Briny Breezes: Among the Mansions of A1A, Old Florida
Last week I was taking one of the world’s most pleasing pleasure drives: A1A along the Atlantic Ocean. I had just attended the Mai Kai Poynesian dinner show in Fort Lauderdale the evening before, and considering the show premiered in 1956, I was still in an Old Florida state of mind.
What’s so pleasing about this drive is that as it glides along canals and the ocean and past lush tropical vegetation and waterfront homes hidden behind walls of stone, you snatch glimpses of Florida as it was when the Mai Kai was opening its doors or when Clermont’s Citrus Tower actually towered over citrus.
You see it in beach cabanas and small businesses and after you’ve driven just four miles north of Delray Beach, you’ll reach a community that seems suspended in time.
It’s Briny Breezes, pop. 601.
Nancy and I guess there were a few hundred trailer homes here and watched folks on bicycles and on foot heading back and forth to the ocean, which was only a few feet away. There were no towering resorts in sight, no flash or glamour. It was Florida stripped down to its essentials: Sun and sand.
About a decade ago residents here (some whose homes had been passed down for generations) were offered roughly $1 million each to pick up and move out so this land could be re-developed and transformed into new homes or condos or a resort. A majority said yes, but the deal disintegrated, and Briny Breezes returned to its roots as an authentic Old Florida community, and still sits undisturbed along A1A.
Drop by next time you’re in the neighborhood.