Friday, May 18, 2012

Is Florida a Better Beach Destination than California?

Other than Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, one is always taking a big chance in comparing beaches. There are many factors to be considered, from quietude to animal viewing, and each beach has its own character and advantage.

Yet, when I just received a long and glowing note from my California vacation rental guest about her stay on Sanibel, I had to do some considering. Her note began: "Living on the West Coast we are Hawaii people and I was not sure about Florida when I first arrived. Sanibel is a different story!!"

She was not our first guest from California, nor the first to be so impressed with the Island, but it did prompt some comparisons in my mind.

Both California and Florida are long and narrow states with beaches up and down the coast.

Of course California has mountains, and many towns dotting the coast are older with more history and perhaps more charm.

But when you come right down to the beaches, that's a different story that may be the reason more and more Californians are flying across the country to spend time on Florida beaches, including and especially Sanibel.

And I will talk specifically of Sanibel here, though my descriptions could fit many other beaches in the Sunshine state.

The first thing that hits you on a Sanibel beach is the almost always calm Gulf. For us, a wave is a rare sighting, and ---except for during bad storms---- what waves there are are small and gentle. The Gulf of Mexico is transient in color, some times emerald green, some times acqua marine, but the tranquility of the water is pretty static. As are the ever-present palm trees lining the cliffs or rocks, but plenty of greenery beautifully frames the Gulf.

And then there is the nature on the beaches and in the water. California may have sea lions, but we have manatee and frequent dolphin sightings. Our dolphins,especially, love to have company in the water and will swim a short distance away cavorting and flipping over in joy. The beaches are almost always lined with shore birds: plovers, egrets, herons, pelicans. You name it and you can find it. Easily.

And last but not least, there is the water temperature. Most of the year, there is no need to "test" the water. It is perfectly comfortable, warm enough to not chill you to the bones, cool enough to refresh.

So is there a comparison to be made between CA and FL as a beach destination? Sure, and in the total of comparisons, Florida looks pretty good!

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