North Siesta Key Beach
Last weekend Tim and I headed out for Siesta Key Beach! Siesta Key has consistently been voted the #1 beach in the USA, however I wasn't sold on it... until now.
We have been to Siesta Key several times but each time it was insanely populated. Yes, it had the powdery white quartz sand that never burns your feet, yes it was shallow for a good while before becoming deep enough to swim (my favorite kind of beach), and yes it had nice bathrooms and foot washing stations. But, all of these things had been overshadowed by the masses of people you have to crawl over to make it to the shore line. This time was different though, thanks to an insider tip, we decided to head north after FINALLY getting a parking space.
Let's first talk about parking. This beach has a decent sized public parking lot, but make no mistake, you will be hard pressed to nab a spot in fewer than 30 minutes - especially if you aren't out there early. We arrived around 11 am on a Saturday and it took at least 30 minutes before we were able to find one. The lot fills up early and any newcomers are left to wait for someone to leave. From my experiences, this reigns true regardless of whether it's a weekend or weekday. Oh, and don't try any monkey business - saving spots and misbehaving carries a hefty $200 fine. My advice is to get out there early and pack your patience along with plenty of sunscreen.
Once we parked, we loaded ourselves down with our umbrella, chairs, cooler, and tote and we walked... and we walked... and we walked. We headed north up the beach until we came across a row of Hobie Cats with their masts sticking high into the air and that's where we decided to pitch our camp. It was well worth the hike, the population had thinned out tremendously and the best part - SANDBARS! Sandbars on sandbars on sandbars! For someone who loves shallow beaches, this was an epic playground!
The great thing about sandbars (other than making shallow areas, of course!) is that it really creates an incredible landscape. The water is lighter where the sandbars are, which creates what appears to be a beautiful painting with streaks of lighter blues, shades of turquoise, and darker blues. Every time a cloud passes between you and the sun, the colors and streaks change. I could spend a lifetime just looking out over the water, it's like a priceless work of art that is constantly changing.
There was an abundance of wildlife present in this area, which made for some great photos! We saw several schools of fish, big ones too! We also spotted a pretty big crab!
This is a great beach to bring your snorkel, not just to view the fish and crabs, but also for sand dollar hunting! Although we didn't find much in the way of shells here, it was great for sand dollars! We only took home the ones that weren't broken, a total of 5 after I broke one myself... oops! Tim had a great time scavenging for them with his snorkel and I enjoyed looking for them on the shallow sandbars! Once we got home we let them sit in a little bleach and water and they turned white and beautiful!
Low tide - my favorite time of the day! Let me tell you what, this is the best beach for low tide! All those sandbars create ankle deep areas and some become walkways with water on either side! There are pools that form, perfect for kids (and adults) to swim in! In one picture you'll see Tim walking on the sandbar while I took the picture from down in the water - it looks like he is walking along the beach, but that is actually the ocean beyond him! It was VERY cool!
From where we pitched camp, we walked north all the way up to the tip of the key - maybe a mile at most, I'm not sure. You could see South Lido Beach from there, which was another shallow playground that we have thoroughly enjoyed. I'm starting to think that the sweet spot of Sarasota lies in the 1-2 mile radius between South Lido and North Siesta.
Every time we think we have found the best beach, we surely find another even better. I'm not sure if it's because of the beach, or just because every time we trek out on a new adventure, we are just as excited as the first time. It's hard to believe that these experiences are the new "norm" for us. To say that we are blessed doesn't even begin to cover it. If there's anything I have learned from the past 8 months, it's that you should never stop going after the things that bring you the most joy. To live the life you were born to live, and not to let anything - not fear, not even being too comfortable where you are - stand in the way of going after anything and everything you want. Life is short and I'm going to live it to the fullest... I'm going to live in the sun.