The other night, I never went to bed. Instead, I went to Blowing Rocks.
The first time I saw a photo of Blowing Rocks Preserve, I added it to my bucket list. And, funny thing. Once I did, I started noticing more and more Instagram photos of this rocky, limestone beach – many taken at dawn, given its location on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
And, despite my extreme night owl tendencies, all those Insta shots convinced me that sunrise at Blowing Rocks was a must. The problem? I live three hours away. Do the math, and that has me waking up at, like, 3 a.m. to drive across the state. Major deterrent. So, I kept putting it off. But my fellow Floridian IGers relentlessly enticed me with otherworldly photos of this place – otherworldly in the sense that it just doesn’t fit the Florida mold. It really doesn’t! In fact, I distinctly remember thinking, “This is in Florida?” after seeing that first photo.
FINALLY, I took my own advice and decided to just GO. Labor Day weekend seemed the perfect opportunity for my Blowing Rocks adventure, with Saturday being the most ideal day. Since going to bed early is basically impossible for me, I figured it would be easier to just not sleep at all Friday night before leaving at 3 a.m. But, I also didn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel! So, Thursday night, I stayed up till 5 a.m., then slept in till 2 p.m. on Friday. Waking up that late definitely helped power me through that 3 a.m. drive. (Because I don’t drink coffee. Blehh. Or any caffeine, really.)
I made it to Blowing Rocks (sans caffeine) just before sunrise, and didn’t even care that distant storm clouds covered the sun. Didn’t even care. The rocks alone were worth the drive, and I was grateful that those clouds were out to sea instead of over my head!
Guys. I think I’ll let my photos do the talking now. But, I also want to offer you a few tips, since I’m pretty sure you’ll want to visit this place, too. (And you must!)
- For sunrise, start at Coral Cove Park, not Blowing Rocks Preserve. Coral Cove opens at 6 a.m. – with free parking! – whereas the park at Blowing Rocks doesn’t open till 9 a.m. Bummer. (FYI. Coral Cove Park facilities include cleanly restrooms, a playground for kiddos, and a lifeguard tower.)
- The walk from Coral Cove (north) to Blowing Rocks is just over a mile on a beautiful stretch of sand. It’s not ideal for those lugging camera equipment, but at least it’s not uphill!
- If you can, plan your trip for high tide. A local lady on the beach told me I lucked out with the tide being high, because it forces the crashing waves through the ‘blow holes’ in the rocks – hence the name Blowing Rocks.
- Do you typically leave your shoes in the car at the beach (like me)? If so, I advise against it this time – if you want to walk on the rougher portions of the rocks, that is. My soles are pretty tough, what with all my beach walks, but boy was I thankful for those flip flops I packed in my beach bag!
- Give yourself time. Walk the full length of the rock-lined coast. Take a hundred photos. Watch the waves create bursts of salty sea spray when colliding with the rocky shore. Go shelling in the tide pools. Heck. Have a picnic! Just stay long enough to be fully present and enjoy the wonder of this strangely stunning spot along the Atlantic.
- Depending on the time of year, also watch for sea turtles! May thru October is sea turtle season, which means you could either spot a mama turtle laying eggs in the wee hours, or see babies hatching from the marked nests dotting the shoreline. I was fortunate to walk in the path of THREE baby turtles making the journey from nest to sea! And my, OH MY. What a miracle to witness!! For those few minutes, I became their personal cheerleader. You got this, buddy! Look at you go! Almost there! You made it!!
My adventure to Blowing Rocks was a smashing success! (Bad wave pun intended.) I only wish this beach were closer to Sarasota, because I would absolutely make adventuring here a weekly occurrence. As much as I adore my Gulf Coast beaches, I must admit – right here, right now, in writing – that Blowing Rocks is officially my new favorite Florida beach!
Have you experienced Blowing Rocks? If not, make it happen SOOOOOON.