My last post was about the beginning of my January walk at Smyrna Dunes Park when I took some photos from the two-story pavilion along the ocean side of the walkway.
You may wonder why I don’t just drive onto the beach (because New Smyrna has miles of drive on beach accesses) and walk along the beach. Honestly, you must time it right. If the tide is too high the beach may be closed to traffic, or there will be very little beach to drive on.
Not long ago I drove to the beach one morning and could see from the entry booth, where I have to stop and pay or be scanned for access, that the tide was quite high. Once I got down to the driving area I saw that there wouldn’t be much time left before the water was up to the parking places. So I drove to the next access ramp and left the beach.
In short, access to the Smyrna Dunes Park and walkway is not affected by the tide. I can visit at any time of day, high tide or low, because I will park in a paved lot and not on the sand. It’s a little further for me to travel, but worth the trip.
The Park offers more to see, in my opinion. In truth, I am not really an ocean lover. I think the ocean can get quite boring when enjoying it from shore. Don’t get me wrong, the beach is beautiful, and I never get tired of hearing the waves crash. In hotter months, the warm Florida ocean water is wonderful for floating and swimming. But the crowds can be smothering in summer when I really want to enjoy the water.
The ocean holds dangers as well. Rip currents are common in this area. Sharks have been known to bite the occasional surfer and New Smyrna Beach is actually called the “shark attack capital of the world“. However, unless you are surfing near the jetty, you are probably pretty safe.
Something else to look out for at the beach is jellyfish. At times many will litter the beach, and most are harmless, but some are not. I have been stung by a jellyfish, or the tentacles, while swimming. I never saw it, but one of my legs had squiggly welts all up and down the back which did sting like crazy. After a storm I found man-of-war jelly fish on New Smyrna Beach.
The Cannonball jellyfish, shown in my pictures here, are relatively harmless. In fact, someone saw a man on the beach collecting them and putting them in his car. The Asian population in particular enjoy jellyfish as food. This type of jellyfish was all up and down the beach, and when we went boating a few weeks later, we saw many in the water as well.
This cute little shorebird, a Plover of some kind, inspects one of the jellies washed up by the tide.
January doesn’t seem to be an excellent time of year to find seashells. I collected this little bundle, but found nothing really interesting. Beginning with the long white shell and moving clockwise I have: A jackknife clam (that’s the long one), a yellow jingle shell, one of two Channeled duckclams, a chunk of Striped acorn barnacles, duck clam #2.
As I rounded the bend in the beach that takes me to the River side of the water, I got this pretty photo of the sun setting behind the clouds. If I’d been able to stay a bit longer I may have seen the beautiful pinks Florida is known for when the sun goes down. It was just beginning along the horizon.
Walking the boardwalk, and beholding the amazing swirls of the dunes is more interesting than walking along the beach. Occasionally the gopher tortoise will be out eating or roaming it’s protected area. While walking the sandy paths, it’s possible to see some pretty wildflowers or interesting plants and tall grasses that can grow in these salty conditions. The setting is ideal for any photographer, amateur or professional.
I visited on a rather cool day and there were no crowds. I met a couple visiting from out of state (as thousands are this time of year) and we chatted for a while as we strolled the shoreline. I searched the sand for seashells and I think they were just enjoying the scenery and relative warmth compared to their northern home.