Thursday, March 22, 2012

Double Roads

Double Roads. Juno Beach.
View to North. 2012
             For most children growing up in Palm Beach County, the beach is a constant source of entertainment and enjoyment. As I was growing up in North Palm Beach, we had to travel south to Singer Island or north to Juno Beach and Jupiter to get to the ocean, but the destination was always worth the drive.

            In the 1960s and seventies, we had to jump and slide down big sand dunes to get to the sea in Juno Beach. It was an art to avoid the roots of seagrapes and random rocks to keep from falling head over heels.  Once on the beach, walking to the surf usually involved a lot of mincing steps in a futile attempt to run over the steaming sand, superheated by the glaring sun. My personal favorite was jumping from towel to towel until I reached the cooler wet sand. I still see people doing the towel dance.

            One of our favorite destinations was Double Roads. Literally, a double road for a block or two along A1A just north of Marcinski Road in Juno Beach, Double Roads was a dirt road to the east of two lane A1A. Rumor has it that beach erosion gradually required the dirt road be paved. I couldn’t tell you, but its certainly paved now and sturdy wooden stairways from the street level to the sand have been installed. No more tumbling down a dune.

            In those days, someone was always holding a bonfire on the beach in the evenings. Then, as now, teenagers liked to socialize without parents and parties around bonfires were frequent.  From the stories my Facebook friends have shared with me, some were much more exciting than most of the parties I attended. “Submarine races” were as popular then as they are now and spending the night cuddled in blankets under the open stars pure romance.

            Opposite Double Roads, where condominiums are now, boys used to practice their “Dukes of Hazzard” moves in the sand, driving in wild, wide circles over the scrub in their souped-up cars. Once, a van even went off the road, over the dune and onto the beach several feet below. No one seems to remember if it was occupied at the time.

            Crab walks were another evening delight. Crabs would leave the beach in huge numbers and attempt to cross Double Roads and A1A by the light of the moon. All those white bodies scrabbling over the road was enough to give anyone nightmares.  Unfortunately, cars kept driving and the trip became deadly for the crabs. Innocent travelers with their windows down to enjoy the salty seabreeze were treated to the crunch of crabs as pale bodies became easy prey to car tires. The smell of crab parts in the undercarriage the next few days was an unwelcome souvenir of the evening drive.

            When I was camping with the Girl Scouts at Camp Welaka, one of the best field trips was to the beach. The Camp would load campers into vans and drop us off at the beach to walk silently in the dark looking for nesting sea turtles. Once a turtle started laying her eggs, we could turn on flashlights and watch. As the cool, salty breeze blew stiffly off of the ocean, we’d stand mute and watch as nature provided the show both on the beach and in the starry sky.

Double Roads Looking South.
            Double Roads is right where it’s always been, on A1A just north of Marcinski Road. Still open to the public and a great place for a walk on a clear night, but I wouldn’t suggest a bonfire. I’m pretty sure you need a permit for that now.

(This column first appeared in in The Florida You Don't Know.)

Copyright 2012 Ruth Hartman Berge


  1. Wow...thanks for those memories! From 1982 until they build The Bluffs I used to hit Double Roads darn near every night.

    1. Thanks, Jerry, glad you enjoyed it! I drive by there often, but it just isn't the same, is it?

    2. I had dinner with an old friend last night who was my cohort at Double Roads back in the day - back when it was undeveloped from just north of Donald Ross to Jupiter Reef Club. A four-mile stretch of unfettered access to the beach & ocean - no parking spots, just pull off the road & bam. You were there. And we reminisced & lamented what has happened since those great times.

    3. We were so lucky to grow up in paradise...

  2. +1 Great memories of endless summers and good times. living free as a bird in the late 60s and thru the 70s, cruzin double roads, poles, carlin park the inlet and fishing at the old juno pier, days end at kato's bridge rope swing. Growing up here was too much fun,riding motorcycles on the beach at 1am with friends and just hanging out,finding time to go to school was the hard part.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Brant. We were lucky kids to grow up in paradise :)

  3. I grew up hanging out at Juno Beach almost every day and always hung out at night. We used to camp on the beach all the time. That was awesome times. I remember the Reef club we partied there on many a nights. Also used to camp out at NPB heights when we graduated we partied out there for like a week. Sheriffs dept would stop by and make sure everyone was being cool and leave. Fun times .....

  4. Good to hear a reference to Camp Welaka.

  5. My maternal grandparents owned Surf Cottages, just a bit south of the double roads. I was able to spend a lot of time as a child playing on the beach there ... best beach spot in PB County. Once an adult with a car ... the double roads took on a totally different meaning for me. It was where I went when sad, just to listen to the surf hitting the sand. It was kinda like holy ground to me. Sit for an hour or so, then go back to WPB and my apartment. This was all back in the 50's and 60's, but the memories will never fade. Thank you for your writings, Ruth Berge. Reall enjoying them.