Which Florida beaches are open during COVID-19 pandemic and things you can and can’t do

Life’s a beach, right? Well, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, not so much

Some beach restrictions relaxed in parts of Brevard, Flagler counties
Some beach restrictions relaxed in parts of Brevard, Flagler counties

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – In spite of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “safer at home” order, which encourages Floridians to stay at home through April 30, some beaches in the Sunshine State remain open, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Chatter on social media seems split: Those who live on the coast, within walking or driving distance, love their walks on the beach and the call of the sea. Picture-perfect weather adds to the challenge of staying away.

But practicing social distancing and hanging out in groups fewer than five are critical to stopping the spread of coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Friday evening, there were more than 30,000 cases of COVID-19 in Florida and over 1,000 deaths, the Florida Department of Health reports.

Jacksonville officially reopened its beaches April 17, and not long after throngs of beachgoers dotted the sand. #FloridaMorons started trending, and the Sunshine State got a beating on social media.

The following Florida beaches are open during the COVID-19 pandemic, although some have restrictions. And attendance at the beach is a far cry from what it’d normally be this time of year. For that matter, we’re also sharing tips of what you can and can’t do if you go to the beach during the coronavirus pandemic.


Jetty Park at Port Canaveral

According to a notice on its website, Port Canaveral officials "have suspended the use of our indoor and outdoor venues at Port Canaveral for events and gatherings scheduled to take place in any of our facilities through June 1, 2020." Jetty Park, a popular spot for fishing, biking or watching a rocket launch, is closed until further notice, the site states.

Cocoa Beach

The Brevard beach on Florida's East Coast that's minutes from Port Canaveral and home to the Cocoa Beach Pier is open.

What you CAN do, so long as you practice social distancing and are not in a group of more than five people:

• walking, jogging

• sunbathing

• sitting in chairs

• recreational activities

What you CAN'T do:

• No parking the car in beach parking, beach access parking or in the downtown parking garage. Prepare to walk since these parking areas remain closed.

• No bringing alcoholic beverages. Cocoa Beach’s ban on beach alcohol remains in effect.

Satellite Beach

Located in Brevard on Florida's East Coast between Cocoa Beach and Indialantic, Satellite Beach typically draws residents.

What you CAN do, so long as you practice social distancing and are not in a group of more than five people:

• walking, jogging

• sunbathing

• sitting in chairs

• recreational activities

What you CAN'T do:

• No congregating on the beach or boardwalks in groups.

• No parking in the beach public parking areas.

Indialantic, Indian Harbour Beach and Melbourne Beach

These small-town beaches south of Sebastian Inlet on Florida's East Coast are open with limited recreation and restrictions. Beachgoers must be residents, practice social distancing and limit groups to fewer than five.

What you CAN do:

• walking, running

• swimming

• surfing

• biking

• fishing

What you CAN'T do:

• No sunbathing

• No parking as beach access parking remains closed.

• No congregating on the beach or boardwalks in groups.

Jacksonville

Northeast Florida beaches in Jacksonville — Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach in Duval County — are open for restricted hours. Beachgoers can visit between 6 and 11 a.m. and 5 and 8 p.m. daily.

What you CAN do, so long as you practice social distancing and hang out in groups fewer than five:

• bring the dog, as they are allowed on the beach (during its open hours) so long as they're leashed

• walking, running

• fishing

• biking

• swimming

• surfing

• Out-of-town visitors can park in a lot on the west side of First Street.

What you CAN'T do:

• No bringing beach chairs, blankets, grills and coolers.

• No congregating in large groups or engaging in team sports or group activities.

Sarasota County

On Monday, April 27, the 35 miles of beach in Sarasota County — which includes Siesta Beach, Venice Beach, Turtle Beach in Southwest Florida — will reopen, with restrictions. Lido Beach, however, will remain closed.

What you CAN do:

• biking

• running or walking

• swimming

• surfing

What you CAN'T do:

• No looking for sea turtle nests. Although the first sea turtle nest was discovered earlier this week on Siesta Key, beach closures have significantly changed nest monitoring, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Only volunteers, biologists and interns assisting Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program will be allowed beach access for nest monitoring. However, the team of 300 volunteers — to monitor 35 miles of beach from Longboat Key to Venice — will have to practice social distancing.

• No group activities like beach yoga and drum circles.

• No parking as beach parking lots remain closed.

So beautiful: Best beaches in Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton area

Bay County

Bay County beaches on the Gulf Coast in Northwest Florida — Panama City Beach — offer restricted access and partially reopened Friday, April 24. Beachgoers should practice social distancing and refrain from hanging out in groups of more than five people. Hours are between 6 and 9 a.m. and 5 and 8 p.m. daily.

What you CAN do:

• recreational activities

• fishing

• walking, jogging

What you CAN'T do:

• No setting up tents.

• No congregating in large groups.

• No commercial activity.

Charlotte County

Charlotte County officials announced this week that it would reopen Englewood and Port Charlotte beaches in Punta Gorda without restrictions on Monday, April 27.

What you CAN do:

• Normal beach fun as there are no restrictions, so long as beachgoers practice social distancing.

• Parking will be open.

What you CAN'T do:

• Restrooms will be closed.

• No beach parties as groups of 10 or more are not permitted.

Dixie County

Reports in Orlando Weekly and WTSP.com state beaches in Dixie County in Northwest Florida are open.

Flagler County

Beaches in Flagler County — including Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach, a 6-mile stretch on Florida’s East Coast — reopened for limited recreation.

What you CAN do, so long as you practice social distancing and hang out in groups fewer than five:

• Visit the beach between 7 and 10 a.m. or 6 and 8 p.m. daily.

• Visit the unincorporated areas of Beverly Beach and Marineland between 6 and 8 p.m. daily.

• walking, running

• fishing

What you CAN'T do:

• No congregating in large groups.

Gulf County

Mexico Beach, about 25 miles southeast of Panama City in Northwest Florida, reopened with restricted access and intended for residents. Beachgoers can visit between 6 and 9 a.m. and 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. daily. Beaches in Gulf County will open at 5 p.m. Monday, April 27, with hours from 6 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. daily. Equipment for fishing and active sports is permitted. Parking at beach access points is not prohibited.

What you CAN do, so long as you practice social distancing and hang out in groups fewer than five:

• recreational activities

• swimming

• running, walking

• fishing

• biking

• hunting

• hiking

What you CAN'T do:

• No lounging, so umbrellas, chairs, tents and beach towels on the ground are not allowed.

Facebook group: Coronavirus questions, answers and info in Naples

Indian River County

Indian River County plans to open its guarded beaches Tuesday, April 28, with social-distancing restrictions. According to a story on TCPalm, that includes these beaches: Goldens Sands, Wabasso Beach, Tracking Station Beach, Round Island Beach, the east end of Beachcomber Lane, Vero Beach and Indian River Shores.

Indian River County expects to open its beaches 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to a draft order obtained by TCPalm. But county officials said Friday beaches would be open normal hours, sunrise to sunset.

What you CAN do:

• walking

• swimming

• paddleboarding

• kayaking

What you CAN’T do:

• No sunbathing

• No picnicking

• No group sports

• No sitting on the beach

• No bringing blankets, chairs, coolers, beach umbrellas, tents or “any item that promotes or is intended for use in a stationary mode.”

Facebook: Coronavirus questions, answers and info in Treasure Coast

Levy County

Levy County beaches in north-central Florida are open with restrictions. The city of Cedar Key has restricted access to the island to residents and property owners, according to the city of Levy's disaster site, levydisaster.com.

Monroe County

Beaches in Monroe County are open, but the Florida Keys are off-limits to anyone who doesn’t live there.

A notice on the county's emergency management site states: "The Keys are closed to visitors. Monroe County does not anticipate opening to visitors during the month of May. All those entering the Keys should carry backup identification or documents proving homeownership or residency."

Okaloosa County

Okaloosa County beaches in Florida's Panhandle offer restricted access and reopened Thursday. Beachgoers should practice social distancing and refrain from hanging out in groups of more than five people. Hours are between 6 and 9 a.m. and 5 and 8 p.m. daily.

Starting May 1, beaches within Okaloosa County’s jurisdiction will be open to the public from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with all beach activities permitted.

What you CAN do:

• recreational activities

What you CAN'T do:

• No congregating in large groups.

St. Johns County

St. Johns County beaches are open from 6 a.m. to noon daily.

What you CAN do, so long as you practice social distancing and refrain from hanging out in groups of more than five people:

• walking, running

• surfing

• biking

• fishing

• swimming

What you CAN'T do:

• No group sports

• No sunbathing

• No activities that involve large groups or staying in one place.

Volusia County

Volusia County beaches on the East Coast of Florida will open Saturday, April 25, with some restrictions. The process starts with opening up handicapped access to the beach for residents with disabilities. A handicapped sticker or placard will be required, and the vehicles will need to stay within 100 yards of these ramps: Third Avenue in New Smyrna Beach, Dunlawton Boulevard in Daytona Beach Shores, and Williams Avenue in Daytona Beach.

What you CAN'T do:

• No lounging.

• No sunbathing.

• No coolers allowed.

• No parking in off beach parking lots and parks as they will remain closed throughout the weekend.

These beaches are closed, for now

• Broward County

• Charlotte County

• Citrus County

• Collier County

• Escambia County

• Franklin County

• Hernando County

• Hillsborough County

• Lee County

• Manatee County beaches remain closed, but commissioners may discuss it Tuesday, April 28.

• Martin County

• Miami-Dade County

• Nassau County

• Okaloosa County: Starting May 1, beaches within Okaloosa County’s jurisdiction will be open to the public from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with all beach activities permitted.

• Palm Beach County

• Pasco County

• Pinellas County

• St. Lucie County: The county may open its beaches at 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to TCPalm.

• Santa Rosa County

• Taylor County

• Wakulla County

• Walton County