Beach like the Locals: Florida Winter Beach Tips

| December 30, 2021

Florida is a hot-spot for winter vacationing for a reason! Here on Anna Maria Island, our temperatures typically range between 50-80 degrees December through February. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy all that the Sunshine State has to offer when it comes to beach trips and outdoor activities without breaking a sweat!

Check out these quick winter beach tips and reminders from Serendipity, and learn how to beach like a local during your stay on Anna Maria Island.

Water Temperature

During the winter months, Florida’s cool, sunny weather makes sunbathing or a walk on the beach that much more enjoyable. When the sun is shining, the ocean might be a cool 68-70 degrees – a little cold for us locals, but refreshing for some visitors. However, the water temperature can get down to the chilly 50-60 degree range, especially early in the morning! If you’re planning on taking a dip in the Gulf of Mexico during your winter trip to Anna Maria Island, just be sure to double check the weather, and give the temperature a quick test before diving in.

Follow Beach Rules & Watch for Warning Signals

In order for you and everyone around you to have the best beach day possible, it’s important to pay attention to the posted rules and regulations at public beaches. These are put in place not only for the safety of beachgoers, but also for the wildlife and other ecosystems that inhabit the environment. Beach rules prohibit leaving trash, food, and other foreign materials. Some beaches have rules or restrictions for pets, bonfires, fireworks, and more, so do your research before you go!

Additionally, the rules and warning signals put in place at public beaches help to prevent injuries and accidents. Keep reading to learn more about some of the hazards at the beach and how they can be avoided.

Warning Flag System

In the state of Florida, public beaches with lifeguards must use the warning flag system. This system makes it easy to know exactly what condition the ocean is in for that day. Since our beaches have lifeguards, you’ll be able to consult the beach flag each day. The system is as follows:

Beach Warning Flags

Do I need to do the “Stingray Shuffle?”

If you’re visiting Anna Maria Island or another destination along Florida’s Gulf coast during wintertime, you probably don’t need to worry. Stingrays are most active during their mating season which typically happens between the months of June and October. During those months, beachgoers in the water should shuffle their feet along the bottom to

Rip Currents

Rip currents can occur when the water pushed up on the shore is pulled back out to sea. These currents can be very dangerous to swimmers. They move quickly and can be hazardous to even the strongest swimmers. To avoid rip currents, pay attention to the beach warning flags and only swim in areas monitored by lifeguards. 

However, if you find yourself caught in a rip current, there are some tips to follow to stay safe:

– Focus on treading water and waving for help. When you feel yourself coming out of the current, swim parallel to shore. Once you are outside of the rip current, swim straight back to shore. 

Red Tide

Red tide is a harmful algal bloom that has a higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae. While red tide occurs naturally in Florida, conditions can become more severe causing the bloom to grow. Factors like human-contributed nutrients and nutrient pollution contribute to the severity of the bloom. These blooms typically turn the Gulf water into a red or brown hue. However, the water can remain its normal color during a bloom, which can be deceiving for beachgoers. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission updates its site with a red tide status report each Wednesday and Friday. They also have an interactive map that represents the most recent 8 days of sampling for Karenia brevis.

Sun Exposure and Protection

In Florida, even during the winter the sun is very strong. Even if it’s a cool 60 degrees with a few clouds, you’ll want to make sure your skin is protected. SPF 15 is recommended for daily use to protect from the sun’s UV rays. If you’re planning a day at the beach, up the SPF to 30 and reapply often to reduce chance of sunburn.

As a good rule of thumb, if your skin begins to burn, you should head inside for the day. Following these tips will help protect you from sunburns and sun poisoning. 

Following these safety tips will ensure that your next beach vacation goes smoothly. By not having to deal with unsafe situations, you’re free to relax and enjoy all that Anna Maria Island has to offer!

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