Tag Archives: sand

Beachin’ Ain’t Easy

Ready to have your mind blown? Are you sitting down? Ok, here it goes…

Florida has great beaches.

Actually, that’s an undersell. They’re some of the most beautiful in the world. And yes, I know you’ve heard that. But no matter how common knowledge it is that people come here to lounge on the sand and play in the water, you’d be lying if you said you didn’t want to know more about it. As someone who has spent most of my life on one coast or another, I know just being in a town surrounded by great beaches doesn’t mean you’re going to find that great beach. My all time favorite beach back up where I’m from in Narragansett, RI is one which is off the radar unless someone tells you about it. I promise, you won’t find it on Google.

While I may not be willing to give up that secret, I’ve been compelled to give you the inside scoop on each region’s must-visit beach here in sunny Florida. Some might be hidden gems, some might not be hidden at all. But I promise, take my advice and you won’t leave disappointed that you didn’t find what you’ve spent months imagining in your head. Grab your sunscreen, folks.

North Florida:

James Lee Park

Destin

This beach is about as good as it gets. While you really can’t go wrong with a Destin beach, this one is my favorite. It’s a little ways of a drive from the bridge and down Scenic 98, but it’s well worth it. Trademark of this area, you are almost certain to find crystal clear, blue-green water and powdery, white sand beaches. The beach is kept up very well and seeing trash on the ground is few and far between. There is ample parking, convenient pavilions and picnic tables, and several dune walkovers that allow for a great view. The beach will get busy in the summer months, but I have never seen it to the point that there isn’t hardly any room to move. The water is perfect for surfing, paddle boarding, skim boarding, body surfing, snorkeling, etc. And when you get hungry or could go for a good libation, there is a local seafood restaurant right on the beach with a tiki bar and open-air deck. It is quite literally the perfect beach to lose track of the time on.

Central Florida:

Maximo Park

St. Petersburg

St. Pete is a treat in and of itself, but this beach is really something to talk about. Aside from the beautiful, soft white sand beach characteristic of the Gulf Coast, crystal clear, warm water and litany of water-related activities, this place has it all. First of all, it has seven boat ramps – things which are for some reason shockingly tough to find. Second of all, it has beachside, covered playgrounds for the kids, picnic areas and restrooms. But what makes Maximo Park really unique are all the extras that give you an unexpectedly fun break from basking on the shoreline. Bring a bike along and take advantage of the trails, or talk a walk along the nature trail and enjoy some of life’s simple beauty. For you history buffs, there’s a 70-acre archeological site to take advantage of. I won’t spoil the story for you, but Maximo Park has an intriguing backstory that most won’t find themselves yawning through. And then there’s my personal favorite non-water attraction – the 18-hole disc golf course. For those of you that haven’t played, it’s not necessarily easy, but it’s fun regardless of how terrible you may or may not be. And to finish it all off, take a hike to the top of the 50-foot observation tower that will help you soak in all the beauty and excitement you just experienced.

South Florida

Sombrero Beach

Marathon

This hidden gem on the Florida Keys island of Marathon may not have all the bells and whistles of the other beaches we’ve covered, but it is worth a day of your time. This is one of the most pristine, unspoiled beaches you will find anywhere in the world. Not your usual white sand beach, picking up a handful will reveal to you what makes it unique. You’ll find interestingly shaped grains, shells and characteristics of the special environment that exists in the area’s warm waters. Speaking of the water, it is calm, warm and almost unbelievably relaxing. Lay down on a raft for a bit, and watch in amazement of what is around you. You’ll see dolphins playing, unusual fish swimming the world below and people with a level of enjoyment on their faces you just don’t see anywhere else. There is a playground for the kids and an expansive stretch of land that won’t leave you feeling claustrophobic. Sombrero Beach is not filled with vendors, however, so bring a cooler and plan accordingly. Even if you always need action and to be on-the-go, take a chance on this beach. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Sandy the Snowman? (Magical Top Hat Not Included)

This could go one of two ways: either you are an absolute weirdo like me and actually like the snow and cold weather… or you hate that stuff, but still secretly want the fun parts of it. I don’t care how you feel about temperatures under 70 and bundling up, but I really think everyone wants to have a snowball fight, build a fort or make a snowman at some point in their life. Am I right?

If I’m wrong, I kindly ask of you to re-assess your version of fun. Building a fort and then using it as a fortress to protect myself from rocketing snowballs is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s seriously awesome no matter how old you are. That being said, if you are reading this because you’re thinking of taking a trip to Florida, you probably think I am out-of-my-tree crazy right now. But I have a point, I promise.

Welcome to ‘Pretending the White, Gulf Coast Beach Sand is Really Snow While Tanning In Your Bathing Suit and Sipping a Pina Colada’ 101. Here, I will teach you all the joys of laughing to your friends and family at home about how warm you are while still texting them pictures of your glorious snowman… with a palm tree in the background.

Step 1: Get yourself a bucket of sand, and a bucket of that emerald green gulf water.

Step 2: Add small amounts of water to the sand until you are able to roll some into a ball

Step 3: Make three balls: Big, Bigger, and Biggest

note: you might not be able to make them quite as large as you can with snow

Step 4: Stack them on top of each other – biggest on the bottom, smallest on the top

Step 5: Decorate! And have a little fun. You can use the traditional materials, or find small seashells for the eyes and mouth, and use one of those long spiraly ones for the nose. Or anything else your creative self comes up with!

Now see, who said you couldn’t have your cake and eat it too? They were clearly wrong. And just to make them more wrong, why don’t you bring some cake and eat it while you look at your snow(sand?)man? Bonus points for sending pictures my way.

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