Half mile stretch of man-made beach. Soft sand and is the popular spot for spring breakers. There is also plenty of free parking, concessions, chair rentals, bike paths, tables and watersports rentals.
But even with all that, this was definitely our least favorite beach. The water's edge was clogged with seaweed and other debris that had washed in with the tide and the water was very cloudy. Not a place you could come snorkeling. And unfortunately I had to use the restroom building. That was quite the experience. They were not clean, smelly, there was no toilet paper in my stall and the stalls don't have doors. Yep, you just walk around a corner and there's the toilet. I was glad I didn't walk in on anyone and hurried myself so that no one walked in on me!
This beach was more crowded than Smathers but the water quality was better and the restrooms were cleaner, had toilet paper and stall doors. Plenty of free parking, chair rentals and a restaurant.
The cool thing about this beach is the long pier on one end that extends out into the ocean and has a few staircases where you can walk down right into the water. The water is pretty shallow which might make this better for those with small children but not very good for anyone wanting to really go for a swim.
A true gem of a beach! Being next to the main shipping channel, the currents in this area (where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean) keep the water clean and clear. There is an entry fee to the park whether you come on foot, by bike or car but it's worth the price. It was only $7 for both of us arriving by car for a day pass. Chair rentals, concessions, picnic areas and clean restrooms are all available here.
Both times we were here the water was clear and suitable for snorkeling. It was not nearly as crowded as the other two beaches and if you are here at the right time of day, you can watch the cruise ships coming or leaving port.
It does get to 3-4ft deep pretty quickly and we witnessed both snorkelers and swimmers doing laps here.
The other thing to note is that the shore here is natural, unlike the other two beaches. A local eco-tour guide informed us that the sand at both Smathers and Higgs beaches is trucked in from somewhere else to keep it soft and smooth.