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Florida beaches have so many different types of sand, and they are all beautiful. All kinds of things make up the beach sand--quartz crystals, broken shell, minerals, fossils, the shells of various marine animals, organic matter, and coral fragments.  Many people ask me where they can find the whitest sand. Generally, the Gulf Coast has the purest, whitest sand. The nearly pure quartz sand of the Florida Panhandle beaches is incredibly white and a bit larger-grained than the also nearly pure white beach sand found on west central, and southwest Florida beaches. The two white-sand chimpanzees in the sand sculpture above are on Fort Myers Beach as part of the 21st Annual Sandsculpting Championship Festival.

Don't get hung up on white sand. Yes it is wonderful, and one of its best qualities is that it is so reflective that it doesn't get hot, even under the most intense summer sun. But each different type of sand is beautiful and has attractive qualities, from the black sands of Caspersen Beach, to the orange coquina sands of Ormond Beach, to the brown sands of Playalinda.

Below are some photos of various types of sand that are representative of those beaches. Keep in mind that  on every beach the sand varies considerably. For instance, the sand in the dunes is usually whiter and finer than that found closer to the water. On beaches with lots of broken shell mixed in with the quartz crystals, there are some spots on the beach with lots of shell fragments, and spots with fewer. I'll be adding more and more photos of sand as time goes on.

Florida Atlantic Coast Beach Sand

Above: Coquina shell sands of Washington Oaks State Park beach.


Above: Daytona Beach Shores. Tiny shell fragments give this sand a light brown color.


Above: Playalinda Beach. Tiny brown shell fragments and darker minerals mixed with quartz.


Above: Cocoa Beach. The white quartz has plenty of darker minerals and gray and brown shell fragments.


Above: Indialantic Beach sand has lots of beautiful crushed shell mixed with white quartz crystals.


Above: Sebastian Inlet Beach. The shell and mineral fragments take on a high polish from the pounding shore-break.

Florida Gulf Coast Beach Sand

Above: Turtle Beach, Siesta Key. White quartz sand heavily laden with black fossilized material.


Above: Grayton Beach sand in the Florida Panhandle is pure white quartz crystals.

More Gulf Coast beach sand coming soon!


Florida Beach Sand photos and text copyright 2008 / David McRee