Each year various publications rank the best beaches from around the country, and around the globe. These rankings each use various criteria including cleanliness of the water and the sand.
While these rankings are totally subjective and often are largely compiled from visitor opinion, they are nonetheless often fun to read.
As someone who has been to more than his fair share of beaches, I enjoy seeing how many of the beaches on the list I have been to. It also helps me plan the next beaches that are worth a visit.
For me, a good beach needs to have clear water that allows me to see the bottom, ample varieties of sea shells, and clean seaweed free sand.
Sorry Texas but once again you have been left out of both Trip Advisor’s and my list. I remember the first time I went to Galveston to see the beach after moving to Texas. Proximity to the Gulf had been one of the main selling points that had made a move to Texas palatable so I was very anxious to see the beach upon my arrival. However, instead of being greeted by clear water and white sand like I remember from my trips to the other side of the Gulf of Mexico, I was met by seaweed, cloudy water and dark brown sand. It was nothing like the Gulf I remembered. It is quite possible that I even shed a tear thinking that this was going to be the closest beach I lived to for awhile.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Galveston for many reasons. I love the history that surrounds it with the Strand and the Victorian homes. I love going to the annual Mardi Gras parades on the seawall. I love the fact that there is a retro style miniature golf course right out of the sixties with a view of the water. Just don’t expect to find me swimming in the water. For that, I prefer the beaches of Florida and according to Trip Advisor’s 2013 Traveler’s Choice Beaches Awards I am not alone. Of the top 25 beaches on the list, nine are in Florida.
So let’s take a more in depth look at the four beaches on the list that I have been fortunate enough to dip my toes in the water at.
Our first stop takes us to Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville which comes in at Number 23.
Located next to the Kennedy Space Center, this beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida provides ample dunes and natural wonders to explore. Another key feature is the lack of high rises and other commercial buildings.
During the Space Shuttle era visitors to the beach were often treated to the site of the Space Shuttle on the launch pad. Most of the shuttle pad structure has been torn down and replaced with new facilities that will one day carry new rockets into orbit. When that day comes one can rest assured that the Canaveral National Seashore will still be there greeting visitors as it has for generations. Just be sure to take along some mosquito spray if you do go as the insects like to attack along the dune line.
Coming in at number 22 is Pensacola Beach which is nestled between Santa Rosa Island and Fort Pickens beaches up near the border that Florida shares with Alabama.
Ironically, I did not discover this particular beach until I moved to Texas. At just over eight hours away from my house it serves as the perfect road trip destination for those long weekends when I just need to leave Texas and get a taste of Florida.
After the BP oil spill a few years back there was concern regarding whether the beaches would become polluted with oil and tar balls. Thanks to proactive response and around the clock monitoring, Pensacola Beach still boasts crystal clear water and sugar sand for miles and miles.
The next stop on our journey across Florida takes us to St. Pete Beach, which comes in at number 15.
Much like Pensacola Beach I discovered St. Pete Beach after I had moved away. I had been to numerous other beaches in and around that part of the Gulf but for whatever reason I had never ventured there.
There are several beaches in and around St. Petersburg that make the top 25 including Clearwater Beach, Fort DeSoto Beach and Sarasota. All of these beaches offer the same clear water and miles of sand. The only variables are the amounts of commercial buildings that surround them.
Personally I tend to prefer a more natural beach with less hotels and restaurants nearby but I realize that sometimes it can be nice to have a room with a view so there is certainly a time and place for hotels on the beach.
Our final stop on our best beaches in America, that I have been to tour, is the Gulf Islands National Seashore that comes in at number 3 on the list.
Located just down the road from Pensacola Beach, the Gulf Islands National Seashore includes unbelievable dunes and miles of unobstructed views of the Gulf and Pensacola Bay.
While technically not part of the beach, the area also includes historic military forts that can be toured through either a self paced or guided manner.
So there you have it, four great Florida travel destinations. If that doesn’t have you itching for some sand between your toes I don’t know what will.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it may be time for a road trip east. Happy snorkeling, shelling, or fishing to one and all.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson