Clearwater Beach vs. Siesta Key

Clearwater Beach and Siesta Key are two of the gulf coast’s most prized jewels. This is mostly thanks to their loaded charms and activities. From beautiful beaches and water sports, to neighboring cities, these beach strips are the ideal getaway to this side of Florida.
Clearwater Beach vs. Siesta Key

Table of Contents

Clearwater Beach boasts its beautiful vistas and jam-packed beach strip. Siesta Key practically has everything. It doesn’t just have a single beach but a whole slew of them. They’re both equally exciting and worth the excursion. Just mere hours of drive apart, you can just easily conquer both.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is one of the Gulf Coast’s most popular and beautiful strips of white sand and blue waters. The entire resort city boasts a roster of draws and activities that keep luring visitors over the years. There are so many family-friendly attractions here that families of all sizes will undoubtedly enjoy a vacation.

Here you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time. You can both sit back and chill at the same time and explore the beauty around you. It features tours around its waters and neighboring hotspots to nightly delights. Clearwater Beach will continue to be a must-visit destination.

What Makes Clearwater Beach Unique

Beach Walk

One of its most well-known features is the fabled Beach Walk in Clearwater Beach. The walk boasts some of the most gorgeous views of Clearwater Beach. One of the US’ most beautiful beaches. It is a perfect contrast of cosmopolitan and beachside charms. On one side, you have beautiful gleaming white sand and crystal clear water; on the other, you’ll have palm trees, shops, and hotels.

Along the beach walk, you can find a lot of places to dine and chill. Some of the best locally-owned restaurants line their length, allowing you to sample the best of the local staples.

Many restaurants have alfresco dining offering the best opportunities for people watching. Or you can simply savor the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico as you eat and unwind after a leisurely stroll.

As you take advantage of the city’s year-round sunny weather, the boardwalk also offers easy access to the beach below. When visiting one of the most well-known beaches in the US, you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas to relax in style.

The beach is popular for having a rich concentration of shells on its sand. You can also collect several beautiful shells from the sand as you relish the beauty of the beach.

Just over the boardwalk, you can have every opportunity to try out surfing. Clearwater Beach provides plenty of opportunities for water sports. It has constant sunshine and great winds. You can also try your hand at fishing on the renowned Pier 60 if you prefer to stay on the boardwalk.

Pier 60

Without visiting the famous Pier 60, no Clearwater Beach experience would be complete. The pier is only one of the most iconic places to hit in the beach. It is the busiest and most energetic location along the well-known Clearwater Beach Walk. Amazing catches can be found while fishing during the day. If you like to fish on the famous pier at least once, you can find several rental shops just across the beach walk.

The pier also has attractions for children. Fun-loving kids can easily go down the sand from the pier and boardwalk. They’ll find quite an array of playgrounds with inflatable slides. The beach walk itself is a family-friendly location, it offers fun experiences for everyone.

The pier is not just full of attractions during the day, but it becomes even more special as soon as dusk falls. From 6 to 9 PM, the Sunsets at Pier 60 Daily Festival comes to life. The pier turns into a hub of amusement and wonder, with flavors suitable for everyone. It is the best spot in the Clearwater region to visit at night, with live music and street entertainers.

The many pop-up shops offered also offer a wide variety of interesting purchases for curious visitors and locals. Across the pier, you can also find a selection of anything from eccentric memorabilia to local specialties. When visiting Clearwater Beach and the city of Clearwater, one of the must-dos is to attend the sunset festival at Pier 60.

Dolphin Watching

The Gulf of Mexico is known for many things, on top of its sheer beauty, it is also home to a wealth of marine life. Whether you’re off the Mexican coasts or Southern Florida, it has always been a source of amazement. It is home to some of the most stunning wildlife in the world across the wide splendor of the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re visiting during the right seasons, dolphin pods can easily be spotted close to Clearwater Beach. There are many trips available for anyone interested in seeing these majestic marine mammals.

The best experience is provided by the well-known Dolphin Adventure trips. The tour takes you out to sea and lets you observe how dolphins live in their natural environment. You can even have close encounters with them. The tour also includes much-needed refreshments on board,  ideal for a sunny boat ride. Additionally, the tour offers details and fun facts about the local aquatic life.

You also have a variety of cruise lines in Clearwater to pick from in addition to Dolphin Adventures. They provide a variety of tours that include beautiful sceneries and stops to other nearby hotspots.

Water Tours

Thanks to its consistently sunny days and ideal conditions, Clearwater Beach is a great place to brave the waters and explore. Every type of mode imaginable is available for tours around its waters and even nearby hotspots.

The numerous boat cruises that are offered in the city are still the best form of transportation. Even though these visits are conducted on ships and boats, you can always expect to find some twists and gimmicks.

Here are some of the most recommended:

Pirate-Themed Cruise

The presence of pirates has long stood in the history book of Southern Florida, and Clearwater Beach is no stranger. This has endured through all of Florida’s festivals and customs. This intriguing period of history is one that Clearwater Beach strongly recalls. But today it has been used to give its tours a quirky spin.

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise is arguably the most fun cruise trip in all of Clearwater Beach. This trip offers live entertainment and role-playing. It has since become popular among families with younger children. The charades and fun games continue the entire journey until the ship returns to Clearwater Beach.

The Calypso Queen

The grand and festive Calypso Queen cruise is hard to miss in Clearwater Beach. It is basically the only one of its kind. The ship features three levels, and each one is chock-full of entertainment. The excursion offers breathtakingly beautiful views of the gulf. You can also see a panoramic view of the lively Clearwater Beach coastline.

Tour packages include complimentary drinks, along with the ship’s two full-service bars. They offer a wide selection of alcohol, especially for those who love day drinking. The Calypso Queen’s overtly Caribbean aura can be felt together with the refreshing sea wind.

Private Boat Tour

Clearwater Beach’s streets and sand are frequently crowded with people. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. If you want to get away from the crowds it is best to take a private boat tour. This is one of the better options if you have the money and want to get the most out of your time at Clearwater Beach.

Private boat cruises typically travel across the Gulf of Mexico aboard a double-decker boat. Dolphins and stingrays are just two examples of the many marine animal species you might encounter during these tours. Packages also offer swimming, snorkeling, and shelling opportunities at a variety of beaches.

Siesta Key

Just off the coast of Sarasota, there is an eight-mile-long (13 km) barrier island called Siesta Key. Three award-winning sandy beaches are located on the west side of Siesta Key and are caressed by the mellow Gulf of Mexico seas. Siesta Beach is the beach closest to the north, followed by Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach at the southernmost point of the Key.

The turquoise waters and brilliant quartz sand of Siesta Key are well recognized. The island’s sand is frequently compared to powdered sugar. It is even praised as one of the nation’s most stunning beaches. Both indoor and outdoor activities, including parasailing and riding a jet ski, are abundant on the island.

What Makes Siesta Key Unique?

The Three Beaches

With stretches of white sand that resemble powdered sugar, the beaches of Siesta Key are nothing short of spectacular. It even boasts three different beaches each characteristically unique and beautiful on its own. What marks them all spectacularly similar, however, are their dazzling white sand and turquoise water.

Siesta Beach

Siesta Key Beach lives up to the reputation of being consistently rated as the best beach in the country. Even Tripadvisor listed it as the fifth best beach in the world. It is one of the top beaches in Florida famous for its fine white sand and gorgeous clear water.

The picturesque beach is very soft and flows between your toes with ease. You will get stunning views of the clear water and the gentle ocean breaks from any spot around the sand. The sun is also available for you to enjoy if you love to sunbathe. However, the beach provides more than simply a straightforward lounge. You can participate in one of the many available water sports or activities.

Siesta Key is the ideal location for parasailing because of the wonderful breeze. The wind even increases strength offshore. Better yet, go on an extended fishing expedition, try out jet skiing, or take in a spectacular vista while parasailing.

Crescent Beach

Siesta Beach may be the most popular sport in the key but Crescent Bech is an underrated gem. Located just south of Siesta Beach, it is nearby condos, hotels, and resorts. Though picturesque and every bit amazing, the beach is noticeably less crowded and quieter.

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is tucked away at the southernmost point of Siesta Key. One of the nicest beaches on Siesta Key, with fossilized shark teeth and golden sand on one side and Blind Pass Lagoon on the other.

The “salt and pepper” sand of Turtle Beach sets it apart from other Siesta Key beaches. The beach’s small coves, formed by the waves, add to its distinctiveness. It’s a great beach for swimming and relaxing, but can be difficult to walk there due to the coves and the very steep slope leading down to the water.

You will have much to do thanks to the large range of activities. The quiet half mile of the beach is ideal for a day of swimming in the clear blue ocean and reading under an umbrella.

A stroll around Turtle Beach offers excellent shelling opportunities. You might even come across shark teeth and small coves formed by the waves. The lagoon is on the opposite side of the well-known Siesta Beach. You may discover a picnic area and a boat launch for kayaks and small boats.

Water Activities

Siesta Key has many activities around its waters, from kiteboarding to parasailing. It has dominating sun and continuous winds. You can find plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty of Siesta Beach. Here are some of the most popular go-to activities:


Thanks to great winds and constant sun, Kiteboarding is one of the most famous activities in Siesta Key. You can also find a strong kiteboarding community here. There are several places and people to meet that will help you learn the sport or rent equipment.


You can also explore nature and the outdoors without having to do extreme sports like kiteboarding. Kayaking is also one of the most popular water activities to do around Siesta Key.

You can kayak around beaches, especially on Turtle Beach, mangroves, and other nearby islands and keys. There are several spots around the many beaches where you can rent kayaks and many other equipment.


With consistent winds and a city big on tourism, you can expect Siesta Beach to have a plethora of extreme activities for entertainment. Parasailing is one of the many enjoyable and interesting ways to enjoy and explore the area.

Parasailing tours are usually perfect for groups of 12, or even a family of four. This is a perfect activity for the family or a group of friends.

Siesta Village

The buzzing Siesta Village is just five minutes north of Siesta Beach. Several of Siesta Key’s most popular attractions are located in the hamlet. It has some of the best dining on the barrier island, as well as a thriving local community and shopping.

The ideal location to spend some time away from the beach is Siesta Key Village. The town is enjoyable to explore on foot. It is home to several highly regarded galleries, boutique shops, and local markets. Most of which offer fantastic entertainment.

The community also offers a grocery store where you can stock up on foods that are ideal for a BBQ at the beach if you don’t want to dine out three times a day. But after the sun sets, the village really comes to life.

The best nightlife on Siesta Key can be found in Siesta Key Village, where a fun environment is created by a mix of locals and visitors. For live music and outdoor drinks, visit Daiquiri Deck.

Siesta Key Drum Circle

Siesta Key boasts a rich local culture in addition to immaculate coastlines and spectacular sunsets. The Siesta Key Drum Circle is among the top attractions on the island. On a Sunday night, if you’re at the beaches on Siesta Key, be sure to watch the drummers perform at dusk.

The enduring local custom brings together dancers, artists, and families from all over the island for a celebration of music and unity. Large groups congregate on the beach for this entertaining pastime 52 times per year. A siren is followed by the pitter-patter of the instruments as the drumming starts.

Young and old come together as the community sings together as the music fills the air. Each partygoer has the chance to participate as random instruments are distributed among the crowd.

The Neighboring City of Sarasota

Since Sarasota is the town that serves as the entrance to Siesta Key, you may travel through it again. Located about 25 minutes north of Siesta Key, it is a quaint and exciting city that you must see while on vacation there.

Cross Sarasota Bay for a terrific and quick escape from Siesta Key for a taste of metropolitan life and culture. You can visit beautiful gardens, join the vibrant nightlife, and find excellent dining in the city.

There are many outdoor activities in addition to some entertaining things to do in the city. Beautiful beaches, golf courses, and botanical gardens are all nearby. There are also a number of excellent museums to visit, with The Ringling being the best.

The remarkable art gallery was founded in 1927 and now has more than 10,000 works of art. It features sculptures, photographs, and other works of art from various historical periods.

Myakka River State Park, Florida’s oldest and largest state park, is also located there. Fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are all fantastic in the area. A popular activity there is taking an airboat ride.

Is Clearwater Beach or Siesta Key Better?

Siesta Key is absolutely better. It has three famous beaches, along with some water sports, historical villages, and the city of Sarasota itself. Imagine a lovely combination of some of the best beaches in the US just a stone’s throw away from a very iconic city. You can easily have everything exciting in Siesta Key.


How Far Is Siesta Key From Clearwater Beach?

Siesta Key is approximately 52 miles (83 km) from Clearwater Beach, directly. Should you decide to brave the long road in between, the driving distance is around 66 miles (106.22 km).

Clearwater Beach to Siesta Key

You can head to Siesta Key from Clearwater Beach via one of three ways. You can take the bus, a taxi, or a car. Taxi is the most expensive option but it is one the fastest, while buses are the cheapest.