Florida is known for many things: Disney World, hanging chads, and wacky headlines. Of all of the things that come to mind when people from around the country hear of Florida, its beaches are usually a topic of conversation.
Trip Advisor’s yearly Traveler’s Choice Awards aggregates the top reviewed travel destinations in the world, and also in each country. The list of top 10 for the U.S. includes 6 Florida beaches, with the nation’s top beach located in Siesta Key. Not to be too outshined, St. Pete Beach came in at number two in the nation.
Travelers rated their visits to the world’s beaches, and Trip Advisor compiled the results from the past 12 months to come up with the top 332 beaches in the world with the best ratings. While Siesta Beach, Siesta Key topped the list for the U.S., it came in at an honorable 14th place worldwide.
Florida beaches took six of the top 10 spots for the best U.S. beaches, and if you have been to any of them, rightly so. Hawaii usually dominates the list, but this year it only garnered three spots in the top 10.
Florida’s beach rankings are only adding to the appeal the state has for tourists and residents alike. The sunshine state is no stranger to famous beaches. In 2009 Trip Advisor named Ft. De Soto the best beach in the U.S., and Clearwater Beach is considered one of The Travel Channel’s top Florida beaches of all-time.
Of course, with popularity usually comes a few problems. The recent video of a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy breaking up a brawl on St. Pete Beach has gone viral, and the video supports resident’s claims that problems have been festering along the county’s beaches for a while.
In an area where the beaches are pristine, the booze is flowing, and spring breakers like to throw a few cold ones back, residents say it isn’t long before the tempers flare and boiling points are reached.
As a resident of St. Petersburg, I have often enjoyed a nice day at the beach, followed by a drink or two at a nearby beach bar. While I have never witnessed brawling, I have seen my fair share of overly intoxicated bar patrons.
The problem shouldn’t be shouldered solely by the establishments serving adult beverages, though. If a bartender decides to deny service to someone for being visibly inebriated, who’s to say they won’t move on to another bar, looking for a more lenient bartender, or hit up the minibar at their hotel?
In order for Florida to retain its claim to several world-famous beaches, it takes a village to maintain order. Diligent residents, responsible bartenders, and responsive law enforcement all need to work together cohesively to keep our beaches safe and enjoyable for everyone.
In a world where everyone has the capability to record video and upload it for the world to see in mere seconds, situations like the beach brawl clearly show how quickly things can get out of hand, especially when there is alcohol involved.
With the ongoing efforts of residents and law enforcement to ensure the safety and protection of all beachgoers, the accolades of our beautiful beaches will trump the fleeting videos of alcohol-induced emotions and behavior. We all have our part to play to keep Florida and all of its beaches at the top of the list for tourists looking to soak up some sun.