Situated inland near the middle of Florida, the city of Ocala is 75 miles from the nearest ocean beach. However, white-sand beaches and tropical getaways can be found nearby in Ocala National Forest. Sparkling springs flow from the earth in the forest, creating oases of clear water surrounded by sandy beaches and dense foliage where you can swim, snorkel or even scuba dive. The forest's two major rivers and more than 600 lakes and ponds offer other beach alternatives, such as piney lakes or riverside coves.

Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs creates a natural waterpark with a gently sloped beach leading to the warm water, which is a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Under water, the gently sloping sand continues underfoot, ensuring children won't suddenly find themselves in water above their heads. A nominal fee is charged by a concessionaire to use the area for the day. You can swim and sun at the beach, or rent a canoe and explore the Alexander Springs Wilderness downstream. If you want to go the entire six miles, the livery can arrange to pick you up. Scuba diving and snorkeling are available at Alexander Springs. A campground near the beach offers hot showers and flush toilets, and provides separate camping loops for tents and RVs.

Clearwater Lake

Pines surround Clearwater Lake, with its large sandy beach. You can access the beach through the day-use area. A concessionaire is on hand to rent canoes to explore the lake. A paddle around the shoreline is just over a mile. You can enjoy the sun and sand for days on end at the Clearwater Lake Campground with its hot showers, flush toilets and amenities including barbecue grills and picnic tables. A nature trail surrounds the lake, and the Paisley Woods bicycle trail is accessible nearby.

Mill Dam Recreation Area

Sandy beach surrounds Mill Dam Lake. A large swimming beach is accessible to people in wheelchairs. The beach is a day-use area from March 16 through September 30. For the rest of the year, it doubles as a campground where groups of up to 70 people can pitch tents. The area has a picnic shelter with group grills and tables. A nearby boat ramp allows access for both motorized and human-powered watercraft. A handicapped-accessible restroom includes flushing toilets.


A nominal fee is charged to enjoy most beaches in the Ocala National Forest. If you plan on visiting national forests, parks or monuments 10 or more times per year, obtain an America The Beautiful Pass, which covers entrance and area use fees for sites managed by the National Parks Service. The pass is free for active military personnel, and discounted for seniors and handicapped individuals. The pass does not include five sites in the Ocala National Forest managed by concessionaires. Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs, Wildcat Lake, Silver Glen Springs and Salt Springs require separate fees and offer a separate yearly pass.