Things to Do at Smyrna Dunes Park


Smyrna Dunes is a small inlet park between the Halifax River and Atlantic Ocean in Volusia County, Florida. This beautiful park offers scenic views from its boardwalk and beach area. The Ponce de Leon Lighthouse will catch your eye as you hike, bike, fish, or swim.

Although New Smyrna Beach is the “shark capital”, our favorite part is all about our friends with four legs. Dogs are welcome on the inlet at New Smyrna Beach. Get ready to spend a dog friendly time at the beach with your bestie!

The beach at Smyrna Dunes Park facing the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse
The Inlet at Smyrna Dunes Park

How to Get to Smyrna Dunes Park in Florida

Address: 2995 N Peninsula Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169

Fees: $10 per parked vehicle

Hours of operation: The beach is open from 6am until 9pm (spring and summer)

Smyrna Dunes Park is surrounded by water on three sides, which you can see by making a loop around the park. It is less than 200-acres, which is relatively small in comparison to other parks in Florida. However, you could spend most of the day exploring the ecosystems: ocean, river, marsh, scrub and dunes. Scrub is a plant community full of shrubs instead of trees or grass, in case you are wondering.

This path will take you to the dog friendly beach at Smyrna Dunes in Florida
The path to the dog friendly beach

The only street which connects Smyrna Dunes Park to the North and South Causeways is Peninsula Ave. This road will lead you along the Indian River, and into the park. You will pay a fee of $10 at the entrance. If you live nearby, the annual pass will serve you well, and only costs $20.

Some people claim the walk to the beach is rather long. Depending on the path you take, you will most likely reach the beach before hiking half a mile. In my opinion, this is a very short distance. Plus, walking is really good for you. However, if you are accustomed to parking on the beach, you can consider the walk to be longer.

Mogar enjoys hiking along the beach at Smyrna Dunes Park, but not the water
The dog friendly beach in New Smyrna Beach, FL

Dog Friendly Things to Do at New Smyrna Beach

  • Walk your dog
  • Explore the trails and ecosystems
  • Use the boardwalk before 10am
  • Lay out on the beach
  • Swim with your dog
  • Fish from the pier
  • Punch a shark in the nose

Visitors will notice what dogs can do at Smyrna Dunes Park because of signs along the path. Hiking the trails and swimming at the beach are the most popular activities to do with your dog. Enjoy the sand dunes, salty water, tropical plant-life and scenic views. This is one of the only dog friendly beaches in the area.

Some people claim dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk. However, the Smyrna Dunes Park sign clearly states, “Boardwalk closed to dogs AFTER 10am. Dogs OK 1 hour before sunset”. Whether or not the boardwalk is dog friendly is up for debate, but dogs are obviously okay at certain times. There are approximately two miles of boardwalk inside the park. Checkout the views from the loop, or the towers during your visit.

The first tower overlooks the lighthouse and riverside of the park
Scenic overlook from the first tower

There is a 300-foot fishing pier fairly close to the parking area. You might expect to catch redfish, bluefish, whiting, flounder, mullet, sheepshead, jacks, trout, and even pompano. However, you are expected to follow local regulations, including fishing with a license. Alcohol is not permitted at this park.

The dog friendly beach at Smyrna Dunes Park is on the riverside. You will see dogs having a blast on this side of the park, but not the oceanside. Don’t worry too much about those sharks because many of them will be looking for food on the oceanside. To be on the safe side you can keep your dog near your side and stay as close to the shore as possible.

Don't step on this crab at Smyrna Dunes Park in Florida
A crab hiding in the sand at the beach

Beach Tip – Be on the lookout for snakes and other creatures outside the water. We found a small crab blending very well into the tracks on the sand.

Points of Interest at New Smyrna Beach

Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum

This restored lighthouse from 1887 is noticeable from many points at Smyrna Dunes Park. The lighthouse currently acts as a museum filled with exhibits. You can take a self-guided tour, or reserve a private tour. Climb 175 feet and witness the breathtaking view from the top. Admission is $7 per adult, and $2 per child. The museum is open from 10am to 7pm during the summer.

Marine Science Center

This aquarium and museum is responsible for marine-life rehabilitation, most of which are endangered. In an effort to educate the public, the Marine Science Center hosts field trips, holds live animal presentations, and has a variety of programs for children and adults throughout the year. You may even be able to feed a stingray during your visit! The aquarium is currently only open on weekends. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Shark Fishing NSB

This is a fishing charter a few blocks south of Smyrna Dunes Park. Fishing takes place on the “sharkier” side of the water. If you have an interest in fishing the Atlantic Ocean, you may want to investigate Shark Fishing New Smyrna Beach. They may not have a website, but they do post pics and videos on their facebook page.

It’s much harder to be afraid of a shark when it’s on the end of your line. Uh, you may have to throw that back in the water though. Check the Florida fishing regulations before you fish.

The Ponce de Leon Lighthouse can be seen from New Smyrna Beach
Ponce de Leon Lighthouse and Museum

Top Questions About Shark Bites

While looking for information on New Smyrna Beach in Florida, questions about sharks will arise. The beaches have recorded many shark attacks, although none have been fatal. Here are the questions which came up (on Google) while we investigated New Smyrna Beach.

  1. What beach has the most shark attacks?
  2. Why do sharks like New Smyrna Beach?
  3. What month has the most shark attacks?
  4. Which sharks attack humans the most?
  5. Should you punch a shark in the nose?
  6. Do sharks glow in the dark?
  7. Can sharks smell fear?
  8. Why are sharks afraid of dolphins?
  9. Why are sharks so mean?
  10. What does it feel like to be attacked by a shark?

What Beach Has the Most Shark Attacks?

New Smyrna Beach has the most recorded shark attacks. In general, Florida has led the charts for decades. Most shark attacks are related to surfing and board sports.

Why Do Sharks Like New Smyrna Beach?

New Smyrna Beach is heavily trafficked by people, and there are many types of marine-life nearby, especially after cold ocean currents bring organisms from the ocean floor. Fish will follow this food source, and hungry sharks will follow fish near the beach.

Sharks are interested in the seafood buffet, but come into close proximity with humans at the same time. More people at the beach can lead to more potential interactions with sharks. Instead, one might ask, “Why people like visiting the beach with the most sharks?”

What Month Has the Most Shark Attacks?

September is the month with the most reported shark attacks at Florida beaches. Most bites took place at New Smyrna Beach.

Which Sharks Attack Humans the Most?

The great white holds the record for most (recorded) unprovoked shark attacks with 326. However, one can assume a positive ID from the victim is not always accurate. How likely is it that we see the correct species, or any shark at all, while attacked?

Should You Punch a Shark in the Nose?

No. Sharks swim underwater. Have you ever tried punching anything underwater? Trying to punch a shark in the nose could lead your arm into its mouth because of its shape and texture. Plus, you lack underwater-shark-punching experience. Bad strategy.

Instead, remain calm and do not act like a fish flopping around out of water. Stay out of the sharks path and alert anyone else nearby. Do not panic. If all else fails and you are the victim of a shark attack, try to injure the eyes or gills to defend yourself. Almost anything will back off after taking a jab in the eye.

Do Sharks Glow in the Dark?

Yes, but only two species of shark appear to glow in the dark. The swell shark and chain catshark reemit absorbed light at a lower energy using molecules in their skin. Basically, they turn blue light into green light. Any marine-life with the ability to see green will be able to see them better, including other sharks.

Can Sharks Smell Fear?

Sharks do not smell fear, but do smell blood and animal odors. They can track animals in distress from miles away by sound. Furthermore, they can seek out still-prey with ampullary organs which act as sensors. Sharks are magnificent predators, but we have little reason to fear them. In fact, sharks are a good sign of a healthy ecosystem, and we are considered distasteful to them.

Why Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?

Dolphins are intelligent, social, and agile. They have very strong snouts which can cause serious internal damage to the body of a shark. Baby dolphins look like tasty meals to sharks, but a pod of dolphins will defend their own. In fact, dolphins may fight with sharks simply to keep them away from their young. With their speed, power, and strength in numbers, a shark is no match.

Why Are Sharks So Mean?

Sharks are not mean. They are underwater predators and mostly feed on smaller prey to live. They also migrate to feed and mate to continue the species. Sharks pose little threat to humans, but due to over-fishing many species are threatened with extinction. One might ask the question: “Why are humans so mean?”

What Does it Feel Like to be Attacked by a Shark?

In comparison to humans, sharks are very fast in the water. Being struck by a shark at full speed may feel similar to being run-over by a submarine. A shark will typically give larger prey a “test bite”, and circle around before attacking again. Although shark teeth do not appear to be very large, a bite would produce many puncture wounds, especially around the torso. These wounds would burn severely in the salty water of the ocean.

Luckily, most people are around others, or close to shore while enjoying the ocean. Sharks mostly hunt solo, and are more likely to flee when the odds are against them. Plus, a shark cannot follow you onto shore as you exit the water. However, the case will be very different for those heading miles out to sea. You wouldn’t want to get “thrown to the sharks” out there. Hungry sharks have been known to take advantage of the situation.

I’m not scared of sharks, I just prefer not to swim

We did not see any sharks during our visit to New Smyrna Beach. However, we were attacked by biting gnats while sitting on the beach. They may have come out as one of the frequent storms rolled through. Those bites were incredibly itchy, but not as bad as a shark bite. You may need bug repellant on the riverside of this beach! Have you had any encounters with sharks, or other marine-life at New Smyrna Beach?


I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.

We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.

Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly.  I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.

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David Earley

CPT, CES



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