The naked truth about Playalinda Beach: What was once one of the region's least-disturbed shorelines is now stripped so thin that in some spots visitors can't even park there, sand laps up on the parking lots and road, and the ocean at times flows over to the Mosquito Lagoon.
Hurricanes Ian and Nicole leveled the dunes and the beach last year, leaving about a third of the park's parking lots closed, with no plans to build back the beach. Cars have gotten stuck in the soggy sand, and in October, an area between lots eight and nine spilled over the road toward the Mosquito Lagoon.
Meanwhile, more than 2 million yearly visitors, tens of thousands of sea turtle nests and other endangered species stand to lose out, as winter high tides are on the way and the feds decide whether to fight it or just let nature take its course.
Park officials go day-by-day on deciding the closures but for now Playalinda Beach lots 8 through 13 remain off-limits. Parking area 6 also is closed for boardwalk repair, and Eddy Creek fishing dock is closed due to hurricane damage.
When might areas reopen?
The National Park Service hopes by early January but it's uncertain at this point, officials said.
About 10 miles of dune got flattened by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, with sand pushed into parking lots, the road and bathrooms, and boardwalks damaged.
"This started with (Hurricane) Ian," said Laura Henning, a spokeswoman for Canaveral National Seashore. "This year we've really just been putting Band-Aids on it."
Some stretches of beach lost six to 10 feet of sand, she said.
Parks officials have had to bulldoze sand from the road and continue to close certain areas when ocean and sand encroach.
The seashore plans to study how to make the park more sustainable, continue to allow access and to protect infrastructure, and whether to keep building infrastructure such as boardwalks each time storms destroy them.
"It came out of nowhere," Henning said of the erosion damages. "We really weren't expecting it. It really kind of took us by surprise."
Where can I check on the status of closings at the Canaveral National Seashore?
Visit https://home.nps.gov/cana/planyourvisit/conditions.htm/ or on the park's Facebook or Instagram sites.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Playalinda's erosion is so critical that ocean and sand flow to Mosquito Lagoon