At 9 this morning, my parents and I decided to take the grueling 2 hour drive to Fort De Soto State Park. After 100 miles of lane changes, cut-offs, and bathroom breaks we finally made it to a lovely stretch of Florida beach.
I’m a big fan of Fort De Soto- it’s a good, closer alternative to Bean Point (see Anna Maria Island: It’s a Secret). Once inside the park I always like to drive up to North Beach, a small yet popular spot near the northern tip of Fort De Soto Key, just south of St. Petersburg. The unique thing about North Beach is that it fronts on both the Gulf of Mexico as well as a small lagoon, half of which is protected year-round as a migratory bird sanctuary. Bird enthusiasts are always stationed at a tent bordering the lagoon to point out some species through binoculars.
The sand, as with the majority of West FL beaches, is white and soft (although the occasional driftwood or litter might spoil the luxury). And the water is clear and aquamarine, with calm waves breaking onto a white shore. There are lifeguards, bathrooms, a snack bar, and picnic tables- all the creature comforts you’d expect at a state park.
But the real fun happens at low tide, when North Beach shift-shapes into a natural water park. I’ve been there once during the late afternoon when a river with a particularly strong current formed in between an exposed sandbar and the shore itself. People were walking up to the beginning of the stream, climbing into their floats, and letting the water carry them along the beach; which is now more than just a beach.
Today, I chowed down on a godly Publix sub while staring out at the color patterns in the Gulf (they were arranged in stripes of light and dark blue this afternoon), went for a swim in the exquisitely heated water, and took a walk to discover some less-populated stretches of sand further north. I did not experience low tide, but all the same it was a great few hours soaking up the sun (especially on a day when it was supposed to feel like 102˚F in Orlando).
And so, like crazy people, we drove back another two hours and reached home at around 4:30. Even though we only spent around two and a half hours at Fort De Soto, it still felt like a wonderful day by the sea.