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Sssshhh...a secret beach just for you

Do you love beaches crammed with people, overbrimming with beach chairs and umbrellas, with folks jostling to get a patch of sand? Nah, neither do we. The Island Runaways are drawn to beige powdery sand and beautiful ocean because of their power to relax us. And so it makes sense that some of the most soothing beaches we've found are also not filled to the brim with fellow travelers.

(An uncrowded beach at Virginia Key; photo (c) Zickie Allgrove)

Today, we want to shre one of our favorite beaches on our of our favorite Florida islands...Virginia Key! This very small island isn't down in the Florida Keys near Islamorada, but just off mainland Miami. While its sister isle, Key Biscayne (just a bridge away) attracts more attention, in fact Virginia Key offers three beaches, including one for visitors who appreciate peace, quiet, and a genuinely rustic experience.

(Virginia Key is definitely off the beaten path!)

Will you like the Virginia Key Beach? That depends. It's fairly undeveloped, and has few amenities. On the other hand, sometimes (especially on the weekday) you might find very few other people -- almost no one! -- lounging in the sand. In fact, it can be hard to believe that you're in a tropical metropolis, i.e., Miami!

Since it's not easy to find, we're going to give our Island Runaways friends very specific directions: pay the toll at the entrance to the Key Biscayne causeway, cross the tall bridge, then begin to look for a sign that says Virginia Key Beach & Picnic Area to your left. (Just before Seaquarium.) Make a left, pay the park entrance fee ($8). You'll soon see 4 parking lots on the right. You park, then walk through a path. Ahead, you'll spot the aqua green waters of Biscayne Bay.

(At last the beach!)

Finally, once you've spread out your towels, you get to jump in! The water is clear and clean because of a current that keeps this beach refreshed. Over by the rock groins you can even get in a bit of snorkeling.

(By the rocks you can snorkel if you bring goggles or a mask.)

(On a practical note, this section of beach has neither restrooms nor lifeguards. If you'd like those amenities plus a playground and volleyball court, drive all the way to the end of the road until you spot a final parking lot.)

For more Miami tips, be sure to check out Laura's guidebook Miami for Families. Miami has lots more beaches, not to mention more terrific islands. And if you have a tip about a secret beach of your own, perhaps you'd like to share? If so, fill out our online "tip hotline" on the Guest Island Experts page. Cheers!

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