While most of Florida‘s beaches offer everything from volleyball nets to jet skis to free wi-fi — there are times when a trip to the shore should just rejuvenate the soul, scrubbing away the stresses of life like sand that scrubs at the soles of bare feet.
Stumbling upon a soulful sanctuary is often its own best reward, but since there are not many hidden beaches remaining in South Florida, here are a few suggestions to jumpstart your search.
Accessible only by boat, this 1,300-acre barrier island off southwest Florida’s Marco Island is also a protected refuge, so do not be surprised to see turtles, manatees or ospreys cavorting near the peninsula. On the weekends you will often find a few dozen boats anchored off its beach and sunbathers lounging in the warm waters. The strong currents here power an amazing 10-minute float downstream, and the return walk along the beach affords time for wildlife viewing.
If you do not have a boat, head to Marco’s Tigertail Beach, park and head north. Two miles later, you will find yourself on a silvery spit of sand with nothing but endless vistas and bay breezes.
While the Florida Keys offer plenty of gentle waves and wild nights, they lack a plethora of public sand beaches. Never fear: approximately halfway between Key Largo and Key West, tucked discretely under an overpass, is one of the few public beaches in the Keys. Named after local environmentalist Anne Eaton, Anne’s Beach — on Route 1 at Mile Marker 73 — has two (tiny, but free) parking lots, a shallow swimming area, covered picnic tables and basic bathroom facilities. Best of all: this pet-friendly beach gives drivers the chance to let their pups stretch their legs along the scenic but occasionally frustrating drive from Miami to Key West…
Read more: Lonely Planet