Nokomis Beach / Casey Key

If you want to bring the family to a more relaxed Gulf Coast beach that still has plenty to do, head to Casey Key.

Reader rating:
(0 out of 5)
The jetty at North Jetty Park along Venice Inlet on the south end of Casey Key. [Cat Gloria | Florida Beach Insider photo]
Pros
  • A quieter option for Siesta Key fans.
  • You can drink.
  • And park for free!
Cons
  • You'll have to go in search of real nightlife.
  • The sand just isn't as good as Siesta Key.

Located north of Venice and south of Siesta Key, Casey Key is a far more relaxed environment than the neighboring areas. It possesses the same beautiful landscape as the other beaches, but with fewer crowds.

Along the 8-mile barrier island, much of Casey Key is lined with beachfront homes, but Nokomis Public Beach — or just Nokomis Beach to many — is the main attraction. The public beach is beloved by locals and serves the sprawling, unincorporated town of Nokomis on the mainland.

You actually have to drive through either Osprey to the north get to the key, or Laurel to reach Nokomis Beach more directly. The region’s development began in earnest in the early 1900s, and stretches practically interrupted from Sarasota all the way to Cape Haze.

The sand on Casey Key may not be as nice as that of Siesta Key, but the beach culture makes up for it with its friendly atmosphere. Twice a week people in the community come together in drum circles on the beach, a local tradition that has continued for years.

At the south end of Nokomis Beach is North Jetty Park, which is the southern edge of Casey Key (confusing, right?). The beach ends at the angler-friendly jetty; Across Venice Inlet is South Jetty Beach, which is actually the north end of Venice Beach. Got that?

North from Nokomis Beach, the length of Casey Key Road is an area of luxury condominiums and houses on private property. There is no public beach access until you reach Turtle Beach on Siesta Key, which is actually connected to Casey Key these days.

The focus here is largely on quick day trips and family outings for people who live in the vacation homes and subdivisions along U.S. Highway 41. But there is still plenty to do without the gobs of people on Siesta Key.

ADVERTISEMENT

GETTING THERE

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) is the closest airport to Casey Key, about 20 miles away. It offers a limited number of flights, but has service to major hubs like Charlotte, Washington, Chicago and New York on carriers like Allegiant, United and JetBlue.

The next closest airport is Punta Gorda Airport (PGD), around 40 miles to the south near Charlotte Harbor. It’s a much smaller airport and is only served by Allegiant Air. Tampa International Airport (TPA), a little more than an hour away in Hillsborough County, is much larger than either and has more flights.

Once on the ground, shuttles, buses, rental cars, ride-sharing services and taxis are available at the airports. Bry’s Car Service is available from SRQ and TPA. The Sarasota County bus service, SCAT, does not serve Casey Key.

Since the island is so long, you’ll need a car to get around, if you’re planning to stay on the beach a bike may suffice.The main road leading to Nokomis Public Beach and North Jetty Park is called Albee Road, after orthopedic surgeon Fred Albee who bought the acreage for housing in the Nokomis subdivision. In the north, Blackburn Point Road ambles onto the far end of Casey Key. Both are accessible from U.S. 41, known locally as the Tamiami Trail. Farther east is Interstate 75.

ADVERTISEMENT

PARKING

Because so much of Casey Key is private property, most of the parking options not attached to businesses are at Nokomis Beach on the south end.

The beach has a large free parking lot at its entrance right when you come off Albee Road. There are also parking spots along and just off Casey Key Road as you head toward North Jetty Park.

North Jetty Park has its own free parking lots, as well. There’s one north of the park space, plus more across from the picnic area, and along the bay and inlet. Did we mention that all parking is free yet?

If you end up using the boat ramp off Albee Road, there’s plenty of parking available. Same goes for the ramp at Blackburn Point Park off Blackburn Point Road.

ADVERTISEMENT

BEACH SCENE

Nokomis Public Beach is an ideal stop for a quiet family trip. [Cat Gloria | Florida Beach Insider photo]

NOKOMIS PUBLIC BEACH

As previously mentioned, Nokomis Beach is a spot for families wanting to escape the crowded beaches. You’ll find local kids, teens and retirees all hanging out here. There are even some tourists mixed in, because there are some beach hotels nearby.

The area is mostly quiet during the week, but it gets busier on the weekends, when the subdivisions empty out for some R and R. For the most part, it’s an ideal beach to read a book with the sound of the ocean in the background.

The sand isn’t of the same quality as Siesta Key, however if you’re lucky you may find a shark tooth that makes for a good souvenir. Currents wash them up on this part of the Gulf Coast on a regular basis.

To experience the true magic of Nokomis Beach, stay until sunset on either Wednesday or Saturday. The locals come together for a drum circle, when people bring drums to play while others dance and take in the music. The party begins roughly two hours before sunset at the main beach parking lot of Albee Road.

For those who want to explore more than just the sand, there is a small wooden walking path along the main beach lot. Walking in the dunes is prohibited by county ordinance.

The beach is equipped with a playground, picnic tables, pavilions, restrooms and outdoor showers. Alcohol is allowed on the beach excluding straws, lids with holes and glass bottles. No pets are allowed.

NORTH JETTY PARK

South of Nokomis Beach is North Jetty Park, which is the site of, yes, a long jetty separating Casey Key from Venice Beach across Venice Inlet.

South Jetty Park is on the other side of the inlet. If you stand on the jetty and look south it’s like looking in a mirror.

The jetty is a great spot for people to fish and see the wildlife closer up, but the structure on either side of the inlet can be extremely dangerous during bad weather. It’s important that beachgoers check the lifeguard stand for daily updates.

North Jetty Park also has the reputation as one of the best places to surf on the Gulf. There’s a watercraft rental stand and fishing supplies. It also has a playground, pavilions, picnic tables, showers and restrooms for the public. The same rules apply as on Nokomis Beach.

NORTH CASEY KEY

Once you head north on Casey Key Road from Nokomis Beach, you’re entering a long strip of private property. This is where hotels, homes and condominiums all have private beaches.

There is no public beach access until you reach Turtle Beach on Siesta Key, but you’d have to get pretty creative to get north of Midnight Pass. Casey Key Road is basically restricted to local traffic only. While there’s a trail to walk from Casey Key, it’s more for the boaters who congregate in the area than for pedestrians, or for people coming down from Turtle Beach. You’ll have to go off island and drive north to reach Siesta Key.

Rest assured, the beaches here are far shorter than the public beaches. That probably won’t bother you if you’re lucky enough to get to spend the night in one of the beachfront homes.

ADVERTISEMENT

WHERE TO STAY

A Beach Retreat

A Beach Retreat will land you close to Nokomis Beach. These apartment-style rooms have free wifi, a freshwater pool and boat docks available for guests. It has property on the beach and on the bay, for guests that want to see both worlds.

On The Beach

This Cape Cod-themed hotel offers separate cottages beside the ocean. It offers a cozy place to stay, only steps from their private beach a tad bit north of Nokomis Public Beach. The hotel-style rooms offer the necessities.

Suntan Terrace Beach Motel

This beachfront motel also gives guests access to a private beach. There are a variety of outdoor amenities like access to a lighted dock for fishing and boats, a bay-side pool and a tiki hut.

Gulf Surf Resort Motel

Heading into the northern part of Casey Key, you’ll find the Gulf Surf Resort. Its main bragging point is the secluded private beach available to guests. This is the perfect spot if you want an absolute getaway from the commotion.

ADVERTISEMENT

THINGS TO DO

Fishing off the jetty is a popular pastime. [Cat Gloria | Florida Beach Insider photo]
Sip-N-Cycle Cruises

Book a sip-n-cycle cruise along the waterways for any occasion. All you do is pedal, sip on your favorite cocktails, listen to music and enjoy the view. For all of the party-seekers out there, this is a good place to start.

Blackburn Point Park

The park at the northern end of the key is only a few minutes from the beach and has a long strip of land along the bay that offers free fishing piers, boat ramps, waterside picnic areas and a boardwalk for visitors. There is also an area where you can bring your own kayak or paddleboard and ride it through the Intracoastal.

Oscar Scherer State Park

This state park has more than two square miles of land with walking trails. Walking through it is a great way to see some local wildlife. There are also camping areas and canoe rentals available at the park.

Nokomis Groves

This citrus grove has been open since 1948, selling the freshest fruit around. People flock to the store for the fruit, but even more for the freshly made ice cream.

WATERSPORTS AND FITNESS

Above Board Paddle Company

Walk up to the Shark Tooth Concession Stand at Nokomis Beach and you'll find a man sitting at one of the tables wearing an “Above Board Paddle Company” shirt. He is the man to talk to if you want to rent a paddleboard or even take take a tour on one. You can also call to reserve a board.

Island Jet Ski Tours and Rentals

You’ll find this rental company near Blackburn Point Park. They offer kayak rentals, jet ski rentals, boat rentals, paddleboard rentals and dolphin tours.

Jetty Rentals

To get your surf on at North Jetty Park, visit Jetty Rentals for kayaks, paddle boards, surf boards and skimboards. They also provide a daily surf forecast on their website.

Playin’ Hookey Fishing Charters

Captain Peter Koenig liked fishing so much he decided to run a fishing charter along the coast. Whether it’s to the near-shore reefs on the Gulf or into the bay, he hits it all. To book a reservation send him an email or call the number on his website.

PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK

Shark Tooth Beach Concession

For those on Nokomis Beach dying for a quick bite, this is the spot. This concession stand doesn't serve the typical greasy, reheated food found at many similar places — their food is some of the best on Casey Key. The view and tropical drinks make for the perfect beach bite.

Pop’s Sunset Grill

Located on the bay, this grill serves up some killer views looking onto the waterway. The island-themed food and decor create a relaxed atmosphere coupled with kind service. Whether it’s fresh fish or a homemade quesadilla, the food won't let you down. The grill also has an outdoor bar that is popular with the locals.

North Jetty Fish Camp

Visit this eatery while you’re enjoying North Jetty Park. It serves quality food with great variety, from fish and chips to Mexican food to ice cream.

Briandi’s Restaurant

Beachgoers looking for something different should check out this Italian restaurant. It offers classic Italian dishes from pasta to veal. The prices run a bit higher, but the portions are worth the extra money.

Nokomis Sunset Hut

This bar and restaurant is a five-minute drive from the beach. It’s known for its impressive sunset view overlooking the bay. Come here to enjoy beachy cocktails and island-style food.

Casey Key Fish House

When visiting Blackburn Point Park, check out this bayside seafood grill. Guests can enjoy a nice view right on the bay, fresh dishes and tiki-style drinks all in the same place.

Cat Gloria, private eye for FloridaBeachInsider.com, enjoys working alongside the ocean. Her beach expertise stems from her childhood spent on the shores of Wildwood, N.J.

You might also like...