New Year’s – New Smyrna Beach

We departed St. Augustine on Tuesday, Dec. 30 and headed for New Smyrna Beach, a run of 59 nm. An early start put us in New Smyrna Beach well before dark. There is a municipal dock adjacent to a park that is at the end of Canal St., the main street downtown. The docks are public, and although there is a sign prohibiting overnight docking, transient cruisers are welcome to stay. We’ve stayed overnight on the public docks in previous stays, but always left the following morning. We’ve observed in our successive visits over time that the downtown has been experiencing a steady revitalization. There are an increasing number of specialty shops and restaurants, and more activity than we’ve observed previously. This visit we decided to spend a day or two and see a bit more of the area.

The town of New Smyrna dates from the 1890’s. In 1892 Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast railroad provided rail service to the town and tourism flourished. Like many coastal Florida towns, the downtown area is a mile or so inland, and as tourism grew, the town migrated toward the beach, so downtown and beach are the same town, but different communities. North Causeway extends eastward from downtown to the beach where it becomes Flagler Avenue, the main east-west thoroughfare of the beach community. Our previous visits included walking exploration of the old town, this visit we took out our bikes and rode to the beach. The weather here has been warm, with record high temps in the 80’s, so the ride to the beach was delightful. Between the holiday and the warm weather, beach-goers were out in throngs!

A steady stream of vehicles snaked out Flagler Avenue past the toll booth and onto the beach. At $10 a vehicle, the daily tolls must amount to a bundle! The beach is delightful and a popular surfing spot. We took a bike tour of the town and surrounding neighborhood. The beach town is very laid back, one of the nicer beach towns we’ve visited. The neighborhoods are charming, with sand streets and modest homes, many with a smaller adjacent building, presumably vacation rentals.

We spent New Years’ Eve aboard; there was a fireworks display and activities on Flagler Avenue on the beach, but we decided against taking the bike ride to the beach in the dark, instead opting for a more relaxed evening that began with a stroll of downtown and viewing the fireworks display from the boat, about 1-1/2 miles distant. There were plenty of fireworks along the shoreline near downtown, so we were well entertained until after the turn of the New Year!

We stayed New Years’ Day, enjoying the last of the warm weather with another bike ride to the beach, and a tour of the area north of downtown. We departed the 2nd, Saturday morning and cruised the 42 miles to Cocoa, where we anchored out just off the park.

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