Sun, sand and water are three things Sarasota has an abundance of, but not all Sarasota beaches are the same. Six islands line Sarasota’s extensive coastline, each revealing its own personality, recreational options and natural beauty. Don’t worry, you don’t have to choose just one.
Siesta Key Beach is central Sarasota’s gateway to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico, an island that combines luxurious amenities with a relaxed vibe that appeals to both visitors and locals.
On the east side of this eight-mile long barrier island is Sarasota Bay and Florida’s intracoastal waterway. It’s a scenic trail for boaters interested in exploring the mangrove forests that dot the area, dropping a line for snook or pompano, or cruising to Sarasota’s dockside restaurants and pubs. On the island’s west side are Siesta Key’s glorious white sand beaches — ranked number one in the world in 2011 by Dr. Beach — and the calm waters of the Gulf. Take an early morning walk while dipping your toes in the surf; build sand castles, search for shells and soak up the warm sunshine in the afternoon; then find a comfortable spot in to view the postcard-perfect moment when the sun dips below the horizon and paints the sky in strokes of red and orange.
There’s more to Siesta Key than just beaches and water. This island is a destination for all who stay or live in the Sarasota area thanks to the wide variety of entertainment and dining options that stretch its length. On the north end, a short walk from one of Siesta’s large expanses of public beach, lies Siesta Key Village. In the village’s quaint few blocks you’ll find dozens of shops that cater to the island lifestyle, offering necessities like groceries and hardware alongside souvenirs and bathing suits. Siesta Key Village restaurants — most with large, open-air dining — range from pancake and egg joints to award-winning fine dining spots. No matter how fancy, though, dress codes are always casual: Sandals are not only allowed, they’re expected.
Down at the south end of Siesta Key you’ll find more restaurants, shops and public beaches, as well as marina and boat rental facilities. Within minutes, you can putter in a pontoon boat or slice through waves in a high-powered jet ski. Try parasailing for more high-flying adventure, where you’ll experience a unique view of Siesta Key while suspended from a parachute over 100 feet in the air. Or exercise more than just your sense of wonder by renting a bike or a kayak to explore the island on your own.
Siesta Key accommodations range from the simplicity of a hotel to the convenience of a week-long (or more) rental. From cozy, beach-side cottages outfitted with the basics to posh condominium complexes complete with every amenity imaginable, there’s an option for all visitors and budgets. Campers and recreational vehicles can set up a few feet from the sand in the unique, publicly-owned campground at the quiet Turtle Beach on the south side of the island. Of course, no matter where you choose to stay, Siesta Key Beach is always just a short walk away.
Casual and beautiful, home to some of the world’s best beaches, and a short drive to all that greater Sarasota has to offer, Siesta Key is an ideal spot to spend a lazy afternoon or an extended stay.