The Greater Fort Lauderdale region boasts 23 miles of beaches – which means when you’re visiting the area, you’ve got some decision making to do.

Want to stretch for the net on volleyball courts? Lather up with sunscreen while the little ones build the sandcastles of their dreams? Or practice yoga at dawn and commune with the nesting sea turtles at dusk? Read on to figure out which of the Blue Wave Beaches, certified by the Clean Beaches Council of Washington DC since 1999 (and also by the United States Lifesaving Association), you should hit while you’re here.

Waves for Days
Fort Lauderdale Beach has come a long way from its Spring Break days. But while it’s less wild now, it’s still a scene. At its epicenter, the two-mile-long “wave wall” and beachfront promenade preface chic hotels like the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, high-end restaurants, and boutiques. The public beaches range from the South Beach Picnic Area to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and include the Las Olas Marina and Fort Lauderdale Aquatics Center. Beachgoers of all ages can participate in everything from jet-skiing and rollerblading to backstroke and full boat yoga pose.

Likewise, Hollywood Beach welcomes every kind of visitor. Renowned for the Broadwalk, a paved path lined with cafes, bars, and shops, this 2.5-mile stretch of sand is near hotels including The Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton and the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hollywood Beach. Rent bicycles or hop on the trolley to get around for the day, looping from the children’s water splash playground and picnic pavilions at Charnow Park to the Hollywood Beach Theatre and back again.

Family Fun on the Sand
Families that fish together, stay together – and it’s very much in action both at Pompano Beach, where the annual Pompano Seafood Festival and Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo take place, and at Deerfield Beach, renowned for the International Fishing Pier. The 976-foot jetty offers complimentary, year-round environmental workshops, and features a concession that rents fishing rods and sells bait. Both Pompano and Deerfield are also popular for surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding, and other water sports. After a full day, return to the nearby Embassy Suites by Hilton Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa or head a little further north to the Hampton Inn Boca Raton-Deerfield Beach.

On the old-fashioned side, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a throwback hamlet ideal for families with multiple generations. Surrounded by artistic marine-themed sculptures, “South Florida’s Beach Diving Capital” boasts the best snorkeling and diving around, thanks to the barely offshore coral reefs and historic pier. The wide, white-sand beaches are within walking distance to cafes, ice-cream parlors, galleries, and shops. Folks go straight from morning bakery runs to beaches to early bistro dinners, so bring suitable clothing to walk or bike and prepare to relax.

Historic Days and Wildlife Nights
In the northern end of the county, Hillsboro Beach is one of the quietest beaches in the region. Known for both the Hillsboro Lighthouse and the statue of the Barefoot Mailman, who in the late 1800s would deliver the mail by walking/boating a six-day route from Palm Beach to Miami and back again, the beach houses three different kinds of sea turtle nests. Spend your mornings or evenings there – either way, you’ll be in the company of both wildlife and like-minded souls.

Dania Beach, Broward County’s first incorporated city, features the Dania Beach Pier and Municipal Marina. Located in Ocean Park Beach, which is close to the Hampton Inn Hallandale Beach-Aventura, the renovated pier and marina offer plenty of amenities, including fishing tackle and bait for sale. The beaches in Dania are also narrower strips than those in Fort Lauderdale and are therefore a lot less crowded.

Regardless of the beaches you choose, keep in mind that sea turtles nest just about everywhere, and dolphins, manatees, and other wildlife are always swimming nearby. General rules include keeping lights low at night to avoid confusing hatchlings, leashing any board that you’re using to your ankle so that it doesn’t drift away, and restricting inflatable plastic floats to hotel pools.

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