The Beach and YouIf you aren’t a beach native, there might be some things you are unaware of concerning beach safety and certain laws. Not to worry, we at Vacation Quest have got you covered! If you still have a question, please let us know, and we will happily answer it for you!
What is the Beach like?
When people picture Florida beaches, people often think of soft white sand and crystal clear blue water, but our beaches are very diverse! The beaches in our area of South Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine are comprised mostly of coquina, a type of sand formed by crushed shells. Many people are surprised to find that our beaches are actually a unique hue of orange! We also have a large variety of shells, sea glass, and shark teeth ripe for the collecting! As for the ocean, since we have bigger waves than you find in south Florida or the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean is a picturesque opaque blue-green.
About Rip Currents
Rip currents, sometimes called riptides, are powerful and narrow currents of water that can sometimes pull swimmers out to sea. If you think you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore, and use the waves to help carry you in. Never try to swim directly back to the shore if you are caught in a rip current, you will only tire yourself out and potentially drown. As opposed to what you may see on TV, a rip current does not have the ability to pull you under the water, only to carry you out to sea. Here is a helpful 2:22 video guide by the NOAA about what to do in the case of a rip current. We recommend showing this video to your family before going swimming in the ocean.
Being able to identify where a rip current is forming is crucial to beach safety. Look for a gap in the waves. If you notice a section of water that waves are not breaking in, it may just be a rip tide. Beware of a gap in the sandbar, the break allows water to be pulled back out to sea at a much faster rate than the surrounding water, causing a rip tide. If there is sea foam, pay attention to it. Sea foam that is trailing into the ocean in a specific spot can also indicate a rip current. He is another helpful guide at spotting rip currents by our friends at the NOAA.
Please keep in mind that the area where our oceanfront homes are located is very quiet, and beach goers can be very spread out. While this is amazing for a relaxing beach vacation, it also means that there are NO lifeguards posted! Please keep an eye out for children while swimming, or anyone who isn't a strong swimmer. Check out our page, Northeast Florida's Weather here and click on the tab labeled "Swell" to see the high and low wave height for the day!
Sea turtle nests
While walking down to the shore, you may notice near the dunes a small area marked by stakes and orange tape. These are sea turtle nests, a protected and much loved animal in the state of Florida. Please, leave the nests undisturbed. Not only is it highly unethical to mess with the nests, it is also highly illegal, and you may be fined and even imprisoned!
The most common sea turtles that nest in our area are the loggerhead sea turtle, which is marked in the conservation scale as vulnerable, and the green sea turtle, which is endangered. Sometimes leatherback sea turtles also nest in our area, which are also marked as vulnerable. Thanks to conservation efforts, we have managed to bring our sea turtle population back from the brink of extinction, but we still have a way to go. If you would like to know more about risks the sea turtles face and how to help, please visit http://www.conserveturtles.org/ for more information!
Your dog and the beach
Leash laws are in effect in St. John’s county, so when you’re on the beach with your dog, they are supposed to have a leash on. You know your dog best, and if you know your dog is prone to run up to a family and potentially knock over a child, you may want to keep a closer eye on your pets. This is however, a very quiet beach, with few people around to notice what you may or may not be doing on the beach. The most important thing to keep people from complaining is picking up after your pet, even if you think the ocean might wash their waste away!
Florida Fishing License
Plan on going fishing during your vacation? Then you picked the right place! Florida is known for the best fishing in the states! But, you do need a Florida fishing license while you do it. There are however, many exceptions to the laws, and to find out if you are exempt, click here to be brought to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's webpage on the matter. Don't get caught unawares or without a license! The first offense is a fine equal to the cost of the fishing license plus $50!
Beach Accessible Wheel Chairs
Did you know that there are wheelchairs designed specifically for beach access? You can rent one from St. Johns County for free, and they will even deliver the chair to you! There are only 3 chairs available, and it's on a first come first serve basis. You can call (904) 209-0752 to request a chair. You can also pick the chair up at 901 Pope Road, St. Augustine FL 32080
Please, keep off of the dunes. The sand dunes help protect our homes from flooding during storms and hurricanes. The sea oats and grass that grow on them have deep roots that help stabilize the dunes, so please, don't pick the grass. Not only are dunes important for protecting our homes and businesses in the event of a storm, they are also home to hundreds of sensitive plant and animal species. Please help preserve the natural beauty of Florida!
High tide, low tide
Pay attention to the tides, if you plan on spending the day on the beach. When you set up in the morning with your towels, umbrellas, and/or beach chairs, you may have to move your things higher up the shore when the tide comes back in. So if you set up camp, and decide to go back up the house for lunch, you may find all of your things have been carried out to sea! It's a good idea in general to just not leave your stuff on the beach if you can't keep an eye on it. For an accurate forecast that includes things like UV strength, wave height, tide info, and of course, the weather, check out our North Florida Weather page!
Sun burn and sunscreen
Make sure to apply a high SPF, and do it frequently! No sun screen is truly water proof, so if you plan on being in the sun after being in the water, towel off and reapply. Even if you just plan on walking around town, it’s a good idea to use sunscreen on exposed arms and shoulders, and to cover your sensitive scalp with a hat. I would also ask that you choose “reef friendly” sun screen whose active ingredients are titanium oxide and zinc oxide. Oftentimes sun screen made for children or those with sensitive skin will have the gentlest ingredients while still being an effective sun screen that has proven to be less damaging to the reefs and ocean than those with harsh chemicals.
Dehydration and heat stroke
Saltwater can help dehydrate you in addition to the sun. If you’re playing around in the ocean, it’s essential to keep a drink with your towels and things back on the shore. Dehydration and heat stroke take out many native and non-native Floridians every summer. You might have mild dehydration if you have a dry mouth, dizziness, or headache. In this case, you simply need to rehydrate, eat something, and stay out of the sun for a bit. The symptoms of severe dehydration include: delirium, irritability, fever, rapid heartbeat and more. In this case, you may need to go to the hospital. Don’t let it get that bad! Stay hydrated, and listen to your body’s needs.
The symptoms of heat stroke are very similar to the symptoms of severe dehydration, and occurs when the body’s core temperature exceeds 105 degrees and effects people especially over the age of 50, but those under the age of 50 are definitely not immune to the effects of the heat. The hallmark sign of heat stroke is fainting. If someone you’re with faints, get them inside immediately, and attempt to cool them down with ice, cold water, and/or fanning air over them, but not before calling 911. Heat stroke can invoke a coma and even cause brain damage, so please, enjoy the heat, but know your limits!
Please, no littering on the beach or dunes! That includes food trash that may attract animals. This may be a tourist destination, but it’s our home, so please respect it like you would your own home!
Public or private beaches
There are no private beaches in St. John’s county or really, in most of Florida. We believe everyone has a right to enjoy the beauty of our coasts. That being said, our properties do have private beach access points, far from the public access points. So while the beach on your vacation home isn’t private, it is however very quiet, and almost never crowded. You’ll be pleased to know there are also no cars allowed on the beaches in South Ponte Vedra Beach.
Additional beach laws include: No fires on the beach, no fireworks, no glass containers on the beach, and no music loud enough that can be heard from 25 feet or more.