Jacksonville Beach

Head east of Downtown Jacksonville, kick off your shoes, and sink your toes into miles of white sand beaches.

What Jacksonville Beach doesn’t do by the ocean on Florida’s northeast coast probably isn’t worth doing. A 22-mile-long drift of broad, white sands is an undeniable natural advantage, but nobody takes nature for granted here.

Hang 10 at the Fishing Pier or head south to Crossroads for surf breaks that run up to 10 miles. Epic waves are a fall tradition while summer’s best for surfers in training. Spring is the season when Jacksonville Beach hosts the annual WaveMasters Surf Festival, a popular surf-off for amateurs.

If you’re not surfing, try sinking beneath the waves. Delve deep into some or all of the 20 local dive sites and glide around reefs teeming with marine life, from cute to eccentric to downright odd. For those new to the ways of underwater exploration, Jacksonville’s 100-foot visibility is beginner heaven, and friendly local dive schools run to the dozens.

Swap flippers for flip-flops to stroll the sands. Shorts and tees pass for dress code in the laid-back beach bars, waterfront grills, cool cantinas, and sweet seafood shacks, all vying for attention along the ocean.

Casual is perfect too for Moonlight Movies, under the stars all summer long, at Seawalk Pavilion. Slip on sturdier shoes to bike, hike, or kayak round Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. And watch your toes if tempted by a fishing charter for the day; local cobia and tarpon can put up quite a fight.

Resort style has been around Jacksonville Beach since the mid-1800s. Step away from the waves and water sports for a dip into quaint villages such as Mayport, home of Mayport shrimp and casino boats. Or stay overnight at Casa Marina, one of Florida’s Historic Hotels of America and the most venerable of many on Jacksonville Beach.

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