In Search of Clear Water in the Southeast

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steelmooch

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Hello all, and thanks for your time and consideration. 

From our Pittsburgh-area home base, we did a Florida-centric loop two summers ago, and it was a huge hit with the family.  The productive shore-fishing in the Keys (Marathon) and the blue, clear water at Fort DeSoto are still getting talked about two years later.  :)

This past summer we did a really nice coastal Maine/NH/VT/NY trip.  The family enjoyed it, but it obviously involved a different type of "beach" experience. 

This summer is Ontario...cottage country, Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin Island, etc.  Another different experience, but also with chilly waters. 

I'm being asked to plan another "warm waters" trip for July 2020, which seems a long time off, until you consider the 11-month reservation window and the level of competition for state park sites.  (**Not trying to start a "reservation" discussion...we all do what we have to do to enjoy RVing within our own work/family/life parameters.**) 

In general, I like to try new places instead of planning repeat visits...but I'd gladly re-visit a place like Fort DeSoto if that's where we'll find nice water in July. 

I had in my mind a loop focused more on the panhandle:

-perhaps back down to DeSoto

-up to the Crystal River/Homosassa/"Chaz" area.  The nature preserve with rescue animals, alpaca farm, etc...cute stuff like that...around Crystal River is always a hit with our kids

-up around the bend and to St. George Island? 

-keep going toward Destin?  Even farther toward Gulf Shores? 

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.  We do well in state parks with beaches on-site or nearby.  A mix of cute shops, book stores, some wildlife, a couple local meals, some beach time, and clear water would be great.  (We have more than our share of opaque, greenish water in PA...and have traveled somewhat extensively to the Outer Banks of NC, which we love, but have had a couple of trips affected by serious shark attacks...so the clear water/visibility thing is perhaps more important to us than to others.) 

Thanks!  :)

 

steelmooch

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Thanks!  I really hope to do that one day.  It's presently a bit outside of our range/logistics/vacation days from Pittsburgh, but definitely a future goal for us.  :)
 

Gizmo100

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steelmooch said:
-up around the bend and to St. George Island? 

-keep going toward Destin?  Even farther toward Gulf Shores? 

We stayed on St.George's Island 10 years ago. The beaches in the park were wonderful. However we didn't camp at the park. It is my understanding that the Camping area has a mosquito problem like no other.So check the current online reviews regarding flying insects. Also that area was hit VERY hard by hurricane Michael. So a lot of the older gift shops and such were damaged/wipe out. 2020 is a ways off so they should have things rebuilt. But it won't be the same.

Gulf shores
We stayed at the Gulf shores state park. It was very nice, clean and the staff was very friendly. Lots of hiking trails. You do have to drive to the beach. But it not that far..Worth checking out.
 

blw2

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Saint Johns, FL
pretty beaches in the panhandle if you like wide open long straight stretches of sand.

a few thoughts

we liked Henderson Beach SP, but it was rainy when we were there so didn't get the "full experience", but we have been there during a hotel trip.  Nice beach as I recall

I've never been there, but you can camp right on the sand here
http://campgulf.com/

manatee springs SP, camp sites are walking distance to the spring for some cool clear water swimming.  Deer walking through your site, almost tame....but it's out in the boonies

I'm not sure about camgrounds, but you could float Rainbow Springs
 

SeilerBird

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St Cloud Florida USA
Malaquite Beach at Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi is two amazing campgrounds. There is a paid one right next to the beach with sites. There is also free camping on a 40 mile long beach right on the beach.

https://www.nps.gov/pais/planyourvisit/malaquite_campground.htm
 

steelmooch

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I love the look of Henderson Beach S.P...thank you.  I have a "thing" for the privacy-promoting state park layouts like that one.  Any idea how aggressive the reservation situation is in that area?  I'm still a bit stung by my "11 months to the day, 7:59:59 AM, 8 CPU windows open for rapid fire, still didn't get a site on multiple tries" experience with Bahia Honda.    :-\ :)
 

steelmooch

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Seiler,

Our kids had also expressed interest in eastern TX...thanks for the info.  I look forward to checking that out.  :)

 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
Don't expect clear water in the gulf of Mexico, you will get greenish blue water from Tampa to Destin, then it starts turning brown from there west to the lower Texas coast, where if you are lucky it will start turning blueish green again.  This is the case the vast majority of the time unless you catch a freak weather pattern that brings clearer water into the coast.

Generally speaking the only place to find clear water in north Florida is at one of the many spring fed rivers.
 

steelmooch

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Haha...thanks...the "bluish green" water is what we're in search of and we're thrilled with it.  Compared to the lake-swimming we do around home, it feels like we're in Jamaica or the D.R.  ;D
 

steelmooch

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Also appreciate the geographical references in relation to water clarity...that helps.  :)
 

BruceinFL

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Mar 12, 2005
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The Florida panhandle (Destin-Ft Walton-Pensacola) has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country plus fishing in the Gulf is great.
 

blw2

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Saint Johns, FL
steelmooch said:
I love the look of Henderson Beach S.P...thank you.  I have a "thing" for the privacy-promoting state park layouts like that one.  Any idea how aggressive the reservation situation is in that area?  I'm still a bit stung by my "11 months to the day, 7:59:59 AM, 8 CPU windows open for rapid fire, still didn't get a site on multiple tries" experience with Bahia Honda.    :-\ :)

I don't have a great feel for it there.  Generally though, I'm finding the more popular parks in FL to be harder to get in than they seemed to be 10 years ago....especially close to beach and on weekends/holidays.
and yeah, I've been wanting to visit the keys in the RV for a long time. We just never plan our vacations that far out and every time I've looked for openings...well you know what I've found.
 

Gizmo100

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jackiemac said:
Bear in mind the algae bloom  it was quite bad in some areas this year I believe.

:)) :)) It was bad this year ....I think early July should safe.
 

Compadre

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Apr 24, 2016
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We do some of the panhandle each winter, usually March into April.  Henderson Beach SP is just beautiful, sugar sands and great campground. It is in Destin though and that means its a busy area, lots of shopping etc. Not so good for cycling , hiking, unless its along the beach. Go if you want to beach it everyday and just chill out.

Just to the east are Topsail SP and Grayton Beach which we love. Same type of beaches, but a bit more outdoor things to do, kayaking, cycling, hiking etc. Waters are crystal blue at all 3 areas.  Florida has great State Parks.

Unfortunately, TS Stone SP on the ST Joseph Peninsula was devastated by the last hurricane and might not open for some time. That would be a great summer stop, close to a few towns , good biking, kayaking , hiking etc. They may have it together by summer, so you can keep checking. Our March reservations there were canceled.

Have fun
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
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Davison Michigan
I can not help you with your search save to say I spend time on two man made lakes in the SC Upstate that are clear looking.

Blue or Green water
Blue is deep water
Green is shallow due to seaweed on the bottom.

OR so says a tour guide.
 
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