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Gulf Coast beaches in the Rotonda area
To access the closest beaches from the Rotonda area drive up Hw 776 towards Englewood. Take a left at the lights at Beach Rd. Cross over the bridge and continue up to the roundabout. You now have a choice of four beautiful beaches.
Go left at the roundabout and follow the road to Stump Pass State Park Beach. Park and pay $2 (in honesty box) – spaces are limited to 40 cars. This is the bottom end of Manasota Key where Lemon Bay meets the Gulf. On this narrow strip you can choose to look out on to the Inter-coastal waterway or walk on the fine sandy beach. Here the beach is quieter and you will find fishermen casting lines into the Gulf. They are often closely watched by local herons that sneak up and pinch the odd fish or two from the bucket – if the fisherman is not looking!
There is a short nature trail at the Pass, signposted with information of what you might see there. Restroom facilities are available. Pets are not allowed on this beach. There is no lifeguard on duty and swimmers will have to beware of the strong currents if they venture out.
At the roundabout, if you go right you will be immediately at Chadwick Park or Englewood Beach (as the locals call it). This is a popular beach with excellent facilities: restrooms with changing areas and showers, covered sitting area, grills, 4 small free picnic shelters, a larger picnic shelter which can be hired for functions, children’s play area, basketball and volleyball courts. Parking is 50 cents an hour (sheriff’s deputies do patrol and have been known to ticket offenders)
There is a long boardwalk across the beach front. The beach is quite large and wide and usually buzzing with activity. There are shops, bars scooter and boat rentals nearby. Pets are not allowed at this beach. Sunset is a very popular time down here as people come to watch the sunset. Its’ not unusual to hear them clap as the sun finally slips from view!
Further up Manasota Key you will come to Blind Pass or Middle Beach. This is ideal for those who like peace and quiet. You will find a large free car park and playground but you do have to cross the road. Restroom facilities are also available. There is a launch for canoes and kayaks. The beach is long and quiet. There are shallows ideal for playing. Be aware that there are no lifeguards at this location.
Drive up to the north end of the barrier island and you will find yourself at Manasota Beach. This is a large beach with almost no sandbar. This beach is perfect for a quiet picnic and shelters can be reserved. Amenities include: boardwalk, restrooms, free parking, fishing, boat launch and a lifeguard is on duty all the year round. Pets are not allowed on the beach.
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