by Barbara Ann Weibel at Hole In The Donut
Measuring only 2.57 miles long, Lido Key would hardly be expected to harbor a world-class beach. Yet this tiny barrier island just west of Sarasota on the Gulf Coast of Florida has three exceptional beaches, Lido Public Beach, South Lido Park, and North Lido Beach, each of which offers a seashore experience unique from the others.
Lido Public Beach is located one half mile southwest of St. Armand’s Circle, roughly in the center of the island. Famous for its pristine white sand and placid turquoise Gulf waters, facilities at the public beach include restrooms, concession stands, a gift shop, playground equipment, cabana beach rentals, a meeting room, 400 public parking spaces, and a handicapped accessible observation deck.
On the southern end of Lido Key is South Lido Park, a natural 100 acre park with a large stand of shade trees, picnic tables, barbecue grills, playground equipment, restrooms, a volleyball court, a canoe trail, nature trails, and an observation tower and decks. A wide beach with grainy sand wraps around the southern tip of the island but swimming is not advisable here because of the dangerous currents between Lido Key and Siesta Key. Instead, beach-goers come to this park to view the wildlife; this is a great place to see shorebirds, manatees, and dolphins.
For real seclusion, try North Lido Beach. There are no lifeguards on this beach and swimming can be hazardous due to swift currents between Lido Key and Longboat Key, but the sugar-fine white sand of North Lido Beach is unrivaled anywhere in the world. To find this virtually undiscovered strip of paradise, park on the south end of Ben Franklin Drive, walk over one of the wooden beach accesses, turn right and keep going around the southern tip of the island. You will know you are there when the sand gets deep and soft.
After a day of soaking up the sun, nearby St. Armand’s Circle beckons, with its complement of fine restaurants and upscale shops that surround the circular park in the center of the island. A wide range of accommodations are available on Lido Key, Longboat Key, or in nearby Sarasota.
Photos courtesy of Barbara Ann Weibel