For my last day trip in the Tampa Bay area, I went Island Hopping! Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park are on our list of the best beaches in the Tampa area. I have a Florida State Parks pass, so it’s free beach parking, which is hard to find in this area. These barrier islands provide miles of unspoiled white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
From this aerial view you can see that Honeymoon Island on the left is connected to the mainland via the Dunedin Causeway. The two islands were separated in a 1921 hurricane that created the aptly named Hurricane Pass.
Honeymoon Island State Park
This is the perfect place to go when looking for outdoor recreational entertainment! The South Beach Pavilion provides bicycles to rent by the hour or day and kayaks are available at Café Honeymoon. Both facilities offer beach chair and umbrella rentals and their decks are known for having great views of the gulf.
I decided to head out to the nature trails early before it got too hot. The 2.5-mile Osprey Trail meanders through a virgin pine forest with an understory of coastal plants. It gets its name from the numerous Osprey nests up high in the barren tree snags. The sign at the trailhead said to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, gopher tortoise, and armadillos, but I didn’t see any. Of course that could be because I forgot my bug spray and the mosquitos were out in force! I ended up jogging, rather than walking the trail and I’m sure I scared off any wildlife that may have been nearby.
The trail was flooded at the north end of the island, so I split off to the Pelican Trail which works its way around the edge of the peninsula, along the Gulf of Mexico to the sound across from Pelican Point and finishes up through mangrove marshes. With the ocean breezes coming off the Gulf, it was much less buggy and I enjoyed the final leg of my nature hike.
Caladesi Island State Park
Next, I took the ferry to Caladesi Island. It was a relaxing 15minute ride over the calm waters of St. Joseph Sound. It pulled in at the marina between large red mangrove marshes on the bay side of the island. From there I had a short walk past the café and over a boardwalk.
As one of the few completely natural islands along Florida´s Gulf Coast, Caladesi´s white sand beaches were rated America’s Best Beach in 2008. I rented a chair and umbrella for an astonishing $26 and enjoyed a great book by the beach.
The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year
Admission Fee: $8.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle. $2 each additional person
Caladesi Island Ferry: $14 adults, $7 Children, $1 off coupon online
Departures from Honeymoon begin at 10:00 a.m. every half hour mid-Feb. to mid-Sept (departs hourly rest of the year).
Surreal. Absolutely stunning ?
Thanks for stopping by! The islands were really lovely!
Wow ? it’s so beautiful! I fell in love ?
Aimee Anne says
Great post! The pictures look amazing, it seems like a great place to relax and enjoy a vacation!
Life is too short and my bucket list is tooo long. You just added to it 🙂
I love this! Helpful info too ?
Beautiful parks! I can’t believe after 30 years of living in Florida we never visited them. Looks like a wonderful time. Dawn
Sarah Rooney says
So lovely! I’ve got a friend in Dunedin so now I really can’t wait to visit!
You will love it! Enjoy!
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Jim Foley says
Great story! When I was a kid we lived maybe 10 minutes from Caladesi and thus went there often. My family had a tiny tiny sailboat, a sunfish- it’s like a windsurfer really, can take maybe two adults or 3 kids- and once I took it to Caladesi but the weather turned very bad. Well with lightening everywhere and sun setting I decided to leave the boat there and take the ferry home. So I told my dad that we had to leave the boat on the island due weather, and he gave us a few bucks for transport to go pick her up. Well my friend and I were jobless 14 year old idiots, we decided ‘let’s save these few bucks’ and instead of taking the ferry we swam across hurricane pass. We made it, but wow the current was strong! Anyway we got the sunfish and brought her home. Wait, here comes a better story…
Fast forward to 1985, we were nearing high school graduation. I had an even crazier friend who owned a canoe. He had this idea of burying a ‘time capsule’ on Caladesi. I don’t recall what he put in it, or why I thought it was a good idea, but we were kids so I said yes man I’ll come with you. I also don’t remember why we decided to do this at night- I mean late, late night, and no moon. We approached Caladesi from Clearwater pass, on the south side- paddling in the surf and currents on a black night- and found someplace to bury his time capsule. Then paddling back through the surf again to Clearwater…. How we survived all the stupid things we did as kids is amazing. Thanks for the good write up on Caladesi, I took it for granted as a kid because I grew up so close, but now I miss it.
Julie Chickery says
We’ll be back this winter, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking of this story with a smile on my face. Thanks for sharing!