The Clean Beaches Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and volunteer participation in beach sustainability, bestows the Blue Wave Award.
Beaches are graded based on the quality of their water, cleanliness, safety, services and maintenance, conservation efforts, warning and information systems, and erosion management. There are currently 43 Blue Wave beaches in Florida, with one in every county.
BLUE WAVE BEACHES IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA
The 1,133-acre Grayton Beach State Recreation Area is an ecotourist’s delight. Outdoor enthusiasts can take the self-guided nature trail and get an up-close look at the ecological diversity found in the area including sand dunes, the coastal dune lake, pine flatwoods, marsh area and the beach. Facilities available include a pavilion, camping area, picnic areas and a boat ramp to Western Lake, Grayton’s 200-acre coastal dune lake.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach boasts 27 miles of silky white-sand beaches bordering the clear, emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay. The destination, known as “The Beach Lovers Beach”, also enjoys recognition as a top US beach from The Travel Channel, USA Today, Southern Living, Dr. Beach and the Clean Beaches Council. Family attractions, championship golf courses, sporting events, delectable dining, predictably sunny weather and a vast number of recreational activities draw visitors to this Northwest Florida destination annually.
Pensacola Beach occupies nearly eight miles of the 40-mile-long Santa Rosa barrier island, much of which is protected from development and preserved by a determination to maintain the natural environment for generations to come. Beaches include Casino Beach, the geographic core of Pensacola Beach, where many gather for swimming and fun, Quietwater Beach near the commercial core of the beach, and many uncrowded areas where only a few congregate to unwind.
One of the newest attractions on Pensacola Beach is the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier, the longest on the Gulf of Mexico, stretching across emerald-green waters and beyond two sand bars, providing breathtaking views of the shoreline.
Best known as the film locale of the Truman Show, starring Jim Carey, Seaside, one of the award-winning South Walton beach communities, oozes with charm, from the Gulf-front, Victorian-style cottages, to the unspoiled half-mile of fine white sand. With pedestrians rather than motor cars in mind, Seaside’s innovative layout makes sure that all the galleries, boutiques and restaurants are within walking distance of each other. Ideal for the unhurried, unfettered vacation, this is the perfect romantic getaway for couples.
South Walton Beaches
The beaches of South Walton are a collection of 14 eclectic beach communities, characterized by dazzling sugar-white sands, sea oats, sand dunes, and the brilliant emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The communities of Inlet, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, WaterSound, Seagrove, Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton, Blue Mountain, Santa Rosa, Dune Allen, Sandestin, Seascape, and Miramar offer a variety of outdoor activities.
The beaches of South Walton hold the designation as the only destination in the country to have all 26 miles of coastline certified as “Blue Wave Beaches,” an environmental seal of approval from the Clean Beaches Council. Program criteria include water quality, beach and inter tidal conditions, safety, services, habitat conservation, erosion management, public information and education.
Topsail Hill State Preserve
One of the award-winning South Walton beach communities, Topsail Hill State Preserve, is a three-mile span of undeveloped beach front property that was identified as the most pristine and environmentally protected piece of coastal property in Florida. Attach magazine named Topsail Hill State Preserve one of the “Great Wilderness Beaches,” and the Travel Channel named this prestigious preserve as one of the “Nation’s Top Secret Beaches.”
BLUE WAVE BEACHES IN NORTHEAST FLORIDA
The 60 block-long shoreline of Jacksonville Beach with its wide, hard-packed white sands backed by dunes is ideal for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and sunning. The city provides access points at the eastern end of 64 streets, with free parking slots. The 1000-foot long fishing pier with a restaurant at its end is popular with both fishermen and sightseers.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park provides an out-of-the-way beach where kayaking, biking, freshwater fishing and hiking are popular sports.
BLUE WAVE BEACHES IN CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA
Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park, one of the few large undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is only accessible by boat. Swimming, shelling, fishing, picnics, skin and scuba diving, and nature study are all popular activities on the island. The park also has a three-mile nature trail that winds through the interior of the island. The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset. A ferry leaves every hour from nearby Honeymoon Island. Docks for private boats are available on the island. There is also a snack bar and shelters.
Clearwater Beach is the most popular of the area’s beaches, particularly among families. Clearwater Beach has almost every type of water and beach activity imaginable. Pier 60 Park on Clearwater Beach is a family recreation complex with covered playgrounds, fishing, and concessions on Clearwater’s expansive beach. Throughout the year, from two hours before sunset to two hours after, the Sunsets at Pier 60 festival features music, entertainment, and a beautiful Gulf of Mexico sunset.
Fort de Soto Park
Recognized as one of the best beaches for dogs, Fort De Soto Park is a canine paradise. The park consists of 900 unspoiled acres, seven miles of beaches, two fishing piers, picnic and camping areas, a small history museum and 2,000-foot barrier-free nature trail for guests with disabilities. A concession stand, bathrooms and covered picnic shelters are available. The area also has a popular biking and skating trail as well as rental facilities for canoes, kayaks and bicycles.
Fort De Soto was an historic fort built during the Spanish-American War and is located on Mullet Key, the largest of the five islands which make up this unique area just north of Egmont Key.
Fred Howard Park Beach
This beautiful 155-acre paradise in northern Pinellas County on the western edge of Tarpon Springs is a popular swimming, sunbathing and fishing destination with ample wildlife viewing of everything from dolphins and manatees to nesting ospreys and eagles.
Honeymoon Island state park features sunbathing, shelling, swimming, fishing, picnic pavilions, bathhouses and a park concession building. Honeymoon also features two bird observation areas, a pet beach, two nature trails and one of the few remaining Florida virgin slash pine stands. These large trees serve as nesting sites for osprey and bald eagle. Honeymoon Island has more than 200 species of plants and several threatened and endangered species of shore birds.
Sand Key Park
This 14-mile long key is the longest of the barrier islands and contains the beach communities of Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Indian Shores, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Beach and Sand Key. This island has received a $22 million beach nourishment adding tons of powder- white sand from the area’s shipping channel to its beaches. Fishing is popular from several public piers. Madeira Beach features John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, a quaint shopping district which overlooks “fish famous” John’s Pass. The Village is home to a large commercial and charter fishing fleet. Art galleries, restaurants and boutiques are located in the area, and the boardwalk provides a scenic water view. It is the site of several festivals and special events. On the north tip of the island, Clearwater’s Sand Key Park has been ranked among the top beaches in the nation.
St Pete Beach
Just minutes away from major central west Florida attractions, St Pete Beach, with its many public beaches, water sport opportunities and wide variety of accommodations, is one of the area’s most popular visitor destinations. It even has its own National Historic District located at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach in Pass-a-Grille complete with an history museum celebrating the origins of the community.
Known as the “Sand Sculpture Capital of Florida,” Treasure Island is one of the widest beaches in the area and plays host to several sporting activities including an annual kite-flying contest, and a sand sculpting contest. It has held the Guinness World Record for largest sand castle.
BLUE WAVE BEACHES IN CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA
Situated on Florida’s Space Coast, the Cocoa Beach area offers a number of oceanfront parks perfect for family recreation, as well as some of the best surfing opportunities in the world. There is a wide variety of beaches, from the madly popular to the almost deserted and secluded. Cherie Down Park, a scenic, 7-acre community beach park preserving sand dunes and sea grasses, is a perfect spot for surf fishing. The Indialantic Boardwalk is a 700 ft., oceanfront park providing picnic, shower, and restroom facilities for guests. The Alan Shepard Park Shepard Park is a five-acre oceanfront park that was named after astronaut Alan Shepard. Other beaches include Ocean Park and Spessard Holland Park, an 11-acre fishing and recreation area.
BLUE WAVE BEACHES IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
Siesta Public Beach on Siesta Key, an eight-mile long barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, Florida, has long been one of the Gulf Coast’s most popular vacation destinations with a wide variety of cozy, family-owned accommodations and has been named the Best Beach for Kids. Beach walking, fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailboarding are among the recreational activities available.
Siesta Key’s powdery white-sand beaches have won numerous awards, including “America’s Best Sand Beach” and “Florida’s Top Ten Beaches,” as well as being named one of Dr. Beach’s top ten beaches in America. Siesta Beach was also named “One of America’s Best Beaches” by National Geographic Traveler. Crescent Beach is known as “The World’s Finest, Whitest Sand.”
Known as the Sharks Tooth Capital of the world and famous for the abundance of fossilized sharks teeth along the 14 miles of sandy beaches from Casey Key to Manasota Key, in southwest Florida, Venice offers a wealth of recreational opportunities for shelling, swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, boating and golfing. Caspersen Beach, the longest beach in Sarasota County still exists in its natural, uncultivated and secluded state.
BLUE WAVE BEACHES IN SOUTHEAST FLORIDA
The Greater Fort Lauderdale area has over 23 miles of beaches. Ft Lauderdale itself features more than seven miles of those beaches with 30 beach access points and the newly renovated, brick-lined Fort Lauderdale Beachfront promenade with its award-winning wave wall. The area offers a huge variety of recreational activities including boating, wind surfing, jet skiing and volleyball, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and rollerblading. The Clean Beaches Council has awarded the national “Blue Wave” certification to Fort Lauderdale in recognition of its clean and eco-friendly beaches. Those beaches in particular are Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, and Delray Beach.
Rated as the Best Boardwalk Beach, Hollywood Beach is home to a 27-foot wide “Broadwalk” that extends for two and a half miles and is populated with multitudes of walkers, joggers, roller bladders, bicyclists, unicyclists, jugglers, and skateboarders. Hollywood Beach, which has been a very popular spot for beach lovers for years, is also one of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s five “Blue Wave Beaches,” as certified by the Clean Beaches Council, designating it as one of the cleanest, safest and environmentally friendly beaches in the country. The long stretch of wide sandy beach includes the quieter North Beach, the bustling Central Beach and the residential South Beach.