This Award-Winning Beach In Florida Is A Warm Winter Getaway You Won't Forget

Out of Florida's 825 miles of sandy beaches, it might be difficult to narrow down the best locations for beach relaxation. Beaches like Pensacola, Daytona, Cocoa, and Miami are just a few of the destinations the Sunshine State has to offer year-round. However, travel organizations have managed to pick out a few favorites that are a little more off the beaten track and recommend them to fellow travelers. One standout location is Bowman's Beach.

Condé Nast Traveller ranked Bowman's Beach as one of the top 24 beaches in the United States. Around three hours south of Tampa, the beach is on Sanibel Island, one of many islands off the coast of Fort Myers and Cape Coral. The Sanibel Causeway links the island with mainland Florida so vehicles can easily come and go. You can find the stunning white shores within Bowman's Beach Park, which has plenty of nearby places to stay and many wildlife viewing opportunities within reach. 

Bowman's Beach is known for its clean and calm waters

Bowman's Beach is a quintessential Floridian white sand beach with seashells galore. The water quality at this beach is frequently checked by Swim Guide, which often gives the beach a passing score based on the Florida Department of Health's criteria. This means that Bowman's Beach is a perfect place to swim. It has also seen fewer impacts of city development, making it feel all the more pristine. Even the walk from the parking lot (which charges $5 per hour) to the beach itself adds to its feeling of isolation as it takes you along walking trails shrouded in plant life.

The beach does not have concessions other than drinks, but there are amenities available to make your own food, including charcoal grills and picnic tables. Additional amenities include restrooms, showers, and a playground. Feel free to bring kayaks, jet skis, or other boats as well. Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on site, and it's important to be aware of unpredictable currents and big waves when enjoying water activities.

Spot wildlife at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Just minutes from Bowman's Beach is the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which takes up a sizeable portion of Sanibel Island. As the name suggests, this area has ample wildlife, including manatees, alligators, and more than 245 species of birds among its mangroves and small bodies of water. The park also has a visitor center with interactive exhibits, an observation tower, and hiking trails. Trails, including the 4-mile (round trip) Indigo Trail, can be accessed from the visitor center and its parking lot on Wildlife Drive. 

Sanibel Island has quaint lodging options near Bowman's Beach. Among them are the community vacation homes at West End Paradise. They may seem hard to miss given their pink exteriors, but they are nestled among ponds and trees, which can mean occasional bird sightings within the grounds, so it's easy to get distracted. These vary in size capacity from two to six people and even include equipment you can bring with you to the beach.