What Happened to the Stairs at Smyrna Dunes Park?

boardwalk end where stairs were

Often I will write about Smyrna Dunes Park and Ponce Inlet because it’s such a wonderful place to beach-comb, swim, fish, and walk. The park had built a new stairway, to replace the old one, which emptied onto the beach near the jetty. The stairway was replaced when the rest of the boardwalk was replaced, only a short time ago. I’m talking like less than two years. Now this stairway is gone. The boardwalk now ends up high on the dunes as a “lookout” only with no beach access.

Here is a link to an article, written in May, 2019, about New Smyrna Beach on the “Travel Pulse” website where you can see this stairway from the side. It was a beautiful, and probably expensive, set of stairs. Suddenly, they were taken out and I’m wondering why.

The New Stairway Which is Now Missing

Here is my photo of that staircase which was built over the dunes. The old boards were replaced with something like Trex boards to hold up to the elements better. The whole boardwalk was re-done like this. Now, these stairs no longer exist. There is no way to get onto the beach at the end of this part of the boardwalk.

stairway to the beach

The only sensible explanation for the missing stairs is that they didn’t want anyone gaining access from the beach up to the park. But because there are about 4 or 5 other access points on the ocean side, and about three on the river side of this peninsula, that really doesn’t make sense. This does not keep people from doing that, it just makes it more difficult. Maybe that was the point?

Below is my first time trying the “compare images” block with a center slider. It shows the top of the stairway compared to the nothing that is left.

(A reader left a comment that the sand was washed away and the stairs no longer touched the beach so the stairs were removed. If this is the reason, it’s pretty stupid that the builders did not realize that this happens. I’ve taken lots of “after a storm” photos that show the eroding of the beach. Maybe there have been too many hurricanes and they decided not to deal with this problem. But they left the other access points over on the ocean side which certainly must also be affected by hurricanes.)

Erosion of Beach at Ponce Inlet Jetty

Stairway, and Stairway Removed

Smyrna Dunes Park missing stairway to the jetty beach
Stairs… and no stairs

I’d love to know the reasoning behind this move. My favorite thing to do at the park was to walk 1/2 of the oval and then go down at this point to the beach. The jetty is to the right and I would begin my beach walk there and travel around the inlet over to the river and return to the boardwalk by using the dog access trails.

It’s a longer walk, through the soft beach sand, to get onto the beach and do the same thing.

Smyrna dunes park boardwalk
Before: End of boardwalk at stairs leading to Inlet and Jetty
boardwalk end where stairs were
After: Walkway ends as an overlook to the beach below

Since you can’t get down to the beach, I suppose standing there in the shade and reading a sign about local wildlife will have to do.

sign wildlife sea animals
Something to read while you stand and look out over the inlet and beach

The Smyrna Dunes Park boardwalk is an oval shaped boardwalk with beach access ramps along the ocean side. Because the stairway at the end of this path (photo below) is no longer an access to the jetty, a new sign points walkers on down the oval where access leads to the ocean side.

See a map of the park at the Volusia County site. The info in this brochure is old because a one day pass is now $10.00. That doesn’t keep visitors away, in fact often it’s usually difficult to find parking. I used to buy a year long resident’s pass for $20, but with the crowds and now this new change, I won’t be doing that.

At this point I’d rather drive onto the beach and park near the jetty. My son and I did this the other day and he fished while I did some beachcombing.

beach access sign
New sign points further on to gain beach access

The old wooden boardwalk – before the “fake wood” replacement

boardwalk black and white

The Very Old Boardwalk

The photo below was taken when the old boardwalk was still showing. Hurricanes and extremely high tides easily destroy anything that is built near the ocean, so it’s understandable that the boardwalk would need replacing. This bit of the wooden walk is no longer there and I don’t recall when this photo was taken.

There are many, many more people coming to this area and using the boardwalks. Florida no longer has that “Old Florida” feel. Everything caters to the newer, wealthier crowds. The boardwalks cannot be rustic, they must be pristine. And now I suspect the city of New Smyrna has the tax money to upgrade.

With lots of condos nearby and the fact that everyone has a dog these days, this is a popular park. Dogs can be seen all around the beach from the jetty to the river side. Although they are supposed to be on a leash, many people ignore that, and let their dogs run.

Ponce Inlet dunes beach water
Ponce Inlet dunes and old boardwalk

I don’t understand, or much like, the way things are being done these days in this area. Daytona Beach to the north used to be very popular and the place to visit. Now it is known locally as a place to avoid. That brings everyone south to New Smyrna, which has been written about endlessly as the place to visit on Florida’s east coast.

The high rises are going up and the restaurants are doing valet parking. Florida caters to the visitors who like the idea of living the laid-back life in paradise and live in big expensive condos which are ruining the landscape.

The laid back Florida feel has been gone a long time for me.

Author: Pam

Spending time on the water is the best, and blogging about the sea life found along the saltwater river and ocean is what I do. I’m also a designer at Zazzle and sell my work, with a lot of ocean themes, on the site.

4 thoughts on “What Happened to the Stairs at Smyrna Dunes Park?”

  1. Really? I know that the sand erodes after storms and over the years the jetty has changed a lot. Thanks for the info.

  2. The sand eroded away and the stairs didn’t touch the beach. Check out the jetty, it’s different now.

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