As summer slowly slips away and the beginning of fall creeps into the air, everyone scrambles to get in their last taste of the pool and beach. Many opt for the latter choice. Why not? It’s nice to spend a day off campus, tanning, surfing, and exploring the many beaches that Florida has to offer. To help plan your perfect beach day, check out The Sandspur’s guide to Florida beaches.
A. Daytona and New Smyrna Beach
Located approximately an hour away, many Rollins students flock to “The World’s Most Famous Beach” (Daytona) or New Smyrna just a little farther south. Both beaches are located in Volusia County, which is one of the only places in the world that you can drive right on the beach (there are nearly thirty miles of drivable beach), part of the heritage of the county’s racing history. All of this is just an hour east of Rollins. However, the locations of Daytona and New Smyrna are often packed with tourists and the bustle of beach vendors. For those who want to really get away and relax or explore, it’s hard to find a place that isn’t overrun with sunbaked tourists, sketchy homeless men (avoid walking under Daytona’s pier), and sharks (New Smyrna has the most attacks in Volusia County, the shark-bite capital of the world). As a citizen of Volusia County, I revisited some of my favorite local swimming holes that are often overlooked by tourists and spring breakers.
My favorite beach is St. George Island Beach. It’s really quiet there and the waves aren’t too big.
-Samuel Well, ‘17
B. Ormond Beach
Just ten minutes north of the heart of Daytona is a small little town called Ormond Beach. Ormond-By-The-Sea is at the northernmost tip of the town. It is filled with retired people providing a slow atmosphere and a quiet place to relax. Ormond-By-The-Sea is also a non-drivable section of beach, which means that the scenery is much more natural. The sand is softer and a thicker red color. Often more turtle nests can be observed along the sand dunes which also house a greater variety of birds and crabs. Tom Renick Park usually has plenty of parking. There are showers, grills, and even a playground set up in the park. Sure, you may have to haul a few umbrellas down the long wooden deck, but it is very rewarding. If you want a snack, Publix is just across the street, and at times there is a great food vendor set up in the park. Ormond also offers a brand new park, Andy Romano, accessible via driving on the beach or A1A. The park has a concession stand, a playground, and plenty of parking. It is on the border of Daytona and surrounded by great places to eat and shop.
C. Neptune Beach
South of Tom Renick is the Neptune beach approach. This spot is tucked between large mansions. It can be easy to miss which is a shame because it is one of the oldest go-to approaches for locals. Here, there are maybe four or five parking spaces and a small shower. Neptune is also one of the best surfing spots in Ormond, complete with plenty of hot surfers. But if you prefer to keep your eyes on your special someone, it is a great spot for a romantic date, day or night. A mile south of Neptune is the town’s main approach, Granada. A strip mall, complete with Starbucks, Larry’s Giant Subs, and bikini boutiques, provides great shopping and beach snacks. Although it is frowned upon to park in the strip’s parking lot to use the beach, everyone does it. Just walk or drive down the approach. You can park right on the beach or the county’s no drive zone is just to the left. The best of both worlds!
I like Clearwater because it’s beautiful, there is a lot to do and after the sun sets it’s awesome.
-Tyler Murphey, ‘14
D. Ponce Inlet
Between Daytona and New Smyrna is an even smaller town, Ponce Inlet, known for its laid-back surfing atmosphere. Mostly just homes and condominiums, Ponce Inlet offers numerous beach approaches for locals. One of the best parks is called Winter Haven. On the weekends, young families visit this park since there is no beach driving nearby, giving it the name “MILF Beach” to the local teenagers. However, Winter Haven has a bright aura that many of the other parks don’t have. The sand here is more packed and a tropical island white. Winter Haven also has restrooms, showers, and grills, great for a large group. Across from Winter Haven is an ice cream stand and a 7-Eleven for when you need a pick-me-up.
South of Winter Haven is the end of Ponce Inlet. It is home of the actual inlet where the Intracoastal Waterway mixes with the ocean. Just across the inlet is New Smyrna. You could swim there. At the Ponce Inlet Jetty Park, you can park your car and lay out next to the inlet or the beach. You can even drive your car down to the jetty via the beach. The park has the feel of the Florida Keys at the right time of day. It has soft white sand and beautiful, abundant wildlife. You can take a walk through the dunes on the winding boardwalk. Ponce Inlet is also a great place to fish, kayak, and view the lighthouse. Besides that, the inlet is the best place for surfing in the county. You can even try an after-beach meal at the Inlet Harbor Restaurant located on the river for great food and views of ski boats and jetskis racing to Disappearing Island. Here is a little slice of paradise.
Situated on Florida’s dazzling West Coast, Clearwater Beach is a serene oasis well known for its picturesque sugar-white stand. With crystal blue waters and tranquil Gulf breezes, this beach is a necessary pit stop for a classy weekend getaway. Local attractions include miniature golf, dolphin watching, and indoor surfing. Also, Clearwater Beach offers a weekly farmer’s market and hosts a block party every Friday to kick start the weekend. From mom-and-pop establishments to world class resorts, the beach town offers something for every visitor with every budget. With vibrant activities and a rich history, Clearwater offers natural beauty and an outstanding coastline.