As one of the highlights of the Sunshine State, Greater Fort Lauderdale’s 24 miles of golden sandy shores are home to some of Florida’s finest beaches. Whether you’re looking for a buzzy bar and restaurant-filled boardwalk or something quieter, where watersports are more of a draw than watering holes, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers something for everyone. So grab your swimsuit, sunblock, and sandals, and make your way to the sand for a day of fun in the sun at some of the best beaches in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
South of Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach is a family-friendly coastal community where you can spend your time building sandcastles and collecting seashells or surfing and swimming. Island Water Sports can get you outfitted for a day of water sports—and even provide private or group surfing, skimboarding, or paddleboard lessons—but the main draw here is the 1,000-foot-long international fishing pier. If you want to see what’s happening below the surface, check out the live underwater camera, which is located 30 feet below the pier, or take a walk underneath the pier itself for Instagram-worthy sunset pics.
The tiny town of Hillsboro Beach—which spans just three miles in length—is mostly beach. One of the highlights: climbing the 175 steps to the top of the historic lighthouse for sweeping sea views. Hillsboro Beach is also home to one of the highest densities of sea turtle nests per mile along Florida’s East Coast, so keep an eye out for nests (and maybe even prints from hatchlings).
Further south, Pompano Beach is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. Many of the coral reefs are reachable right from shore, while you’ll find 18 shipwrecks further out (head to Shipwreck Park for a mix of artificial reefs and art installations). The area is also popular for sport fishing, and the Hillsboro Inlet Fishing Center can arrange charters on their modern fleet for half or full-day trips. If you’re visiting with kids, you’ll find plenty of attractions to keep them entertained, from multiple playgrounds to an interactive water fountain with ocean views.
This walkable beach town has the feel of a seaside village with its mid-century modern, low-rise buildings (it also helps that it’s located on a barrier island seven feet above sea level). Swim through the shipwreck snorkel trail to spot wrecks like a British cargo steamer from 1900 or dive just 100 yards offshore at the first of a three-tiered natural coral reef system. The 24-hour Anglins Fishing Pier is also a favorite for casting a line (there’s a bait shop if you need supplies) and live music performances.
Located just over a mile from Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale each is the area's beating heart. Get your bearings strolling along the infamous Fort Lauderdale Beachfront Promenade, which skirts the coast and features a series of swanky hotels and happening restaurants and bars, like Lona Cocina Tequileria at The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach resort and fine dining Japanese-Korean eatery at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. While wining and dining are the highlights here, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the water, two favorites being by paddleboard or yacht tour.
North of Hollywood, Dania Beach feels more like a hidden gem, meaning you won’t have to fight for a space on the wide, white-sand beach. The Dania Beach Fishing Pier is popular for anglers after sportfish like tarpon and snook, and the beach is one of the few that has dining directly on the water. Quarterdeck Dania Beach Pier serves up classic beach bar fare (fried calamari, smoked mahi dip) and more refined plates you wouldn’t expect on the sand (think sirloin steak and clams in garlic wine butter). Just north of the pier lies Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, a great spot for picnicking, kayaking, and swimming.
Along the brick-paved Hollywood Beach Broadwalk—which stretches over two and a half miles from Jefferson Street to Sheridan Street, ending at Hollywood North Beach Park—you can cycle or stroll while shopping or grabbing a bite at one of the many outdoor cafes. If you’re traveling with pup in tow, be sure to get a day pass to Dog Beach (which you may recognize from the film “Marley and Me”). Over the past few years, Hollywood has heralded a mix of new and revamped hotels like Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, home to the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill.
At the southern end of Greater Fort Lauderdale, just before crossing into Miami, is Hallandale Beach. This beach is home to two fantastic beach parks: South City, where you’ll find a playground and volleyball courts, and North City, which is smaller but right by the ocean (and home to the locally designed Beach Ball Water Tower—perfect for an Instagram moment). For dining on the water, head to upscale eatery ETARU, a Japanese bar and grill that delivers directly to the sand at its beach bar on weekends. Time your trip to be in town during the fourth Sunday of the month in season (between December and April), when South City Beach Park showcases local musicians during its Beach Entertainment Series.
So what are you waiting for? Get out and explore the best beaches of Greater Fort Lauderdale today!