Weekend Window: John U. Lloyd Beach

With surfing, canoeing, swimming, boating, and even a place to have a family picnic, John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area may be a perfect summer getaway -- with a calm feel not far from the big city.

"John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area is a 310-acre oasis in the middle of a huge, heavily populated area," said park ranger Carnelo Duesler of the Dania, Fla., destination. "We're actually considered the gem of the neighborhood, simply because people can come here to recreate, use the beach, and just to relax and have a good time."

The South Florida beach showcases the Sunshine State's underwater beauty with one of the easiest shore dives in the area. The park also has simple access to the ocean via the Port Everglades Inlet.

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"John Lloyd Park is a really fascinating environment, because within just a few hundred yards, you span a tremendous diversity of habitats, both marine and terrestrial," said Nova Southeastern University professor Charles Messing. "Within 100 yards of the shoreline you have coral reef.

"There are all different kinds of corals," he added. "There are finger corals, star corals, brain corals peppering the area. It's really quite remarkable."

The park is also home to a variety of sea life.

"On top of the reef, you'll have a wide variety of fishes, a tremendous variety of families, and different ecologies," Messing said. "Then, when you look a little more closely, you can see this diversity of smaller organisms."

Loggerhead sea turtles also populate the area.

"They are particularly attracted to this beach," Duesler said.

The park's variety proves to be its greatest asset, according to Messing.

"I've been out here on and off for decades, and there's always some things that I've never seen before. You never know what you're going to see," Messing said.

Click here for more information on Lloyd State Park.

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