Spring break beach reviews

With spring break swiftly approaching, one thing on many students’ minds is the beach. South Florida is widely recognized as home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches, many of which are driving distance of campus. Here are just some of the Sunshine State’s beach spots for sun, sand and much more.

Haulover Beach Park: Clothing optional  | hauloverbeach.org
Nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Bal Harbour, Haulover Beach Park is a 0.4 mile stretch of white sand dunes and open ocean surf, popular with swimmers, surfers and sunbathers alike.

Haulover’s claim to fame is its northern nude beach area, frequented by the majority of visitors. The nude beach is a small fraction of the park, so visitors hoping to avoid skinny-dippers can steer clear of the clearly-identified “clothing-optional” section.

Beachgoers who are comfortable showing off their skin should consult Haulover’s “First-Timer’s” guide — available on the beach’s website — before baring all, as the beach has specific rules regarding photography, voyeurism and nudist etiquette. Chairs are available for rent, although park rules deem that all visitors must bring a towel.


Fort Lauderdale Beach: Family friendly | sunny.org
Although this popular spot can be unbearably crowded on weekends and holidays, Fort Lauderdale Beach is a clean family hangout location. The wide expanse of soft sand is perfect for kid-friendly beach activities, such as picnicking, playing volleyball, sandcastle-building and the timeless practice of burying friends in the sand.

The shallow, clean water maintains a depth of approximately 5 feet for 25 yards out, which is great for wading and causal swimming. Snorkeling, scuba diving, jet-skiing, and deep-sea fishing are also encouraged in deeper waters.

A brick-paved sidewalk, open to roller-blading and biking, spans the border of the entire beach, leading the way to many shops and restaurants.


South Beach: Electric night life  | visitsouthbeachonline.com
A day spent at South Beach, a neighborhood of Miami Beach, can easily transition into a night of fun, as the stretch of surf and sand along South Pointe Park and Collins Avenue is lined by many iconic bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. South Beach, nicknamed SoBe, is known for its sophisticated atmosphere, due to the high volume of high-profile vacationers and guests of the area’s boutique hotels.

The public beach’s compacted sand is popular among runners, and the view along breakwater is a scenic Miami cityscape.

Parking is generally limited, but there is a 1.6 mile path for rollerblading, biking and walking. Bike, scooter and Segway rentals are available at shops along Collins Avenue.


Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park: Historic scenery | floridastateparks.org/capeflorida
Home of Miami-Dade’s oldest structure, a lighthouse built in 1825, and the former site of a U.S. Army naval base, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne is a scenic and historical beach that caters to photographers, nature-lovers and campers. Guided tours of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s cottage are given twice daily, Thursday through Monday.

The grand seawall located along Biscayne Bay boasts some of the best shoreline fishing in the region, and rowers can also launch canoes and kayaks from No Name Harbor by the seawall. The waves are gentle, due to the coral reef located just six miles offshore, and over a mile of Atlantic beach is open to swimming — although the park does not have lifeguards on duty.

Nature and hiking trails on the west side of the park go through the mangrove wetlands, an iconic feature of Florida’s landscape. Bikes, umbrellas, watercrafts and picnic pavilions can also be rented.


Crandon Park: Close to Nature | www.miamidade.gov/parks
On the island of Key Biscayne, Crandon Park is home to the Bear Cut Preserve and the Crandon Park Visitors and Nature Center. Its 264-acre natural barrier island habitat is open to guided tours and field trips, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling and biking. Kayaks, cabanas and shelters are available for rental.

The sandy beach and coastal dunes are nesting and feeding grounds for many migratory species, and the Center’s exhibit room and aquariums provide insight into their lives and habitats. Short tram tours also take visitors on a historical journey across the island.

The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle, and the guided tours and trams have individual prices.

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