With its subtropical climate, Florida is known as the Sunshine State and boasts ample beach days year-round. But what’s the water really like in December? Here’s everything you need to know about swimming in Florida during the winter month.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Swimming is generally pleasant in Florida during December, though the water is cooler than in the hot summer months. Ocean temps range from the mid-60s to low 70s and pools are heated. You can comfortably swim throughout the state, especially in South Florida.

Ocean and Beach Conditions in December

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather, but what about swimming in December? Let’s take a look at the ocean and beach conditions during this time of year.

Water Temperature by Region

Florida is divided into several regions, and each region experiences different water temperatures in December. In the southern part of the state, such as Miami and the Florida Keys, the water temperature can still be quite pleasant, ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit.

However, as you move further north towards cities like Jacksonville or Pensacola, the water temperature can drop into the 60s or even colder. So, if you’re planning to swim in December, it’s best to stick to the southern regions where the water is warmer.

UV Index and Sun Protection

Even though it’s winter, Florida still experiences plenty of sunshine during December. It’s important to protect yourself from harmful UV rays, even on cloudy days. The UV index in Florida during this time of year can still be quite high, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and use sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Remember, sunburn can happen even in cooler temperatures!

Surf Conditions

December is not typically known for its big waves in Florida. However, this can vary depending on weather patterns and other factors. If you’re an experienced surfer, you might still find some decent waves in certain areas.

But if you’re a beginner, it’s best to check with local surf reports or speak to a lifeguard before heading out. Safety should always be your top priority!

Beach Crowds

One advantage of visiting Florida in December is that the beaches are usually less crowded compared to the peak summer months. Many tourists prefer to visit during the warmer months, so you might find more space to spread out and enjoy the beach.

However, keep in mind that popular tourist destinations like Miami or Orlando might still have a fair amount of visitors, so it’s always a good idea to arrive early to secure a good spot on the sand.

Pool Temperature and Availability

When it comes to swimming in Florida in December, one of the main factors to consider is the temperature of the pool water. While the weather in Florida remains relatively warm throughout the year, it can still get chilly during the winter months.

However, there are several options available for those who want to take a dip in a pool during this time.

Heated Hotel and Resort Pools

Many hotels and resorts in Florida have heated pools, allowing guests to enjoy swimming year-round. These pools are typically maintained at a comfortable temperature, even during the colder months. So, if you’re planning to visit Florida in December and want to swim, booking a stay at a hotel or resort with a heated pool is a great option.

You can relax and unwind in the warm water, regardless of the weather outside.

Public Pools in Parks & Recreation Centers

Another option for swimming in Florida in December is to visit public pools in parks and recreation centers. These facilities often have indoor pools that are heated and open to the public. They may have specific hours for lap swimming, recreational swimming, or water aerobics.

It’s a good idea to check the schedule and any admission fees before heading to these pools. They can be a great option for individuals, families, and even fitness enthusiasts looking to stay active during their visit to Florida.

University Pool Access

Some universities in Florida offer pool access to the public, especially during non-peak hours. This can be a fantastic opportunity for people who crave a swim in December. You can check with local universities to see if they have any arrangements for public pool access.

It’s important to note that availability may vary depending on the university’s policies and schedules, so it’s best to call ahead and inquire about their pool usage options.

Regardless of the option you choose, swimming in Florida in December can be a delightful experience. The warm water and pleasant weather make it an ideal destination for those seeking a refreshing swim, even during the winter months.

So, don’t hesitate to pack your swimsuit and dive into the pool during your visit to the Sunshine State!

Best Swimming Destinations

Florida is known for its warm weather and beautiful beaches, making it an ideal destination for swimming year-round. While the winter months in other parts of the country might mean packing away your swimsuit, in Florida, you can still enjoy a refreshing swim in December.

Here are some of the best swimming destinations in the Sunshine State:

South Florida Beaches

South Florida is home to some of the most popular and picturesque beaches in the state. With average temperatures in December ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius), the weather is still warm enough to take a dip in the ocean.

From Miami Beach with its vibrant atmosphere and crystal-clear waters to Fort Lauderdale Beach with its white sand and calm waves, there are plenty of options for beach lovers.

For those looking for a more secluded and serene beach experience, head to the Florida Keys. The Keys offer some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities in the state, with the added bonus of year-round warm waters.

Natural Springs

Florida is famous for its natural springs, which maintain a constant temperature of around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) throughout the year. These springs offer a unique swimming experience, as the crystal-clear water provides excellent visibility to see the underwater ecosystem.

Some popular springs in Florida include Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Blue Spring State Park, and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. These parks not only offer swimming but also opportunities for tubing, kayaking, and wildlife spotting.

Indoor Water Parks

If you prefer to swim indoors, Florida also has a variety of indoor water parks that are perfect for year-round swimming. These parks offer a fun and exciting experience for the whole family, with water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and more.

Some popular indoor water parks in Florida include Coco Key Water Park in Orlando, Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach, and Shipwreck Island Water Park in Panama City Beach. These parks provide a great way to beat the winter chill while still enjoying the thrills of water activities.

So, don’t let the winter months discourage you from swimming in Florida. Whether you choose to visit the beautiful beaches of South Florida, explore the natural springs, or have a blast at an indoor water park, there are plenty of options to satisfy your swimming desires in December.

What to Wear and Bring

When planning to swim in Florida in December, it is important to consider the weather and water conditions. While Florida generally has mild winters, the water can still be cooler compared to other times of the year. Here are some things to consider when deciding what to wear and bring for your swim:


Choosing the right swimsuit is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable swim. Opt for a swimsuit that provides enough coverage and support for your activities. For women, a one-piece or a tankini paired with swim shorts or a swim skirt can be a great option.

Men can go for board shorts or swim trunks. It is also a good idea to bring an extra swimsuit in case you want to swim more than once during your visit.

Sun Protection

Even during the winter months, the Florida sun can still be intense. Make sure to bring sunscreen with a high SPF rating to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can provide extra protection for your face and eyes.

Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen regularly, especially if you are spending a long time in the water.


While you may be tempted to go barefoot on the sandy beaches of Florida, it is advisable to bring water shoes or sandals. These will protect your feet from sharp shells, rocks, or hot sand. Water shoes can also provide additional grip while swimming or walking on slippery surfaces.

Swim Gear

Depending on your preferences and activities, you may want to bring some additional swim gear. Snorkeling equipment can allow you to explore the underwater beauty of Florida’s reefs and marine life. If you’re planning on doing some laps, consider bringing goggles and a swim cap.

A beach towel, a dry bag to keep your belongings safe, and a cooler with refreshments are also handy items to have on hand.

Remember to check the weather forecast before heading out for your swim. While swimming in Florida in December can be a delightful experience, it’s important to be prepared and dress appropriately for the conditions.

Safety Tips

Swim Near Lifeguards

When swimming in Florida during December, it is always recommended to swim near lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained professionals who can provide immediate assistance in case of emergencies. They can help prevent accidents and quickly respond to any incidents that may occur.

Additionally, they have a good understanding of the local beaches and can provide valuable information about the current water conditions.

Watch for Rip Currents

Rip currents are strong, narrow currents that flow away from the shore. They can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced swimmers. It is important to be aware of the signs of rip currents and know how to navigate them safely.

Look out for changes in water color, waves breaking in a different pattern, or a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving out to sea. If caught in a rip current, remember to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current before swimming back to the beach.

Stay Hydrated

Even though the weather in Florida during December is generally mild, it is still essential to stay hydrated while swimming. The combination of physical activity and exposure to the sun can lead to dehydration.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your swim to avoid any health issues. It is also a good idea to bring a water bottle with you to the beach.

Don’t Dive in Unknown Areas

When swimming in unfamiliar areas, it is crucial to avoid diving into the water without knowing the depth or any potential hazards. Shallow water or hidden rocks can cause serious injuries. Always take the time to assess the area before diving in.

If you are unsure about the conditions, ask a lifeguard for guidance or simply refrain from diving altogether.


December presents ideal conditions for swimming and beachgoing in Florida. While the ocean is cooler than summertime, temperatures remain comfortable for most. With proper precautions, swimmers can safely enjoy Florida’s abundant water activities year-round.

Pack your swimsuit and don’t hesitate to take a dip on your next Florida vacation in December. Just be sure to check ocean conditions, stick to lifeguarded areas, and bring plenty of sun protection.

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