With palm trees lining its herring-bone brick beachwalk and shady grass berm, Deerfield Beach is one of South Florida’s most scenic beaches, year after year winning the Blue Wave Beach award from the National Clean Beach Coalition.

The beach’s golden sand and gentle slope with near-shore reefs makes it a magnet for snorkeling, paddle boards and surfing. Surfers and paddle boards are restricted to the recreation area north of the pier, where you’ll also find seven beach volleyball courts, often the scene of amateur and semi-pro tournaments.

deerfield beach welcome signThe Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier juts 976 feet over the Atlantic Ocean with views of the coast from Boca Raton south to Hillsboro Shores.

For a view of the undersea life that greets snorkelers, visit the live underwater web cam mounted on a piling at the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier. (Be sure to expand the view to full screen.)

Offshore reefs and wrecks are popular for scuba diving.

The neighborhood around the fishing pier retains an Old Florida feel, even as new restaurants and cafes sprout up along the beachwalk. Moderately priced fare, including breakfast, can be had at the Deerfield Beach Pier Cafe. Higher-end dining is available at Oceans 234, JB’s on the Beach and Cafe Med, all of which are on the beachwalk and offer indoor and outdoor seating.

But the best chow for my buck is found at the Whale’s Rib Raw Bar, a local favorite just down the street from the pier.

With only two multi-story hotels, a handful of low-rise condos and a few “mom and pop” motels, Deerfield Beach retains some of the charm of years past as it moves slowly into the future.

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Greatest Asset: The 3-mile-long beachwalk is a magnet for walkers from dawn until dusk, extending from the North Beach Pavilion to the Embassy Suites at the town’s southern border.

Parking: Cruise Ocean Way south of the pier for street parking along the boardwalk or at one of the city’s beachside parking lots at Southeast 1st Street and Ocean Way or Southeast 9th Street and Ocean Way ($3 per hour).  You can also park in the 360-space garage at Beachplace on the A1A curve, about three blocks from the beach. ($3 an hour on weekdays, $4 an hour on the weekend, $12 for all-day parking.) Free parking is available at the Cove Shopping Center on Hillsboro Boulevard, across the Intracoastal Waterway bridge.

Fees: No charge for beach access, other than parking. Fees for the pier are $1 for walkers and $4 for fishing.

Alcohol: No.

Pets: No.

Location and Directions: The vibrant center of the beach is around the fishing pier at the corner of State Road A1A and Ocean Way. Take Hillsboro Boulevard east to A1A and turn left. The Beachplace parking garage is on your left, or continue into the S-curve and break off at the pier to cruise the beach along Ocean Way.