Sarasota County’s oldest public beach
Nokomis Beach is located on Casey Key, one of the 6 barrier islands along the 35 miles of Sarasota County’s coastline. Nokomis Beach is easily reached by taking Albee Road from Tamiami Trail/US 41 to where Albee Road dead ends at the beach. This public beach is free and open to all.
Archeological sites on Casey Key show evidence of human habitation on the key long before white settlers arrived. Casey Key had a sparse population in the late 1800’s of mostly fishermen. The population significantly grew after 1926 when the Blackburn Point Bridge at the northern end of the key was constructed and at about the same time the bridge on Albee Road was erected. Around 1947, Nokomis Beach was purchased and made a public beach. In 1954, Nokomis Beach Plaza was designed and built by Jack West from the Sarasota School of Architecture. The pavilion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008, The Plaza was renovated. There are covered picnic tables and a pavilion. The pavilion can be rented. To rent the pavilion, call 941-861-7275 (you can't make a reservation online).
An elevated boardwalk runs 550 feet along the back of the sand dune (between the parking lot and the beach) and connects the historic pavilion at the northern end of the park to the elevated concession stand, Shark Tooth Beach Concessions, at the southern end of the park. The boardwalk is handicap accessible. There are benches and covered picnic tables along the boardwalk that afford lovely views of the beach and the turquoise Gulf water. At the beach access points, there are outdoor showers. Restrooms can be found at both ends of the boardwalk (at the Nokomis Beach Plaza and the Shark Tooth Beach Concessions).
Casey Key is mostly residential with no high rise hotels. Since Casey Key is less developed especially in comparison to Siesta Key, there are less crowds and a quieter atmosphere. However, the parking lots fill up by late morning during high season. There are a few chain hotels near the intersection of Tamiami Trail/US 41 and Albee Road.
Nokomis Beach is family friendly. Children and adults can hunt for shark’s teeth. It’s a lot of fun to discover a fossilized shark’s tooth giving one bragging rights. Sea shells are another treasure to be collected. Please only collect dead shells and you know a sand dollar is dead when it is pure white.
Lifeguards are stationed in a tall lifeguard tower to protect beachgoers. The lifeguard tower is located closer to the northernmost beach entrance at The Plaza. The gulf water is shallow and usually very calm. Most days the water is a crystal clear and a dazzling array of blues and greens making you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise. In the summer, the Gulf water warms up to 85-90°F. The sand is not as well packed as other beaches like Siesta Beach and Lido Beach so I find it less conducive to long beach walks. I’m not saying you can’t walk on Nokomis Beach, only it will be a ‘tougher’ workout than those beaches with firmly packed sand. I like to walk from Nokomis Beach to North Jetty and the Venice Inlet, which is one mile away (one direction). For more information about North Jetty Beach click here.
The Shark Tooth Beach Concessions offer food, cold drinks, alcoholic beverages, and a very small selection of beach accessories. It is legal to consume alcoholic beverages on the beach and you can bring your own if you wish, just no glass. For more dining options, you can walk (or drive) less than a half mile on Albee Road crossing over the intercoastal waterway to a couple of restaurants. I have only eaten at Pop’s Sunset Grill and I really enjoyed my meal and a Rum Runner while watching the boats pass by.
The Nokomis Drum Circle plays each Wednesday and Saturday evening starting about 2 hours before sunset. All are welcome to participate as well as dance. For more information about the Drum Circle, visit their Facebook page. These nights are a perfect opportunity to enjoy the musical entertainment and watch the sunset.
Gulf Harbor Marina is located at Albee Road and Circuit Road right before the bridge over the intercoastal waterway. You can store your boat in dry storage and rent a boat or a jet ski from Cool Breeze Boat and Jet Ski Rentals. My husband and I rented a waverunner and had a lot of fun playing in Roberts Bay. FYI, there are no vendors on the beach offering beach and water sports like parasailing, banana boat rides, or SUP/kayak rentals. You can rent a kayak at Cool Breeze or from the North Jetty Grille at North Jetty Beach.
The main entrance of the beach has a gravel/sand parking lot. I don’t advise getting your vehicle washed before going to the beach because it will get very dusty. The parking is free and there is no time limit so come and stay the whole day until sunset. The sunsets are beautiful over the Gulf of Mexico. Additional parking is available across from the Shark Tooth Beach Concessions. And just a little further south (toward North Jetty), there are more parking spaces in front of the sand dunes.
The Nokomis Beach Park Boat Ramp is located on the bayside on Blackburn Bay. When Albee Road dead ends into Casey Key Road, turn right and then take the first right onto Boat Ramp Road. The boat launch is about a 10-minute boat ride south to the end of Casey Key leading to the Venice Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico.
NOKOMIS BEACH AMENITIES:
Free parking (dirt/sand lot)
Picnic tables under the trees
Historic Nokomis Beach Plaza
Beach Wheelchairs (free but need to reserve. (Call 941-861-5000 (option 6) to reserve one.)
On the bayside:
Picnic tables and charcoal grills
Park Hours: 6:00 am to midnight
Address: 100 Casey Key Road, Nokomis, FL 34275