Ponce Inlet

by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Ponce Inlet whose name obviously reflects the historical Spanish influence which insinuates the entire State of Florida is a small (pop. 3,012), quiet residential community at the most southern tip of the peninsula (barrier island) on which Daytona Beach Shores is located along the Atlantic Ocean. Ponce Inlet is “Land’s End” – there is no outlet to the mainland. I cycled there on the beach at nine o’clock this morning – a brilliantly sunny and clear day though moderately cool. This tiny resort is famous for its lighthouse which is the tallest in Florida and the second tallest lighthouse in the nation.

There are two indicators which we nautical denizens follow closely each day from the moment we set foot to the floor – the weather and the tides. The first low tide today was at 6:38 am and the next high tide was predicted at 1:06 pm which I figured afforded me an ample window for unobstructed beach travel.  In fact I virtually sailed down the smooth, flat beach because of a northerly wind at my back. Though I was glad at the time to have worn a thin hoodie, I soon ended removing it as the temperature climbed to near 75℉. The jaunt was in all respects highly favourable, facing into the rising sun, next to the limitless expanse of green water and distant horizon. The Ocean waves were rolling substantially thanks to the wind.

Ponce Inlet is about six miles from Daytona Beach Shores.  On my journey I passed maybe a dozen people, some of whom were walking or jogging, others cycling.  Most were of the “retired” appearance and while perhaps not young looking, nonetheless beaming. If you care to know, when going back home I cycled along the broad, smooth sidewalks through Ponce Inlet and Wilbur-by-the-Sea to Daytona Beach Shores.  The sea was rising rapidly!  When for example I strolled along the rock pier in Ponce Inlet I returned to discover that my bike (which I had propped against the rocks on the beach) was partly submerged. My bike by the way is a used bike which I purchased from a local rental agency.  It is one-speed and cost US$80.  Like me it creaks and is generally showing signs of dilapidation but it is otherwise dependable. Its unspoken advantage is that no one would possibly want to steal it! Accordingly I haven’t the bother of transporting a locking mechanism.
Lighthouse Point Park at Land’s End is inviting for walkers, cyclists, photographers and fishermen.  The views are nonpareil. Uniquely much of the park is founded upon huge elevated sand dunes bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike many dunes, these are covered in profuse subtropical vegetation. The well-maintained boardwalks spread in different angles about the park and extend to and from the Ocean.  The central parking area does of course offer clean restroom facilities.

 As with Daytona Beach Shores many of the residences in Ponce Inlet along the Ocean and on the opposite side of S. Atlantic Avenue are condominium apartments (mostly not exceeding 11 stories which I understand is the height restriction adopted shortly after the turn of the century).  There are swaths of custom-built coastal single-family homes as well.

Daytona Beach Shores is metaphorically (and truly) the via media between Daytona Beach (to the north) and Ponce Inlet (to the south). While Ponce Inlet is noticeably reclusive compared to Daytona Beach Shores it is also somewhat remote as a result.  For grocery shopping, etc. it would be necessary to travel 5 miles or more to Daytona Beach Shores, Daytona Beach or Port Orange (across the Halifax River which separates the barrier island from the mainland). The properties are all manicured and routinely maintained.

The beach bordering the entire barrier island is uniform throughout – broad, flat and smooth with the usual delightful views of rolling green water, white caps and shore residences (condominiums and single-family homes). For daily cycling exercise I am content to go to and from Ponce Inlet. Any more would kill me no doubt.  If however one wished to extend the exploit it is conceivable that one could cycle northward from Daytona Beach Shores for miles and miles perhaps even as far as Flaglar Beach (about 20 miles further).

There is a danger in having too many choices, not just that making a decision is hellish but that one might unwittingly commit oneself to perpetual dissatisfaction.  I find it helpful to keep in mind that every opportunity will have its advantages and disadvantages, or at least its pluses and minuses.  In the context of the places we’ve seen over the years it would be a palpable disservice to discredit one at the expense of another.  Thankfully I am not one who must constantly feed an appetite for change (though I won’t long tolerate an undesirable result).  All things being equal I am happily content with the current state of affairs.  As my aged mother so often remarks, “What’s not to like!