By Lauren Tjaden
If you want a quiet beach where you can reconnect with nature and loved ones, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area is the perfect choice.
You’ll find this windswept park, named for Florida folk singer Gamble Rogers, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach.
Its beach, rightfully, is its most popular feature.
When you walk across the sun-bleached boardwalk through the dunes, little is out of the ordinary: the sand bristles with palmettos and sawgrass, and you can hear the music of the surf as you near the beach, a generous affair that unfolds in both directions.
But there’s nothing ordinary about the color of the sand.
Its color will make you gasp; it’s not the usual latte or cocoa-hued sand you find on the Atlantic, or even the glistening white crystals you find on the Gulf Coast. Instead, it’s a unique cinnamon hue, a rich shade that can be subtle or vibrant. Crafted by Ma Nature from coquina shells, this beautiful sand is soothing for both the eyes and the toes.
You can enjoy a dip, sunbathe, or ride a wave on a surfboard or your own belly. But one thing’s for sure, you won’t have any trouble finding a place to spread out your beach towel.
Surf fishing is an idyllic way to spend a morning.
You might bring home a fish, but to the man we met there, that wasn’t the first priority. He’d brought his tiny daughter with him, to share his love for the outdoors with her. Sometimes, she slept beneath the tent he’d rigged on the sand while he cast his line; other times he’d cuddle her and watch the waves roll in.
I don’t know if she’ll remember these times together, but I know he will.
If you want to fall asleep to the sound of the Ocean, book a spot in the park's full-facility campground, situated on the dune above the shore of the Atlantic. It’s only $15 a night, but book early. Spots fill up fast.
While you’re there, make sure to explore the Intracoastal Waterway via kayak. Rentals are available. The Waterway’s trails wind through mangroves, and you’re apt to discover remote beaches as well as tiny islands.
If you need advice or information, ask a ranger; they’re both friendly and helpful. And if you take part in one of the many free programs, covering shorebirds, night walks on the beach or more, you’ll discover these folks have a wealth of knowledge, too.
When you’ve had your fill of sunshine, explore the funky, charming village of Flagler Beach, or make a stop at High Tides, just north of the Park.
You can eat outside at one of these picnic tables—with your dog, if you want.Or eat inside and chill out to the air conditioning and views of the beach.
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