Recently I went to Smyrna Dunes State Park to walk, visit the beach, and take photos. My camera was full, so I had to keep deleting photos to take more, which was annoying. I would have taken a lot more photos.
My son had his girlfriend visiting over the Christmas break. She lives in New Hampshire and had never been to Florida. Well, the Christmas break is NOT the time to visit as everyone in the world is visiting Florida then…. or they are waiting to come for the spring break, which is also a horrible (touristy) time to come here.
We went to Smyrna Dunes Park late in the day and had to leave by 6:00PM or be locked in, so I was constantly checking the time. I was the odd man (woman) out accompanying the young sweethearts on a romantic stroll among the dunes, but I did come in handy when it came to photo taking.
We ended up on the west side by the Intracoastal (Indian River) where the sun was beginning to set and my son wanted pictures. So I used the girlfriend’s cell phone to take most of them, and got some very good photos (if I do say so myself). The sun was setting and they posed in silhouette… ah, young love!
The Park is a long boardwalk over the dunes that leads to the ocean and river in several places, and Ponce Inlet. I had visited this place years ago – probably 15 or 16 – and it has changed. Now there are trails just for dog walkers, and there were many people taking advantage. The dogs are not allowed on the boardwalks except at certain places.
At one point we walked down to the beach by the rocky jetty. The tide was out, and lots of little shells were caught in seaweed along the beach. My picture here shows some of the seashells I found. Pieces of shells that were once quite big, and the regular finds of the incongruous arks and cross barred venus clam.
We saw a gopher turtle (tortoise) snacking on some weeds in the dunes (no photo, camera issues), and I was reminded of the one that used to live in the corner of my yard. They are big turtles and slide down into their dens that are a maze of underground tunnels. My daughter volunteered at the Central Florida Zoo (named differently now) and learned all about them. They are quite amazing wild animals. With all the building going on constantly in this state, they are threatened. The gopher turtle, like much wildlife in this state, has lost a lot of it’s natural habitat.
We had a lovely time walking the boardwalk, and I was sorry I didn’t just buy the $20 yearly pass. I may go back and use this place as my exercise area. But I do have a beach pass, so I can drive onto the beach and then use the boardwalk, or simply walk along the beach. I’m lucky to live so close to this beautiful area.
The state of Florida contains so many wonderful beaches. It’s impossible to list them all, so it’s best to describe the beaches of Florida by location. Some allow pets and some allow nude sunbathers. Others let cars travel up and down the sand, and some are perfect for finding a rare seashell. From the panhandle to the east and gulf coasts, and along the Florida Keys, every beach is beautiful. People all over the world know this, and tourists flock to the Sunshine State year round to enjoy the tropical climate. There is not necessarily a tourist season in Florida, there are tourists year round.
When planning a vacation, it may be helpful to know what to expect at each of the area beaches. I have not personally spent a lot of time in any location except the New Smyrna Beach area on the east coast. I’ll talk about the east last, as I am most familiar with it. Most beaches are very sandy, but some can be made up mostly of little seashells. Sanibel Island is like that.
Some beaches are actually rocky, like the one on Jupiter Island on the east coast.
I have stayed in a condo in the town of Destin in the north, far to the west. The panhandle is the northern strip of land that borders the southern United States and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an area known for it’s white, sandy beaches, and the sand there is truly white. It does get colder there than in other areas of the state, as it’s farthest north. That area tends to get some very bad storms as well. Because it’s on the gulf, in general, it’s a busy and expensive location. Continue reading The Beaches of Florida by Location→
You’ve waited all year, and in some cases, many years, for your dream vacation on a tropical beach. Now the time has come. You’re packed and read to spend some awesome time in the warm sunshine, lounging on the beach and playing in the ocean. But the worst enemy to a happy vacation is something you may be looking forward to the most – the sun.
If you’ve never been to the tropics (and that includes Florida), you may not realize how very sunny and incredibly hot the Sunshine State can be. You can not stick your pale and pasty white body out on the Florida sand for hours on your first day at the beach. And if you have a “base tan” that won’t matter much either. Even with a high number sunscreen, this would be a mistake that you will pay for the rest of the vacation. Once you burn, you will not enjoy sitting in the sun and there is no way to avoid the sun in Florida. And if it’s bad enough you could end up in the hospital. Not a fun way to spend a trip you’ve planned for a long time.
Old sunscreen can lose it’s effectiveness. Begin by using a NEWLY purchased, and high SPF, sunscreen (15 or more) and go out on the beach in the early morning and late after noon. Avoid the mid-day hours when that sun is killer. Believe me, it will be hot enough and you will get a tan even then. Watch the kids very closely – the burn will not show up while you are sunbathing or boogie-boarding, but later you will feel it and see it.
Hats are a must and make sure they cover your ears, and beach shoes or water shoes are highly suggested. The last thing you want to do is step on a sharp shell out in the water or trash hidden in the sand on the beach. If you can’t walk, you won’t enjoy vacation, will you? Shoes that cover the tops of your feet keep that area from burning as well. And do I really have to suggest sunglasses? Get them for the kids too.
Some condos and resorts rent out beach umbrellas and cabanas and it’s a good idea to have one as a place to sit and eat lunch or a snack beach-side.
Basically, bide your time in the sun. You have the entire vacation to get that tan you seek and I guarantee you will have one if you spend any time outside. Just don’t ruin the vacation trying to look like you took one.