Why Siesta Key Beach Should Not Be Ranked #1

Siesta Key Beach No 1 In some ways, it’s understandable why Siesta Beach was voted TripAdvisor’s Best Beach in the U.S. .

  1. The sand is some of the softest sand I’ve ever felt in my life. The sand at this beach is unbelievably soft. At times, it’s almost like walking through flour. Only the lack of desire to have sand in unmentionable places kept me from rolling around on the ground like a happy dog.
  2. Free parking! A number of the larger beaches in Florida have switched over entirely to paid parking lots, so finding a larger beach with free parking is just short of a miracle.
  3. The sand was relatively clean – it was a busy day, but there wasn’t much trash on the beach (or really any at all when we first arrived in the morning.)
  4. Plenty of lifeguard stations with flags flying high to let you know about dangers in the water.

However, for every positive point, there’s a downside.

Melissa at Siesta Key
It was beautiful but every time the winds changed, we made this face.
  1. There’s a strong sulfur smell in the air. I’m not sure if this is a temporary problem or a long-standing issue, but it’s disappointing to come to the beach and, instead of the lovely salt water smell, getting a whiff of rotten eggs or something that smells vaguely like sewage.
  2. Thanks to a storm off the coast, we managed to get a little bit of waves without too much of an undertow and took advantage of it by using our boogie boards. As the waves took us into the shallow water, there was a definite urine smell that I didn’t notice just walking through. It was only when my face was close into the board and we were in knee-high or lower water that the smell was noticeable. I didn’t check the beach water quality tests until AFTER we returned, which was a mistake. Siesta Key Beach scored as having moderate amounts of enterococcus sp in the water a mere five days before we visited.
  3. There were no fish. (Or at least I didn’t see any.) This one actually goes in with the point above. The combination of not seeing or feeling fish anywhere in the water with the smells we noticed made me a little worried about the cleanliness of the water. Even as a kid swimming in the polluted waters of the Potomac River, I’ve never not seen or felt fish in the water around me. It was disconcerting, to say the least. (Yeah, that’s right – some people get freaked out by fish in the water; I get freaked out by no fish in the water.) Melissa says she saw a couple, but not many. There weren’t even very many birds in the area; the few I did see weren’t diving into the water after fish so much as circling toddlers holding bags of chips.
  4. This place was PACKED. If you’re not there before 10:30am or after 3 or 4pm, it’s nearly impossible to get a parking space. We tend to stick towards the ends of any public beaches we go to due to the crowds. I’m so glad we did, too. Just a couple of hundred feet up from us, it was human stew. Blech.

That said, I wouldn’t completely rule out a trip to Siesta Key Beach. The negatives we mentioned may not be the case all of the time. The sands there really were gorgeous. If you go later in the evening, this beach is a wonderfully peaceful place to watch the sun set. There is currently a lot of construction in the area from where they are building up some wonderful new facilities for beachgoers. There are also tons of neat events taking place including a beach volleyball tournament the weekend we were there, and a sand-sculpture building contest coming soon. Before going (to this beach or any other beach), we highly recommend doing your research on the current water quality tests, at least if you plan to get into the water. IMG_2648

 

Must Taste Treat on the Gulf Coast – ->

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11 comments

    • My face was way closer to the board when I used to to float in the deeper waters earlier in the afternoon. It was definitely not the board. Plus a friend that came with us noticed the same. The water had a smell in the shallow end.

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  1. I think the smell is from the small clams in the shallows under the sand. I scooped some in my hand and took a whiff. They have a sulfer smell. Maybe the culprit???

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  2. omg, I thought it was just me, but I definitely smelled a sewage, urine smell. We drove over to Siesta Key beach from the east coast of central florida in search of clearer water, and something different. Unless you go to the super crowed area (sitting within a foot or two away from other beach goers) there are NO public restrooms. I’m SURE this explains the urine smell in the water. ugh. I must have walked near a mile just to find a restroom at a restaurant to use. The sunset watching is wonderful, the water is beautiful , sand too, but yeah, there must be a lot of people using the water as a toilet!

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  3. Hi, Heather.

    I haven’t been out this year myself because I run a business and spare time goes to my household, but when my children were young I never caught the smell of anything unless there was red tide. That is miserable! My kids go out there almost every chance they get and have never come home saying that they had a bad time due to the smell. Also, we have found sand dollars and starfish on the sand bars and have caught little fish in buckets, but made sure that they all were put back immediately in the water. Shuffle your feet because we have seen rays, too !

    I do agree about the crowds, but quite frankly, we enjoy the late afternoon/early evening trips so that we can grill and eat before the beautiful sunset. And on Sunday evenings the drum circle is a blast!

    But, to our advantage, if you persuade others to stay away, it makes it better for the residents! LOL! I have heard that Clearwater Beach is very nice!!!

    Oh, and the public restrooms at the public beach are at the food shack and at the pavillion area for the poster who said there are none. I hope that our visitors are using them instead of the beautiful water.

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  4. Hi, Heather.

    I haven’t been out this year myself because I run a business and spare time goes to my household, but when my children were young I never caught the smell of anything unless there was red tide. That is miserable! My kids go out there almost every chance they get and have never come home saying that they had a bad time due to the smell. Also, we have found sand dollars and starfish on the sand bars and have caught little fish in buckets, but made sure that they all were put back immediately in the water. Shuffle your feet because we have seen rays, too !

    I do agree about the crowds, but quite frankly, we enjoy the late afternoon/early evening trips so that we can grill and eat before the beautiful sunset. And on Sunday evenings the drum circle is a blast!

    But, to our advantage, if you persuade others to stay away, it makes it better for the residents! LOL! I have heard that Clearwater Beach is very nice!!!

    Oh, and the public restrooms at the public beach are at the food shack and at the pavillion area for the poster who said there are none. I hope that our visitors are using them instead of the beautiful water.

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  5. My family and I just left Florida, and one of the places that was on our must-do-list was visiting a beach on the ‘gulf’ It was either Clearwater or Siesta Beach. The kids wanted a less crowded beach…in various reviews, Clearwater was the crowded beach and Siesta was less congested. We arrived at the beach around 1pm on a friday afternoon which was later than we planned. Some reviews stated, parking was not good. There was plenty of parking in the lot when we arrived, but the beach was pretty crowded.

    I’m a cali girl, and before we stepped foot on the sand, i could see the white sand, which we all thought was beautiful compared to our sand. Sand in Cali will mess us a manicure/pedicure, and some Cali beaches have lots of rocks which makes it uncomfortable to walk on..(Oceanside CA). We can definitely see the much clearer water. The kids ran into the water and had a great time! I did not notice a smell, but I’m sure it has some contamination. My daughter quickly came out of the water (disappointed) because the intensity of the salt..which irritated her skin (she has sensitive skin) the other kids were fine. Because we flew out to Florida, we did not have our beach umbrella…a website stated that they have umbrella rentals…We saw the cart, but it was closed…(Maybe they were all sold out by the time we got there, or closed for that day). Luckily there was cloud cover and we were okay. I am use to board walks, shops piers, but we wanted relaxation…and we got just that….it was a family friendly beach with minimal activity around us, which is what I wanted…Also, the temperature of the water was warm which adds to any smell…Cali water is definitely colder.. We stayed for approximately 3.5 hours…wind began blowing and it started to rain…we wanted to stay for the sun, set, but cloud cover/rain did not allow that to happen….overall, it was worth the drive.

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  6. Siesta key had super bad red tide the last couple summers in a row and it makes the smell horrendous, and kills the fish. Because the beach is cleaned up so often, you probably didn’t see it. Come during the winter and it’s much better because the water is still too chill to breed so much bacteria.

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