Anyone can make a list of the best beaches in Florida. The key to using those lists, however, is understanding what makes a beach great. For some, lots of activity on the beach makes a beach great. For others, the chance to enjoy quiet, unspoiled seascapes is what makes a beach desirable. In Florida, you can find a little of both. Better yet, you can find all you’re looking for in a beach while getting off the beaten path.
- New Smyrna Beach – About one hour outside of Orlando on Florida’s central, east coast lies the sleepy little town of New Smyrna Beach. Boasting 13 miles of white sand beaches that run into the Canaveral National Seashore, New Smyrna keeps many families coming back year after year. When considering New Smyrna Beach, be sure to ask whether you will be on the driving or non-driving part of the beach. While many people enjoy the novelty of driving on the beach, others find it disconcerting to have to look both ways before heading into the ocean. Reasons to love New Smyrna Beach:
- Baby sea turtles. May-August is when the sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach. Go for an evening watch on the beach. Often, you’ll meet volunteers who monitor the turtle nests and are happy to answer questions.
- Kayaking, paddle boarding, deep sea fishing, surfing and boogie boarding.
- Monthly art walks through the town featuring local art, wine and food
- Only an hour to Orlando’s theme parks – Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and Legoland
- Sebastian Inlet State Park – Located in south of Melbourne, Sebastian Inlet has long been a favorite destination for locals, fishermen and surfers. It’s time to share this family friendly park with the rest of the world. The inlet is an opening from the Sebastian River that leads to the ocean. There are long jetties that stretch out in to the ocean on either side of the inlet. The jetties allow fishermen access to a wide range of fish including Spanish mackerel, blue fish, snook and red fish. The jetties also direct incoming waves in such a way as to make Sebastian Inlet a favorite spot for serious surfers. More reasons to love Sebastian Inlet:
- Situated conveniently between Melbourne Beach and Vero Beach.
- McClarty Treasure Museum – For just $2/person (kids under 6 are free), you can see authentic salvaged treasure from sunken Spanish ships. Some of the find go back to 1715! The museum is situated right in the Sebastian Inlet Park and is a great way to get a break from the hot Florida sun during your visit.
- Camping and fishing on the Spoil Islands. Rent a boat or take a day tour to the Spoil Islands. The islands were created when the inlet was dug out. Now they are recreational and educational destinations. If you enjoy primitive camping, spend a night on one of the islands and enjoy a true Florida beach experience.
- Clam Pass Park – The southwest coast of Florida has long been a favorite vacation spot. However, few who go to Naples ever discover charming Clam Pass Park. Clam Pass is a Collier County Park that is open to all despite its proximity to the Naples Grande Beach Resort. Get there early as there are only 184 parking spots. You can choose to stroll down the ¾ mile-long boardwalk that takes you through a stunning grove of white, black and red mangroves. If you would rather, a free tram runs all day long and will drive you straight to the beach. Once at the beach, you’ll discover fine, bright white sand and the warm, turquoise gulf water. Gentle waves and a vast variety of shells to be picked make this beach something special. The actual “Clam Pass” can be found in the mangroves. It’s a natural lazy river. If you hop in while the tide is coming in, you will float into a lagoon surrounded by mangrovers. If you hop in while the tide is going out, you’ll end up in the gulf. (Note: Only go in the pass labeled Clam Pass. It’s gentleness is what makes it special. Other passes may have strong, dangerous currents.) You are welcome to pack your own picnic or there is a snack bar and beach rental stand on the beach. More to love about Clam’s Pass/Naples:
- Enjoy kayaking in the summer and watching manatees in the winter at Lovers Key State Park.
- Visit the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary located about 15 miles east of Naples. The sanctuary, run by the Audobon Society, was originally set up to protect woodstorks but, there is much more to see than the fabulous woodstorks! The 2.25 mile boardwalk will take you through a marsh, a cypress forest, a pine upland and a wet prairie – four different ecosystems. You will find breathtaking views as you discover new plants, insects, reptiles and other animals.
Imagine! These are only three of Florida’s hidden treasures. Step off the tourist track and live like the locals this vacation.