Florida has the longest marine coastline of all the states after Alaska. The coastline is 2,173 km (1,350 mi) long, but, including all indentations and islands, it measures 13,560 km (8,426 mi). The Atlantic coast, or eastern coast, has few indentations. There is an outer arc of sandy Sea Islands, many of which have been developed as tourist resorts. Behind the beaches lie long, narrow saltwater lagoons, which are called rivers on parts of the Atlantic Coast. The longest such lagoon is Indian River, near Cape Canaveral. Indian River is sheltered from the ocean by the offshore barrier Sea Islands, and it forms part of the Intracoastal Waterway, which is used by small coastal vessels and pleasure boats. The best harbor on the Atlantic coast in Florida is the estuary of the Saint Johns River, near Jacksonville. Just south of Miami is Biscayne Bay. South of the bay lie the Florida Keys, separated from the mainland by Florida Bay.
The Gulf coast, or western coast, of Florida is deeply indented. Mangrove swamps, uninhabited islands, and miles of beach fringe the coast south of Naples. A number of sandy barrier islands extend from Fort Myers to Tarpon Springs. The islands reappear farther north, just west of Apalachee Bay, and they continue westward to the Alabama line. Behind them lie extensive stretches of swamp and marsh. Hillsborough Bay at Tampa forms the state’s finest harbor. It is protected from the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico by a long line of offshore sandbars and islands. Other harbors similarly protected behind the barrier islands include Pensacola Bay, Choctawhatchee Bay, and Charlotte Harbor. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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