The Florida Gulf Coast - General Information
Florida is a particular favorite tourist destination when it comes to enjoying the sun, the sand and the sea especially when you talk about the Beaches of the Gulf Coast, those exceptional and pristine beaches that face the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s western side. Since Florida’s Gulf Coast encompass a vast stretch of both land and sea, here are its three main regions for a general overview.
The Northwest Region – The Florida Panhandle
The Florida Panhandle refers to the northwest region of Florida’s Gulf Coast stretching from Pensacola to Tallahasee roughly about 200 miles long. The Northwest region’s beaches are a family favorite, popular of which are Destin, Fort Walton, Panama City, and St. George Island. Each beach area has its own flavor, some historical, some contemporary, some upscale and some very laid-back. Perdido Key, Grayton Beach and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park are consistently among the top ranked beaches in the US.
The West Central Region – Beaches of Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay touches three different cities – Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater making the area one of the more popular tourist destinations because of the number of white sandy beaches, the proximity of the airport, the accessibility and number of resort facilities and amenities for the tourist crowd and the interesting attractions to suit every age. Clearwater Beach is the perfect jump-off point for exploring the Gulf and the INTracoastal waterway because it has a large marina from where to rent your water vehicle. The Madeira Beach is where the popular John Pass’ Boardwalk is located and here you’ll find plenty of restaurants and shopping choices to pass the time.
The Southwest Region – Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach and Marco Island
The Southwest region extends from Sanibel Island to Marco Island. Sanibel Island is primarily an upscale resort community famed for its shells. People who visit the island are often seen doing the "Sanibel stoop" because they often stop and pick up shells as they walk along the beach. Sanibel Island may be considered exclusive because there’s basically only one way to get to the island and that’s through the Sanibel Causeway which connects the island to the mainland.
If Sanibel Island is upscale and relaxing, Fort Myers Beach is the complete opposite. It is a favorite of students who go on their Spring Break so the regular population of 6,000 people increase to as many as 50,000 during the holiday seasons. There are several accessible points to choose from along the stretch of Fort Myers Beach.
Marco Island is probably the southernmost beach location in Florida. It is connected to the mainland through the Jolley Bridge. If you want a peaceful and tranquil vacation, Marco Island may be your choice because it’s far enough from the regular tourist destinations to enjoy your privacy but close enough if you want access to other nearby attractions.