If you want unique and kid friendly, you need to check out The Rocks @ Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. It has something that you will not find at most Florida beaches. Can you guess what? That’s right, ROCKS!
A Review Can Only Say So Much
There is just something special about this place. We will do our best to review The Rocks Beach, so that you can see this, but there is only so much you can put into a review. Take a look at why we feel that this is such a great Orlando area beach and why your family will love it.
A Florida Rarity
When you think of Florida beaches, you probably think of soft white sands. The Rocks @ Washington Oaks Gardens are something different. Rocky beaches are a rarity in Florida, which is what makes this beach so special.
So, how did these rocks get here?
Called coquina rock, they were formed over thousands of years by tiny clam shells. The shells accumulated and were then compressed. Water then dissolved some of the calcium in the shell, bonding them together like concrete.
Playing In The Shallows
The Rocks Beach is not going to be a favorite for adults that like to swim, for obvious reasons.
For families with small children, we feel that it is ideal. Although there are some sharp drop offs in areas, there are also many places where you can find shallow pools for your children to play in. Little sheltered areas where you can let your kids play without worrying about them getting out too deep.
While you should always keep an eye on your children, this beach allows parents to relax a bit. Believe it or not, parents are allowed to enjoy themselves at the beach too.
No Crowds To Fight
This is a big reason that we review the Rocks as high as we do, there are no crowds. It really is one of the lesser known beaches in Florida and you will find mainly locals here.
At many of the larger beaches like New Smyrna Beach, you have to arrive early in order to secure a parking space. Arrive too late and your day could be shot. Not true with The Rocks. You can come any time of day and find plenty of parking and room on the beach.
No, you can not park directly on the beach, but the low number of visitors means that the walk will be short, usually less than 100 feet.
Unlike many of the finer sand beaches, you have a lot more opportunities for shelling at this location. You will find many intact and sizable shells that are actually worth bringing home.
For best results, walk the beach during low tide. If your kids are really into their shells, don’t forget to bring a bucket because believe us, you will find plenty of them.
Cheap Beach Parking
Being a Florida state park, parking is very cheap. As of the writing of this review on The Rocks beach, parking was just $5 for a car load. That is hard to beat when most parking prices at the more popular beaches are $20.
Cheap parking makes it reasonable to come to the beach for short time periods. You won’t have that internal need to “make the most of your money”.
Access To The Gardens
If this is a beach, you might be wondering why the park is called Washington Oaks Gardens. Well, this is because for the same $5 entry price, you also get access to the beautiful gardens across the road.
If you want to visit the gardens, visit them first. The park is divided by State Road A1A and it is self serve parking on the beach side. The garden side, on the west side of A1A, has an attendant who will give you a receipt. You can then use the receipt on the beach side after visiting the gardens.
Plan on spending about 30 minutes to an hour to walk the self guided garden tour. If you love nature, especially butterflies, it is well worth a visit.
What You Won’t Find At The Rocks
The Rocks is definitely a special place in Florida, but no beach can have everything. So, before you get your hoped up about this beach being perfect, let’s talk about some things that you will not find at this location.
If you demand powdery sand, you need to head down the coast, because you will not find it here.
Near the water, you will find sand that is certainly suitable for walking on, but it is narrow and not very deep. If you enjoy making sand castles, that is really not an option here. Dig just a few inches into the sand and you will be greeted by a very tough layer of broken shells.
While the gardens side of the park has a full restroom, picnic tables and even pavilions, there is little in the way of amenities on the beach side. If you need it, you better bring it.
While there is a portable toilet in the parking lot, that is it. There are no other amenities and no lifeguards on duty. Obviously, this means that you should swim at your own risk, but this is really not a good beach for swimming. This is a beach for playing on the shallow shore line and hunting for shells.
To Sum Up Our Beach Review
If you live in or will be visiting the Olando FL area, The Rocks should really be on your list. This is especially true if you hate the large crowds at the popular tourist beaches. Bring an umbrella and a few chairs and finally enjoy a relaxing family activity.
Should you decide to visit, you can find Washington Oaks Gardens State Park at 6400 N Ocean Shore Blvd, Palm Coast, FL 32137. The gardens are on the west side of the road and the beach is on the right side.
Be sure to bring $5 for parking and $2 for the toll at the Hammock Dunes Bridge. You can route around the toll, but it does save you some time. It is a one way toll, so you will not need to pay it on the return trip.