I have been lucky enough this year to have taken some pretty amazing road trips along some of the world’s most scenic coastal drives! We drove the Great Ocean Road, Australia, this past January, and were mesmerized by the dazzling coastline, stunning waterfalls, iconic surf breaks and natural monuments along the way. Our adrenalin was then pumping in February when we attempted to navigate the roads which wind around narrow cliff faces forming the Road to Hanna, on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Both of these drives are world renowned, and tourists flock to both areas in their rental cars (hopefully having purchased car insurance especially if attempting the Road to Hanna!!).
The drive up the East Coast of Florida from Fort Pierce to St Augustine doesn’t have a name, and is not world renowned. Tourists don’t flock in their rental cars and it’s not listed as a recommended or “must do” trip in any guides by the likes of National Geographic, Lonely Planet, or any other similar trusted travel companies. Google Maps doesn’t even suggest the route automatically, you have to alter it yourself. This part of Florida has almost been forgotten about. So imagine our surprise last week when we decided to deviate from our Google Map and take the coastal drive to St Augustine, discovering an amazing untouched and forgotten coastline, which rivals the likes of the Great Ocean Road and the Road to Hanna.
Start in Fort Pierce: (A) on the above map which I prepared earlier! Drive out from the mainland on the A1A North and discover secluded Avalon State Park (B). With more than a mile of increasingly rare and undeveloped coastline, the beachfront is incredibly accessible and sees very few visitors. The park is a habitat for many different species of wildlife and is home to threatened and endangered sea turtles such as the loggerhead, Atlantic green and leatherback which all nest on the beach during the spring and summer. A testament to how few people actually visit the park, during our walk of the beach we came across a recently washed up sea-turtle.
It’s days like these, and discovering parks like these, that I live for. The whole picture was stunning, the water was absolutely beautiful, there were proper waves like I’m used to in Australia, and the sand glistened with rare and colorful shells which had washed ashore. We even managed to find a rare Lion’s Paw which was completely in one piece! The area is incredibly therapeutic – the instant you step foot on the beach all of your worries and cares dissolve and you’re lost in an amazing sense of calm as the sun beats down and the waves from the Atlantic Ocean lap at your ankles. People fly to secluded islands in the middle of the Caribbean for beaches like this, and we got the experience for free! (although it was $2 to park).
When I first visited Florida last year my first stop was to Miami and South Beach (Miami), because everyone and everything I had read just raved about the area. I was honestly unimpressed, and it baffles me why built up, narrow, overdeveloped beaches like Miami Beach are more renowned than areas like this. Miami beach has absolutely nothing on Avalon State Park.
The park has great facilities – proper bathroom and shower blocks, ample parking space, and great nature and hiking trails. Also, sheltered picnic tables overlook the beach which makes for a great spot for lunch.
Stay tuned…our East Coast Ocean road-trip continues tomorrow in Daytona Beach! There’s a lot more excitement to come!