how to live, travel and explore the world from your van

Ormond Beach Florida Vacation on $20 a day

This is part of an 18 week, 7,532 mile, Vanabode road trip detailed in the book from Amazon
titled Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day for just $2.99
See East Coast Road Trip for more pictures, itinerary, maps and trip overview.

Ormond Beach is north of the more familiar and infamous Daytona Beach. However, the mood is more mellow and a bit classier than the latter. We've spent time here in the past and also recently and it continues to be preferred when we want a quiet and relaxing experience with all the conveniences we need for a comfortable Vanabode vacation. Because we live very near to Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach we are used to our sandy beaches, white but not powdery sand with a few shells. I used to collect hundreds of shells in New Smyrna Beach when I was growing up but now you would be lucky if you could find any worth returning home with.


ormond beach sand dunes and sea oats picture

Up and down the east coast of Florida the waves are typically small especially during the summer months. However, during the winter months you will find bigger swells. Not 30 footers but a nice solid Florida size of 5 to 6 foot plus; where long boards are put away and the short boards get dusted off. The summer water temperatures in Ormond Beach are about 82 degrees. The moment you step foot on the sand your feet will thank you. It has a luxurious powdery softness feel to it. The closer you get the water the sand becomes cooler and more pack down with some great accents of orange rippled across it from crushed coquina shells. The color of the ocean starts a crystal clear light blue deepening to an inviting teal green before hitting the deeper ocean blue you are likely to find along Florida's east coast.

ormond beach florida ocean water picture

Above: The beautiful clear blue and green colors of the Atlantic Ocean in Ormond Beach Florida. These waters are great for both paddle boarding and surfing with long boards.

We started off our week experiencing 0-1 foot waves and the water was as clear as a swimming pool. I'm not exaggerating either. I kept thanking God for letting me experience this unusual event. We are both from Florida, grew up going to the beach often, and we could only remember a few times when it was this clear. You see the Atlantic ocean is constantly moving with currents, swells and waves. And because of this the water is typically not swimming pool clear even though it is always very, very clean. There was nothing weird going on except no big swells or waves rolling in or high winds. And because of that the sandy bottom was staying on the ocean floor and not being churned up. That night though the winds did pick up and the next day the water was not as see through as a pool but still had great colors. And who doesn't like jumping over waves and feeling the fresh cool water over their face?

the casements mansion in ormond beach florida picture

Above: The Casements Mansion overlooks the Halifax River on the barrier island of Ormond Beach. It was built as a private resident in 1910 by Reverend Harwood Huntington of New Haven, Connecticut. But in 1918 John D. Rockefeller purchased the mansion. While living in Ormond Beach during the winter he hosted many Christmas parties, played golf with tire magnate, Harvey Firestone, entertained The Prince of Wales, Will Rogers and even Henry Ford. Mr. Rockefeller died here in 1937. Since then The Casements served as a girls preparatory school for 20 years and is now owned by the City of Ormond Beach.

Granada Avenue also known as SR 40 is the exit off I-95 you would take to get to Ormond Beach. Every modern day convenience and every fast food restaurant can be found on Granada. But we always look for the unique local dining establishments. We ate lunch at Los Amigos which is a Cuban and Mexican restaurant located in a strip plaza. We ordered the Churrasco skirt steak and Masas De Cerdo which is chunks of pork marinated then deep fried. Both of our orders came with three sides a piece and don't you know one of my three sides was sweet plantains, oh so yummy.

river walk along halifax river in ormond beach picture

Above: From the parking lot of The Casements you can walk along the Halifax River which continues under the causeway and continues north along the river.

Not too many beaches allow car traffic but some parts of each of Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach and New Smyrna still allow this. Personally I enjoy driving on the beach, it's especially fun in an open Jeep or convertible. But I don't like cars driving past when I am laying out or walking on the beach. So if you want a little bit of both worlds then you are totally in luck in Ormond Beach. At the end of Granada Avenue there is a little free parking lot of about 15 spaces, bathrooms and an outdoor shower and a toll booth. The toll booth is for those who want to drive onto the beach. To the north is a Natural Beach Area which means no motorized vehicles at all and to the south you are allowed to drive and park for the day. This allows you have your car to be filled with extra beach towels, and a loaded cooler with ice, drinks and food. Very convenient especially if you have children with you. But they need to be reminded to look both ways before crossing beach traffic back and forth from the ocean to the car. We just parked in the parking lot and walked to the Natural Beach with our chairs, umbrella and beach bag. This way we got to enjoy the ocean without any vehicles driving past with their stinky exhaust.

the casements park in ormond beach picture

Above: This is a picture of the park across from The Casements on the Halifax River. The city holds concerts here, art and craft shows, and a weekly farmers market.

There are quite a few free beach access parking areas. So the next day we drove to a different area of Ormond Beach. A marquee was advertising one pound of snow crab legs for $10. So we parked right there in that beach access parking lot and toted our stuff down to the ocean. When it was time for lunch we just walked up to the restaurant, sat outside on their deck under a big umbrella and ordered two pounds of crab legs. They were some of the best we had ever eaten, four clusters perfectly steamed. Crab legs dipped in clarified butter, do you see the smile on my face?

For dinner we opted for the English-Irish restaurant, The Black Sheep. The atmosphere was bright and roomy and not at all dark, cozy pub style, but no worries. The portion of fish I got with my fish and chips I think equaled close to one pound in two very, very large filets. Unbelievable. I shared and didn't feel slighted in the least. Jason ordered the Shepherd's pie, also a good sized portion and very tasty. The waitress suggested a beer for me, Magic Hat #9. An easy tasting beer with an apricot finish. Sorry, but I'm not a Guinness girl but my mom is if that makes you feel any better.

For 20 plus years now I've been trying to get back to JB's Fish Camp. I have good memories with my high school girlfriends there. And it seems that every time we are in New Smyrna Beach we are with other people and end up eating somewhere else. So this time Jason said let's do it. In the morning we left Ormond Beach and took our time driving down A1A to NSB. The north end of Canaveral National Seashore is here, check out our beach stories of Playalinda. We parked at Bethune Beach Park which has free public beach parking, bathrooms and showers. We took a long walk, swam in the ocean, and walked back to the car. Showered, changed into something dry and drove 1/2 mile to JB's for lunch. I had the Crabulous Sandwich which is 100% lump crab meat with all the trimmings to a great sandwich. Jason had the double hamburger and honestly it was thick, juicy, and delicious. Who would've thought a great hamburger at a fish camp, but it's true. You can rent kayaks at JB's and paddle through Mosquito Lagoon and you could very well see manatees and dolphins.

tomoka state park picture shows great water and fishing location

Above: Sunset on the Tomoka River in the Tomoka State Park. We were driving along the Florida Scenic Drive of North Beach Street and eventually you will cross over the river. Stop to take pictures and watch some of the locals fish and reel in their fresh catch. More Pictures of Ormond Beach Florida

Well you might think there is no way these two can eat anymore. But you're wrong. We just had to stop at Mon Delice on Hwy. 44 in New Smyrna on our way home. An authentic French bakery. Not only do they have the ever fabulous Mille Feuille aka Napoleon but the locals order sandwiches for lunch on their freshly baked breads. What a great week spent on the beautiful beaches overlooking teal ocean water and eating new and fabulous meals. Volusia County beaches are beautiful, fun with a multitude of activities for all ages with culinary delights any discriminating foodie would enjoy who visits Ormond Beach Florida.

For thousands of unforgettable experiences on this affordable 18 week 7,500 mile road trip
Click to see the book "Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day"
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