How do you like your ocean?
Whether it’s the Gulf or the Atlantic Coast, Florida is home to many incredible beaches. However, the one thing that is often overlooked when deciding where to rent or buy a home in Florida is the ocean water itself. Which coast offers the most ocean water activities you love, best fits your lifestyle and at what times of the year?
In Palm Beach County, the Municipal Beach (henceforth referred to as Palm Beach) sits on the Atlantic Coast about 70 miles north of Miami. Directly across the state in Lee County, Fort Myers Beach is on the Gulf Coast about 127 miles south of Tampa. Before making the important decision about which coast you want to rent or buy a home in Florida on, you may want to consider ocean water temperatures, air temperatures, and weather conditions on the two coasts.
Average Ocean Water Temperatures: Gulf vs. Atlantic Coast
In Palm Beach, ocean water temperatures can range from anywhere from as low as 72.7 degrees in winter to as high as 86.6 degrees in summer, with an average swing of 11.5 degrees. In Fort Myers, ocean water temperatures can range from as low as 64.5 in winter to as high as 87.8 in summer, with an average swing of 19.8 degrees.
Average Air vs. Ocean Water Temperatures: Gulf vs. Atlantic Coast
Don’t forget that ocean vs. air temperatures can make a difference in how you feel both getting in and out of the water. In Palm Beach, on average in the winter months, the ocean water temperature is about two degrees below the air temperature. In Fort Meyers, on average in the winter months, the ocean water temperature is about eight degrees below the air temperature.
Weather Conditions: Gulf vs. Atlantic Coast
Wind speed and direction can also be determining factors as to whether you will be hitting the surf with a boogie board or wading in the ocean water for a casual swim. Wind data shows that throughout the year there are more days where the winds are coming from the North and/or East at both Fort Myers Beach on the Gulf and in Palm Beach on the Atlantic. With the wind direction more often coming off the ocean on the Atlantic, Palm Beach can sometimes offer a bit more water play with higher surfs. Generally, the wind speed is also just slightly higher in Palm Beach or an average of just over one mile per hour stronger than Fort Myers Beach on the Gulf side.
While a few clouds may not keep you from enjoying the ocean, rain is another story. A look at the average number of days of rain by month may, at first glance, make it appear that Florida isn’t quite living up to its nickname of the “Sunshine State”. However, whether at Fort Myers Beach or at Palm Beach, you can see rainy-day similarities. The rainier season runs summer into early autumn and the dryer season tends to be from late autumn through spring on both coasts. However, even during the rainy season, a rainy day will not necessarily be a complete washout with shorter rainstorms and sunshine for at least part of the day.
Of course, whether living in or just visiting Florida, being aware of hurricane season is important. Even a tropical depression can put a very large pause on your ocean-fun activities. Hurricane season runs from late spring all the way through late fall. However, in recent years, most of the storms form from mid-August to late October. Looking at data for the past 100 years, about 60% of major hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast and 40% hit the Atlantic Coast.
What this data tells us is that hurricanes do not discriminate when it comes to the Gulf or the Atlantic Coast.
So, what is your preference? Gulf or Atlantic coast?
So which coast will it be when it comes to your choice in ocean water? Both coasts have a lot to offer so it really comes down to your lifestyle and which coast you feel will offer you the most ocean-water activities you love.
If you are an avid swimmer and enjoy water sports, perhaps Palm Beach on the Atlantic side with its warmer waters in the winter months is where you want to be. If you enjoy taking a dip in calmer waters and want to feel the cool ocean waters at your feet as you go for a winter stroll on the beach, then you may opt for Fort Myers Beach on the Gulf instead. One thing is certain, no matter what coast you choose, being at the ocean in Florida is truly fun in the sun!