SIESTA KEY BEACH: Your All-Access Beach Guide (Advice From the Locals)

Located directly off the Gulf of Mexico, Siesta Key Beach is a favorite attraction for both locals and visitors alike. TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards even rated Siesta Key Beach the #1 beach in the U.S. in 2020! What makes Siesta Key Beach such a stunning attraction? There are many reasons why this spot is a favorite for locals and tourists from around the world!

First, note that Siesta Key Beach offers lifeguards, free entry, clean restrooms, several grilling and picnic stations, playground equipment, and volleyball nets. Also, there are lots of hiking trails around the beach for enjoying birdwatching or biking. There are even showers on the beach, so you can clean off before heading home.

If you’ve never visited Siesta Key Beach, check out some added reasons why this beautiful spot is a “must-see”! You can then make your plans to visit and not miss any of its stunning attractions. After just one time on this beautiful beach, it’s sure to become your favorite vacation spot as well.

What Is Siesta Key?

Siesta Key is an 8-mile-long island in the Gulf of Mexico, right off the southern border of Sarasota. The island boasts Siesta Village, with several shops, restaurants, resorts, and more. There are also lots of spots for launching a sailboat or even hosting a wedding on its shores!

While there is a lot to do inland, the island is most known for its white-sand beaches. Additionally, you can spot dolphins and manatees in the water and enjoy amazing sunsets year-round. Keep reading to find out more about those beaches so you can plan your trip to this stunning slice of paradise.

How Do I Get to Siesta Key Beach? (Access Points)

access points siesta beach

Note some basic information about various access points to Siesta Beach while on the island. Also, remember that not all areas offer parking, so be sure to plan accordingly:

  • Access 1 or Shell Beach offers a quiet spot in a residential neighborhood, perfect for relaxing. However, there are no lifeguards or pets allowed. On the other hand, be prepared to spot dolphins and manatees right off the coast in this secluded area. There is no parking at Access 1 but is accessible to pedestrians only.
  • Access 2 is where you’ll find “Broken Pier,” a fishing pier that’s a favorite attraction for history buffs. While you might enjoy fishing off the pier, note that it’s somewhat rickety and not always stable. Parking is limited to one ADA spot.
  • Accesses 3, 4, and 5 also stay less crowded than other spots along the coast, while offering stunning tidal pools and sunsets. Although without its own parking, Access 4 is just a short walk from Siesta Village and Access 7’s parking lot.
  • There is no Access 6 to Siesta Key Beach! However, Access 7 offers some of the most photogenic spots along the beach. Access 7 also offers 40 parking spots, or you can reach it on foot from Siesta Village.
  • Access 8 provides a moderately sized parking lot but is a popular part of the beach. In turn, it might be a bit more crowded than some beachgoers prefer. However, this access point is also home to some amazing plant life, offering a stunning natural setting.
  • Access 9 only has a few parking spots, and these tend to fill up quickly! However, this part of the beach is usually quieter and less crowded than others.
  • Access 10 has no parking lot but offers trails that make it perfect for bike riders.
  • Accesses 11 and 12 offer convenient proximity to Siesta Village and its many dining and shopping attractions. While Access 12 offers parking, it also fills up quickly! Consequently, you’ll need to get here early if you expect to find a spot.
  • Access 13 is pedestrian access only and a favorite spot for snorkelers. Point-of-Rocks also gives you a great spot for spotting dolphins and manatees along its large seawall.

What Is Siesta Key Beach Known For?

In short, Siesta Key Beach is known for its sand! Pulverized coral makes up most beach sand in the United States. However, Siesta Key Beach sand is some 99% quartz, creating a softer feeling underfoot. Additionally, the lighter color and its soft texture keep the sand cool even on the hottest days of the year.

life guard stand at siesta key

While some people might wonder if the sand on Siesta Key Beach is fake, the answer is no! Geologists from Harvard University have guessed that Siesta Key Beach sand is millions of years old. They theorize that the sand originated in the Appalachians, flowing from the mountains by way of local rivers. Eventually, those waters deposited the sand on Siesta Key, where you can enjoy it to this day!

Additionally, Siesta Key Beach is not just long but also very wide. In turn, the beach can host hundreds of visitors without feeling cramped and crowded. Also, specialty mats installed along the beach allow for easier walking and accessing its many attractions.

Do I Need a Car in Siesta Key Beach area?

As you can see, parking near Siesta Key Beach can be quite limited, especially during the spring break season! The few spaces on the beach or along nearby residential streets fill up fast. Consequently, you’ll want to arrive as early as possible, if you must drive.

On the other hand, experienced beachgoers find that taking an Uber, Lyft, or other service is the best choice! Restaurants and other island attractions are within easy walking distance of the beach. There are also bike rental spots on the beach, so you can ride around the island. In turn, you can easily leave your car at home when you visit Siesta Key Beach.

Is Siesta Key Beach Free?

Accessing Siesta Key Beach is free! However, note that there are charges for specialty services such as an umbrella or bike rental, kayak tours, and so on. It’s important to check the prices for any such service you plan on using while visiting the beach. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to leave your credit cards at home.

Is Siesta Key Beach Safe to Swim?

Waters along Siesta Key Beach are typically calm and clear, making them perfect for a swim. Additionally, there are many lifeguards watching over the beach, ensuring your safety! Lifeguards start their watch at 10 a.m. and stay on guard until 4:45 p.m., from Labor Day through Memorial Day. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, guards stay on duty until 6:45 p.m.

Also, remember that you might find dolphins, manatees, and other marine life in the water. Don’t let these creatures startle you, as they’re typically harmless. You might even enjoy taking photos with them if you should spot them while enjoying a swim!

upcoming events SRQ

Are There Sharks at Siesta Key Beach?

Siesta Key Beach is very inhospitable for sharks, as its water is too shallow for sharks to swim easily. Reportedly, there have been no shark attacks or bites around Siesta Key for decades! However, you might occasionally find shark’s teeth in the water or along the shores. These often wash up from deeper waters, and they make a great keepsake or memento to take back home.

Can You Swim in Siesta Key in January?

Rarely do the waters of the Gulf of Mexico freeze over. Consequently, you can usually swim off Siesta Key year-round, including during January and February. However, water temperatures do get lower during these months! In turn, you might find that they’re simply too cold to enjoy your swim.

Also, many beachgoers find it helpful to dress for the weather if they visit Siesta Key Beach during winter months. This might include long pants and a jacket and closed-toe shoes. Dressing in layers also allows you to adjust what you’re wearing, as needed. Consequently, a slight cooldown won’t keep you from enjoying your time on this beautiful beach.

Is Siesta Key Warm in March?

Siesta Key starts warming up during March. However, temperatures are still somewhat cool, averaging from 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. In turn, you might dress accordingly or bring a jacket if you plan on hitting the island during these months. Also, if you plan on swimming, consider waiting until midday when the sun is out and the water is its warmest.

siesta key beach area

The Best Time to Visit Siesta Key

Many visitors find early Fall the best time to visit Siesta Key Beach. One reason for this is that Florida temperatures are often uncomfortably hot in the summertime. Too much sun exposure is also a risk factor during the summer months.

On the other hand, water temperatures haven’t yet cooled down to uncomfortable levels during later summer and early fall. Consequently, you can still typically enjoy a swim or snorkeling in September through October at Siesta Key Beach.

Why Is Siesta Key So Popular?

Tourists and locals alike often rank Siesta Key as one of the best spots for beachgoers in the country. Why is this island and its many miles of beaches a must-see for everyone? One reason to visit Siesta Key Beach is its soft powdery sand, which stays cool year-round. Two, the size of Siesta Key Beach keeps it from getting crowded even on weekends and holidays, as said.

Additionally, beaches around the key offer something for everyone! If you want to swim or set up a chair and sunbathe, you’re sure to find a perfect spot. On the other hand, if you prefer a bit of rustic nature, the beach has plenty of tall grass to explore. There are also trails for biking, hiking, birdwatching, or just stretching your legs.

Also, the island itself offers great dining, shopping, and nightlife attractions! You don’t need to get back in your car and leave the island when you’re ready for lunch or dinner. Moreover, the island is a great place for families and groups who prefer different ways of spending their day! The shoppers in the family can browse nearby storefronts while others can swim or lounge by the water.

Things to Do In Siesta Key

No matter how you want to spend your day, Siesta Key is the place to be! Along with swimming, lounging on the beach, shopping, and dining, check out what else you can do on the island:

  • Every Sunday, check out a local drum circle on the beach. This circle forms between lifeguard stations 3 and 4, about an hour before sunset. Bring your own instrument and join in, dance around if you’re so inspired, or just listen to the jams!
  • Divers can enjoy both shore and boat diving along the beach. You can check out natural rock formations or the wrecks of M-10 and M-17, vessels that both sank in 1900.
  • For even more relaxation, plan on visiting one of the many spas located on the island. You can enjoy a massage or personalized skincare treatment, sure to keep you looking and feeling your best.
  • What’s a beach vacation without a bit of rum to go along with it? Siesta Key Rum offers free tours of their distillery as well as tastings of their specialty creations. Check out Toasted Coconut, Coffee, and Spiced Rum varieties, all of which you’re sure to love!
  • If you love kayaking and don’t want to miss a detail of Siesta Key, book a guided kayak tour. These tours take you to the best spots around the island, at a leisurely pace anyone can follow.
  • Campers can head over to Turtle Beach Campground, a premier beachfront site you’re sure to love! This campground offers 39 RV and tent sites, with full hookup, water connections, and free Wi-Fi.
  • Point-of-Rocks beach offers shallow water pools, perfect for those who want to try out some snorkeling.

Additionally, you can always find lots of watersports to try along Siesta Key Beach. There are businesses offering parasailing, boating, paddle board and jet ski rental, and more along the shoreline.

Does Siesta Key Beach Have Shells?

You won’t find as many seashells on Siesta Key Beach as you will on other beaches around the country. One reason for this is that heavy foot traffic grinds up shells into small pieces. Two, the beach’s powdery sand doesn’t hold shells very easily.

However, if you’re looking for shells, visit Point-of-Rocks beach. Shallow waters around this beach help trap shells and keep them intact. Also, remember that Florida law protects wildlife including marine life. If you take a few shells from the beach, ensure you don’t disturb any sea creatures in the process.

Can You Take Sand From Siesta Key Beach?

While you might enjoy the feeling of Siesta Key Beach’s powdery white sand, it’s vital that you leave it there for others to enjoy. Most coastal states in the U.S., including Florida, have laws against removing sand from the beach.

Some people might find this law somewhat unnecessary if not downright silly. However, consider the many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of visitors who tour Siesta Key Beach every year. If all of them removed even a handful of sand, the beaches would suffer severe erosion.

Also, note that beach sand is a valuable commodity. Contractors use sand for making concrete, for cleaning oily spills, and the like. Without laws protecting it, manufacturers and resellers might remove beach sand by truckful. In turn, it’s vital that you avoid taking home sand as a souvenir.

view of siesta key beach

Is Siesta Key a Wealthy Area?

Siesta Key is one of the most expensive places to live in Sarasota County. As of April 2022, median home prices run over $1.3 million. Why are homeowners willing to pay so much to live in this part of the state?

Sarasota County and Siesta Key in particular boast top-rated schools and offer dozens of grocery stores and hundreds of eateries. In addition to the key’s beaches, there are dozens of parks, biking trails, and other outdoor attractions to enjoy. Siesta Key is especially enjoyable for families, with lots of dog parks, playgrounds, and daycare centers.

Above all, Siesta Key is safe for its residents! The crime rate is 65% lower than the national average. Lots of residential homes in the area also keep speed limits low, increasing biker and pedestrian safety.