Florida Travel Blog - Destinations in Florida

Florida Travel Blog 

Travel destinations, beaches and attractions and things to do in Florida. Documented by RESIDENTS of Florida.

19 Alluring Islands to Visit in Florida

How Many Islands in Florida? We Have 19 Good Ones

Bahia Honda Beach - Islands to visit in Florida and how many islands in Florida
Bahia Honda Key is a great way for children to learn about underwater sea life.

Thinking about islands to visit in Florida? Want to know how many islands in Florida?

There is nothing like being surrounded by water on a Florida island visit. Just how many islands in Florida? Wikipedia says there are 4510 over ten acres. However, we would suggest there are thousands more islands in Florida under 10 acres.

Florida has over 4500 islands we document! Of course, many are uninhabited or abandoned. Some islands were havens for Native Americans, pirates, and prisoners sentenced for crimes.

Many more exist in the ten thousand island region in the Everglades. Many more exist on the Florida Bay Map

So, how many islands in Florida? We doubt there is an accurate count.

Why Are Some Islands Called Keys

Some islands are called keys. Most islands are made from events that occurred thousands of years ago. Keys are a mound of coral deposits formed by living corals.

Can you tell the difference? Not really unless you are planning on major excavations. Our list of 19 islands to visit in Florida explores both keys and land-formed islands.

When planning a visit to a Florida island, we really don’t care whether we are going to a “key” or just a plain old island. It’s the amenities, or lack thereof, that make your island visit in Florida different.

Florida has some plush resort islands and some remote barely inhabited islands. You can choose the level of adventure desired.

The Best 19 Florida Islands to Visit

Below, Florida Travel Blog gives you 19 islands to visit in Florida.

 

St. George Island – Panhandle Island to Visit in Florida

If you could choose a beach to just hide away from the rest of the world, St. George Island would be a candidate. Located off the Gulf coast near Apalachicola, the island has some development on the western side, but there are miles of natural beaches on the eastern side of St. George Island.

Best Florida Island For:

things you need when flying

 

Chokoloskee – Big History, Small Florida Island

This little island in the Everglades was critically important to survival for Indians, trappers and fishermen in the 19th century.

It was a central point for trading goods and services. Barely known but inhabited by hardcore fishermen, Chokoloskee is a remote inshore fishermen’s paradise. Plenty of redfish, snook, and trout around the area. This is one of the best places to fish in southwest Florida. 

Best Florida Island to Visit For:

 
Marco Island – Luxury Vacation Island

On the other end of the remote and sparse habitation is Marco Island. Located south of Naples on the edge of the Everglades, the island is the winter home of the well-heeled.

Elegant condos surround the island along with the Gulf of Mexico. Nice wide beaches front many of the resorts that offer only the best in service and amenities. If cost is no issue, this is the island to visit in Florida.

Best Florida Island For:

Amelia Island – Family Vacation Florida Island

Amelia Island is one of the larger islands in our Florida island adventure list. Located north of Jacksonville, the island is one of or favorite road trips while in the northeastern part of Florida. The town of Fernandina Beach is fun and the eastern shore of Amelia Island is covered with resorts along the Atlantic Ocean. If you are counting how many islands in Florida, this is one of the biggest.

Best Florida Island to Visit For:

 
Fort Myers Beach – Fun Florida Island for the Family

Note – Fort Myers Beach was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. As of January 2024, new hotels and resorts are starting to open and there is new growth on the island. Perhaps one of the more well-known tourist islands on our list. Plenty of shopping on the beach and across the bridge in Ft. Myers. Many water-based activities on both sides of the island. Also the home to The Key West Express, a ferry that takes you to Key West.

Best Florida Island For:

 
Siesta Key – Famous Beach, Quaint Florida Island Town

If size matters when it comes to beaches, you must visit Siesta Key Beach on the island. The public beach is huge and the village nearby supports a dozen different restaurant options. On the north end of Siesta Key there are some upscale homes on a tree-covered drive as you cross the bridge from Sarasota.

Best Florida Island to Visit For:

  • One of the biggest beaches in Florida
  • Cute small town with good restaurants
  • Near Sarasota for sightseeing and shopping
  • Check lodging here.
 
Clearwater Beach – One of the Most Visited Islands in Florida

Whenever we write about Clearwater Beach, we disclose our prejudice – we live there! Probably the most visited beach on our islands to visit in Florida list. This is a family beach with a big marina that supports all types of water activities.

Kids love the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise. Beautiful white soft sand covers 3 miles of beaches. Tons of hotel choices and plenty of shopping make Clearwater Beach a perfect vacation for the whole family.

 
Cayo Costa– Remote Florida Island Getaway

In direct contrast to Clearwater Beach is Cayo Costa. This island to visit in Florida is only accessible by boat. There are ferries from Pine Island and other locations that take you to Cayo Costa State Park. This remote island has limited facilities, but a beautiful beach to explore. You must book through the state of Florida website for overnight lodging.

Best Florida Island For:

  • Isolation and relaxation
  • Beach shelling
  • Primitive Camping
  • Ditching the Cell Phone
Anna Maria Island – Rustic Florida Island Beach Community 

Another Gulf Coast island to visit in Florida located northwest of Bradenton, Florida. What makes Anna Maria Island unique is the lack of sky-reaching high-rises. You aren’t surrounded by condos, just colorful cottages and homes. Good restaurants to visit also.

Anna Maria Island is very near Sarasota which is a great place to visit with waterfront and cultural activities.

Best Island in Florida For:

 
The Florida Keys and Key West

We consider Key West the ultimate Florida vacation and one of the most popular destinations in Florida. Florida Travel Blog has several posts about attractions on the island. If you are going to visit Key West by automobile, you will actually be visiting 48 islands in Florida. That is how many you cross getting to Key West.

It is hard not to like Key West. Duval Street alone is an attraction. Then there is the Hemingway connection, the historical component and the many beaches. World-class fishing too! Key West has become an international destination for tourists, artists and the curious. Of all the islands to visit in Florida, Key West is a must-see. 

Best Island in Florida to Visit For:

 

Lido Key Beach – Beach Community with Big Shopping Habit

Lido Key is just north of Siesta Key and is also accessible from Sarasota, Florida. The beach is generally less crowded, but the real attraction on Lido Key is St. Armand’s Circle. The collection of 140 retail outlets and restaurants brings people from all over Florida. Fun place!

islands to visit in Florida - Sanibel
Pathway to the beach on Sanibel Island.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands –  Popular Gulf Coast Island

Note – Sanibel and Captiva were destroyed by Hurricane Ian. By the end of 2023, there should be new growth on the island. These two islands are linked by a bridge but are considered together because there is only one way to get there through Sanibel.

It would be uncommon to visit one island and not go to the other. While Sanibel is known for the numerous shells washed up on the beach daily and Captiva has the South Seas Island Resort, both are the destination for sun worshipers heading to Florida beaches. Your access to these beaches is just north of Fort Myers.

Best Island in Florida to Visit For:

 
Bahia Honda State Park – One of Florida’s Best Island Beaches

For those families that love to explore and camp, Bahia Honda Key is the place to be. A great way to introduce the kids to the saltwater environment on an island just north of Key West.

It can be a busy place, so reservations are required for camping facilities. There are plenty of motels around if you just want to enjoy Bahia Honda State Park Beach. If you are going to consider islands to visit in Florida with a family, this is it.

St. Pete Beach – One of Florida’s Best Island Beaches

You could almost duplicate the words for Clearwater Beach for St. Pete Beach. This is an island with long sandy beaches and tons of hotels. The Don CeSar is a classic old hotel that anchors the south end of the beach. Maybe not quite as much to do on St. Pete Beach as Clearwater Beach, but this beach is party central for the younger crowd.

Best Island to Visit in Florida For:

 
Fort Jefferson – Island and Historical Attraction

About 70 miles west of Key West is truly a Florida island adventure. In the mid-1800s the United States built a prison on an island in the Dry Tortugas. At the time it was a marvel of red brick construction.

Called Fort Jefferson originally, it was converted into a prison to hold Confederate prisoners during the Civil War. Even Dr. Mudd was there! It is a must-see for those who want to see the Tortugas and this historical island. There are ferry and float plane trips daily from Key West.

Best Island to Visit For:

If you like history coupled with islands to visit in Florida, you must go to Fort Jefferson.

 
Boca Grande – Relaxed Island, World Class Fishing!

Just west of Port Charlotte, Florida is a small, but exclusive, island called Gasparilla Island. For a century the island has been dominated by the rich and famous who want to get away from crowds in a town called Boca Grande. We don’t know if the exclusivity continues today, but we do know Boca Grande swells by several hundred people each spring when the tarpon are running. The island is called the Tarpon Capital of the World.

Best Florida Island to Visit For:

 
Key Largo – The Largest Island in The Keys

The string of islands off the southern tip of Florida are called the Florida Keys. There are about 47 of them connected by bridges. Key Largo is the largest of the islands to visit in Florida and the Keys. This is the perfect island to visit in Florida.

Key Largo is known for the fabulous scuba diving on local reefs. But in fairness, other places like Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Key are equally popular islands in the chain. For the ultimate Florida island adventure, explore them all! There are amazing sights throughout the Keys. Visit all the islands in the Florida Keys!

Best Island in Florida to Visit For:

 
Cabbage Key – Island on the Gulf Coast

Do you like a little mixture of experiences in your visit to a Florida island? Adventure? How about an island-hopping ferry ride to a small island that supposedly serves up the best cheeseburger in Florida and then a stroll around the barrier island?

That is the agenda for Cabbage Key and the Cabbage Key Inn. Cabbage Key is in Pine Island Sound north of Sanibel and Captiva.

Best Island in Florida For:

Florida Islands - Cedar Key
one of the islands near Cedar Key.
Cedar Key – Historic Island on the Gulf Coast

At one point in Florida’s history, Cedar Key was a major shipping port on the Florida Gulf coast. Eventually, the island became one of the state’s biggest suppliers of clams and oysters. Quaint shops and a line of buildings with restaurants built right over the Gulf highlight  Cedar Key’s appeal. Cedar Key is 45 miles north of Crystal River.

Best Island to Visit in Florida For:

 
 

What To Expect When Visiting Florida Islands

Florida’s islands offer a diverse range of experiences, from the vibrant energy of Key West to the secluded natural beauty of the Dry Tortugas National Park. Here’s what you can generally expect when visiting these Sunshine State gems:

Stunning Beaches:

  • Expect sugar-white sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles.

     

     

  • Many islands boast calm, shallow waters ideal for families with young children (Bahia Honda is a good example).

     

     

  • For snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life await exploration.

     

     

  • Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular ways to explore the coastline and mangroves.

     

     

Island Charm and Culture:

  • Each island has its unique personality and cultural heritage, from the conch communities of the Keys to the Bahamian influences in the Bahamas.

     

     

  • Quaint towns with colorful architecture and friendly locals offer a laid-back atmosphere.

     

     

  • Fresh seafood dishes are a must-try, featuring local catches like lobster, grouper, and snapper.

     

     

  • Don’t miss out on local festivals and events celebrating the islands’ unique traditions.

     

     

Outdoor Activities and Adventure:

  • Hiking trails weave through lush landscapes, offering opportunities to spot diverse birdlife and native plants.

     

     

  • Fishing charters cater to all skill levels, allowing you to reel in your own piece of paradise.

     

     

  • Boating excursions take you to secluded beaches, dolphin-watching tours, and unforgettable sunset cruises.

     

     

  • For the adventurous, kayaking through mangrove tunnels and exploring underwater caves provide thrilling experiences.

     

     

Things to Consider:

  • Accessibility: Some islands are easily accessible by car or ferry, while others require flights or boat charters.
  • Accommodation: Choose from a variety of options, including hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds. Hotels and lodging must be booked in advance.
  • Activities: Research the activities available on your chosen island and book tours or equipment rentals in advance.
  • Seasonality: Consider the weather and hurricane season when planning your trip.

By understanding these general expectations and considering your individual preferences, you can plan an unforgettable and enriching island getaway in Florida.

Florida Islands Are Recipe for Adventure

How many islands in Florida? We are not sure, but we know these are our favorite 19 Florida islands to visit in Florida.

Many Florida islands have big beaches and plenty of people. Others are remote islands to visit in Florida. All of the islands in Florida are worth visiting. Find your new Florida adventure on a Florida island.

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