VIBE: Relaxed, Free Spirit
Lighthouse Point Park, 5000 S Atlantic Ave, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
Updated December 17, 2022. Driving on the beach has re-opened after Hurricane Nicole at low tide. The jetty is still closed. Ever wished you could find a Florida beach away from the crowds that's your own special place? Ponce Inlet is one of those beach towns the locals don't want you to know about!
You can walk on this beach but the jetty has been partially damaged by the storm. The walkway from the parking lot, restrooms and picnic area has been affected and is under construction. Get further updates here.
Lighthouse Point Park in Ponce Inlet is a drive-on beach located 5 miles south of Daytona Beach Shores at 5000 S. Atlantic Ave. We love it because it's less busy than the Daytona area beaches. There are several beach access points including a separate dog beach and nature trail. If you love to fish you can walk along the jetty. The jetty will also offer views of any manatees, sea turtles or dolphins in the area. Everywhere you go there's a view of the historic lighthouse. This beach area has charming character. It's smaller than other beaches, but it's worth the drive to see this emerald paradise. Pelicans love to perch on the posts here or fly down to catch fish. The water is calmer, clearer and warmer here too!
Ponce Inlet Beach Sand
The first thing you notice is the thick, light sand. The sand dunes are protected, large and add to the beauty of this spectacular beach. It's light, similar to Siesta Key Beach, but much thicker. If you have visited the northern states, you may notice how similar it is to walking on snow (sorry!) You must pay attention when driving on this beach in your vehicle because if you don't have a 4x4 you may get stuck! We have seen even the best pickup trucks get stuck in this sand. If it is low tide, you will be able to drive closer to the water to navigate to your parking spot. The sand is firmer there. When the tide is high, take it easy and keep your eyes out for deeper sand. You can read more about avoiding the sand trap here. Don't spin your wheels and you'll have a wonderful time!
Ponce Inlet Beach Water
Do you love Gulf beaches? You will notice how much the water at Ponce Inlet beach looks like the Gulf of Mexico, especially at low tide. You can wade through warm pools of extremely clear water and watch fish swimming around. The sea sparkles like diamonds! We don't like to swim if we can't see our feet in the ocean, so that's why this beach is one of our favorites. The water is a lovely emerald hue during the summer when it is over 80 degrees. Add in the white sand and you might just want to stay forever. We do!
Ponce Inlet Beach Parking and Amenities
Parking at the beach is best when you can drive right on! However, if you don't have a county parking sticker, there is a parking lot just past the drive-on entrance and it costs $10 per entry. There is also a yearly pass you can obtain, even if you are a non-resident. There are only about 50 spots so parking is limited. Bathrooms, showers, and grilling pavilions make this beach park the place to cook and chill out. It is a bit of a walk to get to the main beach from the parking lot. Use the boardwalk and bring sandals (the boardwalk needs a bit of work). Be prepared to carry your chairs, umbrella, and gear since there is no chair rental. Trash cans are located throughout this park as well as cigarette butt containers. Nobody wants to cash a fish with a cigarette in it's mouth!
Ponce Inlet Beach Activities
Fishing on the jetty is extremely popular at Ponce Inlet. There's a large variety of fish to be caught and we see big catches all the time. Bring your rod and bucket and start fishing! You can go down on the rocks on the inlet side to fish too. It is a great view over to New Smyrna Beach dog park and Disappearing Island.
This beach has great water for non-swimmers when the tide is out. Shallow lagoons form between the shore and sand bar and you can sit in them. Kids love it! There is a lifeguard tower and the beach is well patrolled. Surfing and fishing are the main activities on Ponce Inlet beach and the best place to fish is the jetty. It also gives visitors a spectacular view over to New Smyrna Beach and boats heading out to sea. We got awesome photographs here of pelicans catching their dinner. No dogs are allowed on this part of the beach, but a dog beach is just around the corner. We have to mention the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse only because it is so central to this area. If you decide to venture up the 203 steps in the lighthouse, you will have an awesome view of all the beaches, including Disappearing Island, a local favorite for boaters. It's hot going up all those steps but the breeze up top is worth it.
Look Out! This Could Happen...
The only thing to really watch out for is the thick, white sand, if you are driving on it. A 4x4 put in the correct driving mode is best. You can get stuck! Occasionally there are rip currents. Always check the warning flags at the lifeguard station so you know if there are any dangerous currents or jellyfish. Although people surf here, the waves don't get too high at Ponce Inlet. New Smyrna Beach is a better choice for surfers. This is because there is a sand bar dividing it from the Atlantic ocean. It is a wonderful beach location for paddle boarding.
The other thing that could happen is that you end up having too much fun! There's a few local restaurants and bars that are worth trying. Some are a little off the beaten path which makes it even better. We loved spending time with friends and family at waterfront Off the Hook At Inlet Harbor. It's not beachside, but you will see dolphins and possibly manta rays while you dine and drink on the intercoastal waterway.
Trucks At This Beach
Can a beach be too quiet? We did not find a lot of pickup trucks visiting the beach during our visit. We had to pick one we thought was really nice, although not the fanciest we have seen. It's the Daytona beaches that have a higher cool factor. This Dodge Ram Laramie has luxury with big performance while parked on the beach. We think the new RamBox storage feature (maximizing storage by incorporating a compartment into the side rails of the bed) is a great idea for any pickup. Great storage for any beach outing or fishing trip.
What We Really Think About Ponce Inlet Beach
It's pretty hard to beat this beach in terms of pure beauty! For us, Ponce Inlet beach is a top choice to spend our time and we go every week. With tall white dunes, it's worth the short 5 mile drive from Daytona Beach Shores to spend the day and experience Florida nature at its finest. The sand is thick so drive defensively on this beach. We have seen many trucks get stuck so be careful to choose a parking spot that you can get out of! Drive-on beaches have traffic so keep your eyes open when making your way down to the water. Not everyone follows the 10 mile per hour rule! Drive on and play hard!
Ponce Inlet Hotels
Ponce Inlet Restaurants
Down The Hatch Seafood Company
AA Garden Fusion
Third Wave Cafe & Wine Bar
Racing's North Turn Beach Bar & Grille
Hidden Treasure Rum Bar & Grill
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers specializing in Florida beaches on every coast. Take a road trip or plan a Florida vacation.