a boat ramp. The sand on the beach tends to carry more shells, making it perfect for beach combers and shell collectors. Many find petrified sharks’ teeth to take home and treasure, especially after a storm. A 2016 restoration project restored hundreds of feet of sand to an almost four mile stretch. It doesn’t win the awards that Siesta Beach does, but Turtle Beach area is a favorite of many discerning travelers because of its long stretches of relatively isolated sandy shores.