Siesta Key

Siesta Key is a beautiful barrier island on Florida’s west coast. It’s one of the best beaches in Florida and the entire United States.

Siesta Key has won numerous awards, including the “Dr. Beach” award for the best beach in America in 2017.

Location

Siesta Key is located just southwest of Sarasota.

It is also relatively close to Tampa and Saint Petersburg to the north, which are the closest cities near Siesta Key.

Beach Description

Siesta Key has unusually beautiful white sand beaches. They’re very light, soft and are often described as powdery, or sugary.

The sand on Siesta Key is composed of several materials, including crushed coral, minerals and quartz rock. Quartz is what makes the sands of Siesta Key so beautiful.

The quartz came from the erosion of the Appalachian Mountain range. The sand found its way into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually onto the beaches of Siesta Key.

The quartz in Siesta Key’s sand reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it like darker sand. This helps keep it relatively cool during hot temperatures and more comfortable to walk on and lay on while sunbathing.

The sand can be extremely bright though. Good, polarized sunglasses are highly recommended. The sunglasses are also nice because they make the beautiful water appear even more clear and blue.

Siesta Key is lined with privately-owned beachfront real estate. There are not any beachfront bars or restaurants, unlike other beaches on the Gulf Coast.

Siesta Key is a long, narrow beach front. Some areas, especially around the concession stand and walkway may be busy. To find more secluded areas visitors can walk on either side of the crowded areas.

The parking area is very large, but can become full during busy weekends, holidays and other popular times to visit. There are several sand volleyball courts

Beaches of Siesta Key

​​Siesta Key generally has three main beaches:

  • Siesta Beach
  • Crescent Beach
  • Turtle Beach

All of the beaches of Siesta Key are beautiful and offer their own unique properties.

Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach is the most popular beach of Siesta Key, and is also the easiest to visit.

It has tennis courts, volleyball courts, picnic areas and a shaded playground. There are on-site snackbar stands for easy food and drink options.

The water is generally clear and shallow, although the clarity does vary depending on wind, weather and wave action.

There are beach wheelchairs available for visitors to borrow if necessary. Siesta Beach is patrolled and guarded by lifeguards year-round.

Siesta Beach is a popular beach to visit because it’s a short distance away from the boutiques, shops and restaurants of Siesta Village.

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach is located to the south of Siesta Beach.

Crescent Beach is much quieter than Siesta Beach. It is still lively and fun, but generally has fewer visitors and crowds.

Crescent Beach has two public beach access points. Crescent Beach is popular among snorkelers because of the Point of Rocks snorkeling site at the south end of the beach.

Point of Rocks

Siesta Key has one of the best snorkeling places in Florida, called Point of Rocks. It is a rocky outcropping and limestone formation.

The rocky point provides shelter and hiding places for many fish and marine species.

Waving seagrasses, colorful corals and beautiful tropical fish can all be found among the limestone blocks and boulders at Point of Rocks.

The water at Point of Rocks is generally suitable for all levels of snorkeling ability, but visitors should pay attention to their surroundings and exercise all appropriate safety precautions.

Visitors should know their own limitations and be careful not to exceed them. The rocks can be sharp, slippery and dangerous.

Point of Rocks is located at 6900 Point of Rocks Road. It is found at the south end of Crescent Beach.

Point of Rocks can be accessed via Public Beach Access 12, located at 6490 Midnight Pass Road. There is a small parking area.

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is the southernmost beach in Siesta Key.

Turtle Beach has more local activities and sport amenities than either Siesta Beach or Turtle Beach. There is a fishing area near Blind Pass Lagoon and a boat ramp.

Turtle Beach is a popular place for beach combing thanks to the wide variety of sea shells and the possibility of finding shark teeth.

Turtle Beach is the smallest beach of the three Siesta Key beaches, and the sandy shoreline is steeper, which makes it less attractive for sunbathing. There are also more shells which can be annoying for running or walking on the beach.

Interestingly, the sand is darker than on Siesta Beach or Crescent Beach, even though they are located just a short distance away.

Parking

Parking can be very difficult to find at Siesta Key.

Many people arrive early in the morning and stay at the beach all day, so the parking spots are taken all day.

It is often necessary to park far from the beach and have to walk. Many visitors rent or bring bicycles or scooters to avoid walking to the beach from far-away parking spots.

Things to Do near Siesta Key

Most people come to Siesta Key for the beaches but there are many other things to do near Siesta Key.

Siesta Key has a large population of residents and visitors. The blend of locals and visitors creates a nice balance and creates opportunities for community involvement.

Siesta key has regular yoga sessions on the beach, drum circles, long-distance ocean swimming groups and many other activities.

Siesta Key is also home to a large community of local artists. Many have boutique art galleries in Siesta Key Village, and set up booths in the weekly farmers’ market, which is held every Sunday.

The area offers charter fishing trips into the Gulf of Mexico, watersports, jet ski rentals, kayak and paddleboard tours and rentals, and much more.

Kayak tours are very popular in the Gulf of Mexico and in mangroves which surround the backcountry waterways.

There are also an impressive and surprising number of cultural things to do in this area, including museums, opera, art galleries, botanical gardens, symphonies, theatre and many more.There are also many golf courses nearby and the area hosts spring training for baseball.

Siesta Key Village

Siesta Key Village has more than 100 fun businesses, including restaurants, boutique shops, cafes, coffee shops and more. Most shops and restaurants are along Ocean Boulevard.

Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village is a nice place to park, walk, window shop and snack.

Several restaurants are almost always recommended, including “Made in Rome Organic Gelato”, The Cottage, the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Summer House Steak and Seafood, and many others.

Siesta Key has several annual festivals, including the “Siesta Fiesta”.

Places to Stay

Siesta Key is an incredibly popular place to visit so the local area has many places to stay.

There are many options to choose from, including beachfront hotels, resorts, VRBOs and AirBnBs.

Best Times to Visit Siesta Key

The best time to visit Siesta Key depends on what you are looking for. Visiting Siesta Key can be fun and enjoyable at any time during the year, but certain periods and months offer better or worse conditions, depending on individual preferences.

Spring and Fall

The shoulder seasons of spring and fall often offer the best balance of nice weather and possibly reduced crowds.

Beginning in October the sun becomes less intense and humidity levels begin to decline. The water also begins cooling down, and can become too cold to swim around mid to late November.

The time from March to May often has the most comfortable temperatures. During this time it is warm enough to swim but the sun is not as intense, and the humidity levels are usually lower.

Hotels and restaurants may be less busy during these times because families are often busy with work and children’s school schedules. Some hotels, tours and restaurants may offer low-season discounts.

One large exception to that time range is spring break, usually during early to mid-March. During spring break Siesta Key becomes incredibly busy; besides winter it is one of the most crowded and worst times to visit.

Winter

The busiest times for Siesta Key are the summer vacation season and the winter, when snowbirds and vacationers come to Florida from around the world to escape cold northern winters.

Snowbird season usually begins around November, when temperatures become chilly in northern states, Canada and northern Europe. Some snowbirds remain up north until after Thanksgiving.

Summer

Many people think that summer is the worst time to visit Florida, but hoards of people do it anyway because that’s the only chance they get.

The summer season from June until October is extremely hot and humid. There are almost daily afternoon thunderstorms which bring heavy downpours and heavy winds. The storms are usually short though, and the weather can be lovely shortly afterward.

Visitors should be aware of Florida’s hurricane season and plan accordingly. Hurricanes can force evacuations on short-notice and may ruin vacation plans due to storms, rain and uncertainty. Some hotels, restaurants and other establishments may close due to hurricane activity or storm threats.

Living in Siesta Key

Both Siesta Key and Sarasota are popular places to retire, and both have large “snowbird” populations.

The cost of living in Siesta Key is high due to demand for beachfront homes and real estate.

Expensive living costs are a difficult challenge for many residents because the main economic driver is the tourism industry. Service industry jobs usually offer low earning potential, and are vulnerable to seasonal swings and economic shocks.

Many long-term residents of Siesta Key are also vulnerable to rising costs because they may be retirees and on fixed incomes.

MTV Siesta Key

Siesta Key has always been a popular place, but it was made famous, or infamous, by a MTV reality show called “Siesta Key”. The show was modeled after the other MTV series “Laguna Beach”.

Additional Resources

This Sarasota County tool offers a guide to beaches and public access points.