According to the Florida Department of State, Florida’s land covers 58,560 square miles, it’s length north to south is 447 miles and the distance from Pensacola to Key west is 792 miles. But what all the State Department’s facts don’t tell you is the vast, differences of the areas between the miles.
Florida has 663 miles of beaches and the beach is probably one of the main reasons people come to Florida but just because you have been to one beach does not mean you have seen them all. In fact, the coast lines of Florida are so different that they had to loosely give them nicknames, Nature Coast, Gold Coast, Treasure Coast, Emerald Coast, Forgotten Coast, Sun Coast, Lee Island Coast, First Coast and Finally Space Coast and each with it’s own distinctive beauty and reasons to visit.
It would be almost impossible to explain in great detail the differences of the Florida coast lines in just one post, however, I am going to try to give you the scratch the surface version just to give you an idea of it.
So let’s start with the Nature Coast which is the coast line on the Gulf of Mexico from Tampa north to the Big Bend of Florida. Called the Nature Coast because of the area’s many acres of protected nature preserve with countless opportunities to observe and encounter Florida’s thriving wildlife. The Nature Coast is rural land without a lot of white sandy beach areas. Even though there are some beaches, getting out on the water here is mostly done by boat and kayak through the springs and natural estuaries leading into the Gulf of Mexico.
Then we have the Gold Coast on the Atlantic side which usually refers to the areas between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Called the Gold Coast for perhaps the well to do tropical lifestyle that is associated with it and it is this area that has the most well known and visited beaches in the state. Just about everyone has heard of South Beach.
The Treasure Coast is also on the Atlantic side from around Palm Beach north to around Sebastian Inlet and this coast line gets it’s nickname from the treasures that sometimes wash up on it’s shores. It is said that in the 1700’s, Spanish ships sunk off of Florida’s Atlantic coast and the treasures they carried still wash up on shore from time to time. This coast is known for it’s surf and on shore activities as well as diving opportunities off shore.
Florida’s Emerald Coast is the coastline along the Panhandle of Florida. It gets it’s nickname because of the clear emerald green waters of the area. This area is also known for Florida’s most sugary and softest white sand beaches.
The Forgotten Coast is the area of the Panhandle from Mexico Beach to St. Marks. Called the Forgotten Coast because of it’s quiet and undeveloped section of coast line. The Forgotten Coast is home to some of Florida’s most pristine beaches.
Florida’s Sun Coast usually refers to the 150 miles of beach communities on the central west coast. The Sun Coast is a very popular tourist and family vacation destination with the usually calmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the abundance of white sand beaches of this part of the coastline.
The southern west coast line is often referred to as the Lee Island coast and includes the barrier islands, including the well known Sanibel and Captiva Islands. It’s no wonder that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford made this area their winter getaway, as the winter climate here is mild, the view remarkable and natural resources abundant.
The north east coast line called the 1st coast gets it’s name as it was the 1st coast to be colonized by the Europeans but the nickname did not become popular until the 1980’s. The 1st coast includes the city of Saint Augustine which is the oldest established settlement founded by Spanish Explores in 1565.
Florida’s Space Coast, best known of course for the home of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station but also known for Cocoa Beach and some of the best surfing in the state.
Then there is simply the Florida Keys. When you mention the Florida Keys most people think of Key West, while in truth there are more than 1700 islands that make up the Florida Keys. Most are small and can only be reached by boat in fact only 43 keys are connected by a bridge. Here too, you will find differences and different reasons to visit.
Just as the coast lines are different, Florida is also blessed with multicultural influences which can be seen throughout the state. From it’s food, to it’s architecture, to the festivals celebrated within it’s communities, Florida shows it’s diversity in just about every corner of the state. Cuban, Eastern European, Asian, South American, Middle Eastern, Native American and good old Americana, cultures all represented in some form or another in Florida.
On the east coast one can surf the waves and on the west coast you can lay on a raft with a drink in your hand and sometimes not spill a drop. In Florida, you can be caught in hair raising traffic in a metropolitan city but drive 15 minutes down the road and find yourself in a rural farm community. Florida has cities big and small, back roads towns, fishing villages and laid back island time beach communities. Florida has Lake Okeechobee, The Everglades, hundreds of natural springs, 15 bays, countless rivers and lakes and two oceans and all have there own unique characteristics. There is a multitude of theme parks, museums, and roadside attractions, not to mention the countless outdoor activities that the state has to offer. So my point in this scratch the surface post is just as it’s title implies, Florida, been there done that? Well maybe but not really.
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