Florida has 1,350 miles of beachfront, the most in the continental United States. Much of that land has been set aside as county, state or national park property, offering a wide range of camping experiences. Beach and Coastal Camping in Florida by Johnny Molloy (University Press of Florida, $14.95) is a guide to 24 of the state's best ocean- and gulf-front camping areas for tent and RV campers alike.
In the last decade the author, who is an outdoor writer and adventurer based in Knoxville, Tenn., has spent more than 1,500 nights camping in the natural and wild areas of 36 different states. Among the Florida sites he includes in his guide is Fort De Soto Park. Unfortunately, in his chapter on the Pinellas County park, the address he provides is misleading. It's really a county office in Clearwater where you can make reservations. Fortunately, he does give good directions to the park, which is located at 3500 Pinellas Bayway, Tierra Verde (where you can also make reservations).
Despite this geographical confusion, Malloy obviously found his own way to the site:
"I found out about his well-manicured and well-run preserve through word of mouth and visualized an overrun, beaten down, has-been island ruined by its proximity to St. Petersburg," he writes. "Was I ever wrong. Pinellas County has done a fantastic job making this short-lived military base into a getaway for beach lovers."
_ MARGO HAMMOND, book editor