There are three ways to get to the beach at Ponce Inlet. Drive on the sand to the end of the beach at the jetty, park and walk to the inlet, or if you live close, simply walk there. Pay to park at Smyrna Dunes Park and walk the boardwalk (it’s not finished yet) and sandy paths that lead to the beach. Pull up to the shore in a boat. This area of beach is one of my favorites to visit.
(All photography on this site is not free to use and is copyright protected.)
The other day I parked at the Park (I have a pass) and walked out to the shore. Because the tide was low, I had lots of little tide pools to explore. I have to really look to find shells here, but I did find a few keepers. One was a rock snail which I rarely find.
It was late in the day and the park closes at 6:00PM this time of year. I walked down to the jetty and then made my way back.
My walk was a nice break from sitting at the computer working. The peace and solitude of the beach this time of year can’t be beat. It’s still warm enough to get wet without being cold and some of the little pools were fairly deep.
There were people out strolling around and this is one place that dogs are allowed, so I saw a few of them. One couple was being photographed – maybe engagement pictures? It’s a beautiful spot for that.
We went out on the boat yesterday, my son and I, and ended our day at Three Sisters, which is a group of three islands in the Indian River backwaters. The tide was coming in so there was no sand showing, but it was shallow enough to walk and search for shells. We were the only ones there until a pontoon boat with a family aboard pulled up as we were leaving.
While walking the shallows, I came across this rather large shell. It was moving but I could see something red. At first I thought it was something growing off the side of the shell because the hermit crabs I always see are not red.
The shell was moving, as were all the other shells I saw, because they are always occupied by hermit crabs.
Because this one had color, I thought that the conch may still be inside – a living seashell. Some conchs can be brightly colored like the horse conch I once found. It was difficult to see through the murky water.
Even though the water was shallow it was hard to see exactly what I was looking at. The camera captures a more clear image because in reality I was dealing with moving water. So I had to pick it up and get a better look.
It is seldom ever that I find an empty shell out on the river. Something is always inside. The ends of the shell are always the safest for grabbing so the crab won’t pinch me. And it’s a good thing I was careful because look what I pulled up from the sea!
I apologize for not having a better, more centered, photo, but it’s difficult to see with the sun glare when taking photos with my iPhone. I have to tip my sunglasses so I’m not looking through them just to see the screen, and even then it’s not clear. There is no way to see if the image is blurry, so I just hope for the best. Fortunately these pictures turned out pretty clear.
In all my time out walking the shallows of the Indian River backwater I have never seen a red hermit crab. I took a couple of quick photos and put him down. Usually the hermit crabs I see retreat back into the shell when picked up. Not this guy… he was bold. I didn’t want to bother him, so I put him and his broken shell back down. In fact, if his shell hadn’t been broken, so I could see a little bit of his color, I may have passed it by assuming it was just another typical hermit crab.
I had to look this one up when I got home and found some info at TribenWater, where the writer (who is from New Smyrna Beach) says they are native to Florida but “not often seen”.
Then I checked my Florida’s Living Beaches book and found that these crabs live on reefs and are “beached after storms”.
There are no reefs in the Indian River and this red crab must have been far from his home. His shell looks like an old crown conch, and it was pretty broken. I’m thinking he must be searching for a new shell to live in.
Anyway, that was my amazing find. It was such a hot day, and the water had to be 90 degrees. I’m looking forward to cooler weather.
Our trip to New Smyrna Beach today told me that summer is here. Kids are out of school, and trips to the beach pick up. Tourists are free to bring the family and they certainly do. All those white bodies, with red sunburned shoulders, are a sure sign that tourism is booming here in Florida. This is Friday morning for Pete’s sake.
We wanted to go out on the boat, but the ramp we usually use was full. No place to park the boat trailer. We checked out a couple more, but they were very busy too. Friday is the new weekend it seems. With many companies going to a 4-day work week, it might be best to avoid going out on Fridays as well as weekend days. Since we were dressed for outdoors, sunscreen and all, we decided to go to the beach. We took the boat home and headed over the causeway.
We drove on at Flagler Ave. right behind a lifeguard / beach patrol truck. And it was crowded. We drove way down toward the jetty, and found a more sparsely populated spot to park.
The tide was way out and going out further, so we had a lot of beach. Right away we saw Ghost crabs scurrying around. At least I think they are called Ghost crabs. One, in particular was near us, and I got some photos and video of him.
Then we went in the water. As I was coming back in from cooling off, I saw my son pulling a fishing line up out of the sand. Many people fish along the shore, and this was a piece that had been left / lost by a fisherman.
But at the end, buried beneath the sand, was this huge hook!
Hey… this is why I wear beach shoes when I go in the water! Look at the size of that hook. I hate fishing on the beach, for precisely this reason. My son always does it – fishes at the beach – but I am opposed. There are many other places to fish. Leave the beaches to the swimmers. Imagine that thing stuck in the bottom of your foot… I feel woozy just thinking about it.
Unrelated in every way, but just in case someone has to really go to the bathroom… port-a-potties are at the exit. FYI everyone.
My son and I headed over to the beach today, which is an unusual thing for us to do on the weekend. Weekends are too busy. We did go early, and still hit traffic, but it was a lot of fun. I love living so close to the seashore.
I’ve been debating on whether or not to buy a year pass for Smyrna Dunes Park. It’s an awesome place to walk with nice boardwalks that lead out to the beach on all sides of the peninsula. The cost is $20 for county residents and it’s $10 for each visit. If I go twice I will have paid for the pass. But… the pass is only good from now until the end of the year… not a full year, really. Still, it seems worth it because it’s a wonderful place to visit.
At 9Am on a Saturday the place was packed with cars! The woman who put the sticker on my car (yup, I bought the pass) said it’s turtle season (and the beach doesn’t open until 8am) so the surfers come here to surf early in the morning.
It’s also a place where everyone goes to walk their dog! Almost everyone we saw had a dog…. or 2 or 3 with them! We saw all kinds of dogs…. from Corgi’s and Shepherds, to big and small Poodles and mutts . Even so, the place is clean as can be. Locals respect the area and dutifully clean up after themselves.
The boardwalk is being replaced, so the first part is torn down and you must walk in the sand. I assume they will do the second part after the first part is finished, but I don’t know.
No matter. It’s still a wonderful place to visit. They have a new long fishing pier (see it in my first photo above) and my son and I went there first. He has a new metal detector and is dying to find buried treasure. So while he searched for treasure I cooled off in the wonderful ocean water. It was clear and refreshing. Fabulous!
Of course, I also kept my eyes open for seashells. I saw some of the usual arks and many tiny coquina in the sand. Found an orange jingle shell, a bit of coral, and a little crab climbing up one of the pier’s pylons.
The best shells I found were not on the beach though, they were up near the construction site! Look at this wonderful Lettered Olive! It’s small, but so pretty once I rinsed the dirt off.
Yup… I found this Lettered Olive and Banded Tulip along the fence which blocks people from entering the construction area. All that digging moved the shells around I guess, and there was not a single hermit crab to be found!
The tulip shell is not in great shape. It’s encrusted with something that is gradually flaking off. It may end up being sorta pretty. The bands tell me it’s not the True Tulip like I’ve found before, but the Banded Tulip.
I also got this little gem of a shell, even though it’s somewhat broken, I love it. I think it might be a little Knobbed Whelk.
On the way back to the mainland we had to wait for a boat to go by and the traffic was building while the north causeway bridge was lifted.
Went out on the little boat yesterday and three of us tried our best to catch a keeper. If we wanted to eat a meal of catfish, we could easily have done so. I caught a couple of large cats when we stopped one of the backwater canals for a swim and then fished from the water. We had more room than when we all tried to cast a line from the Gheenoe.
Other than the catfish, I did get a small snook. He was a silver shimmering beauty! It’s snook season right now, and my older son was hoping to reel one in. All he got was a few catfish himself. My younger son got a small redfish, and we certainly saw more than a few “tailing redfish” along the shore.
Yes, I am beginning to learn fisherman talk. When redfish are eating they circle and show their tail. The ones we watched each seemed to be alone, but they can swim in big groups with their tails above the water, and that’s what the fishermen look for. The ones we watched would swim in a circle and make a large ripple in the calm water. These fish are really beautiful and they are delicious to eat. But size is important when you catch one you want to keep.
Because the little “Yea Mon” Gheenoe has a shallow draft, we can get into the backwater channels where most other boats can’t go. We always find shallow water to swim around in and sand islands when the tide is low.
And we have the place all to ourselves! The water was flowing, and we could drift along in the very warm water. Yes, it’s brown, but it usually is in this area.
Other than fishing and enjoying the sunny Florida weather, I also did some shell hunting. Because the tide was just coming in, there were a number of sandy beach areas exposed. I found a large shark’s eye shell with a piece missing. Also picked up a crown conch and pear whelk. Picked them up and then had to put them back down. Every shell was inhabited by a hermit crab.
I really would have liked to keep those shells as they are all favorites of mine. In fact I don’t think I have ever found a pear whelk. I really wanted that one for my seashell collection! The place to go and get great shells is the Gulf Coast. A vacation may be in order – one day.
I took photos with my iPhone, but because of the extremely sunny conditions, it was difficult. Also, I worry about dropping the darn thing. I really need a waterproof case. Shuffling along the uneven sandy bottom of the canal is tricky. I could step into a hole at any time and drop my phone! My nice camera is still packed away, waiting for me to move into a permanent home.
Once we have our newer, bigger boat, it will be so much easier to grab the phone and get video and photos while the boys fish. Not to mention that fishing will be much more fun! So it’s all a waiting game, which is par for the course in my life. But we still had a very nice day out on the water.