Our family is all about the beach and you know we #LoveFL. At home, we live across the street from the beach. We go on weekend trips to the beach. We go walking on the beach even if it’s a freezing cold day and there’s not a chance of getting in the water. You know what’s perfect? Staying in a hotel at the beach and then being able to wake up and walk on the beach… and then actually swim and splash in the waves… and do it when it’s not even summer. That’s why Jacksonville Beach is perfect.
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Here are the top five reasons we fell in love with Jacksonville Beach:
We know. We just said that we love the warm water, but it’s that amazing and important. At home on the Puget Sound of Seattle, Washington we say “Let’s go to the beach!”…knowing full well that we’ll not actually touch the water unless it’s 2pm on the hottest August day. That’s not a problem for the water-lovers of Jacksonville Beach. Being there in the fall, we had low expectations of swimming and then were crazy happy when we were able to enjoy the water and all its splendor.
Tip: swimming or playing in the surf at sunset is best if it’s not the hottest weather (meaning not a sweltering summer day). The water has been absorbing the sun’s rays all day and the air is cool, making the water feel as warm as possible. Also, beaches are less crowded on the East Coast at sunset. On the West Coast, well, people gather to watch the sunset and western beaches are ALWAYS breezy at sunset.
Of course there’s the splashing in the waves, but there’s more to it than that. There’s the body surfing on 3 foot crests. There’s the running in the shallows that are wonderfully consistent twenty feet out. Heck, you can actually just sit in the surf and get splashed. Jax Beach is the most relaxing beach…evarrrrr.
The sand is compact enough that it’s a great strolling beach, meaning a stroller can easily be pushed on the damp sand. It’s perfect for putting that traveling baby to sleep. And then when that baby wakes up, that same compact sand is perfect for crawling. We know, a crawling baby on the beach sounds like a sandy nightmare, but the sand here isn’t the type that gets into everything (at least not that we found).
Tip: if you’re bringing a baby, especially a chubby one, onto the beach, you can prevent massive sand issues by sprinkling baby powder on them. Something magical in baby powder (talc) keeps sand from sticking to skin. This is not a 100% foolproof solution, but it works pretty well.
People watching at Jacksonville Beach
The beach attracts all kinds of people. If you like to sit back and chill (and silently wonder about people), just go to the beach. At Jacksonville Beach, there are all sorts: surfers, families, retired couples, runners, kite-flyers… treasure hunters. Yeah, it’s funny when you explain to a four year old what somebody with a metal detector is doing at the beach. Four year olds have no filter: “that’s silly”…said loudly. But then watching surfers with your kids is really awesome. Each time somebody caught a good wave it was cause for cheering. Despite loving to surf, we don’t do it anymore (there is no good reason for this).
The other cool thing about the people at the beach is that there are always other kids. It’s wonderful when a local family is cool and their kids befriend yours. Our oldest befriended the nicest local girl at Jacksonville Beach and they spent all morning digging for clams and building in the sand. Sociable people make for a great beach day and Jax Beach was full of them!
Tip: don’t be afraid to make friends while you’re traveling. If you’re someplace, like a beach or microbrewery, the other people there are typically like-minded and, more often than not, ready to befriend you for a few minutes at least.
Sunrise/Sunset on Jacksonville Beach
Our first experience at Jacksonville Beach was at sunset. The colors were awe-inspiring. The air was thick with the Atlantic humidity. It was perfect. And the kids loved it. Being sunset, it wasn’t ideal for full on swimming way out into the waves, but was great for purely joyful splashing in the surf.
And sunrise was incredible too. The marine layer of air that rolls in from the sea makes for muffled sounds and a calm breeze. Walking on the beach early in morning is clearly a favorite activity for the locals and tourists alike. This was also the best time to watch the surfers getting warmed up for the day. Since we were staying at the Casa Marina right on the beach, it was easy to pop out and enjoy the sunrise before it dissipated.
Tip: if you can sneak away alone to walk the beach, do it. It’s a great way to start the day and really helps clear your mind. Kids are wonderful to be with any time of day, but if you can break away for a little solitude on family vacation, you won’t regret it.
We wish that cleanliness didn’t have to be mentioned, but that’s just not the world we live in unfortunately. Trash and general pollution are too often a problem and cause too great an impact. It’s selfish to say that a dirty beach is a vacation bummer, as it’s more like a disappointment with mankind sort of bummer, but coming from that family travel perspective, a clean beach is so highly appreciated.
Jacksonville Beach has the right kind of litter: jellyfish, clam shells, random feathers, the odd piece of beach grass. It didn’t even have beach glass. And the sand is the perfect mix of sugary smooth white sand with dark charcoal drifts throughout. It’s just beautiful from every angle.
Tip: always bring a bag and maybe some gloves with you to the beach so that if you do find trash you can pick it up and throw it away properly. Here’s a good book to share with kids about littering and what goes All the Way to the Ocean. We love this book!
If it’s not clear already, Jacksonville Beach won our hearts. It’s great to find a place that you can’t wait to return to, and with the great food and accommodations close by, we have no reason not to return. We did learn though, that next time we need to allot more time for the beach, the pier, and the nightlife just off the beach (it’s kind of cool with a Venice Beach, CA vibe (artists and performers all over).
We’re ready for our next Florida beach vacation, especially as Seattle sits shrouded in fog and mist. Jacksonville Beach is calling our names and we’ll answer…soon.
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