Ultimate Beach Guide to Florida's Nature Coast

Beach Quest in the land of Florida's Big Bend
By
Patti Jewel
Beaches on the Forgotten Coast

The Nature Coast of Florida is rightly named as a nature lover's paradise with a plethora wildlife, state parks and old Florida small town charm. Located in the Big Bend region where the curve of Florida connects the panhandle to Florida's peninsula. The Nature Coast includes Wakulla, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco Counties.

This area is not known for white sandy beachfronts and finding a beach in the area is quite the quest. We took the challenge to locate the beachfront areas in this region and our quest led us to some surprising beachfronts. Because the waters are so calm, the beaches offer a family friendly swimming area, some have amenities, and some even have white sandy beach areas. 

Also see our Ultimate Florida Beaches Guide for more beaches in Florida. 

Beaches Along the Nature Coast

Horseshoe Point

Horseshoe Point Beach

Horseshoe Beach is a very remote town in Florida that is located at the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the Gulf 20 miles from the nearest main roadway. And while the name suggests it is a Beach town, this small town is primarily a fishing and boating community. While the area is secluded from the rest of Florida and the population is small, the town has grown to add a restaurant, a full-service marina, an athletic area, and a park. 

Horseshoe Beach Park might seem like the place to find a beach, but it is surrounded by rocks and walls. The park has a boat ramp and picnic areas for enjoying the water view, but no beachfront. 

Horseshoe Point is the spot at the end of County Road 351, aka Main Street, where you can find the only natural beachfront in the area. Note that the road ends with a round-about where you can park on the side, get out and walk across the jetty to the preserved land marsh, and walk across the beachfront area. Note that this is not a pristine beachfront. It is a small sandy area fronting the Gulf that has a small stretch of natural sandy shoreline. 

Shired Island Beach

Shired Island Beach

Just south of Horseshoe Beach is another small beachfront area, Shired Island Beach. Even more secluded than Horseshoe beach and off of Hwy 357 that connects to Hwy 351 (between Horseshoe Beach and Cross City), this area is largely undeveloped. Home to a Campground, boat ramp, and beachfront. This area is known by local residents as a weekend spot for boating and partying. 

The beachfront is a beautiful white sand natural beach. There are facilities, however, cell service might be limited. This beach is a very secluded spot so be sure to get gas and food prior to going. 

Cedar Key

Cedar Key Beach

Cedar Key is a small city in Levy County that includes a cluster of islands. This area is known for being a fishing village and home to some great seafood. Beach areas are hard to come by without a boat to go out to one of the surrounding keys. 

Cedar Key Airport Beach is a beachfront along Airport Road that offers white sand and quiet gentle waters. Lil Shark Park is a city park that offers a playground and white sand beachfront. Several keys off shore have beachfronts as well. 

Bird Creek Beach, Yankeetown

Heading further south in Levy County is another local and secluded beach, Bird Creek Beach, which offers a small natural white sandy beachfront and a boat ramp. This beach is popular among locals for launching kayaks and fishing from the shore. Most known as the principal filming location for the 1961 Elvis Presley movie "Follow That Dream". It is a fun find along the Nature Coast with a pretty beachfront and a cool history. Take CR 40 aka "Follow That Dream" Parkway all the way to the end.

Hunter Springs Park, Crystal River

Hunter Springs Park in Crystal River

Crystal River is well-known for it's springs so it's not surprising that one of the best beaches in the area is on a spring. Hunter Springs Park sits on Hunter Spring Run with one of the 70 natural springs that feed the Crystal River and Kings Bay. The sandy beach is man-made directly along the spring making it a beautiful way to spend the day. Swim, snorkel or kayak in the fresh cool spring waters and spot a manatee or two. Relax on the white sandy beach area featuring a playground and amenities. Crystal River is a haven for water, nature and wildlife lovers and while the beach is man-made, it is a gorgeous beachfront to relax and enjoy Florida living. 

Fort Island Beach, Crystal River

Fort Island Beach Crystal River

Fort Island Gulf Beach is at the end of Fort Island Trail on the far west end of Crystal River. This beach offers a quieter off-the-beaten path shoreline with a swimming area, picnic areas and amenities. And if you enjoy boating or fishing, this beach has a boat ramp and a pier.

The beachfront features a natural shoreline by the water and a white sandy beachfront area for sunbathing and enjoying the Florida sunshine. The white sand is brought in to create a softer whiter beach area. The natural sand along the water line has a gentle slope into the warm waters making it a nice swim area. Fiddler crabs live along the sides of the beach in the grassy areas. 

Pine Island Beach Park, Weeki Wachee

Pine Island Beach Park

Weeki Wachee is famous for their Springs and mermaids, but if you head directly west, you will find a nice family beach that has something for everyone. The area features 2 beachfronts with swimming areas, picnic tables, sand volleyball court, a playground, concession stand and amenities. There is a pier to view the beautiful waters and sunsets, or cast a line and do some fishing. 

The beachfront offers a natural beach area with a man-made white sandy beach area for enjoying the soft sand. 

SunWest Park, Hudson

SunWest Park Hudson

SunWest Park is a recreational waterfront park inside a planned community in Pasco County with a fabulous beachfront area that offers gorgeous white sand and shallow swimming areas. There is something for everyone in the family including volleyball courts, an aqua park, paddlesport rentals, a wakeboard cable and concessions. 

This unique find is the beautiful beachfront and clear waters of this lake that was developed around a former limestone mine with a 70 acre spring-fed lake. Though it's not a Gulf front beach, this man-made lakefront beach features a beachfront with calm swimming and cool fresh spring water with white sand shorelines and is a pleasant surprise along the Nature Coast. 

 

Robert K Rees Memorial Park, New Port Richey

Rees Memorial Park New Port Richey

Located on the Gulf in New Port Richey, Robert K Rees Memorial Park features beach frontage and a swimming area. The sand is a natural tan color and the waters are the warm calm waters of the Gulf. The park also offers fishing, pavilion and picnic areas. 

 

By Boat Only

Nature Coast Islands

There are many islands off the coast that have some sandy beachfronts in the Nature Coast. To explore these beachfront areas, bring your boat or kayak. 

 

In Conclusion

The Nature Coast does not have the same beachfronts that you can find in the panhandle or the Clearwater and St. Pete beaches to the south. However, the communities in this region have some beaches to explore and offer a weekend getaway for locals. While the towns along this region are fishing and boating communities, some bring in soft white sand to create more beautiful shorelines in public parks. 

If you are looking for the gorgeous white sand beaches, this is not the area for you. But if you are looking for an afternoon visiting a small town with fishing, boating and beach options, head up the Nature Coast and discover Old Florida at it's best. 

 

Click here for our Complete Real Estate and Accommodation Guide to the Nature Coast, Florida (coming soon)

For Local Businesses including Food & Drinks, Services, Health & Medical, Education, Sports & Recreation, Arts & Entertainment and more, click here. (coming soon)

Who we are

We are locals and writers who love to research, explore and share information about Florida. Our goal is simple. To share the positive (and sometimes not so positive) things that make the area unique. To be real without an agenda. And to support a strong local community. 

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