Last Updated on April 27, 2023
The glittering turquoise waters stretch as far as the eye can see, while white quartz beaches with sand as fine as talcum stay cool to the touch under the fiery morning sun. A tropical breeze and sultry sunshine kiss your cheeks in this Gulf Coast destination. What a feeling! This can be experienced from the hotels at Siesta Key.
You’ve probably heard of Siesta Key, voted No. 2 of the “25 Best Beaches in the World” by TripAdvisor in 2022 and 2023. Or maybe you’ve caught an episode of MTV’s reality show, “Siesta Key.”
It’s a place of extraordinary natural beauty—and there’s a quiet side to this barrier island that can be even more alluring than its famous spring break beach parties.
Bike easily along packed-sand beaches, take in the intoxicating sunsets, get a taste of adventure on a fishing charter, or, if you’re lucky, witness the endangered sea turtles who call parts of this key home for half the year. Siesta Key beaches in Florida are the perfect place to slow down and kick your heels back for a spell.
The eight-mile-long key offers something special for every visitor including beachy shops, several top restaurants and a unique selection of galleries featuring island art, some collection-worthy.
And, oh the Gulf Coast beaches.
Siesta Key Beaches Florida
There are three main Siesta Key beaches in Florida to enjoy during your time there, each with its own unique characteristics.
Siesta Beach stretches from the north end, where there’s beach parking at various public access points. This popular stretch is laid back, with firmly packed sand, making it an excellent area for biking or walking along the coastal waters.
It’s popular with seniors too, who wade amongst the shallow waters for exercise. The central, main part of Siesta Beach lies a bit further down, with two concession stands, volleyball nets, and umbrellas dotting the sand. There’s a large public parking lot, but be sure to get there early.
Just south of Siesta Beach, Crescent Beach is more private and secluded. It’s a narrower strip of sand leading down to Point of Rocks, where you’ll find Siesta Key’s best snorkeling and diving. The coral reefs in this area provide colorful marine life, and it’s a terrific place to take the kids.
Once again, you’ve got crystal white sand against calmly lapping aquamarine waters—a perfect postcard. You can’t beat Crescent Beach for its sunsets.
A favorite with locals, Turtle Beach is unusual for its darker, more coarse sand. This one of Siesta Keys beaches in Florida located on the south end is full of seashells and a bit more natural.
There’s a campground, places to picnic, and launches for canoes and kayaks. This part of the key is home to a very special population from May 1-October 31—its amazing, endangered sea turtles.
One of the best things to do in Siesta Key is venturing out on its magnificent waters. Paddleboarding and kayaking are popular, and Little Sarasota Bay on the west side of the key offers a wealth of marine life to explore.
Within a refuge, manatees flourish in protected waters.
Or take a dolphin cruise with Funship Cruises. Their outings appeal to all ages and you can customize your excursion or plan a special event. Along with sea life, you’ll have a chance to relax, play, and cruise past some of the island’s notable homes.
The Gulf’s warm ocean temperatures also makes Siesta Key ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. SiestaKation is one venue offering a one-stop shop for all of your charter needs, including sunset cruises and tiki bar hopping. Choose a family-friendly or adult-only trip.
See the Sea Turtles
One of the most endearing aspects of the Siesta Key beaches Florida is that they’re home to important sea turtle nesting habitat. Every year, sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on Siesta Key’s inviting sands, many returning to the beach where they were born.
Learning about these endangered turtles feeds your soul and tugs at your heartstrings. The key hosts nesting sea turtles from May through October, and while there are many ways for visitors to enjoy them, we must treat these creatures with the utmost care and respect. Their safety, habitat, and very survival into the future depends on us.
Sea turtles are marine reptiles that inhabit all the world’s oceans except the Arctic. They have lived on our planet for more than 100 million years.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium just north of Siesta Key past downtown Sarasota out on Lido Shores is the leading organization in the area working diligently on sea turtle research and conservation. Five species nest on Siesta Key: enormous Loggerheads some 6-feet in length, Green Turtles (Crush from Finding Nemo was a Green Turtle!), Leatherbacks, Kemp Ridleys, and Hawksbills. The Kemp Ridley is the rarest of these species.
Sea turtles are heavily protected, and Siesta Key beaches in Florida is one of the world’s most important nesting grounds specifically for loggerheads, hosting over 6,000 nesting attempts in a single year. Never disturb or harass them while they’re nesting. As locals and visitors, we are responsible for ensuring local waters and beaches remain sea turtle-friendly.
Turtles swim and mate just offshore before the females come to the beach to nest. The first hatchlings make their way across the beach in early summer and venture into Gulf waters.
During nesting season, Mote Marine monitors Siesta Key’s beaches daily for sea turtle activity. You have to be especially careful on the nesting beaches, as night light from waterfront properties can disorient nesting female turtles and their babies when they emerge; they use the moonlight, as they have for millennia, to find the sea.
Sea Turtle Protective Measures
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has set guidelines laying out some of the most important measures we can all take when sea turtles are present—anywhere you might find them.
- If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
- Shield or turn off outdoor lights visible on the beach in Siesta Key from May through October.
- Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
- Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water. Knock over sandcastles that may do the same.
- Do not approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, shine lights at turtles, or use flashlights, cell phone lights, or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Do not encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading to the water.
- Do not use fireworks on the beach.
- Follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles and other large marine life.
If you see a sick, injured, or stranded sea turtle in Sarasota or Manatee County waters, contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212.
You can Help Protect Siesta Key’s Sea Turtles
Donating to Mote Marine’s Sea Turtle Conservation Research Program is a terrific way to help protect its sea turtles. For example, they have an active tagging program, using satellite transmitters to monitor their behavior and migrations.
A Visit to Mote Aquarium allows visitors to safely observe sea turtles and learn more about these ancient and majestic creatures.
Siesta Key, FL Campgrounds
Interested in fancy camping or RVing on the Gulf of Mexico? Established in 1921, Turtle Beach Campground is a great place to stay while you’re enjoying the more laid-back side of Siesta Key.
Be sure to book reservations early during high season—it’s a smaller, more intimate grounds with only 39 campsites for tents and RVs with full hookups and laundry facilities.
Turtle Beach Grill is just across the road; it’s a fun beachy place for pub-style food and live music. Since sea turtles spend six months a year at Turtle Beach, this campground does not accommodate pets.
This is one of the few Florida campgrounds with beach access. Turtle Beach Park next to the campground provides launches for kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes.
Guests can hop aboard the free trolley that runs the island’s length to get over to bustling Siesta Key Beach and Siesta Key Village. This is where you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and nightlife options to explore.
Hotels Siesta Keys
Turtle Beach Resort & Inn
A meander down Siesta Key’s more tranquil Midnight Pass Road reveals a glamorous world of old mansions set back on massive lots in a tangle of tropical foliage. Keep going and you’ll discover a hidden gem of hotels at Siesta Key, the mostly word-of-mouth Turtle Beach Resort & Inn. This family and pet-friendly inn sits on Little Sarasota Bay in a tropical garden with water views and beach access.
Each room boasts its own private courtyard and hot tub. Hammocks and a heated pool are located at the water’s edge, where diverse wildlife like dolphins, manatees, and great blue herons are sure to delight kids of all ages.
The Bay’s estuaries, salt marshes, and tidal creeks make it biologically significant, and a stay amidst this natural treasure is a not-to-be-missed experience.
The Inn at Turtle Beach
The Inn at Turtle Beach is the Turtle Beach Resort and Inn’s sister property. The adults-only property is located just across the road from the Resort.
A romantic getaway among the hotels at Siesta Key, Turtle Beach is located on a lagoon and features 70s beach-style studios and one-bedroom suites, each with full kitchenettes, TVs with streaming media, and private hot tubs with patios.
A gazebo includes a large gas grill for barbeques. The Inn provides onsite laundry, beach chairs and umbrellas, fishing gear, and canoes and kayaks so you can take advantage of Siesta Key’s outdoor possibilities.
If you’re looking for a quiet escape on the picturesque Florida Gulf Coast with stunning beaches, lots of ocean activities and a chance to learn more about the sea turtles, these hotels at Siesta Key are waiting for you.
Siesta Key Palms Resort
I have previously reviewed this Caribbean-inspired property in detail.