We visited John D Macarthur Beach State Park kind of on a whim. We were driving in a part of Florida that was new to me, so of course I was watching for the brown “public recreation areas and scenic guidance” signs. I’m always happy to find a new park to explore! As an added bonus I could get a stamp in my Real Florida Passport, always a win.
We pulled in and the parking lot was surrounded by greenery with paths heading in various directions. There was what looked to be a pier, so we headed that way to walk out over the water. The pier was interesting; it was the longest one I’d ever seen. We seriously walked for a couple of minutes before I realized this was not a pier but a boardwalk over to the other side, where the coastline was also covered in greenery. Coolest thing ever, but where was the beach this place was named after?
After walking across the water, pausing often to enjoy the scenery, the boardwalk passed through the trees where we saw plenty of crabs both in the trees and in the sand below. Then I got a bit of a shock. The boardwalk ended at one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen. The side the boardwalk is on is covered in lush green fauna, the water is as blue as you can imagine, and the sand stretches out in both directions as far as you can see.
To the right, you can see a few tall(ish) buildings in the distance. To the left, the beach narrows gradually in the distance as the green and blue meet. We walked to the left and were continuously amazed at how pretty this beach is.
On the way back to the car we came across a stand of Park Plants Guides. There’s a trail with markers on it and you can use the guide for a self-guided tour. That’s not something I’m likely to pass up, so off we went. The trail went through the trees (of course) and seemed like it would be shady enough even in the summer to be enjoyable. Honestly, the trails are worth stopping in the park for, even if you aren’t a fan of beaches. If that’s a thing.
There’s plenty more to do at the park than we were able to try on a cold day with a 4-hour drive in front of us. You can rent a kayak and explore by water. The day we were there was cold and a little windy but there were still people having a good time kayaking. You can also snorkel and scuba dive off the beach. There’s a limestone reef in swimming distance off the beach! I’d love to try both here, but no snorkeling until I get certified. I also need to wait for a significantly warmer day!