Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, FL

Paul Rubio
Troy Maillis
Though Florida sports but four “official” gay beaches -12th Street Gay Beach, South Beach; Halouver Beach, North Miami; Sebastian Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Sunset Beach, St. Petersburg – our presence nowadays is felt on just about every sandy patch of the Sunshine State. With a growing gay population more interested in natural beauty and beachside charm than underwater quickies and Speedo couture, a few unlikely swathes of downy sands are making waves in the gay battle of the beach. Case in point: Siesta Key Beach.

Along the Sunshine State’s central gulf coast, Siesta Key beach showcases the finest and purest sand in the world, 99.01% pure quartz to be exact. The beach teems with a parade of sand sculpture artists, hippies, modern and traditional families basking in unadulterated palm-fringed, sun-drenched bliss. After several years of placing in the Top 10 list of “America’s Best Beach,” as rated by Dr. Stephen Leatherman aka Dr. Beach and the Travel Channel, Siesta Key Beach took home the crown in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. Just because there’s no rainbow flags anchored into these pillows of sugarloaf sands doesn’t mean there are no gays to rock this party; quite the contrary. Unlike Fort Lauderdale or Palm Springs, Florida’s west coast GLBT community focuses much less on segregation and more on integration. Siesta Key Beach is one big ole party, and everyone’s invited.

Most days, the Siesta Key beach shenanigans simmer the late afternoon, when time stands still to witness what is arguably the most picturesque sunset in the country. On Sundays, however, sunset is just the beginning of the weekly “Drum Circle,” a sort-of flash mob of regionally epic proportions. In what’s now become a weekly tradition, the artsy, eclectic, and sometime downright weird congregate among the family folk for hours of drum-pounding music, dancing, and booty shaking.

Come nightfall, the crowd heads up to Siesta Key Village to patronize the back-to-back beach bars and restaurants. Given the island’s tourist-centric population, the village remains busy seven nights a week; but if it suddenly begins feels a bit too straight, don’t fret. Downtown Sarasota is a mere fifteen minutes away.

Siesta Key Beach houses a number of hotels, motels and rental homes, but you’ll want to spend your nights at the island’s most coveted address, Hyatt Siesta Key Beach, A Hyatt Residence Club (1-941-346-5900; Nestled on a private swath of pure quartz beach, this sunrise-tinted low-rise complex houses 44 design-savvy 2-bedroom/ 2-bathroom villas. Given the addition of an oversized den, the villas comfortably fit six, perfect for a group getaway or couples retreat


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