Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Race For the Best Beach in Florida: Sanibel a Serious Contender



Every year, Dr. Beach, aka Dr. Stephen Leatherman, Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research issues his pronouncement of the best beaches in America. Generally, at least 3 of Florida's beaches make the list. The anticipation of the pronouncement is keen, to say the least.

But the popularity of announcing best beaches has gone much beyond the trend began by Dr. Leatherman years ago.
There are pronouncers of best beaches sprouting up as quickly as beaches can be found.

The Travel Channel did a show not too long ago that had great visual appeal. Because it was a filmed feature and not reliant on still photography, the program really put Florida in a whole new light. The visuals were awesome and would make some question why they would ever leave the state of Florida to go to a beach anywhere else.

The show featured the top ten beaches in Florida and gave the reasons for why each was chosen to be on the list:

10 - Daytona Beach: activities and driving up and down the beach

9 - Sanibel Island (Gulf side): sea shell collecting

8 - Panama City: Spring Break

7 - Sandspur Beach (Bahia Honda): Nature preserve

6 - Smathers Beach (Key West): island-style

5 - Clearwater Beach: boating, even a pirate cruise

4 - Lover's Key Beach (outside Ft. Myers): seclusion/couples (Lover's Key Beach Club Resort)

3 - Palm Beach: living the high life, shopping (The Breakers Hotel)

2 - Siesta Key Beach: soft sand (Sand Sculpture Contest)

1 - South Beach (Miami): international scene (latin influence), winter fashion, non-stop nightlife


A life long beach lover and unofficial beach rater for many years and from many countries and continents, I would really have to question this rationale. I mean, seriously, would someone really go to a beach because they could drive their car up and down the beach?

I go to beaches to escape cars (and noise and traffic)!
Similarly, I don't need a beach to go to a beautiful hotel, go shopping, party or mingle with the rich and famous. Cities are made for scenes like this.

So, were I to toss out numbers 10, 8 and 1, it would only leave 7 top beaches in Florida, moving Sanibel into much higher ranking.....where it should be.
Why, you ask?


Well, Sanibel is great for shelling, one of the top 3 beaches in the world for that activity. Because the Gulf is generally calm, it is also great for boating. It is bordered by a nature preserve, so it is fantastic for nature viewing. There are many points of seclusion on Sanibel's beaches, including the popular Bowman's Beach near our condo and house where one can find privacy and romantic ambiance (try doing that on Siesta Key, as lovely as the sand is!)

Using as a more valid comparison the reasons I believe that most people seek out beaches---- nature, beauty, boating, seclusion---- Sanibel would more than likely win the race.