When talking about the coasts of Florida, simply referring to them as the east coast or west coast is not enough. The Floridian coastline includes 10 “pieces” of coast that are labelled with different names. Starting from the Gulf of Mexico in the northwest, moving south and then all around the peninsula, here is how each of the 10 coasts got their names.
1. The Emerald Coast
Part of Florida’s upper Gulf shoreline, the Emerald Coast bears its name to its clear, emerald-green water. But why is the water green? This peculiar water color is attributed to the presence of microscopic algae in the water. When the sun reflects off the algae, it makes the water appear emerald-green. Since the sun plays a big role in determining the color of the water, the ocean may not appear as green on rainy days. Additionally, the amount of algae can vary daily, and thus some days it looks more emerland than others. If you plan a trip to the Emerald Coast, make sure to stop in the town of Destin, in Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island to immerse your feet in soft, sugar-white sands.
2. The Forgotten Coast
Nestled in the panhandle of the Sunshine State, this part of Florida is named “Forgotten Coast” because it’s the last stretch of unspoiled, pristine Gulf Coast beaches. The area includes the communities of Apalachicola, Alligator Point, Carrabelle, St. George Island & Eastpoi. As for the water and the beaches, the Forgotten Coast has the same features as the Emerald Coast, but it is much quieter.
3. The Nature Coast
The Nature Coast is an area of almost a million acres which comprises nine counties: Wakulla, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties. It is characterized by dense forests, prairies, blackwater rivers, dozens of state parks, oak trees, exotic flowers, springs, and various endangered species: A true nature lovers’ paradise! It is known for its several opportunities for hiking, kayaking, bicycling, hunting, fishing, bird watching, and much more.
4. The Suncoast
The Suncoast is the west-central coastal region along the Gulf of Mexico that includes the Tampa Bay area. It is named “Suncoast” because it gets the state’s most days of sunshine per year. The Suncoast is often referred to as “Florida’s Beach” as this stretch of coast is considered the perfect place for a beach getaway. The most developed beaches include Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Treasure Island, while the areas of Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island, Egmont Key and Fort DeSoto Park offer unique untouched coastal beauties.
5. The Cultural Coast
This area is called Cultural Coast because it’s a popular spot for artists, musicians, and performers, and home to museums, galleries, theaters, music, film, architecture and art schools. The main hub of the Cultural Coast is Sarasota, while the most popular beaches are Anna Maria Island, Siesta Key and Lido Key.
6. The Lee Island Coast
Located in southwest Florida, the Lee Island Coast comprises not only one single island, but hundreds of small islands that make up Lee County. It includes Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Estero Island, Bonita Springs as well as smaller barrier islands across the coastal area. The area is best known for shelling, bird watching, boating, fishing, golfing, and other recreational activities.
7. The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast embraces more than 60 miles of Atlantic shoreline and it encompasses Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The name “Gold Coast” probably refers to the high value of real estate investment in the area. Due to the increase of its population and the relative wealth of its residents, the property values have increased impressively. Thanks to their proximity to Miami, the cities of the Gold Coast attract millions of people willing to escape the crowds.
8. The Treasure Coast
The Treasure Coast, on Florida’s south-central Atlantic coast, includes Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. This stretch of coast is named after a treasure that is believed to have ended up in the sea in 1715. According to historians, eleven Spanish galleons carrying gold, silver and jewelry destined for the King and Queen of Spain sank off the east coast of Florida during a violent hurricane. The term Treasure Coast was coined by writers at the Vero Beach Press Journal newspaper in 1961, shortly after the beginning of the recovery of the treasure off the coast. The discovery of treasure brought international attention to the area.
9. The Space Coast
Considered the birthplace of American space flight, the Space Coast is home to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. All of NASA-launched crewed space flights have departed from either the Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral. When the space program was launched, the Space Coast proved to be the perfect location thanks to its close proximity to the equator, which enables rockets to take advantage of Earth’s velocity if they head eastward for orbit.
10. The First Coast
The first coast extends along the eastern Atlantic Coast of Florida, from the Georgia border to Marineland. The name “First Coast” refers to the first permanent European settlement (St. Augustine) which is located within its boundaries. It is also the first Floridian stretch of coast that visitors would cross while traveling south along the Atlantic coast.