natural

Washington Oaks Gardens | Huge Oaks and Magical Coquina Beach

When thinking of Florida beaches, one usually pictures sandy, flat shores. If you find yourself at Washington Oaks Gardens, prepare for a surprise. The park contains a beach unlike any I have ever seen in Florida and includes one of the largest outcroppings of natural coquina on the Atlantic Ocean! Washington Oaks Gardens is a state park located just north of the tiny town of Palm Coast. On a trip to St. Augustine, my boyfriend and I decided to go off the direct route dictated by GPS and stop at this amazing park. We were both so happy that we did!

coquina rocks and waves

An easy 30 min drive south from St. Augustine and about an hour north east of Orlando, this park is off the beaten path and is not generally well know. My boyfriend has lived about an hour from the park his whole life and had never even heard of it. The park spans either side of the A1A from the Mantanzas River to the Atlantic Ocean, with a historical garden on the river side and the coquina beach on the ocean side. I think part of the reason may be the name of the park doesn’t refer to the amazing beach side and what you will find there. I’ll start with the beach because it was so spectacular!

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Wekiwa Springs State Park | Kayaking the Wekiva River

Looking to explore a Florida river by kayak or canoe? Wekiwa Springs State Park is a hassle free starting place to launch a rented boat and explore the Wekiva River. This was my first river kayaking experience in Florida and I was not looking to do a long or strenuous trip. Being familiar with the Wekiwa Springs State Park and the surrounding area, the launch at the state park was the easiest choice for a quick out and back kayaking trip that filled up a Friday morning. It is $6 to enter the state park, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards can be rented from the concession stand located near the spring head for reasonable prices. While swimming in the spring is the main draw of the park (I wrote about swimming here), today I want to focus on what you can expect when kayaking the river!

kayaking on the wekiva river

On the river.

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Playalinda Beach | All Natural, Undeveloped Florida Beach

When I moved to Orlando, being more familiar with west coast beaches, I often asked people which was their favorite east coast beach within 1.5 hours of Orlando. Most said New Smyrna Beach. A very few said Playalinda. After visiting the latter, I can say that I am now a member of Team Playalinda.  I think Playalinda may be one of the better kept secrets on the east coast.  This was somewhat verified for me when a coworker told me he didn’t like mentioning it to people because he didn’t want word to get out.

panorama of playalinda access 7 from the boardwalk

Undeveloped beaches are few and far between and the absence of development is what makes Playalinda so spectacular. Located on a barrier island east of Titusville, FL, Playalinda beach is a part of the Canaveral National Seashore,. The Canaveral National Seashore as a whole contains 24 miles of undeveloped beach and is located just north Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space center. If you are a looking for a quiet, natural beach with no buildings or development, Playalinda is the beach for you. (more…)