New Smyrna Beach is one of Florida's best-kept secrets, which is surprising because it's Florida's second oldest colonial city. In this year, the 250th anniversary of its founding, New Smyrna Beach has much to celebrate.
The location is internationally known as one of the "Best Surf Towns in America" with 17 miles of beautiful beaches stretching from Ponce de Leon Inlet to Canaveral National Seashore. It features two charming downtown areas full of local shops, restaurants, and galleries, and is loved as one of Florida's treasures.
One of the best "hidden" attractions in the area is Smyrna Dunes Park. Locals and in-the-know tourists flock to the park to walk its boardwalk, fish on its piers, and enjoy the natural beauty of its beaches. The park has recently been remodeled, and it's one of the reasons New Smyrna Beach and Volusia County homes for sale are so popular and residents love to call the area home.
Let's explore the beloved hotspot:
A Look at Smyrna Dunes Park
Located on the northern 73 acres of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula, Smyrna Dunes Park is the perfect place for naturalists and the general public alike to explore five different Florida ecosystems—ocean, river, dunes, scrub zone, and saltwater marsh. These delicate lands are protected by a two-mile elevated walkway that allows visitors to see the various habitats without disturbing them.
The park is home to at least four protected species—sea turtles, indigo snakes, gopher tortoises, and the Southeastern Beach mouse. It's likely to catch a sight of a gopher tortoise in the park. They are one of the few ancient species alive today and the only tortoise species found east of the Mississippi.
The elevated boardwalk allows visitors to get up close and personal with wildlife while protecting the animals and their habitat. However, this is no regular boardwalk. It takes visitors on a loop through the park and connects them to the beach but provides picnic areas and pavilions along the way. Its crowning glory is the observation towers which provide 360-degree-views of the surrounding land, including the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse across the water.
Both wheelchair accessible and dog-friendly, the boardwalk is an outing fit for the everyone as visitors meander through the protected lands to wind up at the beautiful, dog-friendly beaches—the perfect place to swim, surf, and otherwise, enjoy the ocean water, including fishing.
At the end of the walkway (or the beginning, depending on where you started), is a new ADA-accessible fishing pier that is quickly becoming the place to be for local fishers.
The fishing pier and newly reopened boardwalk are just two aspects of a years-long quest to update and improve the park to accommodate an increase in visitors and upgrade weathered features.
The original elevated boardwalk opened to the public in 1981 and was a hit with visitors, but the years and weather took their toll on the wooden structure. All this changed when the county agreed to fund a new million boardwalk upgrade in addition to a brand new, about 350-foot fishing pier (plus more parking!).
The park progressed through a two-year process of securing of environmental permits necessary to ensure the park's protected species remained safe during boardwalk construction. Since it opened in 2017, the fishing pier has become a local fishing favorite—the handicapped-accessible wide decking, pavilions, handrails, and benches make it the ideal fishing location for the entire community.
That same year, 2017, boardwalk construction began in sections so the entire boardwalk wouldn't need to be closed for the duration. The new composite lumber boardwalk is longer and wider than the original structure, has more pavilions and observations decks, and connects to the beach via a ramp rather than stairs—making it ADA-accessible.
The expansion of the park's amenities with the boardwalk renovation and new fishing pier speak to the county's determination to ensure New Smyrna Beach remains a gem on Florida's Atlantic shores.