It’s Time to Hit the Beaches

 By Kathalyn Gaither

Although summer may not officially have started, summertime weather is definitely here. Floridians will be flocking to area beaches to swim, surf, fish and soak up the warmth. But they’re not the only ones.

According to Visit Florida, more than 75 million visitors come to Florida annually. And with more than 800 miles of sandy beaches – more than any other state in the contiguous U.S. – it’s pretty safe to agree that many out-of-state guests come here just for that reason. And why not? The waters are beautiful in emerald greens and shades of blue. The beaches are sandy white – in some parts even sugary-fine. And no matter which coast you prefer, both the sunrises and sunsets are nothing short of spectacular.

Now beachgoers have more beach information available to them at their fingertips with DEP’s Coastal Management Program’s new Coastal Access Guide. Arranged by county, the guide provides details such as the location of state parks and other local attractions, popular paddling trails, aerial images and interactive maps. Need to know which locations have lifeguards on duty or are ADA accessible – it’s in there. Or would you like to find those beaches which have restrooms, showers, picnic shelters or other convenient amenities? You can find that as well.

The guide consists of three sections – the Florida panhandle, the southwest Florida Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean; to date the Florida panhandle and Atlantic Ocean sections are complete.

The Florida panhandle section begins along Pensacola Beach and passes through the Gulf Islands National Seashore, St. Mark National Wildlife Refuge, Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve and south to Crystal River.

On the Atlantic Ocean side, the map begins just south of Cumberland Island, Georgia, and winds through hot surfing spots such as Fernandina Beach, historic spots like St. Augustine – Florida’s oldest city. Continuing southward are more prime surfing and fishing sites, the John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral National Seashore, Palm Beach’s famous palm tree-lined beaches and Miami’s popular hot-spots, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove.

So now that finding which of Florida’s beaches offer more of what you’re looking for, what are you waiting for? Discover which beaches are right for you, your family and friends this summer with the new Florida Beach Access Guide.

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