Florida has one thousand miles of coastline and miles of terrific beaches, but some beaches are actually underrated and almost forgotten by a majority of tourists and even Floridians. Why is that?
Sometimes, there are few large resorts advertising the benefits of the beach village and small family motels don’t promote except in local media. Other great beaches are hemmed in by larger, more commercial communities.
Here are some places to consider:
VERO BEACH may have changed some with the loss of the Dodger Baseball Spring Training City and now a less-promoted smaller McKee Botanical Garden attraction, but it still has a wonderful beach, quality restaurants, and the McLarty Treasure Museum.
The funky Driftwood Inn is still on the beach with some nice restaurants within walking distance. To the south is a Holiday Inn and Suites and a Prestige Hotel, just south of South Beach Park. Not far north at Wabasso Beach is Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
The Historic But Strange Driftwood Inn, Vero Beach
Another often neglected Atlantic beach town is DEERFIELD BEACH, hemmed in by the fancy resorts of Boca Raton and the huge hotels and condos of Pompano Beach. The beach is very pristine and even in the heart of the winter tourist season not packed since the beachfront is mostly small motels and residences.
Royal Blues Hotel in Deerfield Beach
The great 976-foot International Fishing Pier is the beach focus and right next door is five star Wyndham Deerfield Beach and a half-dozen eating places. A few blocks south is the deluxe Royal Blues Hotel Relais and Chateau.
Fort Myers Beach has been a popular resort spot for years, but first timers usually stay near Times Square, the very active restaurant center on the northern tip by the main bridge. At the southern tip is the LOVERS KEY area.
Lovers Key Resort – Park Across Street
The Lovers Key Resort looks out onto the ocean and the bay where the Calusa Indian Mound Key is visible. Across the street is Lovers Key State Park, where a tram takes you around the mangroves and lakes before the beautiful beach. It is a truly natural setting where pirates once roamed.
If you want a strange mix of rustic casual, small crowds but access to luxury and fancy than the ENGLEWOOD BEACH – GASPARILLA ISLAND area is your bag. On the Charlotte County side of Manasota Key are small motels and resorts. My favorite is the Weston’s WantaB Inn located at the entrance of semi-deserted one mile Stump Pass Beach State Park.
Englwood Beach to north and Palm Island Resort to south
East of Jacksonville is ATLANTIC BEACH, often unnoticed by visitors for it hasn’t the bustle and amusements of nearby Jacksonville Beach. Atlantic Beach has small deluxe resorts like the One Ocean Resort and Spa and the delightful Sea Horse Inn.
Uncrowded Atlantic Beach
A big asset to this beach is nearby Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. Atlantic Beach was voted by the Travel Chanel one of Florida’s best secret beaches.
While most visitors to Saint Augustine visit St Augustine Beach with its famous lighthouse and “oldest” alligator farm, few don’t realize that on the northside of St. Augustine Inlet is peaceful VILANO BEACH with the same neat beach.
Vilano Beach bayside Pier, Beach, St Augustine Beach on right
At the southern tip are several moderate hotels including the beachfront Hampton Inn and Suites. Don’t expect lots of nightlife, but Saint Augustine is just over the bridge and five minutes away.