The sand along the coast of Grayton Beach State Park is so unique, some say it speaks to you. It’s compared to sugar, and is so white it’s almost blinding in bright sunlight.
It’s a large reason the beach was picked as the best in the United States by Dr Leatherman, who’s been ranking the nation’s beaches for 30 years.
“It’s some of the finest white sand in the world. The first time I saw it I felt like I had to put on sunglasses it was so bright. Some people thought it was snow. I said, ‘No that’s not snow!'” Leatherman said.
“The sand is the highest quality in the world. It’s pure quartz crystal.”
And people who’ve been cooped up because of social distancing orders can once again go walk along it and hear the unique sound the beach makes when bare feet sink in the sand.
“It’s that fine powdery sand that talks to you,” said Dave Rauschkolb, a restaurant owner, surfer and beach enthusiast who lives nearby. “The ‘squeak,’ ‘squeak,’ ‘squeak’ of the sand when you walk in it.”
It is one of two Florida beaches that were on the 2020 list just released, along with Caladesi Island State Park at No. 6.
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Posted by 30A on Thursday, 2 April 2020
Grayton Beach State Park won the list’s top spot based on its sheer beauty. Beyond the sand, it has crystal clear emerald water, freshwater ponds that are a geological rarity and towering dunes that are unique along Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline.
Even the walk from the parking lot is special, said Rauschkolb.
“You have to take what I call the tree tunnel trail,” he said. “You can just walk in this little wonderland under the canopy of the scrub oak and poke your head out and suddenly see the Gulf.”
While there are currently some restrictions at the nearly 2,000-acre park due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s open. In normal times, the park attracts 500 to 1,000 people during peak summer days. But with one-and-half miles of beach and plenty of trails, it doesn’t get overcrowded, said Ben Faure, who manages 37 state parks in the Panhandle for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“Grayton Beach is one of the gems along the Emerald Coast of Florida,” Faure said. “We like to call it a desert oasis. It really is a unique place with the sugar-white sands that are almost 99.9% pure quartz. Your feet squeak as you walk on the beach, it’s so pure.”