Just heading east until you hit the ocean highway will take any visitor to one of South Florida's famous beaches, but for a little more than just sand and surf try these spots.
1. | | 4000 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne; 305-361-5421. Take the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne). Crandon Beach Park, a former coconut plantation on Key Biscayne, is consistently named among the Top 10 beaches in the nation. There are more than two miles of "lagoon-style" beach, with calm water protected by a constantly shifting offshore sandbar. 2. | | 10 Ocean Boulevard, Lake Worth, 561-533-7367; same number for beach conditions. Pier information: 561-582-9002. From Federal Highway, take Lake Avenue east over the Intracoastal Waterway. Lake Worth Municipal Beach has more than 1,200 feet of sandy beach, plus a ballroom and a 900-foot pier housing stores offering ice cream, jewelry, places to eat and more. 3. | | 10900 State Road 703 (A1A), North Palm Beach, 2.8 miles south of U.S. 1 and PGA Boulevard; 561-624-6950. MacArthur State Park is on a barrier island and encompasses a 317-acre coastal hammock as well as a 120-acre mangrove swamp on Lake Worth Cove, and offers unguarded swimming on the two-mile, very private beach. This is a prime turtle nesting area, and organized walks are led by rangers in June and July. Offshore reefs are easily accessible for snorkelers and divers. 4. | 9701 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour; 305-866-4633. Public access to the beach at 96th Street and Collins Avenue, and at 102nd Street and Collins, next to the Haulover Inlet. You kind of have to sneak in, but Bal Harbour Beach stretches behind nearly a mile of resort hotels for a glimpse of how the beautiful people hit the sand. This wide, clean beach with dunes extends almost south from Haulover Inlet. The beach is mostly private except for the two public access points, and offers a scenic walking path and a jetty for fishing and sightseeing. The area near the jetty is a favorite of surfers. 5. | | 1400 N. Ocean Boulevard (A1A), Boca Raton. Beach conditions: (561) 393-7989 or www.ci.boca-raton.fl.us/oceanrescue/ocean.htm. Take Palmetto Park Road east from I-95 or Federal Highway, then head north on Ocean Boulevard about 1 mile. Red Reef Park in Boca Raton offers easy access to snorkeling for even the most timid beginner, with plenty of fish to spot. There is a mile of beachfront in this 39-acre park, which includes the 15-acre Gumbo Limbo Nature Center on the Intracoastal side. One of the few beaches open after dark (until 10 p.m.), Red Reef offers swimming, sunbathing, surf casting, and strolling over the dunes along a boardwalk. There's a designated surfing area on south end. The natural reef is about 10 feet off shore, where even beginning snorkelers can catch sight of tropical fish, turtles, eels and stingrays, as well as the man-made reef about 100 feet offshore. 6. | | 10800 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-947-3525. Call 305-944-3040 for the beach safety patrol and beach conditions. Take I-95 to exit 13, then head east for six miles to Collins Avenue. Turn left on Collins and go over the bridge to the park. Haulover Park Beach in Miami Beach "draws people for all walks of life... and a variety of other countries," according to the park Web site. Why? Probably because the north end is the only legal nude beach in Miami-Dade County, and maybe even South Florida. The beach itself encompases a mile-and-a-half of white sand, nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean with dunes, shade and picnic facilities. 7. | 9610 Old Cutler Road, Miami, 305-665-5475. While there are plenty of places to dine overlooking the beach, the Red Fish Grille at Matheson Hammocks Park is one of a kind -- and it's right ON the beach. The white sand beach is less than one-third of a mile and surrounds tidal lagoon, with 120 yards of beach at the widest point. 8. | | 1298 S. Ocean Boulevard, Boca Raton; 561-966-6600. Beach conditions: 561-276-3990. North on Federal Highway from Hillsboro Boulevard or south from Palmetto Park Road, then head east on Camino Real and south on South Ocean Boulevard. If romantic impulses take over during your visit, many couples make South Inlet Park Beach the spot for their wedding (before or after lifeguards come on duty, though), or at least their wedding pictures. This scenic county-owned park on the Boca Raton inlet goes from the ocean to the waterway, featuring a pier/jetty for fishing and sightseeing, and also offers a good place to windsurf, jet ski, canoe or kayak. 9. | | Off Hollywood Boulevard or Sheridan Street at State Road A1A. Hollywood Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts, 954-921-3404. Beach conditions: 954-921-3334. Annual resident parking permit info: 954-921-3535. North Beach Park: 954-926-2444. Hollywood's public beach offers sun and sand for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. The beach extends north from Hallandale Beach Boulevard to county-owned North Beach Park (which has a 60-foot observation tower) and about a half-mile short of Dania Beach Boulevard. Its adjacent 2.2-mile Broadwalk is crammed with cafes, bars, shops and its own band shell and is a popular spot for strolling. There's also a sea turtle hatchery, part of the Endangered Sea Turtle Protection and Relocation Program. 10. | | Take Sunrise Boulevard east. Phone: 954-828-5346. Beach conditions hotline: 954-828-4597. Beach Patrol Headquarters: 954-828-4595. Parking permit office: 954-828-3700. The world-famous, Where the Boys Are beach stretches 3.5 miles, offering swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling along three reefs, as well as shops, restaurants, bars and hotels to the south, quieter stretches to the north and a dog-friendly beach in between. Palm trees and a sidewalk make for a nice seaside stroll, but watch out for skaters. The north end, from around Las Olas to Oakland Park boulevards, is quieter and unguarded for part of its length, with no restrooms. More facilities are located in South Beach Park, which starts south of Las Olas and extends south to Holiday Drive. Dogs are allowed on Fort Lauderdale Beach on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Sunrise Boulevard north to lifeguard stand No. 5. Hours for dog walking are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. April through October, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. other months. A permit is required, which must be purchased at Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Dept. headquarters, 1350 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (954-828-7275), weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A one-weekend pass may be purchased on site.
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