By Lauren Tjaden
Robin Draper is all about discovering simple, delightful pleasures like finding the best secluded beaches in Florida —and sharing them with you. Her website, AuthenticFlorida.com, dishes on off-the-beaten path travel, fresh Florida cuisine, local artists, books and more.
Draper is also a self-admitted beach snob. Born and raised on Siesta Key, she grew walking the beach, admiring sunsets and living a bohemian life. Her definition of a really good beach is one that is unspoiled, undeveloped, and wide-open, unfettered by condos, urban sprawl or crowds.
I asked her what some of the best secluded beaches in Florida were and why she liked them. Read on to learn more about three of her most beloved, secret beach gems.
St. George Island State Park
Located in Northwest Florida on the Forgotten Coast, Draper sums up St. George Island State Park in one word: Pristine. She cites its nine miles of white sand beaches, towering sand dunes and untouched, natural beauty as why it's one of her top picks for best secluded beaches in Florida. She also notes it’s just minutes away from great seafood. Park activities include camping, fishing, kayaking, hiking and biking.
Canaveral National Seashore
Draper is a fan of this barrier island, a sanctuary for both people and wildlife. Snuggled against the Atlantic Ocean between Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach, Canaveral National Seashore encompasses a 140,000-acre wildlife refuge and long expanses of natural beaches. Draper enjoys the wide-open, undeveloped Florida coastline, and says it seems to stretch out forever along sandy dunes. The park offers opportunities back-country camping, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, surfing, swimming, boating and bird watching.
Caladesi Island State Park
Draper promises that real Florida awaits you at this Park, situated north of Clearwater and south of Tarpon Springs. Accessible via the Caladesi Island Ferry, a boat shuttle service that runs daily from Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi boasts miles of glistening white sandy beaches surrounded by bluish-green water. Draper advises dolphins are often spotted off shore, and that wooden benches provide a place to relax and enjoy the Gulf beach view. She advises that for the perfect end to the day, visit as old local seafood favorite, Olde Bay Café & Dunedin Fish Market. It overlooks St. Joseph Sound with a view of Caladesi Island on Main Street in Dunedin.
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