Just across New Smyrna’s blue waves lies a little-known beach town that Florida natives love. Ponce Inlet is NSB’s beautiful counterpart as it sits on the opposite side of the inlet. Both beaches share the popular surfing spot where the Halifax River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Though New Smyrna Beach is a popular pick with travelers, Ponce Inlet deserves just as much hype as there are a myriad of things to do and places to visit. From pet-friendly beaches to a historic Florida landmark, this local spot is worthy of an entire vacation. Call one of our Ponce Inlet vacation rentals “yours”, and explore all the area has to offer on your next trip.
Where to Play
It’d be remiss to not first mention the iconic coastal landmark! The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse has guided sailors to its shore since 1887. In addition to being a vital part of Florida history, it is also the state’s tallest lighthouse as it stands at 175 feet. You don’t have to be a history buff to pay a visit; the lighthouse’s panoramic view of the ocean, inlet, and jetties makes it a memorable excursion for all. Depending on your timeframe, you can explore on your own or take a guided tour all the way to the top. Check their calendar for special events such as the Climb to the Moon Tour where you can snack on appetizers and toast to the setting sun and moonlit waters.
Forget swing sets and slides, Ponce Inlet’s version of a park is a beautiful, unobstructed beach. Follow the board walk that winds through sand dunes and leads to the teal blue waters. If you’re in the mood for a scenic stroll, continue on the boardwalk that leaves the shore and continues onto the jetties. Here you’ll be surrounded by a dazzling ocean expanse peppered with surfers, boats, and maybe even a dolphin or two! When you’re ready to join the water activities, head to the sand and set up a beach chair. Fido is welcome to come as Lighthouse Park is one of the few beaches that allows furry friends. The park requires that dogs are leashed and not taken on the boardwalk after 10AM.
Calling all adventure-lovers! If parasailing is on your bucket list, Ponce Inlet is the place to check it off. Despite its name, Daytona Beach Parasail is located along the inlet right by the lighthouse. Test your bravery by strapping in and opting for the 1000-foot flight. You’ll glide high over the waves and enjoy an aerial view of Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna Beach, and the blue beyond. Those that aren’t keen on heights will still get a great glimpse of the beach scenery from the comfort of the boat. Visit their website to reserve your outing!
While Ponce Inlet is a destination to us, it’s home to a host of marine wildlife creatures. Meet the locals on your vacation when you take the 2-hour manatee scenic boat tour. The boat launches from Down the Hatch Seafood company (listed below!) and takes you on an intercoastal cruise. Sit back and listen to the tour guide give the scoop on all the fun facts you missed in science class. Along with potential manatee and dolphin sightings, the tour grants exclusive peeks into the backyards of luxury waterfront homes. If you’re looking for a date night idea, we recommend taking the sunset cruise!
Where to Eat
Nothing says beach vacation like waterfront dining. Ponce Inlet’s Hidden Treasure Rum Bar & Grill treats guests to scenic views, live music, and an extensive seafood menu. This Key-West style restaurant is located along the inlet right by one of the marinas. Order a rum-based cocktail (we love the Pirate Punch!), and it’ll come in a fun coconut cup you can take home. Most of the restaurant’s seating is outdoors so you and your group can sip to the sight of boats gliding on the water. When you’re ready to order, you’ll find everything from fish sandwiches to seafood boils on the menu. If you brought your pup, order him a treat from the restaurant’s dog menu.
Trade in your flip flops for a pair of dress shoes and head to date night at Down the Hatch Seafood. This restaurant is one of Ponce Inlet’s popular dining spots as it pairs a coastal atmosphere with delicious chef specials. Start the evening with oysters and cocktails as you look out onto the scenery. When you’re ready for the main course, ask about their Smoked Gouda Salmon or Shrimp Stuffed with Crabmeat – you won’t regret it! View their full menu here.
Like all good seafood restaurants, Off the Hook at Inlet Harbor began with someone who just really loved to fish. After returning every day with a boat full of Tuna, Grouper, and Snapper, it only made sense for the owner to open a restaurant and share his fresh catches with Ponce Inlet. Off the Hook has been a local staple since 2010. As it resides on the Halifax River and faces west, you’ll find it’s one of the only spots in Ponce Inlet with spectacular sunset views. Come with an appetite and order one of the house specialties such as Crawfish Etouffée or Creole Shrimp and Sausage. If you love live music, make sure to come on the weekend!
No beach destination is complete without a local ice cream shop! Indulge your sweet tooth craving every evening at Ho Daddy O’ Surf Cream. This ice cream shop also doubles as a kids’ surf camp, so your children can spend the day in the water and end it with a double scoop. Whether you love a simple vanilla cone or a decadent banana split, you’ll find you favorite treats all listed on their menu.
Where to Stay
There’s no way to truly experience Ponce Inlet than with a month-long vacation in an oceanfront condo. With a 30-night minimum, Towers at Ponce Inlet 6-103 encourages guests to live like locals and treat themselves to more than just a week of bliss. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo has a ground-floor, corner location with the ocean in full view. When you’re not sunbathing on the beach, you’ll love swimming in the complex’s oceanfront pool, baking in the sauna, and relaxing in the Jacuzzi. Whether you work remotely in the condo’s office or come for a month of R&R, you’ll never forget a stay in this retreat.
Nestled between the fresh water of the Halifax River and the salty waves of the Atlantic is Pelican’s Cove. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom home resides in Port Orange only 3.5 miles away from the tip of the inlet. You’ll instantly feel at ease as this vacation rental has a relaxed atmosphere, open layout, and large backyard. If you and your family love the great outdoors, there’s lots of amenities provided for play. Kayaks, a beach cart, beach bikes, beach chairs, and a grill are all for guest use. In addition to being less than a 6-minute drive from Ponce Inlet’s tip, the home is a 3-minute walk to a quiet beach area and local boathouse.
While technically located in Daytona Shores, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom getaway is only a 10-minute drive from the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. If you’re vacationing with a larger group, this condo is ideal as its spacious and comfortably accommodates eight. From sixth-floor ocean views to easy access to the beach, Daytona Sanibel 601 is the perfect spot for exploring Ponce Inlet and the greater NSB area. Plus, it’s only a 12-minute drive from Daytona Beach!
With delicious dining, oceanfront parks, and Florida’s tallest lighthouse to explore, Ponce Inlet makes for a fantastic Florida beach vacation. Visit our Ponce Inlet and Port Orange vacation rental page to view condos and homes in the Ponce Inlet area. Still considering a stay in New Smyrna Beach? Browse our website or call us at 386.478.7863 to book your vacation rental!