The Beautiful Coquina Beach @ Washington Oaks Gardens State Park : Oceanside

There are Rocky beaches in Florida? Yep, it’s true.

Date Visited: 12/7/2019

Now I have a confession. Previously when I wrote about our first trip to Washington Oaks State Park I wasn’t 100% sure that the beach across the street was actually part of the park property or just fortunate enough to be within close proximity. However, after talking with the parents and doing more extensive reading on the area it did appear to be an extension of the park. My parents informed me that I had missed out by not heading from the formal gardens over to the shore because the beach there was covered with a beautiful display of Coquina rock. Once we learned this (and realized that we had missed out on our previous trip) we decided to go back and check it out.

We were not disappointed!

This Coquina lined section of the beach was such a neat thing to see especially for a girl that grew up spending her days on the smooth sandy shores of the “World’s Most Safest Beach.” I now wonder if it was called safe because there were no rocks to play on. It surely wasn’t for it’s lack of shark bites. Anyway, back to Washington Oaks.

The rock formations along this beach in the Flagler area are the second largest in Florida and are part of the Anastasia formation that begins in St. Augustine and extends to Palm Beach County. If I am correct the largest outcrop can be seen at the Blowing Rocks Preserve which we will visit in the future.

Coquina is a sedimentary rock called limestone. The “cockle” from which the Coquina gets it’s name is a small burrowing clam that lives in the sand along the water’s edge. You could say the shells of these clams are the basic building blocks from which the walls and the cement are made.

This process happened sometime during the Pleistocene era (12,000 – 2.5 million years ago) when the sea level was lower than it is now. The sand along with the shells of these tiny clams and other organic materials were exposed to acidic rainwater which dissolved some of the calcium carbonate in the shells. This process sort of glued the sand and shells into rock. The continual process of this cementation caused deposits to accumulate and form the Anastasia formation.

Interestingly the same acidic rain that creates the Coquina is also responsible for it’s destruction. The hole you see in the picture above is thought to be caused by the accumulation of rain in small depressions in the rock. The erosion process happens over time as each new rain deposits more acid which then eats away at the rocks making the hole bigger. Eventually the light acid can eat its way through the rock leaving a almost perfect hole as if someone had stamped it out on purpose with a tool.

The landscape not only changes slowly through this process of erosion, but it can also change quickly. Seasonal weather and winds can shift the sands making the rock either more or less visible. We were lucky to visit at a time when the rocks were putting on a nice show.

We spent a lot of time climbing and combing for the many forms of life that make these rocks home such as; sea urchins, snails, algae and the occasional shorebird in search of other aquatic victims stranded by the retreating tide.

We watched the pools of water fill and empty as the waves crashed against the rocks. We felt like children with our dreams of discovery and fascination. Of course one of us had a little more imagination — as usual. I won’t say who, but I think the picture below says it all.

Saber-toothed hubby?! Man-walrus?! Who knows!! This guy is such a goof!

Anyway, we hope you come back next week when we tell you about one of our favorite (local-ish) weekend getaways spots and how fortunate we were to spend a few days camping there with my parents just months before: 1.) my dad got seriously ill, 2.) the coronavirus hit the United States and spending time with family and/or hospital visitation was removed from the equation for almost a year.

Until then…


If you’re interested in visiting the park you can find the address and website below.

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park 
6400 N. Oceanshore Blvd. 
Palm Coast, FL 32137

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