Generally, the Gulf waters in Florida are very clean and healthy. Sometimes, during certain conditions, like after storms or heavy rains, the water can have temporarily high levels of bacteria. Before swimming, it's a good idea to check the sources below if you are swimming on beaches that do not have lifeguards and public notices.
Florida does monitor the health aspects of its coastal waters. The coastal beach water samples collected by the county health departments are analyzed for enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria. High concentrations of these bacteria may indicate the presence of microorganisms that could cause disease, infections, or rashes. County health departments will issue health advisories or warnings when these conditions are confirmed.
If you see signs on the beach warning of high concentrations of fecal coliform or other bacteria, DO NOT GO IN THE WATER. Especially you should NEVER take young children or infants into the water. If you are foolish enough to go in anyway, please don't put your children at risk. Basically it is similar to swimming in raw sewage. The water may LOOK clean, but the water tests tell the real story.
For reports on water testing near the beach you plan to visit, go to this website http://www.myflorida.com and click on "Floridian," then click on "Recreation and Sports," then "Beach Water Quality."
Alternatively, you can try to go directly to the water quality reporting page by clicking on the following link: