Florida’s Best Secret Beaches!!
Wanna hear a secret? Ok, come here; closer,…closer, ok perfect. Now that its just you and I here, I can let you in on a little secret that local residents don’t want you to know about. Florida has some very nice secret beaches that your average visitor doesn’t know about, and Florida residents are trying to keep it that way. Since its just you and me here, I am feeling generous and want to share with you, the locations and names of some of Florida’s prettiest, “secret beaches” for 2010.
While there is no denying the beauty and appeal of Florida’s more popular destinations like Clearwater Beach, Cocoa Beach, Sanibel Island, Daytona and New Smyrna Beach, the crowds send many running for the hills, especially during peak beach season. So when it comes to Florida’s best beaches for locals, there is a lot that local residents don’t want you to know. These so called ”secret beaches” are known for their tucked away locations, lessened crowds, and tourist free escapes and are the perfect slip away spots for romantic day trips, family fun in the sun, or solitude locals to finish that novel you never got around to. So if it is a little seclusion in the sun you seek, check our top picks for “Florida’s Best Secret Beaches of 2010″.
Collier County’s desirable coast reaches its zenith at Barefoot Beach Preserve, where numerous animal species reside and visitors are able to enjoy the ambiance of the park’s natural surroundings.
Barefoot Beach Preserve is 342 acres of natural land, one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast.
This beach park is an excellent example of the shifts in habitat that occur within a very narrow strip of land with only slight changes in elevation and moisture. 8,200 feet of beach and sand dunes support the growth of sea oats, and provide nesting sites for sea turtles during the summer months. The park also maintains a tropical coastal hammock of sabal palms, gumbo-limbo, and sea grape trees among many others and is home to the protected gopher tortoise.
Barefoot Beach Preserve is popular for its gorgeous, plush surroundings and its opportunities for avid fishing, boasting many species of fish in its picturesque waters. Parks Rangers offer a number of programs at the Barefoot Beach Preserve Park including lectures and interpretive programs to educate the public about the importance of the environment and wildlife in Southwest Florida. Subjects include a guided walk through the preserve, where visitors learn about the many habitats in the preserve as well as flora and fauna. Rangers also provide a free recreation guide where they take visitors to look at the natural history of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, some of which reside at the preserve. The park has a 356 space parking lot, one-mile nature trail, showers, picnic area and a concession stand where equipment may be rented and food and drink is available for purchase. The preserve also offers handicapped beach wheelchair access.
Untouched is the perfect word to describe Dog Island. Known for its natural conservation, many refer to Dog Island as the Galapagos of Florida; named Dog Island for its geographic resemblance to a crouched dog.
Dog Island is located in the northwestern Florida Gulf coast just 3.5 miles off-shore from Carrabelle, Florida in Franklin County. The island is partly sheltering St. George Sound and Apalachicola Bay. It’s the eastern-most part of a chain of barrier islands located off the northern panhandle of Florida just offshore from where the Crooked River merges into the Carrabelle River and then into St. George Sound. Other barrier islands in this chain include St.Vincent Island, Cape St. George Island, and St. George Island. There’s only one hotel on the roughly 7-mile-long island, accessed by passenger ferry from Carabelle in the Florida panhandle (50 miles southwest of Tallahassee). you’re guaranteed quiet beaches with powdered-sugar sand, shells galore and aquamarine waters. The only place to stay on the island is the Pelican Inn, where you can snag one of eight oceanfront studios for your own private retreat.
Jutting out from the eastern side of the panhandle like a delicate fishing hook, Cape San Blas – bound on three sides by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joe Bay – is home to one of the country’s most sublime beaches. At St. Joseph Peninsula State Park located on the tip of the coastal barrier peninsula, 10 miles of uninterrupted spun-sugar oceanfront await. The spit of sand here fronts the crystalline waters of the gulf, and water temperatures in the summer can reach a cozy 84 degrees. The park is a bird watcher’s paradise, with more than 240 species found here. And there’s a full facility campground just off the beach, if you want to stay the night. Postcard perfect doesn’t even begin to do this place justice; if you like your beach time as close to nature as possible, you’ll be in heaven.
With miles of white sugar sand, this park has one of the top rated beaches in the United States as its claim to partial fame but is still relatively unknown by many. Sunbathing, snorkeling, and swimming are popular activities along the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay. From offshore, canoeists and kayakers can take in a superb view of the high dunes and sand pine scrub. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and bicycling. As a coastal barrier peninsula, St. Joseph provides excellent opportunities for bird watching; with over 240 species that have been sighted in the park. A boat ramp is located at Eagle Harbor on the bay side. Campers can stay in a full-facility campground, a short walk from the beach, or at primitive campsites in the wilderness preserve. Eight cabins on the bay side offer alternative overnight accommodations.
8899 Cape San Blas Road
Port St. Joe, Florida 32456
Bypass the nearby ‘Truman Show’-esque resort towns of Watercolor and Seaside for the artsy community of Grayton Beach- a funky little beach burg with heaps more character and equally stunning sands. Hemingway-style wooden homes tucked down side streets ‘paved’ with crushed oyster shells conjure Florida beach towns of yesteryear. Come sundown, head to the Red Bar for some local color and live jazz – the bar is a longstanding institution. The Grayton Beach’s version of Key West’s Sloppy Joe’s will fill your belly and warm your heart. Nearby, the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is an unmissable natural attraction with beaches that are more secluded still and unusual maritime lakes dotting the undulating dunes.
Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States and is also relatively unknown by travelers to the Florida area. The beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing and surf fishing and is the backdrop for golden sunrises and silver moonlit evenings. The nearly 2,000-acre park features a boat ramp that provides access to the lake’s brackish waters for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Visitors can paddle a canoe or kayak on scenic Western Lake to get a closer look at a salt marsh ecosystem. A nature trail winds through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand, bent and twisted by the salt winds. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy more than four miles of trails throughout the pine flatwoods. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground.
357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
A blip on the radar between the popular resort communities of Destin and Seaside, near South Fort Walton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach is a residential community with a slew of private beach homes available for rent by the week or by season. Save for a few health food stores and gourmet grocers, there’s not much of a commercial presence in this town – and that’s just how locals like it. Regional lore says the beach gets its name from a blue cast that a native wildflower, lupine, gives the dunes. But more obvious are the powdery quartz sands, backed by the constantly turquoise-to-sapphire-morphing Gulf of Mexico. When you’ve had your fill of lounging on the beach, rent a bike to pedal along the 19-mile paved Timpoochee Trail, which skirts the sea along the scenic County Road 30A.
The area celebrates the name “Florida Panhandle Pure & Simple” because of the clean and clear water, which appears vivid emerald-green due to its purity and the shallowness of the gulf. Only 345 feet above sea level at its highest point,Blue Mountain Beach’s towering sand dunes were said to have first been mistaken for mountains by early Eurpoeans settlers after being at sea for months. They may also have been impressed by the lush vegetation covering the dunes, especially the spiky shapes of the Gulf Coast lupine, which lives in the dune scrub along Florida’s Emerald Coast. With its fuzzy blue leaves and purplish blue flowers that look like like tiny sweet peas, it is easy to speculate that the blue flowers covering the tall dunes gave Blue Mountain its unusual name.
The less obvious choice for beautiful shelling, perfect sunsets and sandy white beaches, Foster Beach in North Captiva has a lot of appeal. Located near Captiva’s much more popular and cultivated cousin, Sanibel Island, Foster Beach in North Captiva has been a popular choice for beachfront weddings and romantic getaways where couples can lounge in discreet splendor starring at blue waters for as far as the eye can see. Foster Beach on North Captiva Island is only accessible by boat, but is worth the effort.
When approaching the island, go west at mile marker 44, and follow the shallows to the crux of the bay. Dock your boat, and walk the 15 yards to the most pristine shelling beach on Florida’s West Coast. There are only 2 state licensed concession boats that take shelling tours to this beach from Captiva and from Pineland Marina. From this beach, you can’t see any structures, homes, buildings or signs of life except for the dolphins, manatee and wading birds and sea turtles.
A short drive from Orlando, this park is noted for its six beautiful lakes, rolling hills, and scenic landscapes. Lake Louisa is the largest in a chain of 13 lakes connected by the Palatlakaha River, which is designated as an Outstanding Florida Waterway. Lake Louisa, Dixie Lake, and Hammond Lake, the park’s most accessible lakes, provide access for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking with natural sandy white beach at a closer distance and with less foot traffic than Cocoa Beach. Anglers can fish in four of the park’s six lakes, but gasoline-powered boats are not allowed; only boats powered by trolling motors or without motors are permitted. Camping facilities and more than 15 miles of horse trails are available for equestrians. For hikers and backpackers, the park has over 20 miles of hiking trails with excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Dixie Lake has a fishing pier, canoe/kayak launch, and a picnic pavilion.The park also has a full-facility campground, fully furnished cabins for rent, and primitive campsites. Lake Louisa State Park is located just seven miles south of State Road 50 in Clermont on U.S. 27.
7305 U.S. Highway 27
Clermont, Florida 34714
Down in the keys there are two more “secret beaches” known for their beauty and tranquility, and although they are both public beaches, they are well-hidden. In Tavernier, find Harry Harris Beach Park by turning off the main highway at mile marker 92.5 onto Burton Drive, and traveling through a residential area to reach this gem. This is a southern facing beach, great for water play, sunbathing and snorkeling. Facilities here include showers, playground, covered picnic tables and more. This is a free park, except on Saturday, Sundays and Federal Holidays, when it is $5 per person for non-residents of Monroe County.
The other keys “secret beach” is Sombrero Beach in Marathon, which is half way down the Overseas Highway at mile marker 50. Turn south and travel about 3 miles, past the local high school and enjoy this wonderful free beach. There are picnic pavilions, showers and facilities, BBQ grills and many opportunities for oceanfront water sports.
While Florida is full of secluded spots and hidden beaches, these spots win our favorites for “Florida’s Top Secret Beaches for 2010″ and are among the most time-honored and treasured areas for low-key crowds of loyal fans that come flocking to them every year. Shhhhhhhhh, just be sure to keep them under lock and key.