Grayton Beach State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida because the contrast of sugar-white sand and emerald green water and its towering sand dunes make it a beautiful spot to enjoy the water.
Grayton Beach State Park is nestled in the sand dunes along the Gulf of Mexico and is a hidden gem on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Among its 2,000 acres of pristine shoreline, visitors to the park can enjoy swimming in the Gulf, fishing in the 214-acre Western Lake, and bird watching along the park’s interpretive trail. Grayton Beach State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida because the contrast of sugar-white sand and emerald green water and its towering sand dunes make it a beautiful spot to enjoy the water.
What Makes It Great
For swimming, the park’s one mile stretch of beach offers plenty of opportunities to wade into the waters. At one point, Dr. Beach claimed Grayton Beach was “The Most Beautiful Beach” for its scenic beauty. The Gulf of Mexico is much warmer than the ocean, but this results in calm waters. Open-water swim along the shoreline or float in the shallow swim zone.
If you have a fishing license, cast a line for surf-fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Snapper, grouper and cobia are most popular in these waters. Both salt and freshwater fish such as bass, bream and redfish are found in Western Lake.
For birders, take a hike on the park's one-way 4.5-mile interpretive hiking and biking trail in the pine flatwoods The trail winds through scrub oaks and magnolias that offer shade from the Florida sun, and weaves through the backwaters of Western Lake. Grayton Beach State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, and species are abundant in the brush and along the trail. Look for bald eagles, barred owls, gulls, as well as alligators in the lily pad shallows of the marshes.
Who is Going to Love It
The surrounding neighborhoods of Grayton Beach are known for laid back, quirky people. The town’s unofficial slogan is “cool dogs, strange people.” Grayton Beach State Park’s mellow atmosphere is great for leisurely swimming, or spending hours surf-fishing in the Gulf. This is the place to go when you don’t have much of an agenda, but want to just hang out on a beautiful beach. The brackish coastal dunes offer a mix of salt and fresh water, so bird watchers have the chance to spot wading birds such as ospreys, heron, brown-headed nuthatch, pied-billed grebe and more.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Grayton Beach State Park is open year-round from 8 a.m. to sundown. Admission varies: $4 for single person in vehicle, $5 per vehicle with 2 to 8 people, and $2 for cyclists or pedestrians. Fishing and swimming are only available in designated areas. For fishing, choose from surf fishing in the Gulf or boat fishing in Western Lake. Kayaks or small electric or gas motor boats are allowed on the lake. For swimming, in the Gulf of Mexico. Pets are not allowed on the beach but are allowed in the day use areas, however they must be on a leash no longer than six feet.