Travel Often & Richly Within Your Budget

Discovery: The Best Beaches in South Florida

Sun vacation scene on a white sand beach, Florida, USA

Sun vacation scene ~Marco Island, Florida, USA

There are exquisite discoveries waiting for you on the best beaches in South Florida. I found some while on a Florida home swap. Exclusive beach access will help, but isn’t required. 

A wonderful thing about travel is that the discoveries you make along the way –the ones that make life feel exciting and new places intriguing– don’t have to be new for the universe. They only have to be new to you.

I made a discovery today while staying in a home exchange with private pool in south Florida.

Call me crazy, but I was perfectly content beside that pool.  Never-ending, delicious days of beach-chair therapy haven’t been at the top of my travel list. It probably has something to do with [what I’m convinced is] my undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder. Or perhaps the surf experience that compelled my sinuses to drain ocean water for two days. Suffice to say I was happy with my private pool!

And then this happened…

Stars Align in Florida

South Florida Panther Traffic Sign

We wish. No panthers in sight the day we passed through! ~South Florida, USA

Blonde and Brunette (of Blonde Brunette Travel), who don’t live in Florida, and my husband and I, who don’t live in Florida, were 2 hours from each other, in Florida.

So, of course, we had to meet in Florida.

Being the Hotwire Gods had blessed me –and not Blonde and Brunette– with an ultra-cheap rental car, it was agreed that husband and I would drive 2 hours through Alligator Alley to Marco Island to see them. During the day it was an easy, arrow-straight drive through flat-lands on an excellent highway.

(Note: We drove through Alligator Alley and a Panther Reserve. We saw cows.)

We found Blonde and Brunette.

Brunette produced a Marco Island Resident Card.

And with that? Magic would unfold.

Exclusive VIP Beach Access

Beachfront Access via Marco Island Boardwalks

Beachfront Access for Residents of Marco Island, Florida, USA

With sandaled feet, Brunette led us along raised boardwalks between manicured lawns and beneath Hollywood-trimmed palms. This is coveted space. Exclusive space. Open not even to all residents of Marco Island, but only to those who choose to pay an annual fee for said privilege of private beach access.

Given it’s mid-January, take note of the weather stats:

  • Air Temperature: 81*F / 27*C
  • Water Temperature: 72*F / 22*C

And yes, that water would be salt water. Gulf of Mexico ocean water. At nearly bathtub temperature. In January (for the Canadians like me who can’t quite fathom it).

Magic Unfolds

And then…

“Look! Look at how white it is!”

Best Beach Ever, Marco Island, Florida

One of the best beaches in south Florida hosts Blonde and Brunette. ~Marco Island, Florida, USA

It was a vast acreage.

Endless to the left, endless to the right. And perhaps most astoundingly, nearly endless straight ahead. We stood upon a gargantuan duvet of foot-dimpled creaminess, sunbathers at the shoreline mere dots on a bleached horizon.

No single grain was visible. It was not sand as I have known it. It was powder, fine as flour, beneath our feet.

So this is what an amazing beach is!

Otherwordly Sand

Best beach sand in south Florida

The powder-fine sand beyond the Marco Island private beach access ~South Florida

Being an uninitiated South Floridian beach-goer, I stepped to the shade of a palapa to remove my sandals. Many a time I have danced an unattractive jig on beaches that would fry a firewalker’s feet and I wasn’t chancing that today.

I pulled off my sandals, put them in a bag and then wondered how far I’d get out into the vastness of it before I’d fry my feet and jig-step while squealing back to the palapa’s shade. How close could I really get to that 72*F water while barefoot?

Steeling myself I stepped out with some trepidation and…

No way.

It’s 81*F, under a cloudless sky and the sand is cool. That’s not how this world works!

I reached down, ran my fingers through the sand and realized that…this is magic sand.

And then I saw. No one was wearing shoes.

My Take

Marco Island Beach

One of the best beaches in South Florida ~Marco Island, Florida

If you can, at least see the beaches of Marco Island or the ones nearby. They truly must be some of the best in the state, and the world. If you can plan a beach vacation there, do (there’s lots to do: fishing, snorkeling, diving, airboat tours, tours through Alligator Alley…).

I finally discovered what I didn’t know I was missing. I thought I’d seen the “powdered sand” and “white powder beaches” that people rave about as they reminisce about their honeymoon.  After Hawaii, Mexico, Saint Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas…I thought I had it nailed.

But now I finally get it. To play at the tideline of one of these powder-fine duvets, with pale green bath water soaking the bottoms of your capris (another mistake I won’t make next time)… That is how a day at the beach goes from mundane to magical.

Thanks Brunette. I made some wonderful discoveries under your watch!

Your Take

Have you experienced beaches like this? Do you think finding one might be worth it?


Author: Nola

Nola is passionate about travel and a home exchange diva. She shares how you can travel in comfort, save money while you do it, and splurge on travel treats with the savings. She is a travel writer, speaker and trainer.

One Comment

  1. And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, Nola, I’ll be going to a free concert on the beach. This Wednesday is Big Band music. I’m going with Canadian friends, who said it’s a nice BYO wine and picnic event. Hope the sunset’s included!