Last Updated on October 12, 2023

Florida does not have any deserts because it is located in a humid subtropical climate zone, which means it has hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters.

Deserts are characterized by very low humidity and minimal rainfall, which is not conducive to the lush vegetation and abundant moisture that are found in Florida.

The state is home to a variety of ecosystems, including swamps, marshes, forests, and beaches, but it does not have any areas that meet the climatic and geographic criteria for a desert.

Florida is positioned in the Northern Hemisphere Desert Belt, but does not have any deserts.

A Green Oasis in the American “Desert Belt”

Florida is sometimes referred to as an oasis in the Northern Hemisphere “desert belt” because it is located in a region that is generally characterized by hot, dry conditions.

The Northern Hemisphere desert belt extends from the Mojave Desert in the western United States to the Sahara Desert in Africa, and includes many other desert regions in between.

These areas typically experience hot temperatures and minimal levels of rainfall, which can make them inhospitable to certain types of vegetation and wildlife, and are thus classified as a desert.

Florida, on the other hand, is located in a humid subtropical climate zone, which means it has hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters.

The state’s abundant rainfall and relatively high humidity levels create a more hospitable environment for a wide variety of plant and animal life.

In this sense, Florida can be seen as an oasis in the midst of the Northern Hemisphere desert belt, providing a contrast to the surrounding dry and arid regions.

Florida is hot, but humid, and home to swamps and marshes filled with vegetation and wildlife.
Florida is hot, but humid, and home to swamps and marshes filled with vegetation and wildlife.

Florida Sand Dunes

Sand dunes can be found along many of the coastal areas in Florida, including the eastern and western Panhandle, the Atlantic Coast, and the Gulf Coast.

Florida’s Northwest region is renowned for its sand dunes which are the tallest in the state.

Some of the best locations in Florida where you can admire sand dunes are:

Okaloosa Island

Located in Destin and part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the island is home to some of the tallest dunes in the area, rising up on the south side of the highway with views of the Gulf of Mexico in the distance.


Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

This heavily forested park in Miramar Beach boasts over three miles of dunes that rise over 20 feet tall and are great for strolling and watching dolphins.


Santa Rosa Beach

The unofficial town center of Gulf Place is located on the dunes across from the Gulf of Mexico and is home to shops, restaurants, and an outdoor amphitheater.

Ed Walline State Park is also located in Santa Rosa Beach and provides convenient public beach access.


Grayton Beach State Park

Although the dunes here are not as tall as others, they rise above the mirror-like waters of Western Lake and are located beside a beautiful beach that was rated one of the Most Beautiful Beaches in America by Forbes Magazine.


Blue Mountain Beach

The sand dunes along the beach rise up 25 feet, and the nearby forested hills soar over 70 feet tall.

The area was named “Blue Mountain Beach” by Spanish explorers who thought they saw “blue mountains” along the beach, but it was actually the tall hills and dunes covered in blue Lupine flowers.


Read also: List of Sand Dunes in the US


Could Florida Become a Desert?

As desertification becomes more of a threat and the effects of climate change continue to worsen, the state’s water managers are scrambling to prevent the Sunshine State from turning into a desert.

Among the most vulnerable areas is Tampa Bay, located on the line of the Sonoran Desert, which has a history of water shortages.

In the past, the area relied solely on groundwater for their water supply and experienced a drought in the 1990s due to population growth and urban development.

But now, Tampa Bay Water is using seasonal forecasts to reduce vulnerability during dry years and maximize benefit during wet years.

Tampa Bay Water, the region’s water provider, has since diversified their water supply to include surface and desalinated seawater.

However, with a changing climate, the threat of desertification in Florida remains.

Summer is the rainy season in Tampa, with nearly 28 inches of rain falling from June through September.

But Florida State climate modeler Vasu Misra’s research suggests that a warming climate may affect the afternoon thunderstorms that the Tampa Bay region is so reliant on for water.

The research indicates that the atmosphere will warm considerably, which will make it less conducive for the afternoon thunderstorms.

Misra’s work also suggests that rain will fall less frequently but when it does, it will be in stronger bursts.

This presents a problem for Tampa Bay Water as they may have to increase storage and be more adaptive and responsive to changes in rainfall patterns.

By sharing her lessons learned, Alison Adams hopes that more Florida water utilities will see how climate information can be used for risk assessment and planning, not just for surface water flows, but also for issues that affect other Florida water planners, including sea level rise and salt water intrusion into aquifers.

50 years from now, if the current trajectory of climate change and desertification continues, Florida could be vastly different from what it is today.

The state may experience more frequent and intense droughts, leading to water shortages and increased competition for resources.

The once lush and green landscape of Florida may become more arid and barren, with wetlands and lakes disappearing due to over-extraction of groundwater.


Read also: Deserts of the United States


Florida Desert FAQs

Is there a desert in Florida?

No, Florida does not have any deserts because it is located in a humid subtropical climate zone, which means it has hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters.

Deserts are characterized by very low humidity and minimal rainfall, which is not conducive to the lush vegetation and abundant moisture that are found in Florida.


Is Florida a Desert Oasis?

Florida is sometimes referred to as an oasis in the Northern Hemisphere “desert belt” because it is located in a region that is generally characterized by hot, dry conditions.

The state is positioned in the Northern Hemisphere Desert Belt, but does not have any deserts.

The state is located in a humid subtropical climate zone, which means it has hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters.

This creates a more hospitable environment for a wide variety of plant and animal life, making Florida an oasis in the midst of the Northern Hemisphere desert belt.


Are there sand dunes in Florida?

Sand dunes can be found along many of the coastal areas in Florida, including the eastern and western Panhandle, the Atlantic Coast, and the Gulf Coast.

Some specific locations in Florida where you can find sand dunes include Okaloosa Island in Destin, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Grayton Beach State Park, and Blue Mountain Beach.


Could Florida become a desert in the future?

With the current trajectory of climate change and desertification, the threat of Florida becoming a desert in the future remains.

Tampa Bay, located on the line of the Sonoran Desert, is among the most vulnerable areas. The research suggests that a warming climate may affect the afternoon thunderstorms that the region is so reliant on for water.

This presents a problem as water providers may have to increase storage and be more adaptive and responsive to changes in rainfall patterns.

If the current trajectory continues, Florida may experience more frequent and intense droughts, leading to water shortages and increased competition for resources, making the once lush and green landscape of Florida more arid and barren.

Sand-boarding.com logo icon

Your n°1 source of information on the world of sandsports and desert adventure travel. Our articles are the result of extensive research, personal experience, and knowledge-sharing within the global sandboarding community.