By Susan B. Barnes
There’s something about catching that first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico that gently instills peace, no matter how many times you see it. Something that brings a sense of calm and quiet to a busy mind, and a weight is lifted. At least that’s how my friends and I feel each time we make our way to the beaches here in Pasco County, Florida.
My friends, Dawn and Robin, and I make a habit out of refreshing ourselves with beach days at Pasco as often as we can. We usually frequent the quiet, less populated areas. We throw down our towels, dip our toes in the water, and if it’s warm enough, dive right in. The tranquility of waves lapping the shoreline, birds chattering nearby and the warmth of the sun surround us.
The beaches along the Gulf of Mexico perfectly meet our needs. One of the best kept secrets is the extensive inventory of county and state managed parks and beaches, meaning there’s minimal development and maximum relaxation!
A break from it all
On those days we really want to feel like we’re all alone, we head out to Anclote Key, one of the northern most barrier islands, which is an island accessible only by private boat or ferry. It’s like a real-life Gilligan’s Island—three miles into the Gulf of Mexico! Arrive early enough, and the only other living souls on the island are the 43 or so species of birds that make their home there. Once on the island, it’s only the sun, the sand, the water and the birds, and maybe some other day-trippers looking for a moment of seclusion. We pack our own snacks in and “leave no trace” upon departure. Once we brought camping gear and slept under the stars—in complete peace, quiet and solitude. That’s for when we really want to get away from it all.
On most visits, we appreciate a bit of civilization nearby and head to one of the mainland beaches. We’ve found that Green Key Beach fits us well as a middle ground between the solitude of Anclote Key, and the crowds of the most popular Florida beaches. It’s still very quiet here on the long beach, but with a few amenities that make spending the entire day easy—nearby parking, picnic tables and even grills should we decide to cook. On a few occasions my energetic six-year-old nephew has joined us here. He loves coming here because of the amazing pirate ship playground. Unbeknownst to him, I favor this beach when he’s with us because it’s easier to keep an eye on him, but there’s no need to tell him that.
Adventure as we like it
Though we are typically drawn to the beaches for lazing about under the sun, we do have our active (if not athletic) moments. When we need a little fun and playtime, we rent kayaks or stand up paddleboards. It’s so much fun! From out on the calm, gulf waters, we’ve gotten close to schools of fish and dolphins a number of times—it never gets old.
My friends and I cherish every day we spend at the beach here. From sunrise (even if we’re sleeping in) to those glorious orange, pink and purple sunsets; from the natural sand pedicures, to the natural-as-it-gets salt-water bath treatment, Pasco County is where we recharge.
Let peace find you on a Pasco County Beach.