The more time I spend in freezing cold air-conditioned offices during the week, the more I desire to be outdoors on the weekends. Then again, the outdoors provide the extreme opposite and instead of shivering I’m sweating. Sometimes, however, I get lucky and the outside temperature and humidity ease off. Last Sunday was one of those days.
We headed out early and after a short hike ended up in the quaint Flagler Beach area about twenty miles north of Daytona Beach. The area was mostly full of locals tanning on the beach, surfing, or fishing off the 806 ft. long pier. For $1.50 per person, we walked out on the pier, checking out the fishing gear and people on each side. Men, women and children lined the rails, their fishing rods dangling over the side.
Once at the end of the pier we patiently waited as old salts as well as a boy of about 11 stood watching their poles for a sign of a catch. One guy eventually traded in his small bait shrimp for a larger squid, saying “go large or go home” as we looked on. A lot of hopeful thinking goes on at the end of that pier.
We didn’t have to wait long before two fishermen reeled in small Bonnethead Sharks (which look like tiny Hammerheads). We watched as they used their needle nose pliers to pull out the hook, then toss the sharks back over the rail to the waves below. This was followed by two catches of Black Drum large enough to keep, fillet and eat. Patience really does pay off.
Birds of varying types sit in wait for leftover bait or discarded fish parts. These guys, however, seemed content just watching people pass by.
We’ve visited the pier several times now. During these past visits we have seen manta rays, eagle rays and turtles all around the pier. Right whales are often spotted in this area also.
In addition to the pier, there are a few small restaurants and shops to peruse, local artwork and a cozy coffee house. A few nice nature walks are close by also. I always feel like I’m on a mini-vacation when I visit these few blocks right on the ocean. There is a feel of small town here. No overwrought commercialism as in Daytona, no advertising gimmick or alcohol-themed event such as Spring Break. You come to Flagler Beach because you want to, because you like to, anytime of the year.
At first I considered adding the pier experience to my list of 50 Things to Love About Florida. However, I love the overall experience. To be more precise, I love the feeling of being on vacation, even if just for a day, and even if just 20 miles from home. There are many places you can go for these mini-vacations, or escapes, for one or two days in Florida. That’s what I love about this state, and that’s what I am putting as number 4 on my list.