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Swim, Spot, Swim! In search of the pawfect ‘Dog Beach’

Fort Desoto Dog Beach

Fort Desoto Dog Beach (Photo by Vicki McCash Brennan)

Pet-Friendly Beaches in Florida

~ Florida has 663 miles of beaches — so you would think that there’d be a few set aside for your dog. You would be right. And you might even be surprised by the beaches that made this list.

This list is organized by Atlantic Coast beaches and Gulf Coast beaches, from north to south. If you know about beaches that we should add to this list, please tell us about them in the comments below.

Atlantic Coast

 Jacksonville  — Hannah Park welcomes dogs on leashes all year long on both the beach and in the park’s campground. The beach is wide with a gradual slope as you enter the water. This also one of Jacksonville’s best surfing beaches. Hanna Park is a 450-acre complex with a water park, fresh water lake and campsites. The beach entrance is at the end of Wonderwood Drive. Parking is $1 before 10 a.m. and $3 per car after 10 a.m.

Hannah Park, Wonderwood Drive, Jacksonville, FL

St. Augustine — Crescent Beach — South of Anastasia State Park is pet-friendly Crescent Beach, where you can drive your car out onto the sand ($6 fee to drive on the beach).  This is a leash-on beach, and police patrol it regularly in ATVs and trucks.  And they will give you a ticket if Fido is not on a leash. No amenities, no water for pets. Bring your own.

 Crescent Beach6930 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL

(A reader of Florida Rambler also recommends the Vilano Beach, between Jacksonville an St Augustine, as a good beach for dogs.)

Be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your pet. Shade is often scarce, so bring an umbrella so Fido can get out of the sun.

Flagler Beach — Dog Beach — Designated beach from just north of Gamble Rogers State Park to South 13th Street  (south of the fishing pier). Leash required. Any time, day or night, and it’s free.

Flagler Dog Beach, 2700 Oceanshore Blvd, Flagler Beach, FL 32136

Daytona Beach — 52-acre Lighthouse Point Park on the north side Ponce Inlet is dog-friendly. Dogs can hike and visit the beach, which is bit rocky and the terrain is a little rough, but dogs love it. Showers, dog showers, bathrooms and parking ($5) are provided.

Lighthouse Point Park, 5000 South Atlantic Avenue, Ponce Inlet, FL, US 32118

Dog beach at Smyrna Dunes Park

Smyrna Dunes Park

New Smyrna Beach — Smyrna Dunes Park is on the south side of Ponce Inlet, accessible for dogs from the boardwalk at the Coast Guard Station on North Peninsula Drive. Admission/parking is $5 per vehicle. Your leashed pet can swim from the beach on the Indian River side of the park. I’ve taken my dogs here many times, and they loved it.

Smyrna Dunes Park, 2995 N Peninsula Dr, New Smyrna Beach, FL

Cocoa Beach — Lori Wilson Park — Home of the Florida International Dog Surfing Championship each November, this park does not otherwise allow pets on the beach. However, it does have a fenced, off-leash dog park near the beach. The main reason we mention it is because of the annual dog surfing championship.

Lori Wilson Park, 1500 Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL

Indian Harbour — Canova Dog Beach — Dog-friendly beach is open from sunrise until sunset, and it won’t cost you a dime. Leash required. Waste bags and receptacles are available.  There are also picnic areas for both humans and their pets to enjoy and indulge.

Canova Dog Beach, 3299 Highway A1A, Indian Harbour Beach, FL

Walton Rocks Beach on Hutchinson Island

Walton Rocks Dog Beach

Hutchinson Island — Walton Rocks Dog Beach is an off-leash beach park that sprawls over 24 acres. I love this beach and have brought my dogs here many times. It’s hard to find, but drive slowly along A1A and you’ll catch the small sign on the beach side of the road. This beach can get crowded on weekends, and the dogs really run wild, but it is a lot of fun for your pet. Parking and beach access are free.

Walton Rocks Dog Beach, 6700 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach, FL

Jupiter — Ocean Cay Park is an off-leash beach in designated areas identified by doo-doo dispensers near pathways through the dunes. Stay away from lifeguards and do not stray on nearby county beaches. No permits needed. Park at Ocean Blvd. (A1A) and Marcinski Road for free.

Ocean Cay Park, Ocean Blvd and Marcinski Rd, Jupiter, FL

Fort Lauderdale — Dog-friendly beach at Sunrise Boulevard north for 100 yards. Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, 3 pm until 7 pm (winter) and 5 pm to 9 pm (summer). City permit and leash required. Annual and weekend passes available. Call 954-828-7275 for information.

Fort Lauderdale Beach, A1A & E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Hollywood Dog Beach

Hollywood Dog Beach

Hollywood  — Hollywood Dog Beach is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During Daylight Savings Time, the hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A permit is required, which is available at the Dog Beach for $5 per dog for residents and $10 per dog for non-residents. Proof of vacinations and registration required. Call 954-921-3404 for more information.

Hollywood Dog Beach, State Road A1A between Pershing and Custer Street.

Miami — Bark Park at Haulover Beach is open from 8 am to sunset, seven days a week near the south picnic area. Featuring an enclosure for small dogs (less than 35 lbs.) and large dogs (more than 35 lbs.) with shade trees, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and doggie waste bag dispensers. Plenty of open, grassy space for your pet to play without a leash. Entrance to the bark park is through parking lot #3. Dogs are welcome on thebeach directly across from the Bark Park. $2 user fee, per vehicle (must have dog in vehicle; cash only).

Haulover Beach Park, 10800 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL

Maintain control of your dog so that other dogs and their owners can also enjoy the beach. Aggressive dogs should not be brought to the beach.

Miami — Key Biscayne Dog Beach — There’s a $1.50 toll to get on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Your dog can play in any sandy area on either side of the causeway, and while leashes are not required, you’ll want to keep Fido on a tether so he doesn’t dash into the road. There are no facilities specifically for your dog so come prepared with water, towels, poopy bags and shade.

Key Biscayne Dog Beach, Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL

Anne's Beach in Islamorada

Anne’s Beach

Islamorada — Anne’s Beach is really fun for your pets because it’s shallow and they can romp quite a ways into the ocean. The parking is free, though limited, and there are restrooms available for humans. Bring a poo-poo bag for your pets. Annew’s Beach is located at the south end of Lower Matecume Key, on the ocean side, just before the Channel 5 bridge.

Anne’s Beach, Overseas Highway Mile Marker 73, Islamorada, FL

 

Key West — Key West Dog Beach is a beautiful, sand beach at the end of Alberta Street near Louie’s Backyard. Getting in the water is a little rocky and slippery, but your dog will love it. There are no restrooms or facilities.

Key West Dog Beach, End of Alberta St., Key West, FL

 

Gulf Coast

 Pensacola — Bayview Dog Park and Beach — Fenced dog park that includes access to a sandy beach open to the water for off-leash play. Drinking water and rinse station on site. This park also has benches, tables, water fountains, and a washing area.

Bayview Dog Park and Beach, East Blount Street & North 20th Avenue, Pensacola, FL 32501

Perdido Key — Dog-friendly Beach — Dogs are allowed on the beach at Access Point No. 3 from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. daily. Parking and admission is free. Dogs will be allowed without a leash until April 30 – but they must be under their owner’s control and supervision at all times. From May 1 through Sept. 30, during the busy season, dogs must be leashed.

Perdido Key Dog Beach, Gulf Access #3, 14767 Perdido Key Drive, Perdido Key, FL, US

Doggie Beach Panama City

Panama City

Panama City Beach — Doggie Beach is located across from Pier Park and west of the City Pier. The 400 foot beach is open to dogs on leashes, and they love strolling the beach and enjoying the waves in Panama City Beach!

Dog Beach, 16230 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL

Port St. Joe — Salinas Park — Open sunrise to sunset, Salinas Park offers an unspoiled beach that is dog (and horse) friendly. Leash required. Admission is free.

Salinas Park, 302 Cape San Blas Road, Port Saint Joe, FL

St. George Island — All of the beaches on St. George Island are pet-friendly, provided they are on a leash and well-behaved, and that the owners clean up after them.  If your dog(s) responds well to commands, they can be released for an untethered romp through the surf.  Doggie bags, water spigots and showers are spread along the shoreline. The only exception is within the boundaries of St. George Island State Park. You can, however, have pets in the campground at the state park.

St. George Island Beach

Share the beach. It’s not a good idea to let dogs play where people are fishing, and fishers should avoid areas where dogs are playing.

Tampa — Picnic Island Beach Dog Park is located in Port Tampa and offers an off-leash beach for your pet. There are also picnic areas, a children’s park and picnic areas with water for both dogs and their human companions. Park also has boat ramps and ramps for launching kayaks and canoes.

Picnic Island Dog Park, 7404 Picnic Island Blvd, Tampa, FL

 

Tampa — Dog Beach on Davis Island is a 1½-acre park with 200 feet of beach sits at the south end of the island past the Peter O. Knight Airport on Severn Avenue. The park is fully fenced, even down to the water. There is an adjacent picnic area, canoe launch and boat ramps. A Florida Rambler reader says its very popular with locals.

Davis Island Dog Park, 864 Severn Ave., Tampa, FL

Dunedin — Honeymoon Island State Park Dog Beach — Dogs have their own beach on the southern tip of Honeymoon Island, and they are also permitted on the nature trail. Leash required. Admission to park is $8 for vehicles up to 4 people. Open from 8 a.m. until sunset.

Honeymoon Island Dog Beach, #1 Causeway Boulevard, Dunedin, FL

Fort DeSoto dog beach

Fort DeSoto

St. Petersburg — Fort DeSoto Paw Playground and Beach — While there are many dog parks in Pinellas County, there is only one park where your pet is allowed on the Beach, and that’s at Fort Desoto.  There are two large fenced areas for large and small dogs, and access to the beach is at the southwest end of the park.  The beaches here are among the best in the state, and Fido will not be shortchanged.

Fort DeSoto Paw Playground, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., St. Petersburg, FL

Ruskin — E.G. Simmons Regional Park. This is a very popular campground and park on lower Tampa Bay, and a ranger told me that they are very definitely pet-friendly. Pets are allowed throughout the park with the exception of the designated swimming beach. No pets allowed there, but there is plenty of shoreline throughout the rest of the park where pets are permitted. Pets must be leashed. The ranger says the Hunters Pass section has 200-300 yards of sandy shoreline that is very popular with pet owners (and fishermen),

E.G. Simmons Regional Park, 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin, FL

Bradenton — DeSoto National Memorial Beach. This dog-friendly beach park is on Tampa Bay. There are actually several small beaches where dogs can roam (on  leash), but shallow (and sheltered) Cove Beach on the south side of De Soto Point may be best for small dogs. Be careful of currents at the other beaches.

DeSoto Memorial Beach, 8300 Desoto Memorial Hwy, Bradenton, FL

Palma Sola Causeway Park, 9000 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton, FL. This park has picnic tables, a dock and water fountain in addition to being dog friendly.

There’s nothing worse than stepping into a pile of dog poop with bare feet. Many pet-friendly beaches provide dog-waste bags, but bring your own just in case — and dispose properly in containers provided.

Venice — Brohard Paw Park — Dog park with beach access, showers for dogs, dog drinking fountains and even fire hydrants! The dog park is fenced, and a section is set aside for small dogs. Open from 7 a.m. until sunset. Parking is free, as is access to the park and beach.

Brohard Paw Park, 1999 Harbor Dr S, Venice, FL

Sanibel Island — Algiers Beach/Gulfside City Park — Dogs are allowed on a leash, and owner’s must clean up after their pets. There are picnic tables and restrooms available, and an hourly parking fee is charged from 7 am to 7 pm (free after 7 pm).

Algiers Beach, Algiers Lane and Casa Ybel Rd, Sanibel, FL

Dog Beach at Lovers Key

Lovers Key

Fort Myers Beach/Bonita Beach  — Lover’s Key Dog Beach — Off-leash beach area on the south end of Lovers Key, adjacent to the state park, just west of the New Pass Bridge, north of Bonita Beach. There are no amenities, other than a beautiful beach, and there is no freshwater available, so bring your own. It’s on county land and maintained by volunteers, the “Friends of Dog Beach.”

Lovers Key Dog Beach, 8800 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL

Naples — Keewaydin Island — Eight-mile long barrier island is one of southwest Florida’s largest unabridged barrier islands. Dogs are allowed on the beach. Leash required. You can only get there by boat.

Keewaydin Island, Naples, FL

Links:

http://www.publicdogparks.com/ http://www.bringfido.com/

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One Comment

  1. Staying in Orange Beach, AL (not dog friendly) this weekend. Great to know that Perdido Key, FL has a dog friendly beach. The trip wouldn’t be the same without “Fido”. Thanks a million.

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