Miles and miles of beaches surround the state of Florida, making it a prime vacation destination. All the beach areas draw tourists to the sun, the water and the restaurants, yet different beaches develop a personality of their own, offering something novel that sets them apart. If you are looking for a beach-side hotel in Florida, you might choose according to your recreational interests, from surfing to shelling to joining the spring break crowds.
Not all ocean waves are conducive to surfing, but one area along Florida's coastline offers better conditions than any other. The Space Coast, from Cocoa Beach on the north to Sebastian Inlet on the south, produces excellent wave conditions. Cocoa Beach holds surfing competitions at the Cocoa Beach Pier; the most notable are the Easter surfing festival and the one on Labor Day. If you want to be close to the action, consider La Quinta Inn & Suites next to the Cocoa Beach Pier. Offering guestrooms and kitchenette units, this hotel sits directly on the ocean. Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, then sample one of the many restaurants in the area, starting with any of the five located on the pier, in easy walking distance.
The upper part of Florida's east coast has hard-packed sand, making it possible to drive your car on the beach. St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and New Smyrna all have established driving lanes with access ramps from the beach highway, A1A. There are rules for driving on the beach; the most important is observation of the speed limit, usually 10 miles per hour. In Daytona, The Tropical Winds Oceanfront Hotel sits on one of the spans of beach where driving is permitted. The resort offers guestrooms, efficiencies and apartment-style units and has a heated indoor pool in addition to the outside pool overlooking the ocean. The Poolside Cafe serves breakfast and lunch.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands, about 15 minutes from each other, sit on the lower Gulf Coast of Florida. The area produces the most shells, and the largest variety of shells, in all of Florida. Shells are most abundant at low tide or after strong storms have driven them to the shore. Shell gatherers must know the difference between a live shell and an empty shell because it is illegal to harvest shells inhabited by a living creature. To get close to your shelling grounds, consider a stay at Caribe Beach Resort on Sanibel Island. Most of the units are efficiencies with a Murphy bed and couch that opens to a double bed. Rentals are weekly during high season in the summer. The resort has a swimming pool and hot tub.
Spring Break Beaches
Spring breakers first sought the warm beaches of Florida at Fort Lauderdale, on the lower Atlantic coast. Then they gathered at Daytona, a new hot spot; and while spring break is still a very active time in Daytona, the most recently favored beaches are those around Panama City, on the Gulf Coast of Florida's panhandle. Scheduled events draw big crowds and film crews. The Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City is one of the bigger hubs of activity. A room here will put you right in the thick of the celebration. Guestrooms at this Holiday Inn have a tropical decor. The View Restaurant offers breakfast and full-menu dinners, while the Bamboo Grill serves up a light fare of sandwiches and salads. At any other time of year, the Holiday Inn Resort caters to families with its Aqualand mini water park, Splash Around Kids' Club and kids' suites.
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