|Reprinted from the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau website:
Siesta Key - World's Finest, Whitest Sand Beach
Sarasota, Fla. - It all started as a friendly competition over 'bragging rights' about what beach has the finest, whitest sand in the world. More than 11 years ago tourism professionals in the Sarasota and Bradenton area persuaded scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to judge the "Great International White Sand Beach Challenge", with more than 30 entries from beaches around the state and around the world. The competition was held in Manatee County on September 14, 1987, and on that day Siesta Key was named the winner of the worldwide title, which remains in effect today. Siesta Key residents and visitors alike have long recognized their outstanding sand.
A 1950s promotional brochure tells the story of a visitor from New York, Mr. Edward G. Curtis, who sent a pickle jar of Siesta's sand to the Geology Department of Harvard University for analysis. The report in summary follows: "The sand from Siesta Key is 99% PURE QUARTZ grains, with the grains being somewhat angular in shape. The soft floury texture of the sand is due to its very fine grain size. It contains no fragments of coral and no shell. The fineness of the sand, which gives it its powdery softness, is emphasized by the fact that the quartz is a very hard substance, graded at 7 in the hardness scale of 10, with the diamond being rated 10 in that scale. Minerals of hardness 7 cannot be scratched with the point of a steel knife."
Siesta Key has received many honors for its powdery white-sand beaches including recognition as "America's Best Sand Beach" and "Florida's Top Ten Beaches" on the Travel Channel in 2002 and 2003. Most recently Siesta Key was named to Dr. Beach's top 10 beaches in America (1st award, in June 2004). National Geographic Traveler also named Siesta Beach "One of America's Best Beaches" in August 2003. Other honors include one of America's Best Beaches 1999, ranking 15th on the list of 20; "Third Best Walking Beach in the USA", by USA Today International Edition in September 1996; and "The Best of the Best Sand", by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine in 1994.
Siesta Key, an eight-mile long barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, Florida, has long been one of the Gulf Coast's most popular vacation destinations with a wide variety of cozy, family-owned accommodations. Recreational opportunities include beach walking, fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and sail-boarding. On Siesta Key it's also popular to use rollerblades and bicycles as alternative modes of transportation. Siesta Village is a lively district of boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.
All year long you'll find something to do on Siesta Key. Every February, the island celebrates Valentines Day with a "Say I Do Again" ceremony for couples to renew their vows at the beach. In April, Siesta Fiesta takes over the streets with art exhibits, live entertainment, food and fun. Every May the Sand Sculpting Contest attracts professional and novice sand sculptors to compete for prizes. Siesta Key also holds their own beautiful and colorful Fourth of July Fireworks Display over the Gulf of Mexico. The display is coordinated with music and usually runs for more than 30 minutes. Other events include the APBA Sarasota Offshore Showdown where powerboats race offshore from Siesta in May, Sandfest is in October and A Taste of the Holidays in December.