Category Archives: Beaches

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 

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

Honeymoon Island State Park

Southern Pleasures of Honeymoon Island State Park

The Southern End of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkHoneymoon Island State Park has many faces, each one making the trip to the island worthwhile venture. It features natural beaches, a nature trail, nature center, a public beach, concession stand, loads of parking, and more. It provides a fantastic setting for anyone who likes wildlife or the beach.

One of the best thing about Honeymoon Island is that there is more than one type of beach. To the north you will find a very long stretch of beach that is in its natural state. Next to the parking lots is the best area of the island to have a day at the beach that will make your vacation memorable, with restroom facilities and a concession stand nearby. The southern end of Honeymoon Island is yet another region of the island that is a world of its own. This blog post focuses on the fantastic south end of the island. Read on to discover the southern pleasures of Honeymoon Island State Park.

 

Honeymoon Island Beach Trail

Beach trailYou can access the southern end of Honeymoon Island via the beach or the trail. While it might seem that they are almost the same, they actually quite different. At the beach, you will have the sea breeze to cool you and the beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. On the trail, the sea breeze might cool you off -or it might not. In the summer, it is a very warm walk. The payoff, of course, is that when you reach the end, you can dip into the water to cool off. If you have always wondered what it would be like to walk down a sandy trail amid the beach grasses, then this is a walk you should take. You will walk past palm trees and shrubs before breaking out into the open. Keep your eye out for wildflowers, as this trail is a very good place to view them. The sandy trail is also a great walk for photographers because the scenery changes in subtle ways as you go along. When you near the end, the path forks, leading to different sides of the island, which is quite narrow at this point. Beach trailTo the right is the dog beach and to the left is a cove. We recommend both! The dog beach is part of the main beach of Honeymoon Island while the cove offers a view of mangrove coastline and the Dunedin Causeway from a very small section of beautiful, white sand beach. If you want to see it all, then head left toward the cove, then walk the beach around the tip of the island. You will come wind up at dog beach and a second cove once you round the end of the island.

 

Fishing on Southern Honeymoon Island

Fishing at Honeymoon IslandAny shore you chose on Honeymoon Island is a fun fishing trip. Plenty of fishermen head to the park to fish just off shore, standing waist or chest high water. Because the Gulf Coast shores are shallow, you can walk surprisingly far out to do your fishing, well away from the swimmers at the beach. The very southern tip of the beach is a local fisherman favorite, however. The currents pass by the location strongly which provides excellent fishing opportunities. The current has also has washed away the softer sands, and that keeps most of the beach-goers away, leaving the spot open for fishermen. You will rarely visit the southern tip of Honeymoon Island without seeing someone fishing from this locally favored fishing spot.

 

Honeymoon Island Dog Beach

Dog Beach at Honeymoon IslandThe dog beach on Honeymoon Island is easy to find via the many signs. The best route to the dog beach is the beach trail. The path helps you to avoid pulling your dog through all the sunbathers on the regular beach, which is actually not allowed. You will definitely want to bring a baggie for dog droppings. Canisters to deposit used bags are provided. Your pets will enjoy the beach trail but they will definitely love the beach. A small section of split rail fence marks the area where your pet is allowed to be. Unfortunately, leashes are required on this beach and park rangers in boats might give you a ticket if you break the rule. While this might seem unfair, the land surrounding the trail to dog beach and all the grassland bordering the beach is a bird sanctuary. Keeping your dog on the trail and on the sands of the beach is a must. Rules aside, the dog beach is a fantastic place to play with your pet. It is also a fun place to sunbathe, which means you and your four legged friend can both get what you want from a trip to Honeymoon Island.

 

Coves of Southern Honeymoon Island

Cove at Honeymoon IslandYou will find two coves on the southern end of Honeymoon Island. They are both very small, one at dog beach and the other on the far side of the island’s tip. Both are great for swimming and are also fun places to land smaller watercraft such as kayaks of standup paddle boards. The eastern cove is less traveled, which might give you intermittent stretches of solitude. The other cove is right at dog beach. The dog beach cove is created by a sand spit reaching southward, separating the small section of water from the Gulf of Mexico. Because the spit is all soft white sand, it is a popular place for visitor to spend time and is therefore the most multi-purposed section of the entire island. Regardless of what you do at these two tiny coves, you might find them to be a pair of the most enjoyable spots on Honeymoon Island.

 

Caladesi Island Ferry

Caladesi Island FerryThe Caladesi Island Ferry sets out from the southern edge of Honeymoon Island. The ferry costs $14 for adults, $7 for kids, and is free for those 5 years and under. The boat ride is fun and you will definitely enjoy the beauties of Caladesi Island. To reach the ferry port, look for the signs right after you pass the entry gate of Honeymoon Island State Park. The road, which leads to the ferry or the dog beach parking lots, will be on the left.

 

Honeymoon Island offers a Beach for Everyone

Honeymoon Island State ParkIt is quite remarkable how many different activities you can enjoy just on the southern end of Honeymoon Island. Sunbathing, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, beach combing, bird watching, photography, and fun with your pet are all found in one relatively small space. And, oddly enough, it is one of the less-visited sections, which means you will also have a fair amount of elbow space. Put this park on your list of sites to see on your next Florida Gulf Coast vacation. Among the many other pleasures of island, you should definitely give the southern end of Honeymoon Island State Park a try.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

 

Beach Bar

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater BeachFavorite Party Spots on Clearwater Beach

Finding a fun place to let your hair down at night on Clearwater Beach is not really that difficult. Bright lights and lively music give these locations away. However, to make our list worthwhile, we have include why each of our five favorites have made the list.

 

Tropix Island Tiki Bar

Clearwater PassTropix is a bar located along the Clearwater Pass, that strip of water connecting the Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater Harbor. This bar includes access to its own tiny strip of beach. It is located at the back of the Quality Beach Resort of well-known Quality Hotel. This made our 5 favorite party places list for being laid back and comfortable. It is an open-air bar, right next to the pool, with very nice views of the water.

 

Cooters Clearwater BeachCooters of Clearwater Beach

Cooters is the next Clearwater Beach party location on our list. It made our list because of its ability to seamlessly blend a fun hang out spot that serves alcohol with a great family restaurant. The staff are friendly and laid back. It is located on Poinsettia Avenue that runs parallel to Mandalay Avenue. While it is not on the sands of the beach, it succeeds quite well at being a very beachy establishment. It is also one of the hosts of the yearly Stone Crab Festival at Clearwater Beach.

 

Crabby’s Bar and Grill

Crabbys Bar and GrillAnyone who knows Clearwater Beach knows the name Crabby Bill. A restaurant by that name sits at the central beach roundabout. However, the party location of which we speak is on the South Beach portion of the strip and is called Crabby’s Bar and Grill. This two story bar is flashy and bright, yet homey. It has fantastic views of the beach and immediate access to and from the popular Beach Walk that runs along the sands of Clearwater Beach. Party with friends and watch the sunset from this quintessential beach bar.

 

Brown Boxer

Brown Boxer Clearwater BeachThe Brown Boxer is located on the north end of the business district of Clearwater Beach on Mandalay Avenue. It has made our list of beach bar favorites because of two very important words, Happy Hour. Don’t let the terminology fool you however, because the happy hour specials at the Brown Boxer go from 11Am to 7PM. That’s quite an hour. Enjoy discounted drinks and maintain your center by eating happy hour chicken wings. You can even lean over the railing and wave at us here at the Florida Beach Rentals office. As a disclaimer, there is no guarantee that we will see you waving.

 

Shephards on Clearwater Beach

Shephards of Clearwater BeachAnyone who has strolled or driven Clearwater Beach after dark has surely discovered Shephards. Their rocking live music is a well-known beacon to beach bar party seekers. Have your smile ready at the door, as well as a high tolerance for ear thumping tunes and wild times. Shephards is an establishment for those who take their beach bars seriously. It has two options for night-clubing as well as a restaurant. Shephard’s Tiki Beach Bar has a waterfront deck facing Clearwater Pass.

 

 

Note Regarding Coconut Cove

Florida Beach Rentals manages vacation rentals at the Coconut Cove, sister hotel to the Quality Beach Resort mentioned above. That means that anyone staying in Coconut Cove has access to the beach and swimming pool at the Tropix Island Tiki Bar.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

The Amazing Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival at Clearwater Beach

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

 

Clearwater Beach crosswalk

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Walking the Tourist District of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach causewayOne of the great things about Clearwater Beach is that you might be able to spend the length of your vacation without using your car. Your on-foot beach vacation can include going to the beach, dining, nights at Pier 60, all the shopping Clearwater Beach has to offer, and even some famous area attractions. The entire island is only three and a half miles long and much of that is residential. The tourism area of Clearwater Beach is approximately 1.5 miles long.  Your walk could be much shorter, depending on where you start. From the central roundabout, the tourist district reaches half a mile north and one mile south. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter the dolphin, is a one mile walk. If you enjoy walking, or don’t want to bother with your car, then you will surely enjoy a vacation at Clearwater Beach.

 

Where to Walk on Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Mandalay AveAt the north end of the tourist district of Clearwater Beach you will find a perfect area to lie out on beach right alongside of some great restaurants. Just south of that you will encounter the shopping area of Mandalay Avenue, which is almost like a large outdoor mall. Of course, this ‘mall’ has a road down its center! Lining both sides of the street are clothing, souvenir and surf shops, as well as a very good selection of restaurants ranging from simple diners up to the high-end hotel resort restaurant inside the Sandpearl Hotel. There are also a number of very nice bistros. At the center of the beach is the roundabout, Pier 60, and the Clearwater Beach Marina. Pier 60 is the home of the nightly Sunset Festival. At the marina you can catch a fishing charter, a harbor cruise, sunset cruise, dinner cruise, dolphin sighting tour, or you can rent a watercraft to tour the harbor on your own. Clearwater BeachThe south end of Clearwater Beach has the long, beachfront walkway known as Beach Walk. There you will find more great restaurants, bars, and another hotel resort restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. South Beach district of Clearwater Beach also has miniature golf, bike rentals, and the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, where you can get more information on the area. All told, it would take longer than most vacations last to visit each gift shop and dine at every restaurant on Clearwater Beach.

 

Clearwater Beach Pedestrian Safety

Clearwater BeachWhile walking the beaches and sidewalks of Clearwater Beach, visiting the shops, and dining at the many restaurants, you will want to keep your mind on safety. At times, the pedestrian traffic at the beach can be quite heavy. While that contributes to a fun beach resort atmosphere, it also means that pedestrians and motorists need to be mindful of one another.

Crosswalks and Traffic Lights at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater BeachWhile the freedom of walking the fun tourist district of Clearwater Beach cannot be denied, it should not be done carelessly. Both motorists and pedestrians have rules for safety to follow. First, and most importantly, are the rules for motorists. Driving more than 25 miles an hour at the beach is flirting with disaster. While not getting a ticket is one good reason not to speed, the real purpose is to protect people on foot.

Stop for Pedestrians at Clearwater Beach Crosswalks

Clearwater BeachMotorists visiting Clearwater Beach need to know that stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks is the law in Florida. That means if you see a pedestrian on the sidewalk waiting to cross the road, you need to stop your car and let them go. Not doing so can get you a ticket, which is a vacation memory you don’t need. Responsibility also lies with pedestrians. Be careful at crosswalks. Not everyone knows they need to stop! Wait until you are sure the motorist knows you are crossing and has stopped.

Clearwater Beach Crossing Lights

Clearwater Beach crosswalkClearwater Beach has a crossing light for pedestrians. Cars need to stop for these lights but so do the pedestrians! Crossing against this light on foot can be dangerous. The same is true for the standard crossings at intersections with traffic lights. While it might seem safe to cross against the signal, the curves of the road and the landscaping at Clearwater Beach can often hide automobiles from view. Cars can surprise you more often than you would imagine while you are right in the middle of the street.

Walking and Driving Clearwater Beach at Night

Clearwater Beach at nightNighttime at Clearwater Beach is a time for even greater caution. Fun on vacation can include getting a little tipsy for some. At night, more so than in the daytime, people will cross the road at random spots. This is jay walking and should not be done, but since it is common, motorists need to keep a sharp eye out for pedestrians. You should slow and stop your car for someone crossing the street at Clearwater Beach no matter where they cross.

Rules of the Road at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach roundaboutWhile navigating Clearwater Beach, realize that the roundabout is meant for cars. While you will see something that looks like a sidewalk out at the center of the roundabout, it is not meant for pedestrians. Crossing into the center of this traffic circle is not safe on foot and should not be done. You should also know that at the small bridge leading into Clearwater Beach, you will find a pedestrian underpass that provides a very safe crossing. Motorists should always give bicyclists three feet of space when passing them. It is the law to do so in Florida. For a safe ride along the causeway to Clearwater Beach, use the bike path that runs along the waterfront.

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Walking the streets of Clearwater Beach is fun. The strolls up and down the gift shops and restaurants can create some fond vacation memories. Just stay alert and know the rules, and your journey through the treasures of Clearwater Beach will be one to remember.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

Secret Caladesi Island Shell Tree

 

 

Honeymoon Island Florida

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

Setting out for the North End of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkAnywhere you go at Honeymoon Island State Park can be a fantastic experience. The island has multiple areas that offer great entertainment for those arriving from near or far. You can visit the main beach area, the nature trail, nature center, or the dog beach. However, if you want to enjoy a beach walk you will remember for a lifetime, then set the north end of Honeymoon Island as your destination.

The park entrance fee is 4 to 6 dollars, depending on the size of your party, and the parking lots are large, with a surprising capacity. Your destination, however, is the north end of the beach. Honeymoon Island State ParkYou will drive past the sign for the Caladesi Island Ferry and the Dog Beach. You will ignore the concession stand and the area of the beach most popular for sunbathing and swimming. You will drive past the nature center and the nature trail. At the very end,, the road will loop back and, after you drive around the 180 degree turn, you will find the entrance to the parking lot you seek.

Here you will find fencing marking off an area of beach eroded by storms and, to the north, you will see the brush of the island. With your hat on and your sun lotion applied, you are ready to go on your Honeymoon Island beach walk.

 

Preparing for a Walk on Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe beach walk is long, taking as much as two hours to reach the tip of the island, so here are some tips to help you better enjoy the experience. Take along a bag for collecting shells. A net-style sack is best since plastic is uncomfortable to carry on warm days. If your skin is sensitive to the sun, you might want to wear long sleeves. The sun here can be hot, and in the summer, quite intense. For those who are accustomed to sunshine, sun tan lotion is still recommended. With the sea breeze and the bright rays, you’ll want to be protected on this wonderful, long walk on the beach. A sun hat is the other item at the top of the list. Leave your sunbathing for another day and enjoy this stroll in as much comfort as you can. The other tip for comfort and safety is checking on the weather. In the summer, if the rain chances are over 20 to 30 percent, then a brief seasonal storm is likely to occur along the coast. Honeymoon Island State ParkThese storms build toward late afternoon and then burst with heavy showers and lightning. They come and go quickly but it is a good idea not to be on the beach when they occur. If you see tall clouds building over the Gulf or inland, it is a good idea to turn back. This beach walk is best planned for the morning. In normal conditions, you can walk all the way to the tip, explore your surroundings, and then make the return stroll without having any worries about the weather.

 

Starting your Beach Walk on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe start of your walk to the north end of Honeymoon Island begins at the parking lot where you will see a trail winding through the bushes and palm trees. Immediately beyond, you will see a small body of water to your right, which is the southernmost tip of Pelican Cove. Of course, to your left, is the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Honeymoon Island State ParkThe beach here, depending on conditions and season, is often gravely with very little sand. Don’t get discouraged though, this beach has many faces, and the best is yet to come. Head north from here, keeping between the island grasses and the water. As you go, the beach will change, and you will be treated to many sights and sounds of Honeymoon Island.

 

Birds of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkOne of the fantastic sights on your Honeymoon Island beach walk is the multitude of birds that live on the island. Great blue herons, white egrets, sand pipers, pelicans, black skimmers, gulls, ospreys, terns and many more species of birds occupy the shoreline and the island’s interior. You will see signs as you walk that inform you that the interior of the island is a bird sanctuary. Honeymoon Island State ParkIt is easy to agree with this code, because aside from protecting the birds, the beach sands make a far better terrain for walking than the brush-filled interior. You can find to identify birds at various shops, and perhaps at the Honeymoon Island nature center. The best charts are laminated so that they last longer. It can be fun to try and identify the birds you are viewing while you continue along the coast into the soft white sands of Honeymoon Island.

 

Beach Combing on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkBeach combing the shores of Honeymoon Island is a favorite activity. The shoreline changes while you go along, providing many different surfaces where you can search for treasures. The eroded section where you begin the northward walk is one of the best for the more unusual items, such as rocks with interesting patterns. Farther north, where fewer people visit, you will encounter more of the undisturbed items. Honeymoon Island State ParkHere you might find complete clam or snail shells, as well as whole sand dollars. On certain days, the beachcombing can be so good, it might put you in danger of not reaching your destination, if you indeed intend to make it to the northern tip of the island. You might have to choose which of the pleasures of Honeymoon Island you want to indulge in most.

 

Remarkable Sands of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe Gulf Coast of Florida is known for its remarkable white sands and Honeymoon Island beaches are no exception. While some parts of the shore might be strewn with gravely, white, coral stone, others are covered with the soft white sands that make the Florida Gulf Coast famous. Walking along the waterline will give you ample opportunity to enjoy the changes on this natural section of beach. The farther north you go, better the sands become. Be sure to look around while you go, the natural shapes the sand takes can be quite interesting. If you have the fortitude to keep going, you will eventually find yourself at the northernmost tip which might find to be the very best part of Honeymoon Island.

 

Beach Walk of a Lifetime

Honeymoon Island State ParkAt the northern tip of Honeymoon Island you will find beach paradise. Take a moment to sit and take in the scenery. You will see the other arm of Honeymoon Island to your southeast, across the waters of Pelican Cove. Boats will surely be out on the Gulf of Mexico. You will see the mainland to your east and a scattering of more barrier islands to your north. For an added treat, closely observe the sands surrounding you. You will see that the wind has sculpted them into shapes courser sands cannot hold. You will also see footprints of birds, perfectly preserved in the tiny grains. The waters and breezes of the Gulf of Mexico move the sands of the island north. That means that the softest, lightest grains of sands find their way to that part of the island. Honeymoon Island State ParkMake sure you take off your shoes –if you are still wearing them. Sink your toes into the powdery sands for an experience like no other. The shallow waters, with white sands just beneath, will glow a beautiful turquoise in the sunlight, a perfect place to dip your feet. Once you have had your fill, it will be time to turn back and walk the beach south once again. You will then be among those who know why the walk north on Honeymoon Island is a beach walk of a lifetime.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

 

John Levique Pirate Days

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

History of John Levique

John Levique Pirate Days 9The history of John Levique and the history of John’s Pass are linked by the legend naming John Levique as the first man to sail through the pass. According to the legend, a large storm rearranged the sands of the barrier islands, opening a new inlet to Boca Ciega Bay. The new inlet was subsequently named John’s Pass. The boardwalks, restaurants, and gift shops did not appear for another 150 years. The name John Levique is remembered, thanks to his discovery of the pass. Today, his name is used for one of the best celebrations you will find on the Florida Gulf Coast. John Levique Pirate days skeleton manequinJohn Levique was a turtle farmer, so you might wonder why the celebration is called ‘pirate days.’ Here on the Florida Gulf Coast, and especially in Tampa Bay, a true pirate history exists. The pirate theme, often invoked in this region, has been used to enhance the John Levique celebration. Once you’ve experienced the fun at the John Levique Pirate Days event, you will see that John Levique would probably not mind at all.

 

John’s Pass

John Levique Pirate DaysJohn’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is one of the best tourist stops on the Florida Gulf Coast. The small but popular shopping and restaurant district is lined with loads of souvenir shops and lots of great dining. John’s Pass is a fun diversion where you can spend hours walking from one interesting knickknack shop to the next. When you need to resupply your energy, you can choose from a number of unique restaurants, many of them on the waterfront. Seafood is popular at John’s Pass, thanks to the numerous fishing boats that use John’s Pass to reach the Gulf of Mexico. The boardwalks and sidewalks are fun to stroll, and when you are done with your dining, stop into a candy shop to finish off your day. You can find all of these things on an ordinary day at John’s Pass. During the John Levique Pirate Days celebration, that entertaining setting becomes a backdrop for much more.

 

John Levique Pirate Days Celebration

John Levique Pirate Days foodThe John Levique Pirate Days event was on our roster of things to see this spring. This year it was held May 9th through 11th. The event took us by surprise. We expected a few pirates standing in the doorways and perhaps few kiosks- not by a long-shot. The entirety of John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk had been transformed in to one giant event. The street was filled with tents and kiosks selling everything imaginable, much of it pirate themed. Instead of a parking lot we found a large tent where the musicians and dancers performed, along with lots of tables for dining. John Levique Pirate Days 8The other side of the parking lot was the food court, with banquet style vending stalls selling mouthwatering food. Amid the lively setup strolled a large number of attendees, enjoying shops, vending tents, the shows, and the food. However, all of those things together were still not the best surprise. We found no mere dozen pirates at the John Levique Pirate Days event, but rather the streets were filled with them. The pirates had erected tents to mock up how original pirates had camped on the shores of the Gulf Coast. Tons of professional pirate actors roamed the streets along with a number of enthusiasts. Aside from the pirate encampment, we found a pirate wrestling ring, a mechanical bull, a tropical bar, a hula hoop contest and an inflatable slide for the kids, and roaming musicians. John Levique Pirate Days 4Lastly came the large pirate show down at the waterfront of John’s Pass. On the sandy shore, amid the older pylons, some 50 to 60 pirates put on a mock battle. The battle included walking the plank, musket fire, sword fights, and, our personal favorite, ‘death by mermaid,’ which consisted of throwing convicted pirates to the trio of mermaids waiting just off shore. John Levique Pirate Days 6The mayhem lasted for a good five minutes, all under the thunderous explosions from cannons set on the shore. Watching from the drawbridge between Madeira Beach and Treasure Island, the handrails under our palms trembled from the shock wave of the cannon fire. Spectators lined the John’s Pass boardwalk to watch the show, many of them dressed in pirate costumes themselves.

 

John Levique Pirate Days Recommended

John Levique Pirate Days 7

For Love or Money Band

After our visit to the John Levique Pirate Days celebration, we definitely recommend it to visitors to the Florida Gulf Coast. The event was a lot of fun and definitely lived up to its name. There were pirates galore, lots of in-theme trinkets and souvenirs to purchase, good music shows, and fantastic food. The pirate battle topped off the event with a performance that brought the theme to life. The event has earned a place on our list of celebrations to visit year after year.

 

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Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Clearwater Beach Stone Crab Festival 2013

 

Clearwater Beach T shirts

Gift Shop Essentials at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Tourist Shops

Clearwater Beach gift shopsWhen you visit Clearwater Beach, it is impossible to miss the gift shops along the main drag. Clearwater Beach is divided into two areas, North Beach and South Beach –at least according to the locals. It’s okay to consider Clearwater Beach all one place. It is a small barrier island and it is conceivable to walk from one end of the shopping district to the other. It is 1.5 miles from the Surf Style beach shop at the far end of South Beach to the North Beach parking lot that sits between Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and Palm Pavillion Beachfront Bar and Grill. Of course, you might want to pace yourself, because you will walk more than 1.5 miles if you stop at every T-shirt and souvenir shop along the way. We suggest dividing your Clearwater Beach souvenir-crawl into two outings, one for North Beach and one for South Beach.

 

Souvenirs from Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach gift shopSouvenir shopping at Clearwater Beach is not for the meek. You will find trinkets and keepsakes everywhere you go. Even if you stop at the Barefoot Beach House for ice cream or coffee you might walk away with a souvenir. Make sure you stop by Pier 60 for the daily Sunset Festival, which runs two hours before and after sunset. There you will find all manner of gifts and personal memorabilia for your Clearwater Beach vacation, including painted shells, beach photos, jewelry, and beach themed art of every description. Along the beachfront roads, every T-shirt shop we visited while researching this blog had an area set aside for jewelry, seashells, or other small souvenirs. Shot glasses, coffee cups, and other items with logos were also popular. You will have no trouble returning home from you vacation with a souvenir that says Clearwater Beach.

 

T Shirts and Beach Apparel at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach gift shopsOn our casual survey of Clearwater Beach gift shops, we discovered one overwhelmingly popular item on sale in every shop. That item was the forever-popular T-shirt. More than any other item, T-shirts dominated the stock along the beachfront. And, as you might imagine, lots of them had Clearwater Beach logos. And why not? One of the best ways to remember your fun-filled vacation is to wear a T-shirt you bought. Of course, you don’t have to buy just a T-shirt. Board shorts are a top seller for the guys and popular for the ladies is the beach dress, often worn over the over a bathing suit. With a beach dress in your bag, you are ready to for a quick dinner following your afternoon at the beach. Of course, if you want to wear something a little nicer for a dinner out, you can find that too!

 

Additional Beachwear for your Clearwater Beach Vacation

Clearwater Beach gift shopsWhile you are shopping for your day at Clearwater Beach, don’t forget to buy the other essentials. A sun hat is a good idea, especially in the summer.  You will probably want to shade your face by late afternoon. The other necessary requirements for your Florida outfit are flip flops or sandals and, of course, sunglasses. That might sound overly touristy, but really, these are the clothes you need to navigate the beach in comfort. The Clearwater Beach sands are bright-white in the sun, making sunglasses a good idea. Walgreens beach suppliesFlip flops don’t collect sand like other shoes and so are ideal for the beach. Lastly, don’t forget to get a beach towel or beach blanket. Hotel or household towels just don’t cut it. A big beach towel or a Mexican throw blanket are perfect for marking your territory on the beach. With these essentials in you beach bag, you are ready for your perfect vacation at Clearwater Beach.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Johns Pass

Ultimate Tourist Attraction at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

How to Prepare for Florida Gulf Coast Beaches

 

Sand Key Beach

A Beach Less Traveled

Where is Sand Key Beach?

Sand Key ParkSand Key Beach is located at Sand Key Park, on the barrier island known as Sand Key. This barrier island, or key, is the next island south from Clearwater Beach. Sand Key Park is very easy to access if you are visiting Clearwater Beach or the beach communities to the south such as St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, or Belleair Beach. All of those beach communities are found on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida, to the west of Tampa and Tampa Bay. In other words, Sand Key Beach is located at the heart of a very active beach zone and tourist destination. The park entrance is very close to the Sand Key Bridge that leads across Clearwater Inlet, the waterway between Sand Key and Clearwater Beach.

 

Enjoying Sand Key Beach

Sand Key BeachOnce you park at the very large parking lot at Sand Key Beach, you will see the beach, beyond a set of grassy dunes. Winding pathways of sand or concrete lead between the dunes, taking out onto the expansive area of sand. Restrooms and outdoor beach showers are available for visitors. After you stroll past the palm trees and sand dunes, you will have to cross a fair stretch of sand to get to the water, so make sure your cooler has wheels! Sand Key Beach is adjacent to Clearwater Inlet, which is the waterway allowing boats to pass between Clearwater Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. A jetty protrudes out from the northern edge of the beach, creating the entrance to Clearwater Inlet. South of the jetty is all beach. Sand Key Beach is a great place for swimming or wading. With the large area of sand, you are free to set up your towel or beach chair just about anywhere. Sand Key Beach trailIn fact, that is one of the joys of Sand Key Beach; it is a beach less traveled. While times such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Spring Break might see a larger number of people, chances are you will encounter a smaller, quieter group of beach goers at Sand Key. Keep in mind that this is Florida Gulf Coast beach, which means it will have the fantastic white sands for which the coastline is famous. If you enjoy a mild day at the shore, Sand Key might be your beach.

 

Hidden Gems at Sand Key Park

Fishing pier Sand Key ParkSand Key Beach is just a part of Sand Key Park. The park has much more to explore. Sand Key Park is a kid friendly place. Aside from the endless joys of the beach, the park also has a playground set, nestled next to a stand of shade trees that shelter the set from the afternoon sun. Sand Key Park is also pet friendly. A fenced dog park is available with separate areas for smaller and larger dogs. The dog park has benches for owners and a number of shade trees. Additionally, you will find picnic pavilions and a walking trail. The picnic area has its own restroom, which also near the dog park. The walking trail runs through the wooded areas of the park and past a saltwater marsh, making for a refreshing diversion. The large shade trees along Clearwater Inlet have become a hangout spot for barbeques and relaxing in the shade on beach chairs. The spot is excellent for watching Clearwater Harbor traffic pass by. Last but not least are the fishing opportunities at Sand Key Park. The entire waterfront of Clearwater Harbor, from the jetty to the Sand Key Bridge, is very popular among local fishermen and tourists alike. Sand Key Park playgroundCloser to the bridge you will find a small parking lot and pier just for fishing. This out-of-the-way fishing retreat seems distant from the rest of the park. It is also a nice spot to launch a short hike along the walking path or to the Sand Key Bridge. The bridge walk is a worthy endeavor, with sweeping views of Clearwater Harbor, Clearwater Inlet, the island of Sand Key, Sand Key Park, the community of Clearwater Beach, and the city of Clearwater. With all the hidden gems at Sand Key Park, you could spend the better part of a day exploring.

 

A Beach Less Traveled

Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaSand Key Park is a great place to go for a beach day with fewer people on the beach. It is a favorite place for flying kites because of the room available on the wide swaths of sand. If the beach combing, sunbathing, and swimming are not enough, you can take a hike around the park, watch the boat traffic go by, or try your hand at fishing. If that all sounds like fun, then give Sand Key Beach a try on your next Florida Gulf Coast vacation.

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

3 Essential Rules for Taking Your Pet on Vacation

5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach

 

vacation activities

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

How Close do you stay to your Vacation Rental?

beach vacation rentalWhen you go on vacation, do you stay near your vacation rental or do you strike out to explore everything in the region around you? Some folks are happy to sit on the porch or balcony of their vacation rental and look out onto the world from the shade, comfort, and air conditioning of their unit. Others will keep within a zone in which they can walk. Others might take a single trip in the car during their stay, while still others might head out into the region surrounding their vacation rental each and every day. Which type of vacation goer are you?

 

Making the most of your Vacation Rental

beachfront rental condoHanging out in your vacation rental is not all that bad! Many of the vacation condos and vacation homes on Clearwater Beach and the other beaches of the Central Gulf Coast have large interiors with comfortable amenities. Vacation rentals will usually have some type of kitchen as well as televisions, cable service, and Wifi. If your rental comes with a pool, you might have all you need to keep you happy. If you have a beach view, then you really are at the beach when you sit out on your balcony. If long walks aren’t your thing, then a holiday spent inside your vacation rental might be the perfect getaway. And, if you are looking to relax in peace and quiet, sitting out on a patio or reclining by a pool is a great way to go.

 

Using your Vacation Rental as Beach Vacation Headquarters

Beach vacationWhen you rent a vacation rental on the beach it’s because you want to be at the beach! That’s fairly sound logic. Once you have arrived at your beach rental, it is sometimes hard to take the time to put away your luggage before heading out to the shore. The beach has soothing qualities that few people can deny. The sound of the waves and the feel of the sand combine with the beauty of the beach and water to create a sensation people will travel quite far to experience. So is it wrong to plant yourself on the beach and enjoy the sun and sand and sea every day of your vacation? Of course not! The beach is a favorite travel destination for very good reason. Enjoying your vacation to the fullest is easy to do at the beach, even if you do no more than walk from your vacation rental to the sand each day.

 

Choosing a Favorite Day Trip from your Vacation Rental

Lowry ZooSpending your days sunning and swimming at the beach is hard to beat, but once in a while, it is nice to break up a vacation with a day trip to an interesting nearby location. That is easy to do on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. A drive or a trolley ride up and down the coastline will take you past a host of other beaches. You will pass from major resorts to ma-and-pa style beaches and back again in a very short amount of time. Each beach community seems to have its own personality, so you can choose the one that suites you.  You could also visit one of the many tourist towns nearby for a dinner or a stroll down the main street. The one-day trip is a popular distraction for those who want to see nearby theme parks like Homosassa Springs, Dinosaur World, the Lowry Park Zoo, or Busch Gardens in Tampa. When your one day diversion is over, feel free to relax in your vacation rental or on the nearby sands of the beach.

 

Seeing it all on your Florida Beach Vacation

Great blue heron The dynamic, action packed beach vacation is often the choice of the adventurous souls among us. After you have walked the nearby beaches of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island it might be time to get into the car and head out to nearby tourists stops. How else can you see it all? You can choose tourist areas such as the St Petersburg museums, John’s Pass tourist shops and restaurants, the Florida Botanical Gardens, downtown Dundein, or the Tarpons Springs Sponge Docks. But if those aren’t enough, you should know that the region surrounding Clearwater Beach and Central Gulf Coast of Florida have more nature parks than you might think possible. Give the parks a try, if you enjoy hiking on wilderness trails or seeing the diverse wildlife of Florida, including the amazing variety of birds. If you choose to have a dynamic vacation touring the region surrounding the beaches, be warned, there is more to do than you can achieve in a single vacation. And please, Clearwater Beach and the Florida Gulf Coast have some of the best beaches in the world, so make sure you spend some time enjoying them too!

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

5 Best Places to Escape at Clearwater Beach