It’s not your imagination. The beaches at Edgewater Beach Hotel, Lido Beach Resort (pictured above), and Jupiter Beach Resort are all bigger and better than you remember. But how and why?
There’s a reason why beach vacations tend to top the chart of most popular vacation types – after all, who wouldn’t want to spend their time off spread out on a sparkling stretch of sand, bordered by crystal-clear water?
Still, when it comes to the beaches of Florida, they not just a tourist draw, but an insurance policy, protecting the encroachment of the ocean on upland property as well as providing a precious home to the flora and fauna that live or regularly migrate here. That’s why the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has actively put efforts into place to protect and rehab the 825 miles of sandy coastline fronting the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Straits of Florida. Sure, that means collecting shoreline data and monitoring erosion, but, once certain beaches reach a certain level of erosion, it also means taking action through various programs to bring the beach back to its natural state.
Enter what has been coined a “beach nourishment project,” which in simplest terms, is the process of trucking in sand to, well, beef up said beach. Here’s how it works, why it matters, and the three recent Florida Opal resorts with beaches that have recently received a healthy shot of sand.
Beach Nourishment in a Nutshell
Coastlines and barrier islands are dynamic systems, meaning they are in a constant – albeit often subtle to the everyday visitor – state of flux, a result of wind, waves, and storms pushing the outflow of sand in a southerly direction. Therefore, over long periods of time, beach erosion can reach a level where it requires human intervention to restore sand to the site, in order to protect shoreline and stabilize the coastal habitat.
4 Steps to a Bigger, Better Beach
You can’t just bring in sand from anywhere, dump it, and call it done. The whole nourishment process requires equal parts ecologist and construction experts.
Core sediment samples are taken at several potential offshore borrow sites to find sand that is compatible with the existing beach.
A hydraulic dredge is set up at the borrow sites and acts as a suction pipe, vacuuming up a mixture of sand and water from the bottom of the ocean.
The mixture is pumped back to shore in a 30-inch-wide pipe and deposited along the beach in various ditches, allowing the water to drain off.
Bulldozers flatten accumulated sand and spread it down the beach according to specific design plans.
More Beach, More Wildlife
Not only is the bigger beach a boon to humans, but also local animals that benefit from a restored habitat including benthic organisms (tiny sand-burrowing worms and crustaceans, like krill), which are a vital food source for the return of larger coastal animals. In the case of Florida, that means shorebird and marine turtle species.
Florida Opal Resorts with Recently Nourished Beaches
Jupiter Beach Resort [Jupiter, FL]
Part of a $31.7 million project completed in early 2020, Jupiter and Juno beaches received a gigantic gift in the form of 1.8 million cubic yards of sand – 500,000 of which was allocated to the 1,000 feet of shoreline right in front of Jupiter Beach Resort. So bring your James Patterson or your Kristen Hillenbrand and take your pick of where you want to stretch out on this wide sandy oasis.
Edgewater Beach Hotel [Naples, FL]
Over the course of the month of November 2020, the stretch of Naples Beach from Doctors Pass to Lowdermilk Park (Edgewater Beach Hotel is located right in the middle) received 47,500 cubic yards of sand to raise and widen the beach, leaving ample room for the resort’s beach chairs, luxury beach beds, cabanas, umbrellas, and kayaks, and paddleboards for rent.
Lido Beach Resort [Sarasota, FL]
Completed early this November and locally known as the Lido Shoreline Stabilization, 700,000 cubic yards of sand was pumped and dispersed from Big Pass to Lido Beach, the stretch which Lido Beach Resort’s 300-foot private beach sits with umbrellas and cabanas awaiting your arrival.