Best Beaches

Daytona Beach Vacation

Shoreside at Daytona Beach FloridaWondering about a Daytona Beach vacation in Florida?  It’s more than “just” a beach – it’s a destination all by itself.  There’s plenty to do and see here, although obviously the beach is the star attraction.  However, there are also plenty of things to do around town and in nearby locations, if you feel like spending some time away from the shoreline.

Let’s get started, shall we?

What’s the Weather Like?

Summer weather is from May through September, and expect temperatures in the upper 80’s and 90’s, and (unfortunately) high humidity.  But you’ll be happy to know that Spring and Autumn are a bit more relaxing, with temperatures in the 70’s to low 80’s.  Thunderstorms can happen on any given Summer day, but usually they are pretty quick to come and go.

Be aware, though, that Winter can get somewhat chilly.  I know, this is Florida, but it’s also part of North Florida where it can get nippy.  Much of the time, expect mild days in the 60’s and 70’s.  There are times, though, that the highs will only be in the 40’s and 50’s.  Winter generally brings clear skies and sunny days, except when a front is coming through.

Daytona Beach Vacation – More Than Meets The Eye

When I was growing up in Central Florida, Daytona was a sleepy little wide spot in the road that had a gorgeous wide beach.  You’d see a mixture of local families, out-of-towners, surfers and of course the teens and college-age crowd.  Word got around (thanks to some judicious advertising about the “World’s Most Famous Beach”) and it took off.

Spring Break discovered this stretch of sand and sea, and it’s not quite been the same.  For awhile there, it drew a rather rowdy crowd, but it’s settled down some in that respect.

A couple other things put the town on the map forever — Bike Week and the Daytona Speedway.  (Bike Week really started in 1937, but it took about 40 years before it was famous.)

Beaching It!

The beach here is wide, wide, wide.  Lots of sand on which to spread blankets, build sand castles, and on which to take a walk.  This is one of the few beaches left in Florida that allow driving on the beach, so keep the traffic patterns in mind (not to worry, the speed limit is roughly a fast walking pace).

The water is warm most of the year, and even when it’s cold to Floridians, it’s warm to a lot of others!  The surf is generally up, with waves in the three to four feet range mostly.  There are days where you’ll see the waves higher — six feet plus — but you won’t get the kind of seas you’d see in Hawaii. Still, there is some respectable surfing in these parts (and yes, lessons are available).

Boardwalk on Daytona BeachYou can also get more active on the beach by riding a banana boat, renting a jet ski or by seeing the beach from on high by parasailing.

Walking along the shoreline will find you faced with seashells and sand dollars, but mostly they will be somewhat crunched up.  The same seas that provide fun in the surf also break up the shells.  (If you are really into shelling, check out Sanibel Island.)

There’s also a boardwalk at Daytona, complete with rides.  Definitely worth taking a stroll on it!

Things to Do in Daytona

Other outdoors activities aside from the beach, are boating, fishing and golfing.  Charter fishing is available, if you don’t have your own boat.  And speaking of boats, there is motor boating, kayaking and canoeing in and around Daytona.   There are several golf courses locally, as well as some others a little farther inland.

If fast driving is your thing, don’t overlook the Daytona Speedway (also sometimes known as the Daytona Raceway).  There are several major races held each year.  Keep in mind that  if you are going one of the major races, make your reservations really far in advance, or you might find yourself in Miami.  That’s a joke, but you might indeed have to find lodgings in Orlando if you wait til the last minute to book a place to stay.

Bike Week in March has the same caveat — get your reservations early.  It’s a 10-day event, held the first full week in March.  Or let’s put it this way — something like 500,000 people come in from all over for at least one day of the event, so you see why the hotel rooms are in short supply then!

If none of the above strikes your fancy, consider Orlando and the attractions like SeaWorld, Universal and Disney.  It’s a bit of a ride in the car — figure on an hour and a half each way — so it can make for a long day.  On the  other hand, if you’ve come to Daytona, it’s worth the drive time to see some of the attractions.

Florida Beaches – Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach FloridaCocoa Beach is one of those wonderful vacation spots in Florida that sometimes gets overlooked.  It’s been known to get overshadowed by its neighbor to the north (Daytona Beach), as well as one a bit further off on the south (Ft. Lauderdale Beach).  Which is a shame, because Cocoa has a lot to offer.

For example, did you realize that it’s the closest beach to Orlando?  Or that one of the best surfing spots in Florida is on the southern end, near Sebastian?  And as anyone who has traveled in Central Florida, Ron Jon Surf Shop makes its considerable home here.

Oh, and did I mention — a beautiful ocean and beach?  🙂  The photo above doesn’t do it justice, since the surf was low and the sun had run behind the clouds when I took the picture (darn).

On the Beach

Cocoa Beach Florida - side street entranceThere are a lot of entrances to this beach.  Some are along designated beachfront “parks”, others are tucked away along side streets.  And naturally, the hotels have their own beach entrances.  Be sure to keep plenty of change handy for parking on the side streets!

If you like more action, your best bet is to go to one of the beachfront parks along A1A.  You’ll find a place to park your vehicle, along with restrooms, a shower to get sand off, benches and picnic tables.  Access to the beach is easy and fast.  There are usually plenty of people around these areas.

If you’re more into a quiet Florida beach, think about one of the side street entrances.  There generally isn’t much parking — maybe five to ten spaces — but that just means that you’ll hear more ocean and bird sounds than “people sounds”.  The photos on this page were taken along a side street entrance to the beach.

Cocoa Beach Hotels

When all the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 went through, Cocoa (along with a lot of other Florida Atlantic coast beaches) saw a lot of renovations in the beach accommodations.  On the plus side, things are more up-to-date and modern.  On the other side, gone are some of the wonderful quaint spots.

Be aware, if you have your heart set on staying beachfront, it’s not cheap to do so.  Not as expensive as a lot of the other beaches, but you’ll do well to get a room much under $100 a night, unless it has a parking lot view, LOL.  Some of the popular places to stay are:

  • Inn at Cocoa Beach
  • La Quinta Inn Oceafront
  • Discovery Beach Resort (more like a timeshare, but rents out some of the apartments)
  • Resort on Cocoa Beach

Naturally, there are plenty more places to stay as well — these are just a smattering that are on the beach.

Things to Do

If you’re looking for things to do aside from the beach, one of the first suggestions is to check out Ron Jon’s.  Even if you don’t particularly need or want anything, it’s kind of it’s own little world and makes for an interesting hour ot two.

There is a pier on Cocoa Beach, so you might take a stroll down it, to see the beach from a different perspective.

There are one-day cruises to nowhere out of Port Canaveral — just expect to lose money on the slots and gambling aboard.  😉

Take a trip down to Sebastian Inlet State Park (not far at all) and take in all the things to see and do there.  The park is partly on the ocean and partly on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Kennedy Space Center is a popular attraction, just up the coast a smidgen in Titusville.

And of course, you aren’t all that far from the attractions in the Orlando area — Disney, Universal and Seaworld.

All in all, Cocoa Beach is a wonderful Central Florida vacation spot that is well-worth visiting.

Best Florida Beaches, Part 1 – Quiet Beaches

Which are the best Florida beaches?  The answer depends on what you like for your beach-going pleasure.  Quiet beaches, family-friendly, lots of beach toys…whatever you like, there’s probably one here in Florida that will suit your fancy.

This page is about some of the wonderful beaches in Florida.  You might notice that the title of this page has “Part 1” in the title; that’s because I’ve got plenty to show you.  On this page, you’ll see some of the quieter ones, but you’ll see more on other pages.

South Florida – MacArthur Beach

One of my favorite Florida beaches has to be MacArthur Beach State Park in South Florida.  Located on A1A north of Singer Island and south of Jupiter in Palm Beach County, it’s a slice of heaven for anyone liking a quiet Florida beach.

Of all the times I’ve been there, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a dozen people on the beach.  Now I’m sure there are times when there are more, but it’s the walk out to the beach that daunts most people.  Ah, but there is a tram that goes back and forth between the parking area and the beach, so the walk really isn’t bad.  Over the dune and onto the beach!

Jensen Beach, South East Florida

Jensen Beach is somewhere between “quiet” and “a lot but not to many” when it comes to the number of people on the beach.

On weekdays, you’re liable to find just a handful of people strung up and down the beach.  Weekends sees this beach with more people.

You can always find a spot to park your beach blanket without searching high and low; it’s just a matter of how far you want to go up and down the beach from the entrance.

Best Florida Beaches – Hobe Sound

If you’re at the beach early in the morning (like just before sunrise and a short while after), you’re likely to find a fair amount of people on the beach.

Between folks who want to cast a line into the water for fishing, those who want to stretch in the early morning light and those who walk their four-legged friends, you’ll find people.

(Yes, dogs are allowed on the beach between certain hours.)

The beach is open all hours; David and I went there one morning to watch a meteor shower before dawn was even a hint on the horizon.  Quite naturally, we were the only people on the beach.  As soon as there was any light to see, people started drifting in.  By 8:30 AM, there were a fair amount of people (although not too crowded).

That’s it for the moment — I’ll be back with more of the best Florida beaches in a bit.