Aside from pre-Columbian artifacts and contemporary arts, Ocala is an excellent getaway to many amazing beaches. There are saltwater options, as well as lake and springs destinations that are frequently overlooked.
The beaches near Ocala are just as enchanting as those near Miami and other cities in Florida. They have a lot to offer, from snorkeling, windsurfing, isolated scenic spots, and playground zones for both kids and adults.
Let’s dive in and check out some of the few marvelous beaches near Ocala worth visiting.
Beaches near Ocala:
- Fort Island Beach
- Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area
- Gamble Rogers State Park
- Daytona Beach
- Eatons Beach and Hampton Beach
- Lake Stella Park, Beach & Recreation Area
- Bird Creek Beach
- Hidden Pond
- Salt Springs Recreation Area
- Juniper Springs
- Silver Springs State Park
1. Fort Island Beach
- Distance from Ocala: 51 miles
- Travel time: 1h 11 minutes
- Activities: picnicking, watching the sunset, swimming
Fort Island Beach is a small quaint beach that lies 51 miles from Ocala towards the end of the Fort Island Trail. This is a perfect hideout spot far off the beaten path.
Its waters are shallow, and the bottom is graced with soft sands for a barefoot experience. There is a roped-off swimming zone, a boat ramp, and a fishing pier. Picnic tables are available from where you can enjoy the views and catch a break.
Fort Island Beach is a public facility and is open to anyone. There are bathrooms, food truck vendors, and ample parking spaces.
But remember, it’s a small beach, so on busy days, it can get pretty crowded. Nevertheless, you’ll find the spot to be super ideal for cozy sunset views.
2. Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area
- Distance from Ocala: 39 miles
- Travel time: 47 minutes
- Activities: boating, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, canoeing, nature trails
One of the most festive beaches in Ocala is Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area. The word magnificent isn’t even enough to describe it.
This beach is a notable spot for boating, kayaking, snorkeling, and other water sports. Many water equipment is available for rental.
Boating areas are clearly marked to avoid accidents or unnecessary harm to sensitive underwater habitats. Hugging the edges of Lake George is a canopy of green oaks, and their sight is full of wilderness-like splendor.
There are amazing trails to explore in the thick oaks and palm trees. And when it’s time to take a rest, you’ll find plenty of picnic tables, some with grill zones for refreshing barbecue breaks.
3. Gamble Rogers State Park
- Distance from Ocala: 82 minutes
- Travel time: 1 hr 37 min
- Activities: swimming, camping, birding, boating, paddling, bicycling, fishing, hiking, picnicking
If you want to explore plant, animal, and ocean life, one of the best places to visit near Ocala is Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach. This is a tiny park that sits on 145 acres of land.
There are plenty of things to dabble in, from swimming, surfing the ocean, camping, and building sand castles to watching the pelicans gracefully ride the ocean waves. The beach has a boat ramp for convenient boat launching sessions.
Gamble Rogers State Park has all the amenities that make for a satisfactory beach time. The roads are nicely paved, while bathrooms and changing rooms are nicely maintained. Of course, there are multiple sheltered tables for a quiet snacking or drinking moment.
4. Daytona Beach
- Distance from Ocala: 79 miles
- Travel time: 1hr 31 minutes
- Activities: surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, parasailing, hiking, biking, fishing
One of the most drop-dead beautiful and fun-filled beaches on this list is Daytona Beach. Its fame cuts not only through the magnificent Florida city but far beyond.
There’s possibly no limit to what you can do at Daytona. Explore the many miles of amazing sandy real estate, bike, or hike through meandering trails. Watch high-octane sports, or go water sliding, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
Given the vastness of the beach, you are likely to find many events and celebrations taking place. Also, there’s all manner of seafood and cuisines to try out.
You can also visit the many entertainments, dining, and shopping spots dotting the beach.
5. Eatons Beach and Hampton Beach
- Distance from Ocala: 22 miles
- Travel time: 31 minutes
- Activities: Swimming, birding watching, paddle boarding, boating, fishing
The gorgeous Eatons and Hampton beaches are basking on the edges of the magnificently unspoiled Lake Weir.
Eatons’ surroundings are incredibly beautiful to enliven anyone’s senses. To top it up, you will have easy access to a waterfront restaurant, sandbar, and grill pits. As one of the most active beaches in Lake Weir, there’s plenty to do, from swimming to performing energy-packed water spots.
Hampton Beach is worth checking out if all you want to do is bury your head in the sand (pan intended), go for a swim, or pitch a tent for camping. But watersport rentals are not as plentiful as those on Eaton. Nevertheless, Hampton is serene, crowd-free, and absolutely worth visiting.
6. Lake Stella Park, Beach & Recreation Area
- Distance from Ocala: 63 miles
- Travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Activities: bird watching, boating, fishing
If you are scouting for a less crowded beach where you can find some peace of mind, swim, read, or even dream, be sure to check out Lake Stella Park, Beach & Recreation Area.
This gem has so many isolated spots for those calming, lazy beach strolls. There is a nice little playground for kids, a boat ramp, sheltered picnic areas, and a bird-watching platform.
The beach is also known for occasionally hosting high-spirited boat races.
7. Bird Creek Beach
- Distance from Ocala: 45 miles
- Travel time: 54 minutes
- Activities: boating, birding, fishing
If you are on a road trip, Bird Creek Beach in the Gulf of Mexico might be worth stopping by. This is a small, public facility ramp from where visitors can launch kayaks or boats.
The surrounding environment is pretty scenic, with lush green coastline vegetation and wetlands. Despite the lack of many beach activities and amenities, some folks pass by to swim and watch the marine life.
So, if all you want is a quiet spot to unwind and temporarily withdraw yourself from the fast-paced city life, then you should totally pay Bird Creek Beach a visit.
8. Hidden Pond
- Distance from Ocala: 41 miles
- Travel time: 59 minutes
- Activities: hiking, camping, backpacking
If you are a seasoned adventurer, the one spot on this list you should pay more attention to is Hidden Pond. This is a little hidden gem nestled in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, waiting for backpackers to explore it.
Its dazzling beauty consists of shallow clean water, a small stretch of white sands, and pristine oak trees. This is an extremely quiet, hike-in place where you can set up camp and connect with both nature and loved ones.
So if you intend to explore the great Florida Trail, be sure to pass by Hidden Pond. It’s a small paradise that will stick in your memories for years.
9. Salt Springs Recreation Area
- Distance from Ocala: 30 miles
- Travel time: 37 minutes
- Activities: camping, picnics, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, boating
Salt Springs Recreation Area is one of the most amazing getaway jewels near Ocala that fully caters to families. The facility is well maintained, the pathways paved, and the campgrounds nicely spaced apart.
There are plenty of things to do at this spot. You can begin by taking a dive into its gleaming turquoise natural spring water. Some areas have been designated for snorkeling, fishing, and launching boat rides.
There are ample camping facilities at Salt Springs Recreation Area. And the good news is that most of them are fairly priced.
Barbecue time or hiking on the beaten trails that lead to the Ocala Forest are also some of the common activities to explore.
10. Juniper Springs
- Distance from Ocala: 29 miles
- Travel time: 36 minutes
- Activities: swimming, camping, hiking
Another popular choice on this list for a fun-filled outdoor experience is Juniper Springs Recreation Swimming Area.
It is one of the oldest and most widely known recreational spots near Ocala. The water here is incredibly clean and clear for gratifying underwater views.
While here, you can behold magical views of bubbly springs as they forcefully exit the earth’s crevices. The swimming areas, on the other hand, are walled, giving them a pool-like vibe.
Other amenities present include barbeque pits, sheltered resting spots, picnic zones, and nature trails that lead deep into oaks and palms.
Just one more thing – the swimming areas can be pretty deep, so make sure you can float confidently.
11. Silver Springs State Park
- Distance from Ocala: 6 miles
- Travel time: 10 minutes
- Activities: camping, boating, kayaking, paddling, canoeing, picnicking
4,000 acres of immersive outdoor experience – that’s what Silver Springs State Park has in store for its visitors. Like other springs near Ocala, this one too boasts crystal clear waters for canoeing, paddling, and other water sports.
The park is rife with picture-perfect tropical hammocks, different bird species, and even gators. There are playgrounds, camping sites, nature trails, barbecue pits as well as marked picnic areas.
The most iconic activity in the park is perhaps the thrilling glass-bottom boat tours. You get to behold a mind-bending underwater ecosystem.
During the trip, your eyes will gaze upon ferocious alligators, lazy turtles, manatees, and other marine life. Given that gators are in the water, no swimming is allowed.
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