Florida Guide > Other Florida
Fort Island Gulf Beach - A hidden gem.
If you find yourself in the Crystal River area with time on your hands then I can strongly recommend a trip to Fort Island Gulf Beach. Situated where the mouth of the Crystal River meets the Gulf of Mexico this a wonderfully secluded beach, perfect for whiling away a few hours and topping up your tan.
The journey to the beach from the centre of Crystal River is an easy one and will take you about 15 minutes. Take the 44 west from route 19 and it is one road all the way to the coast, approximately 9 miles in length. Initially you will pass some pretty residences and inland waterways before the area becomes less populated and finally opens out in to scrub and marsh land.
On arrival at the beach there was plenty of free parking on a glorious November morning but when we were leaving two hours later there were fewer available spaces and I can imagine that in the summer months it can get quite busy.
The beach is a crescent of clean white sand bordered by two rocky jetty' s and although it is not enormous, due to its secluded position I cannot imagine it ever gets crowded. There are several covered picnic tables providing shade from the sun if required along with restrooms and an on the beach shower. There is no lifeguard on duty and when we visited no outlets for food or drinks so take a picnic, although I believe that in the busier summer months there is a mobile catering truck.
Although there are no waves here the beach is tidal and as you approach the area which is damp from the water you may imagine that there are dozens of insects crawling on the sand, they are in fact tiny crabs who disappear into the sand as you approach. The waters edge is also a popular place for flocks of tern who scatter in all directions as people approach, a great photo opportunity if you are anything of a photographer.
If you need to take a break from just relaxing and enjoying the beach you can take a stroll along the boardwalk to your right which leads through a conservation area and out on to the pier. The conservation area itself is unremarkable, nothing to see really other than the vegetation, although when we visited there was an abundance of colorful butterflies, orange, gold, blue, black and yellow stripes, none of your cabbage whites here!
At the end of the boardwalk you have the option of turning right and following the conservation walk out to the car park and boat launch, or turning left and going out on to the fishing pier. As you walk on to the pier there is a large shady pavilion with plenty of seating and tables if you prefer to eat your picnic away from the sandy beach.
There are glorious views of the Gulf waters to be had from the pier and looking right you can see clearly the mouth of the Crystal River, unfortunately this view is some what marred by the view of the Crystal River power plant in the distance, this is however the only place it can be seen from and it is not visible from the beach.
This is a lovely beach and we spent a pleasant couple of hours there, had we gone prepared with picnic and beach chairs we would have stayed longer. Although the temperatures were in the mid eighties the cooling breezes of the gulf made it very pleasant.
This beach is. Hidden gem!
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