Founder’s Park Beach
by Brad Bertelli
The small crescent-shaped beach is dotted with coconut palms. The warm shallows of Florida Bay lap at its edges. The beach is a local favorite and an excellent place to escape the sub-tropical heat. Because the water is largely devoid of current, waves, or undertow, the roped-off swimming area is a great place for children of all ages to splash, swim, or float.
The small concession stand on the beach offers snacks, beach accessories, catamaran rentals and dive flags.Dive flags? Yes. This is a great little snorkel spot, especially for those parents with eager children too young for a trip out to the reef. The jetty wall extending from the north side of the beach has nooks and crannies galore which attract snappers, grunts, and any of a myriad of species. In fact, one of the best things about snorkeling near shore is that you never know what you might see! For those looking to go snorkeling beyond the designated swimming area, dive flags are required. Approximately 15 to 20 yards out from the southern jetty wall are small coral heads, soft feathery corals, and sponges in 4 to 5 feet of water. This hard bottom coral community attracts a sometimes surprising array of species including the occasional starfish, ray, manatee, and seahorse.
The worst thing about Founder’s Park is that it can get quite crowded on weekends, especially holiday weekends. Also, while use of the park is free for Islamorada residents, there is a small entrance fee for visitors. There are also day fees associated with some of the other amenities like the swimming pool.The best thing about the park is that sometimes, especially during the week, it can absolutely feel like your very own private beach.