Sure, we’ve been to South Beach and I won’t say it isn’t a good time. Because it totally is. The water is warm and clear, every beach out here is, so that isn’t unique. But the atmosphere in South Beach is much different than our little beach we often retreat too.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is one of the best hidden gems out here. We only found out about it while walking around after breakfast one day. We wandered into a little shop and the associate told us all about it, including the part about it being a “locals” beach for the reason of it being tucked away from all the tourism Miami attracts.
The beach is considered a State Park, so you do pay an $8 fee to get in, which is totally worth it. Like I said before, it’s shielded from the party goers and tourists that flood South Beach nearly every day, making it a much more peaceful and relaxing environment. And you’re likely to pay $8+ for street or garage parking anywhere else anyway.
There’s even a lighthouse that you can climb up and get a view of the entire coast line. Some days you can even see manatees and sting-rays passing through. After trekking up and back down the lighthouse, you can walk around and see the keeper’s quarters, including an outhouse (that’s how old it is) and a well for collecting fresh rain water to drink.
A lot of history took place at the lighthouse, which you can read about as you walk around it. I’ll summarize some of what I found most interesting below 🙂
- In 1836 the lighthouse was attacked by Seminoles during the Second Seminole War.
- The lighthouse keeper at the time, John Thompson and his assistant Aaron Carter retreated to the top of the lighthouse during the attack. When the Seminoles thought they were dead, they set fire to the keeper’s quarters and other surrounding buildings. One original building survived and you can still see the remnants of the fire.
- In 1878 the lighthouse was decommissioned and deemed insufficient for warning incoming ships of the reefs nearby.
- Being at the cape of Florida, it became part of the “Freedom Trail,” which helped enslaved Americans and runaways escape to the Bahamas.
The water is warm and calm, because it’s located at the tip of Florida, it’s protected from a lot of the waves that hit the coast of South Beach, which makes floating around much more enjoyable. And while I believe if you visit Florida you must at least ponder through South Beach, Key Biscayne’s beaches are also a must see attraction!