Sky Surfing Clearwater Beach

Sky Surfing Clearwater Beach

What is Clearwater Beach Sky Surfing?

Sky Surfing Clearwater BeachWhat kind of views do birds get of Clearwater Beach? You no longer have to use your imagination. Sky Surfing Aviation offers flights over Clearwater Beach, Florida, and the neighboring barrier islands. Dane Hauser, owner of Sky Surfing Aviation, offered Florida Beach Rentals a chance to take a look at the beaches we love from the air and we jumped at the chance. The vehicle Hauser uses in called a Trike or a Delta-wing by pilots, and a Weight-shift-Control aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration. It is easy to see why it is called a Trike, since the craft supported by the glider wings is a three wheeled vehicle. Sky Surfing AviationHauser loves flying and has operated Trikes since 1994. He has become one of the leading flight trainers for this unique type of aircraft, putting your flight in very safe hands. The flights take off from a private air strip in Clearwater, relatively close to the shores of the Florida Gulf Coast. In no time at all you are flying high over some of the most beautiful beaches in the America.

 

Clearwater Beach from the Sky

Sky Surf Sand KeyThe tour flew over Clearwater Beach, Sand Key, Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island, and the Dunedin Causeway, in addition to the waters of St Joseph Sound, Clearwater Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. The beaches look incredible from the air but the waters of the Florida Gulf Coast are the real treat. The bird’s eye view allows you to look straight down through the water. With the waters of our harbors rarely reaching more than twelve feet (three meters), you can see right to the bottom. Having worked at the beach for a while now, it was a special treat to see all the sights from the air, like Pier 60, the causeway, Sand Key Beach, the fun waterfront activities along Clearwater Pass, the big hotels like the Hyatt and the Sandpearl, Clearwater Municipal Marina, the spoil islands of St Joseph Sound, and, of course, the remarkable white sands along the coast. If you know the individual tour boats you might also spot them making their way from the marina out into harbors or the Gulf of Mexico. Best of all, you can take in the barrier islands all in one glance, a list including Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, and Clearwater Beach.

 

Clearwater Beach at Five Hundred Feet

Sky Surf Clearwater BeachThe flight takes you over Clearwater Beach and the neighboring barrier islands at around five hundred feet. Keep your eyes sharp because, aside from the overall sweeping views, there are a lot of smaller things too. The most amazing part of the tour is spotting the sea life of the Florida Gulf Coast. While cruising over St Joseph Sound we saw a herd of manatees stirring up sediment, and more than one pod of dolphins. Along the Gulf Coast of Caladesi and Clearwater Beach we caught sight of a pair of stingrays, two large tarpon fish swimming side by side, and, best of all, a sea turtle coming up for a breath of air, all right here along our coast.

 

Clearwater Beach Sky Surfing Experience

Sky Surfing AviationThe overall experience of flying over Clearwater Beach is fantastic. The shores of Clearwater Beach and the surrounding areas are beautiful from the ground, but they might be even more remarkable from the air. All the blues and turquoise colors of the water are still visible from the air, with the beach sand glowing white. Locals and visitors alike can spot all the places they have visited. Because it is Clearwater Beach, you will probably spot several locations you have enjoyed during your stay.

 

Is Sky Surfing over Clearwater Beach Recommended?

Sky Surfing Caladesi IslandThere are pros and cons to flying over Clearwater Beach. The pros are that you will understand the area better and have a greater appreciation for the lay of the land. You will also admire the beauty of our barrier islands with a new point of view. The cons would have to be that you will no longer be happy on the ground. The experience is a bit haunting, sticking with you long after you are back on solid ground.

So, with those pros and cons considered, we would say yes, you should experience this tour. If you like taking fond memories home from your vacation, Sky Surfing over Clearwater Beach will definitely help you achieve that goal.

 

Sky Surfing Aviation  727-755-IFLY

Other posts you might enjoy

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach

 

Segway Adventure

The Segway Adventure at Clearwater Beach

What is a Segway?

Segway Adventure Clearwater BeachSegway is a two wheeled, motorized transport that has the unique feature of gyroscopes to help the user to maintain balance. The machine is truly amazing, checking the pressure of an individual’s footprint a hundred times a second, according to Jean Varn, owner and tour guide of The Segway Adventure at Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Segway Adventure Clearwater BeachThe inventor of the Segway envisioned them being used in droves on every sidewalk in America, but cost and legal restrictions on their use created a different reality. While they are indeed utilized as personal transports, the real surprise of the Segway’s evolution was its adoption into the tourism industry. Across the United States you will find them in use as touring devices, giving their riders  unobstructed views from the comfort of a device that does all the work for them. The Segway Adventure has joined this trend, offering guided Segway tours through Clearwater Beach and the City of Clearwater.

 

The Segway Tour at Clearwater Beach

Segway Adventure Clearwater BeachIf you are staying at Clearwater Beach very long you will surely see Segways cruising down the beach sidewalks. The Segways rides are available from The Segway Adventure, located on the beach. The tour sets out from an alley south of the central roundabout, conveniently adjacent to Cone Heads ice cream shop and close to Post Corner Pizza. You can usually get parking right next to The Segway Adventure in the hotel parking lot for five dollars. The tour starts with a much needed training session, letting you drive around the parking lot until you are comfortable. Then it’s off to Beach Walk, the wide sidewalk that runs the length of the beachfront on the southern end of Clearwater Beach Island. After a fun spin around Beach Walk, your tour guide, Varn, takes you to the beautiful Clearwater Beach Memorial Causeway. This palm tree lined strip of land has a wide bike trail which is perfect for touring on Segways. The ride along the waterway is comfortable and beautiful, with great water views. The best part, however, is the bridge span, where you can take in views of Clearwater Harbor. Varn lets you stop to take in the all the remarkable sights from the top of the bridge. She then points off into the neighborhoods of Clearwater, where you will see some of the most historic and expensive houses in the region. The ride then takes you across the bridge into the City of Clearwater. After a spin through Coachman Park, with more views of the harbor, Segway Clearwater Beachyou will get to enter the incredible historic neighborhood Varn pointed out from the bridge. The large, old homes are very inspiring. Vern knows a lot about their history which she will share with you on the tour. The tour reaches its farthest point at a pier reaching out onto harbor. Here you will get a break that you can spend leaning on the railing, taking in the blue and turquoise waters of Clearwater Harbor. Then it’s back the way you came, allowing you take in all the great sights of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach a second time.

 

Experiencing Clearwater Beach on a Segway

Clearwater Segway AdventureThe Clearwater Beach Segway tour might take you by surprise. The actual experience is much different than it appears to a bystander. The first thing you will enjoy is the feel of the Segway. To put it simply, they are fun to operate. The computer system is so sophisticated, it seems to respond to your thoughts rather than just your feet. The simplicity of using them leaves you with an unobstructed experience of all the goings on and activities of Clearwater Beach. You will cruise past the beach goers while music from the restaurants and pubs drifts by. Riding past the marina and down the causeway is fun. SegwayThe bridge is tall enough to offer views of the entire Clearwater Beach Island, Sand Key to the south, and Caladesi Island to the north.  For those who know the terrain, you might also spy Honeymoon Island, and the City of Dunedin. You will also overlook the small islands running the length of the harbor to the north. To the south, you will see a bird refuge on a mangrove island and, farther off, the popular tour boat stop of Shell Island. Segway Adventure ClearwaterThe ramp taking you onto and off the bridge is a spiral that tests your new-found Segway driving skills. Varn gives an interesting talk about the wealthy Harbor Oaks neighborhood, which you then get to roll through. If you like mansions and old homes, you will love this part of the tour. The Segway Adventure allows you to view the sights in a very distraction-free style. It provides a fresh view of the area along with a chance to absorb all the atmosphere of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach.

 

Is The Clearwater Beach Segway Adventure for You?

Segway Adventure Clearwater BeachIs The Segway Adventure something you should do on your Clearwater Beach vacation? Well, we sure had fun! The Segway Adventure costs 65 dollars per person and lasts two hours. The Segways are enjoyable to operate, and the sites visitied on the tour are worthy locations. What is more, the Segways allow you to take in the beach and other sights in a way that walking, biking, or driving cannot. On a Segway, you are basically just standing there while you whiz along the sidewalk. Because of that, all your senses are left free to take in the experience. It is a one of a kind way to absorb the character of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach.

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

What Is a Causeway?

 

Gulf Coast artificial reefs

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Pinellas County Artificial Reefs

coral on reefLittle known to most tourists at Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach and the various tourists stops of the Central Gulf Coast are a series of artificial reefs located just off the coast. The reefs vary in distance from the shore, some being only a few hundred yards out while others are as far as 38 miles out in deeper waters. The artificial reef program was started in 1975, growing to the present day total of 42 sites. Most of the reefs, 29 of them, are close to shore. These inshore reefs were set down to help with beach replenishments. After sands were taken from the seafloor to help bolster area beaches between Sand Key and Treasure Island, the reefs were set down at areas where sands were removed. The 13 offshore reef sites are in deeper water and consists of larger materials than those close to the shore.

Both types of reef share a similar life cycle, growing barnacles and other sedentary sea life within just weeks. Fish arrive soon after to feed on these stationary creatures. Coral completes the reef community around the one year mark.

The purpose of the artificial reef program is to enhance fishing opportunities and to provide diving sites for scuba enthusiasts. The reefs also help to disperse the recreation areas of the Florida Gulf Coast, a very popular vacation destination. The increased number of diving and fishing sites offer visitors and locals greater opportunities for sport and play.

 

Materials for Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Deploying artificial reefsThe materials for the Gulf Coast artificial reefs ranges from the unique to the mundane. Many of the reefs are constructed from relatively simple items, such as pipes, pylons, and deconstructed bridge debris. Other sites contain treasures such as sunken barges, sunken ships, and even obsolete military tanks from WWII. The reef building materials have to pass an inspection for hazardous wastes and have to be relatively large in size. While it might seem that builders would simply drop the items into the water and be done, it is not so. The reefs are constructed with careful planning, intentionally creating openings that differ in size. The construction technique creates habitats for the various species that will arrive as the reef matures.

Diving on Florida Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Scuba diving on artificial reefsWhen we questioned divers regarding the artificial reefs of the Gulf Coast we were surprised to find out that even the simple reefs created from construction debris were popular dive sites. It seems that the attraction of many reefs is the sea life that surrounds them. Grouper, sting rays, eels, sea horses, sharks, coral, sponges and more find homes on and around the reefs. Lucky divers might also encounter sea turtles or dolphins. The visibility changes with Gulf conditions, giving views through 15 to 60 feet of water. Unique dive sites include the large barges and fishing boats, which divers can enter. The WWII tanks are also a popular dive.

Fishing Florida Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Fishing Gulf of MexicoThe other inspiration for the artificial reefs on Gulf Coast of Florida is to increase the fishing opportunities. The reefs not only provide good fishing destinations, they also create habitats for bait fish. Fishermen start at the reefs, casting their bait nets to scoop up the smaller fish. They can move on from there or stay, trying for the larger fish that troll the artificial structures below. Some of the more popular fish to catch are grouper, snapper, amberjack, and Spanish mackerel. The reefs closer to the shore are all marked for fishing on the maps, while those in deeper water are designated for mixed use. With the overwhelming popularity of fishing along the Gulf Coast, these new habitats provide additional locations for local fishermen and tourists to cast their lines.

How to Locate Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Artificial reefsModern technology makes finding the reefs quite easy. Each one is marked on the official maps, with GPS coordinates included. The intra-coastal waterways of the Florida Gulf Coast are shallow, creating a need for depth finders aboard pretty much every boat that plies the local waters of Clearwater Harbor, Boca Ciega Bay, or St Joseph Sound. Purchasing a GPS to have on board your boat is a good idea, although the more expensive devices come with both depth sonar and GPS. The reef program is no longer creating new sites but those that already exist are being maintained. Florida artificial reefsThat includes, in a few locations, buoys to mark them. If you are not interested in trying to find the reefs on your own, try a local dive shop. Guided tours will take out to the reefs and allow you to dive. Local fishing charters will know where the reefs are, naturally. It is their job to give the best fishing experience possible, which is an easy task on the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 Enjoying the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Fishing artificial reefsThe artificial reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast are there for the enjoyment of fishing and diving, creating locations that would otherwise be unavailable. The artificial reefs supply an added bonus for an area already full of recreation opportunities. With Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg being very popular Florida vacation destinations, it makes sense to expand the resources. If you are looking to take your Gulf Coast vacation a step further, why not give them a try?

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Never Confuse a Bayou with a Backwater Again

Gulf Coast Sunken Ship

 

white beach sand

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Geological History of Florida

Florida Below Sea Level

Clearwater BeachWhile walking the beaches in Florida, you might take a moment to reflect on how the beaches came to be. Underneath the beautiful soft sands is a marine legacy that reaches back millions of years.

Florida has spent much of its long life below sea level. Millions of years ago, North America and South America had not yet connected and the Gulf of Mexico did not yet exist in its present form. Florida was merely sea floor, part of the continental shelf of North America.

Florida Rising out of the Sea

Florida bayouSea animals lived and died over millions of years, depositing their skeletons and shells on the sea floor. That happened in such volume that the marine animal remains became a sediment that eventually formed into limestone. The limestone build up became the foundation for more sediment, bringing Florida closer to the surface. The sea level fluctuated with the coming and going of the ice ages. Each time Florida rose above the water, only to be covered by the seas once again.

Prehistoric Florida

Giant slothsWhen the land was above sea level, vegetation and land animals moved into Florida. The animal life of early Florida included elephants, sloths, saber-tooth tigers, and giant beavers. When North America and South America joined together, the Gulf of Mexico was born.

Modern Florida

beach sandFlorida subsequently rose and fell beneath the waves until, finally, portions of it remained above sea level permanently. The Florida we recognize formed at the end of the last ice age when sea levels matched those we know in present time.

 

Origin of Clearwater Beach and Gulf Coast Sands

Quartz stoneThe powdery white sands of Clearwater Beach are part of the legacy of Florida. With the talk of sea beds and millions of sea creatures creating a limestone bedrock, it might seem logical to assume that the seashore was created from fragmented shells. In fact, the soft, white sands of Clearwater Beach came from the Appalachian Mountains. Clearwater Beach sands are made of quarts rather than sea shells. This light colored rock is responsible for the brilliant color of Gulf Coast sands. In ages past, rivers that are now long gone, carried the eroded stone of the Appalachian Mountains southward. Appelachian MountainsGeologists have said that the mountain range was once as tall and jagged as the Rocky Mountains. The Appalachians are actually a much older mountain chain, eroded, over the millennia, into rolling peaks at lower elevations. All that rock traveled southward, ground eventually into tiny grains. Those beautiful bits of stone now form the sands of Clearwater Beach and the Florida Gulf Coast on which we walk today.

Florida Gulf Coast

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

A Beach Less Traveled

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Best Beaches in America

 

references: http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/student/barr1/report.htm    https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pangaea    http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/land/land.htm    http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/geohist-2.htm     http://practical-microscopy.blogspot.com/2011/06/where-is-best-beach-sand.html

 

Sea turtle

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Sea Turtles

Out of the 7 species of sea turtles on Earth, 4 of them lay their eggs on the Florida coastline.

    • Loggerhead sea turtleLoggerheads are large sea turtles that are named for their wide heads, sometimes 10 inches in width. Loggerheads are the most common turtle to nest on the beaches of Florida.

 

    • Green sea turtleGreen Turtles are known for their beautiful green shells, that are also, unfortunately, one of the reasons the species was hunted into an endangered condition. They range in warm waters across the globe and, when nesting in Florida, usually lay their eggs on the east coast.

 

    • Leatherback sea turtleLeatherback turtles are the largest of the sea turtles, some weighing as much as a compact car. The trademark shell is leathery with ridges running from front to back. These turtles can inhabit colder waters and dive over 3000 feet deep. They range worldwide, a small number of them laying eggs on Florida beaches.

 

  • Hawksbill sea turtleHawksbill turtles are named for their beak-like mouths. This turtle uses its sharp beak for eating sponges and invertebrates, common species in the Gulf of Mexico. In Florida, these turtles most often lay eggs on the east coast between Canaveral National Sea Shore and the Florida Keys.

Kemp’s Ridley is a rare turtle that swims the Gulf of Mexico but nests on the Gulf Coast shores of Mexico. Two other species of sea turtle are the Flatback, which lives in the waters north of Australia, and the Olive Ridley, which ranges in equatorial waters.

 

Turtle Hatching Season on the Florida Gulf Coast

Loggerhead turtle hatchlingsTurtle hatching season on the Florida Gulf Coast lasts from May through October. On the east coast of Florida, the season starts as early as March. While four species nest in Florida, only loggerhead turtles nest commonly on the Gulf Coast. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, turtles create 3-8 nests per kilometer on the shores of Pinellas County, where you will find Clearwater Beach and other popular destinations like St Pete Beach, Treasure Island Beach, Madeira Beach and Indian Shores. While Pinellas County is not the most prolific site for turtle nests, you should still keep an eye out for them while you are here.

 

Turtle Egg Laying on the Beach

Sea turtle eggsSea turtles do not return to land once hatched. Only the females will pull themselves ashore to lay eggs. The life cycle of sea turtles keeps the young ones in shallows or in areas with growth where they can take cover. When larger they move to the shallows, and then later, into open water. Loggerheads live approximately 50 years but do not begin mating until they are around 35 years old. Females will mate every two to three years, laying an average of four nests. Florida has groups that help to protect the sea turtles, volunteers locating nests and marking them off so that beach-goers to not dig or set up umbrellas or towels on top of the nests. When walking the beach, be on the lookout for stakes bearing orange or pink tape. Disturbing the nests is illegal. Many nests have cameras trained on them to deter anyone from vandalizing them.

 

Turtle Season Guidelines for Beach-goers

Sea turtle nestYou can play your part in protecting the sea turtles. Always leave the nests sites alone. If you believe you have found an unmarked sea turtle nest, be sure to contact authorities so that the nest can be protected. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies, will take your calls if you find a nest in Pinellas County, (727-441-1790). Other than human tampering and predation by animals, lights are the biggest threat to sea turtle hatchlings. Hatched sea turtles aim toward the greatest light, which, without beach housing, would be the moon reflecting off the sea. That is why many locations mandate that beach houses and businesses keep their shades drawn during turtle hatching season. You should not shine flashlights or other types of lights onto hatching sea turtles. Loggerhead sea turtleAdditionally, if you come upon an adult sea turtle coming ashore to lay eggs, keep your distance. If the turtle is frightened, it may return to the sea, in which case, it could drop its eggs into the open water where they will not survive. Hunting and loss of habitat has greatly reduced the sea turtle population. If you are given the opportunity, do your best to help them survive.

 

Local Turtle Trivia

Turtle sculptureHere in Pinellas County, home to Clearwater Beach, we love our turtles.

  • The Gopher Tortoise can be seen here in open flat lands like Honeymoon Island State Park.
  • Another local turtle, living in our freshwater ponds and lakes, is called a cooter. Cooter’s Restaurant & Bar, found right here on Clearwater Beach, takes its name from this turtle.
  • Up in Tarpon Springs, home to the famous Sponge Docks, you will find a fun pub called Lagerheadz,which is named after our local loggerhead turtles.

 

Other posts  you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

Refences:

http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/species/   http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/life-history/   http://www.seefloridaonline.com/turtles/   http://www.conserveturtles.org/florida.php?page=nestingseason   http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2013/freelance-articles-2013/sea-turtle-walks-bonnie-gross.html   http://www.seaturtle.org/faq/answers/6.shtml   http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/nesting/loggerhead/   http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Sea-Turtles/Loggerhead-Sea-Turtle.aspx

Fun Florida Facts

Fun Florida Facts

Clearwater BeachVacation Paradise

We enjoy welcoming people to Clearwater Beach and the other beautiful white sand shores of our home, Pinellas County, Florida. While investigating what makes our vacation paradise so interesting, we came across various collections of facts about Florida and our home county that were unique. We’ve distilled a few of the more relevant ones to share with you here on our Florida Beach Rentals blog.

 

Fun Florida Facts

Florida oranges

Seven Mile Bridge: Florida is home to the nation’s longest bridge, Seven Mile Bridge, which spans the Florida Keys. Instead of building the spans over the open waters, they constructed it elsewhere and shipped the completed pieces to the Keys to be connected.

Florida Oranges: Florida produces about 70% of the Unites States’ oranges and roughly 40% of the world’s oranges.

frown face

Longest Coastline: Florida does not have the longest coastline in the United States! Alaska has more coastline, we come in second.

Oldest City in the US: Saint Augustine, on Florida’s east coast, is the oldest city in the United States, settled by the Spanish in 1565

frown faceFlorida bald eaglesMost Southern State in the U.S.: Florida is not the southernmost state in the United States! Hawaii is farther south, we come in second.

Longest River Sailboat Race: The Annual Mug Race is held in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Saint Johns River. The race spans 42 miles.

Florida Bald Eagles: The second largest breeding population of bald eagles in the United States is in Florida. That comes as no surprise to those who live in Florida, as our state is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

 

Fun Facts about Clearwater Beach Region

Honeymoon Island slash pinePines VS Palms: The name of our county comes from the Spanish “Punta Pinal,” or “Pine Point.” You can see some of these beautiful and abundant pine trees today by visiting Honeymoon Island State Park. The nature trail at this fantastic park is shaded by the pines that gave Pinellas County its name.

Longest Sidewalk is in Tampa: Tampa lays claim to having the longest continuous sidewalk in the country, weighing in at 4.5 miles. The waterfront sidewalk is popular for walking, biking, and skating for good reason. It winds along the bay, with views of beautiful old homes, the active waters of Tampa Bay, and the Tampa skyline. It is also the location of the yearly Tampa Gasparilla Pirate parade.

Fountain of Youth: The waters of Espiritu Santo Springs rise to the surface at Safety Harbor, Florida. The springs were discovered by explorer Hernando De Soto, the namesake of breathtaking Fort DeSoto Park at the southern reaches of Pinellas County. Some legends suggest that he was looking for the Fountain of Youth. Local Native American Tribes knew of the springs, and, as time went by, so did the world, the location becoming a renowned destination for those seeking its touted curative powers. A resort now rests over the site, where visitors can still enjoy the famous spring waters.

First in Commercial Aviation: While the Wright brothers hailed from Ohio, creating the state motto, “First in Flight,” Florida’s Tampa and Saint Petersburg earned the accolade for the first commercial passenger flight. A scheduled service for passengers wishing to cross Tampa Bay was run by aviator Tony Jannus, beginning on January 1, 1914.

Ybor_Cigar_workersCigar Capital of the World: Ybor City, named after cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez Ybor, was once touted to be the Cigar Capital of the World. Ybor created remarkably good conditions for his cigar workers and many of the buildings in which they resided are still standing. It is estimated that Ybor City created 700 million cigars a year. Located north of the City of Tampa, Ybor City is a fascinating destination for history buffs.

Sunshine Skyway BridgeSunshine Skyway Bridge: The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is another example of the modern style of bridge building in the Tampa Bay area. The new style replaces drawbridges with spans built high enough to accommodate passing boats, including the tall masts of sailing vessels. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is 4 miles long, including the causeway, and is built to accommodate not only sailboats, but rather full size ships, crossing the waters at 190 feet. Stopping is allowed on the causeway but not the bridge span. However, the views while driving, even from a vehicle of ordinary height, are spectacular.

The Pinellas Trail: Built upon a former train route, the Pinellas Trail runs from the north end of the county to the bottom, then curving to cross the width of the county, arriving at last at the St Petersburg waterfront. It has apparently earned the accolade of being the longest linear urban trail in the eastern United States.

Florida ParksPeople and Parks of Pinellas County: Pinellas County is a fun place to live. The small peninsular county has loads of shoreline, residents never being more than 15 miles from the coast. The western shore is lined with beautiful white sand beaches and the eastern side faces sparkling Tampa Bay, with a scenic drive along the mangrove coastline. Because of those facts, it has become one of the most popular places to live in Florida. In addition to the remarkable coastlines, Pinellas County offers 4,242 acres of parkland and 15,525 acres of preserves, all of which are found in the second smallest county in the state.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Weird Florida News Right Here in Clearwater

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

References:
http://www.50states.com/facts/florida.htm#.U9PqNrHQqyM   http://visual.ly/50-insane-facts-about-florida   http://planet-florida.blogspot.com/2012/02/20-fun-florida-facts.html   http://www.express.co.uk/fun/top10facts/406778/Top-10-facts-about-Florida   http://www.amazingandweird.com/facts/25-amazing-and-interesting-facts-about-florida-the-state/   http://www.floridasecrets.com/Floridafacts.php   http://www.pinellascounty.org/facts.htm   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayshore_Boulevard

Ingraving of native Floridians

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Native American Indian Mounds

American Indian MoundThe American Indian Mounds along the Florida Gulf Coast were once very numerous. Today, in Pinellas County, which is home to popular Clearwater Beach and St Pete Beach, only a few mounds remain for public viewing. Some mounds on the mangrove-covered Nature Coast are overgrown and unrecognizable while those along the beach shorelines are now replaced by houses and businesses. Many of the mounds were originally garbage piles. They survived the centuries because shells comprised a large part of the refuse. These shell mounds, unfortunately, made a good resource for building shell roads, the Florida version of gravel roads. Not all of the mounds were mere shell piles, however. Some served as burial mounds, containing valuables such as jade and copper. Other objects such as arrowheads, tools, and knives have also been found. To preserve the remaining sites it is now illegal to dig at mounds and the parks that surround them.

 

Native American Mound Builders of Florida

Tocobaga TerritoryThe story of the original Native Americans in Florida is an unfortunate one. The mound builders of Pinellas County were called the Tocobaga. They lived in what we now call the Tampa Bay area, home to such cities as Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater. The landscape was sandy, covered with tall scrub pines, waist high palmetto palms, and mangroves trees. It was populated by deer, dolphins, manatees, alligators, cougars, black bears and an abundant bird population. Fishing and shelling provided much of their diet but they also ate other native wildlife, including alligators.

Native American Indian moundWhen settlers came to the Americas, the Native Americans did not fare well. While some newcomers treated the natives with respect, conflicts broke out and treaties were broken. The French, Spanish, and English warred against one another in Florida, often involving the native tribes. More devastating than the political issues was the spread of European diseases for which the Native Floridians had no immunity. Near the end, to survive, the remaining Native Americans of Florida moved to the fort at St Augustine, Florida. After a battle there, the remaining native people of Florida escaped to Cuba. Marking the end of the state’s original Native American tribes. The Native Americans who live in Florida today, called the Seminole, arrived later from other states. While some of the peoples of Florida may have survived as slaves to the north or by joining other tribes, no original Florida mound building tribes remain today.

 

Where to Find Mound Sites

While a number of mounds hide in unmarked areas along the Florida coast and inland, some key parks have preserved the mounds.

Safety Harbor MoundJungle Prada Park

Philippe Park

Pinellas Point Temple Mound

Anclote River Park

You can find additional information about the Native Americans of Florida by visiting the Safety Harbor Museum in Safety Harbor or the Weedon Island Preserve and Natural History Center in St Petersburg. All of these locations can be reached within an hour or less from Clearwater Beach.

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Curious History of Philippe Park

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

References:

http://www.southernhistory.us/Counties/c5pine.htm, http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/articles/indian-mounds-give-clues-early-cultures, http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pinellaspoint.htmlhttp://www.stpeteparksrec.org/jungle-prada.htmlhttp://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/spanishmassacre.htmhttp://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/native-americanshttp://www.aaanativearts.com/native-american-tribes-by-state/837-florida-indians.html#axzz37f5QfBROhttp://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/41/267.htmlhttp://www.native-languages.org/timucua_culture.htmhttp://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tocobaga-indians.htmhttp://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/florida-indian-tribes.htmhttp://www.flheritage.com/facts/history/seminole/http://www.southernhistory.us/Counties/c5hill.htmhttp://fcit.usf.edu/Florida/maps/nat_am/nat_am.htmhttp://www.keyshistory.org/histindians.html 

Winter the dolphin

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A Day at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine AquariumThe Clearwater Marine Aquarium has grown into a beach vacation activity that can last a family the better part of a day. Thanks to the Dolphin Tale movies with stars Winter and Hope, interest in the aquarium has risen dramatically, and the things to do and see at the facility have expanded. Going to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is no longer confined to just the main building. You can now take a ferry ride across the harbor, a marine excursion onto the bay, and see an expanded exhibit detailing the filming of the Dolphin Tale movie. All of that is in addition to seeing the dolphin movie stars Winter and Hope, along with the other rescued sea life at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

 

Harborview Center

A great way to see all the sights at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is to start at the Harborview Center. The Harborview Center is located off the beach in downtown Clearwater, at the corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola Street. Inside you will find displays showing you and your kids about the making of the Dolphin Tale movie. While you walk through the center, you will pass various TVs running scenes from the film. Some of the scenes were actually shot at the Harborview Center, allowing you to compare the physical settings in front of you to the movie scenes. Plenty of fun facts about Winter and the movie are posted for visitors to read.  In the Dolphin Tale film, a hurricane impacts the Clearwater area. You can experience a simulated hurricane in an exhibit which puts you at a mock up of a city street with hurricane winds blowing. A hands-on sea life tank allows the kids (and kids at heart) to touch a variety of sea animals. When your viewing is done, you can grab a souvenir at the gift shop to take home some Winter the dolphin memorabilia.

 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Ferry

Clearwater Beach causewayWhether you start at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or the Harborview Center, getting from one building to the other is not only easy, it’s fun! You can choose between the Jolly Trolley or the Clearwater Marine Aquarium ferry. The Jolly Trolley is an open air trolley that services Clearwater Beach and the coastline northward to Tarpon Springs. You will be treated to a ride over the scenic causeway bridge, which is included in the price of your admission. Also included in your admission is the alternate water crossing on the ferry. Enjoy a ride under the bridge instead, giving you close up views of Clearwater Harbor.

 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Features

Dolphin TaleThe highlight of the tour for fans of Winter the dolphin is a trip to see the celebrity dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The aquarium is located halfway across the causeway to Clearwater Beach, in the Island Estates community. Once you arrive at the aquarium, you can view the houseboat used in the filming of Dolphin Tale, which is docked near the entrance. On your way in, be sure to get a green screen photo of your family that you can purchase later with fun sea life edited in around you. The well-stocked gift shop greets you as you walk through the doors, with lots of cool stuff for the kids and the adults. Near the entrance is a small movie theater and a sting ray tank where you can touch the rays. Sea TurtleOn the same level you will find a pirate themed hallway, a life sized diorama of area sea life, and a large tank with fish and a shark. You can also find a kids’ room with drawing books, a TV, smaller aquarium tanks, and full skeletons of otters, dolphins, and a species of a rare, small whale. Nearby is a tank housing rescued sea turtles, giving visitors fantastic underwater views. After you explore the ground floor, it is time to head upstairs to see the famous dolphins.

Winter and Hope

Winter the DolphinViewing Winter the dolphin from Dolphin Tale I, and her new co-star, Hope, from Dolphin Tale II, is very easy. Their tanks are in the open, allowing for plenty of opportunities to view them. During our visit to the aquarium, Winter and Hope where in separate tanks. The two solved the problem by whistling to one another over the wall between them. A larger tank joins to the private ones, allowing Winter and Hope to interact. While we were there, some of the kids lined up for a chance to stand on a platform in front of Hope’s tank to personally meet her.

Rescued Sea Life

Dolphin Tale pelicanNearby you can find a pair of white pelicans which were used in the filming of Dolphin Tale I and II. Other tanks on the same level contain rescued sea turtles and sea otters. Be sure to grab a schedule at the door or check online to find out when the aquarium staff and volunteers will be giving educational talks. You can learn about the lives of these animals in the wild and about the risks they fell victim to that led them to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Another fun attraction is on the top deck of the aquarium. There you will find Nicholas, a dolphin rescued from a stranding along with his mother. Although his mother did not survive, Nicholas has done very well. He is now well known for his antics, such as doing spontaneous flips or splashing the audience. He is young and playful, earning him a reputation as the most energetic dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

 

Sealife Safari Boat Tour

Sealife SafariOne of the best parts of the adventure at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is the Sealife Safari boat tour. Aquarium staff take you on a ride across Clearwater Harbor with some special extras in store. The boat trails a net across the seafloor, pulling up local sea life that are then displayed in tanks throughout the rest of that day before being released. Kids and adults can view native sea life up close, such as sea horses, sea urchins, pin fish, flounder, and more. It is fun to note that when catfish are caught, they are thrown back, because the dolphins of the harbor like to eat them. You stand an excellent chance of seeing local dolphins while out on the bay waters. The boat stops at a popular boating destination called Shell Island. The island is aptly named. It is a shell pile create when the boating channel was dredged in earlier decades. Nowadays boaters can stop off at the island, collecting shells to their hearts’ desire. The Sealife Safari boat allows you to disembark on the tiny island for a short stay before heading back across the water of the harbor. The boat ride offers fantastic views of the turquoise waters of the bay, the shoreline of the City of Clearwater, the beach causeway and bridge, and the barrier island of Sand Key. Sealife Safari is a hit with kids and it is a great way for adults to experience Clearwater Harbor.

 

Perfect Family Outing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Sea TurtleThe Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a perfect family outing while staying at Clearwater Beach. Aside from the attractions already at the famous Gulf Coast beach, you can spend the better part of the day touring this now-famous facility. It is a favorite for kids who loved the Dolphin Tale movies and has actually spawned an increase in tourism to the area, being named Florida’s number one attraction by a 2013 USA Today readers’ poll. If your vacation destination this year is Clearwater Beach, be sure to put the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on your list.

Dolphin Tale I Trailer

Dolphin Tale II Trailer


Other posts you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

beach road

To Drive or Not to Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

Facts Travelers Need to Know

Clearwater Beach entranceOne of the most important facts that travelers need to know is how they will get to their destination. We are centrally located on the Florida Gulf Coast, at the heart of Clearwater Beach.  A fair number of visitors who use our vacation rental office drive here from other cities in the United States. A large number also fly in, primarily using Tampa International Airport. Those visitors arrive from both the U.S. and foreign cities. It probably will come as no surprise that our beach is known worldwide as a vacation destination. Clearwater Beach is here to welcome you regardless of where your journey began.

 

Tampa International Airport

The airport, as the name suggests, is located in the neighboring city of Tampa, one of the big three of Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater. The drive from the airport to Clearwater Beach is 21 miles and can take 35 minutes on days when traffic is light. During rush hours or other heavy traffic periods, it is a good idea to plan for a 40 to 60 minute drive. The route takes you across one of the most beautiful stretches of road in our area, known as the Courtney Campbell Causeway. It is a low-lying, man-made land bridge, reaching across the upper portion of Tampa Bay. Visitors arriving via this route are treated to sweeping views of the sparkling blue waters of the famous bay. It is the perfect introduction to our beautiful coastal area.

 

To Walk or Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

Clearwater Beach roadsThe island of Clearwater Beach is only three and a half miles long. The tourist district of Clearwater Beach is even smaller, making it a perfect place for a no-car vacation. You can walk to the beach, restaurants, and gift shops, as well as some of the great attractions, like Pier 60 or the marina to catch a dolphin watching boat tour. While a walking-only vacation is an option, there might be some nearby sites that are just too far for walking. Those include neighboring tourist towns like John’s Pass, Dunedin, and Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, or regional theme parks like Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. For those options, a car is a handy item to have. However, if you do not want to bring your car, or you simply live too far away to drive to Clearwater beach, there are other options for getting around on your beach vacation.

 

Jolly Trolley

Jolly TrolleyThe Jolly Trolley is a great way to get around the coastal communities of our county. It runs from the town of Tarpon Springs in the north, to Sand Key, which is the southern end of the beaches that are part of the City of Clearwater. The Jolly Trolley also heads east, to the town of Safety Harbor, where you can find some fun tourist shops. The trolley is all about tourism, with a fun look and an open air design that allows you to view the sights as you travel. For beach transportation from Belleair Beach down to St Pete Beach, a trolley-style bus will take you using the same pass you purchased for the Jolly Trolley.

 

Day Tripper

daytripper autosDay Tripper provides charter transportation for groups up to twenty to key locations around Tampa Bay. Some of the stops include Tarpons Springs, Dunedin, Downtown St Petersburg, John’s Pass, and Busch Gardens. Day Tripper is familiar with the normal length of stay at the sites visited and is ready to transport you back to where you boarded at the end of your visit.

 

Beach Taxi Services

Taxi services at the beach range from the expected to the unexpected. While you will find normal automobile taxi services, you will also find more unique forms of transportation. Many of the bars, such as Shephards, Brown Boxer, Toucans, Pier 60 House, Shipwreck, and others will give you a ride in a golf cart style taxi. Naturally these services are aimed at clientele. While this might seem limiting, some of them will give you a free drink when you arrive at your destination. Aside from the golf carts, you will also find bicycle taxis during peak times at locations like Clearwater Beach.

 

Getting around your Beach Town

Whether you bring a car on your beach vacation can be matter of choice or circumstances. Having a car for sightseeing is a great idea. However, if you wind up at Clearwater Beach without a car, you can still get around to a surprisingly large variety of tourist destinations.

Clearwater Beach

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

Philippe Park

Curious History of Philippe Park

Phillippe Park

Philippe ParkPhilippe Park is located on the shores of Upper Tampa Bay, just north of the city of Safety Harbor, Florida, USA. The park is named after a French settler named Odet Philippe, who arrived at the location in 1842. The park faces east, toward the waters of the bay, with a drive that extends its length. It is easy to see across the bay at this point, since Upper Tampa Bay is a much smaller body of water than Tampa Bay to the south. Large shallows lie off the shores of the park with vast tidal flats sometimes rising above water during low tide. The park is filled with palm trees and oaks that shade the roads and lawns, keeping visitors cool on warm summer days. Because of the large mound built by Native Americans, and the history of Odet Philippe, the park was registered a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Philippe Park offers a relaxing venue for picnics, fun outings with the kids, or quiet walks on the waterfront.

 

 

Native American Mound Site at Philippe Park

Safety Harbor SiteThe Tocabaga tribe is estimated to have lived on the site of Philippe Park beginning around 900 A.D. They built a large ceremonial mound which still stands at the park, making it the largest surviving mound in the region. A village of 400 to 2500 Native Americans lived on the site, using bows and spears as well as tools fashioned from bones. Spanish explorers who arrived in the 1800s described them as a tall, strong people. Today the mound has a concrete path leading to its top with winding stairways descending the sides facing the bay. You will find signs posted at the park that describe the history of the native village more completely. For more information, travel just a few miles north to Safety Harbor where you will find the Safety Harbor Museum. The museum has history dioramas for kids and a set of books that describe the history of Philippe Park, the surrounding area, and the state of Florida.

 

Odet Philippe

Odet PhilippeFrench settler Odet Philippe came to the area in 1842 after serving in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army as a surgeon. The first European settler in the area, he created a grapefruit plantation, being the first to grow the fruit on the Florida peninsula. Grapefruit grows well in Florida, some of the trees bearing fruit nearly year round, surely making the choice a good one for Philippe. He also promoted cigar-making, a fact that becomes more interesting when you discover that twenty years after Odet Philippe’s death, the famous city of Ybor was founded by cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez-Ybor, whose cigar manufacturing became an overnight financial success. While the grapefruit orchards created by Philippe can no longer be found at the park, the temple mound is a part of the Odet Philippe’s life history. Safety Harbor SiteDuring a hurricane, he saved his family from the rising waters by fleeing to the top of the mound. The hurricane reportedly washed away part of the structure but the Philippe family survived. Philippe had a large family and many of his descendants still live in the region. You will find a grave marker for Odet Philippe by driving just beyond the mound site at Philippe Park.

 

 

Philippe Park in Present Time

Giant oakThe land acquisition for Philippe Park occurred in 1948, although the lands owned by Odet Philippe apparently included the City of Safety Harbor as well. The park is mostly an open area space with an abundance of trees. A single road leads from one end of the park to the other while a second road branches off to the base of the temple mound site. Previous to the upgrades in the 1980’s, the park served as an open space playground for the kids and a picnic area for families. Shoreline erosion created fun play areas for kids under the cover of exposed tree roots while rolling down the temple mound was a highlight for the little ones. Because of the erosion, and because Native American artifacts were being lost to erosion and looting, a sea wall was built in the 1980’s as well as the stair system that leads up the sides of the mound.

Today at Philippe Park you will find large picnic pavilions, walkways along the waterfront, trails, restrooms, two playgrounds, a baseball diamond, a volleyball court, a boat ramp, secluded parking spaces for fishermen, and a scenic drive to the north end of the park. Philippe ParkThe scenic drive through the park is made a one-of-a-kind experience by the remarkable oak tree hammock that spreads over the road midway through the park. For families, we recommend the playgrounds and the picnic areas, as well as the historic mound. Adults will enjoy the scenic drives, fishing, waterfront walks, or bicycling the length of the park. Philippe Park is a good choice for anyone who enjoys shady waterfront parks or firsthand ventures into the history of Florida.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

How to Successfully Use Vacation to Relieve Stress

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary