Archive for the ‘Beaches’ Category

Clearwater Beach Summers

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Summer time at the beach is hard to beat. When that beach is especially beautiful, it’s even better. Clearwater Beach is great to visit any time of the year. Each season has its own perks. If you arrive in one season, you are likely to be envious of those who visit in the others. Perhaps that’s human nature. But let me describe why the summertime in Clearwater Beach will make you happy.

Clearwater Beach with tons of shells

Hot Summer Days

If summer at Clearwater Beach has a downside, it’s the heat. It gets hot here and you might sweat. And there you have it. That’s the downside. But then, that’s why the beach is so great! Three things make this beach enjoyable on a hot day.

  1. You can beat the heat by swimming! The water feels great and a dip into it will refresh you. By observation, the people who go into the water don’t come back out again for quite a while. A walk down the shore on an average summer beach day will find lots of heads and shoulders bobbing above the waves. If you don’t want to go in all the way, the Gulf of Mexico also feels great on your feet.
  2. The breeze coming off the Gulf of Mexico usually cools down the beach by about seven to ten degrees -at least that’s how it feels. There are days where walking on the sidewalk will warm you right up but a walk along the shore just moments later feels just fine. The sea breeze is a blessing and smells good too. And really, wouldn’t you prefer walking on the beach?
  3. The sand at Clearwater Beach is white. While the sun does warm it up, it never becomes too hot to walk on. Even on the hottest day you will never have to hop and skip across heated sands. That also means the heat reflecting off the sand is far less.

As far as problems go, beating the heat at the beach is pretty fun to solve.

Clearwater Beach outing

The Joys of Summer at the Beach

Now let’s look at the upsides of going to the beach in the summer.

  1. In the summer you will find more people enjoying the traditional beach outing. That means taking the family to the shore with a cooler and spending the day having fun. Catching sun is no problem and you will never have to worry about bringing a jacket along. The days are longer too. By our count, that makes for more beach time. I think anything you enjoy doing in the summer might just be better at the beach.
  2. The Pier 60 Nightly Sunset Festival operates all year round, yet, somehow, it seems to have a bit of extra magic in the summer. With the long days and blazing sunsets, the fun-seeking crowds show up to see the street performers and to pick up a unique souvenir from the Pier 60 vendors. For whatever reason, the crowds just seem to cheer the performances a little bit louder in the summertime.
  3. The dolphins of our coast also like the warm summer days. Whether the dolphins would agree with me or not, I don’t know, but it seems easier to get them to play in the wakes of the boats in the summer. I’ll let the dolphins have the last word on that because you can successfully spot them on dolphin tours all year long. On a recent dolphin tour in June, we saw quite a few.
  4. The best thing about summer at Clearwater Beach, however, has got to be the colors of the water. In the summer, the sun shines directly down, piercing the water and lighting up the white sands underneath. That creates a dazzling turquoise color that people love to see. But it’s not just the turquoise that makes the Gulf of Mexico special in the summer. When the waves roll into the sand around your feet, it is remarkably clear. Whether it is the angle of the sun, the amount of light, or some other factor, the summertime waters at Clearwater Beach are remarkable.

So, there you have it. The beach is an awesome place to go in the summer. Now that I’ve said it, it seems kind of obvious.

Perfect waters at Clearwater Beach

Long Way Home via the Best Beaches in America

Posted on: June 13th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Take some video of the beaches and then head back to the office. The idea seemed simple enough at the beginning of the day.

I headed out with my new phone, one capable of live streaming video, anticipating an outing of about one to two hours. Our headquarters in on the island of Clearwater Beach, so finding nice subjects to photograph and video is pretty easy. I had someone from the office drop me off at the north end of the public roads and set off with my camera running. I didn’t have much video of that area because it is not right outside our door so I figured I would treat our Facebook fans to some new sights.

Clearwater Beach

The day was sunny with a few clouds and the water and sand looked great. I headed north, away from the areas I normally traveled, just to make sure the content was fresh. The breeze coming in off the Gulf of Mexico cooled me while the sun above warmed me up. The effect was very pleasant. It should come as no surprise that the longer I walked, the more I enjoyed my time in the outdoors. I walked quite far, and since I’d done the hike before, I had a general idea of where I was. A long way up the beach it occurred to me that by going a little bit farther, I might reach the point where Clearwater Beach merged with Caladesi Island State Park. That’s when I decided to go for it. It was a perfect beach day, so why not?

The problem was that to go ahead with my plan meant not going back to the office. Sure, it was my job to collect images of the area, but running away from the office was a new trick I hadn’t tried before. Would it work out? I took my chances and went for it. Before too long I reached the first landmark.

Clearwater Beach shell tree

On the northern end of Clearwater Beach is a what we call the Shell Tree. It is nothing more than some mangrove bushes but visitors have been hanging seashells on the trees for years. Most are ordinary seashells but others have been hand painted with colors or with personal messages. Some show the names of couples while others commemorate lost loved ones. Others indicate when visitors took their Clearwater Beach vacation. The result is a fun site to visit and, hopefully, interact with. I passed through the trees and continued northward.

Clearwater Beach shell tree 2

It wasn’t long after the shell tree that I came to the park sign indicating that I had reached Caladesi Island State Park. The great thing about this area is that not many people reach the location because of the effort to arrive. The only two means of getting there are to walk quite a long way or to arrive by boat. A few people were present, but once they walked by, I was alone again at the border of the two islands. A waterway once passed between the two islands, back when they received their separate names, but a hurricane some forty years ago filled the channel in with sand. In the present, only those who know the history of the islands understand why the sand they walk on bridges two islands together. At that point, so far north of the office, I knew that going back would be more trouble than going forward. I did not realize at the time that I was wrong.

Caladesi Island park sign

I forged ahead, passing onto Caladesi Island. The beach was remarkable, of course, and completely wild. A forest of palm trees grew on the inland sands while a few stray trees attempted to stake a claim to the shoreline, which is risky business for a plant with such a small root system. A few had fallen to high tides. Not far ahead, however, I saw people gathered among beach chairs and umbrellas. That marked the location where the Caladesi Island Ferry dropped off visitors to enjoy the beach for a few hours. I reached the spot and headed inland. The aside from the ferry off the island, there was a concession stand, and I was hungry. I first secured a seat on the ferry and then went to get the hot dog I had anticipated. Well, the Caladesi Island concession stand doesn’t serve hot dogs. How is that possible? I settled for a chicken sandwich. The ferry captains were ready to go and so helped to put my order on rush, which was very nice of them. With my chicken sandwich in hand, I boarded ferry and we set out right away.

Caladesi Island palm tree

The ride between the islands is fantastic. The ferry travels through the mangrove bayous of Caladesi Island that then open onto the waters of St Joseph Sound. You are provided views of the small islands that dot the harbor and get to see a host of different watercraft playing on the water. The only boat that is doing any serious business is the ferry. Every other boat on the water is out there for sightseeing or fishing. Still, the waters are full of jet skis, motorboats, kayaks, paddleboards, and sailboats. It’s a actually a lot of fun to watch that many people out having their own fun.

Caladesi Island Ferry

The other end of the line is at Honeymoon Island State Park. The captain helped me pay my ride ticket because explaining a one-way ticket proved kind of difficult. Apparently, no one does that. The confusion was understandable, since a round trip walk like the one I was taking was fairly out of the question. While the walk of the beach might workout, the conditions were about to change, and so was the distance. You see, although I was as far north as I was going to go, I was not yet at the half way point. That’s when I learned something I did not know. The Jolley Trolley, which I planned to use as transportation, did not come to Honeymoon Island. Between me and the trolley stop stretched Dunedin Causeway.

Causeway to Honeymoon Island

The Dunedin Causeway is nothing to shake a stick at while on foot. That is the conclusion I came to about an hour later. It’s all fun and games on the sand, but when you hike a mile or more in flip-flops, things change. Still, it was a weekend and the Dunedin Causeway was hopping with activity. If there is a way to have fun at the beach or on the water, it is happening at the causeway. Plus, visitors can pull their cars right up to the shore so it becomes a combination of beach outing and tailgate party. Dunedin Causeway does not have the fantastic sands found on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and so the atmosphere might best be described as “relaxed.” Stated another way, as long as your clothes are on, you can pretty much do what you like. The good news is that, despite the potential for chaos, it’s actually a very well-behaved gathering place.

The return road trip lacked the dazzle of the beginning, which was just fine, because by that time I was a bit tired. I walked the less interesting second half of the Dunedin Causeway and arrived at the bus stop where the causeway met the coastal road. The last bit of charm arrived when I boarded the trolley. It was one of the converted city busses, with an all wood interior, including the seats. Aside from the pleasant décor, each seat took up more room than a normal bus, creating a spacious seating area.

Clearwater trolley bus

Alas, I was not done yet. While I might have taken the trolley all the way to the beach, I knew better. The Clearwater Beach Ferry is a great way to go and so I got off of the trolley and walked down to the docks under the bridge to Clearwater Beach. I made it onto the ferry just before it left, a second lucky break in one day. The ride to the island of Clearwater Beach is another fun water adventure, even if it is “just” a water taxi. My ride ended at the Clearwater Beach Public Library, which has its own dock! To my fortune, the library is only a block from the office. I padded my tired feet along the waterfront of Clearwater Harbor and crossed the street to the office.

Despite being a long and tiring day out, I was not sorry a bit. I also wasn’t fired from my job. I had taken a lot of pictures and created eight videos, which made it all worthwhile. I put my flip-flops away for a few days and considered myself lucky for having the experience.

If you are ever in the Clearwater Beach area, you might want to give parts of this Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island hike a try. If you want to try the entire experience, I would recommend calling an Uber or Lyft cab to drive you across the Dunedin Causeway and then down the coast to Clearwater. Whether you will take the second ferry ride is up to you, but it’s pleasant and is a great idea on heavy beach traffic days.

You can see the recordings of the live feeds below.

Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island Ferry

Honeymoon Island Causeway

Clearwater Beach Ferry

Other posts you might enjoy:

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

Where the Heck is Pinellas County and Why Should I Care?

Save

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival Strikes Again!

Posted on: April 26th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Sugar Sand Festival crowd

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival 2016

The Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival at Clearwater Beach was just as much fun as ever. This event brings a lot of additional attractions to the Pier 60 area of the beach, making it an even larger attraction that usual. Pier 60 holds a nightly sunset festival where vendors and street performers gather. Visitors can browse the wares, get their picture drawn, or watch a busker perform. The Sugar Sand Festival brings that fun evening event to the beach all day long for an entire week. The street performers are out in force and the vending booths stay open all day. Added to the day-long entertainment are food vending carts, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a children’s play area.

Busker Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival

Hub of Clearwater Beach

The crowds arrived in force to enjoy the event all week long, turning Pier 60 into the center of a lot of activity. Pier 60 is at the heart of the beach and from it you can reach everything else the island has to offer, most of it within a half mile. Dining, boat rides, rentals of bikes and scooters, dolphin tours, souvenir shops, sunset cruises, and nightlife are all within easy reach. With so many people at the beach, all the attractions operated at full swing. Nothing beats a lively crowd at the beach with tour boats buzzing along the shore, music in the air, and the smell of food wafting by.

Beethoven at Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival

Music Themed Sand Sculptures

At the center of the event is the large tent containing the sand sculpture walk. This year’s theme was the History of Music, with figures from the music industry and the musical genres portrayed in soft, white, Clearwater sand. The trail through the event is the beach itself, allowing visitors to dip their feet into the soothing grains while touring the show. Figures from Jimi Hendrix to Beethoven could be found along the trail, as well as time honored musical figures like the sirens from Greek mythology and portrayals of musical genres like bluegrass and big band music. One of the sculptures received a quick change after the passing of the musician Prince, duly adding his figure to the sculpture walk. Wrapping up the walk was a tribute to music from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that is a mere mile from the pier.

Ray Charles sculpture Sugar Sand Festival Clearwater Beach

Favorite Clearwater Beach Event

This event seems to draw more people each year so if you missed it this time around there’s hope for next year. This event will be back. We look forward to seeing what the artists come up with next year as much as we enjoyed seeing their work this time around.

Pier 60 during Sugar Sand Festival

Other articles you might like:

Tampa Falls to Gasparilla Pirate Attack Again

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Ultimate Tourist Attractions at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival
Pier 60 Sugar Sand Event Clearwater Beach
Bob Marley sculpture Sugar Sand Festival
Carnival atmosphere Sugar Sand Festival
Yellow Submarine Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival

Shell Collecting in the Clearwater St Pete Area

Posted on: April 14th, 2016 by MB 1 Comment

Seashell collection

The Beauty of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Central Gulf Coast is the area of Florida from Tampa Bay regional beaches down to greater Naples region. The area is defined by the remarkable white sands that cover the beaches in volume. This article will cover our stomping grounds of Tampa Bay, where we have personally gone to collect our shells. These beaches have grown in popularity, now that the secret it out. The weather is usually agreeable in this region and basking on the beaches is a slice of heaven. During the hot months of summer, the water turns to a striking turquoise hue, lit from above by the more direct rays of the sun that are not present in the winter.

seashell collecting

The Best Seashells

The beaches are better traveled now, more visitors understanding the joy of walking the shores. That of course, leads to shell collecting. So are there enough shells? You would think not, but experience has shown that a walk down the beach will find beautiful shells to collect. Still, the question has arisen, “Where can I find the best shells?”

Going the Extra Mile for Seashells

The answer is that to get the best shells, you have to do a little extra work. You probably saw that coming but to soothe your disappointment, we will point you in the right direction.

The Right Timing for Seashell Collecting

The best time to collect seashells is before someone else gets there! Too easy, we know, so let’s break it down. Morning is best, sunrise even better. If you can arise early and hit the beach, you will find the shells that will otherwise get picked up by the larger daytime crowds. The other timing you might want to watch for is low tide. Check local charts for your area to see when the water will be lowest. More goodies which you can reach will line the shore. Be careful to leave living creatures alone, which includes starfish. Starfish go so slowly that their movements are often missed. Shells with inhabitants should be left alone.

Beachcoming Clearwater Beach

The Right Place for Seashell Collecting

The best places for seashell collecting are those that are infrequently visited. Plenty of beaches along the Central Florida Gulf Coast fall under that designation, so let’s get started.

Caladesi Island State Park is hard to get to. You have the choice of walking for a very long way north from Clearwater Beach or taking a boat. A ferry runs from Honeymoon Island to the Caladesi Island which makes it not so difficult as some other islands, but you have to pay the ferryman. Once there, you will not have to wonder why this beach is on the list of good shelling locations. While you will still have to hunt for the big, dazzling shells, you will find no lack of scallops, clams, oysters, and cockles. Depending on how the waves have impacted the shore, you might find them in heaps.

Honeymoon Island State Park is another place that has hard to reach parts. The northern end takes a long time to reach on foot, leaving boating as the easiest method to reach it. Once you leave the frequently visited parking lot area of the island, headed north, you will head farther and farther into the zones that people don’t often go. Thanks to that, and the great length of the beach, you are virtually guaranteed to find great shells. If you do make it to the northern tip of the island, congratulations. Not only will you find fantastic shells, you will also be standing at one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

spiral seashell

Anclote Key Preserve State Park includes the island of Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sand Bar. These three islands are uninhabited and have no roads to reach them. Boating is the only option. Non-motorized craft should be operated by those with some experience because of distance, waves, wind, and motorized boat traffic. Once there your eyes will pop at the shells you find. We have no need to run through the list of Florida shells for these islands. You have a chance to find them all. Anclote Key Preserve State Park sees so little traffic, especially Anclote Key, that you might encounter the shelling treasures of a lifetime.

Fort Desoto County Park and Shell Key are side by side barrier islands that have fantastic shelling opportunities. Fort Desoto is accessible by car and Shell Key by boat. Kayaks can be rented at the park to help you reach Shell Key. While Fort Desoto receives a large amount of traffic during peak seasons, it still has areas that are hard to reach, or which visitor simply don’t explore. That leaves those zones to you, the shell collector. Walk away from the main parking lot area in any direction and you will encounter a wide variety of shells. And if you rent a kayak, here is the key; cruise the shallow inlets where the water is only a foot deep or so. Shells no one else will find will appear just beneath your boat.

Egmont Key is the last location on our list. It is far from the other islands and motorized boats are recommended as reaching it crosses major boating channels. Fortunately, a regular ferry departs Fort Desoto for the island. Here you will find miles of beaches that see very few visitors. Aside from the archeological goodies on Egmont Key, walking the beach will fill your shelling bag, and quite quickly. It is a shell collector’s dream.

Seashell on Clearwater Beach

Finding Shells the Easy Way

Clearwater Beach, Sand Key, Indian Rocks, Redington, Madeira, Treasure Island and St Pete Beach all receive tourism traffic but enjoy ample sea life as well. Lucky finds can still be encountered on our standard beaches, and often are by the fortunate passersby. Keep your eyes sharp in all these locations for things other than shells. You never know what you might find amid the sands of the Florida Gulf Coast.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

A Beach Less Traveled

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Paradise Lost; A Beach in Peril

Posted on: February 18th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Honeymoon Island State Park Beach

4 Million Dollar Face Lift

Honeymoon Island BeachHoneymoon Island received a face lift last year designed to restore its remarkable beaches so that visitors could enjoy the shores that have thrilled beach-goers for decades. Stone jetties were added and sand was pumped onto the shore. The beaches looked fantastic and were ready to move forward, allowing visitors to enjoy the famous Honeymoon Island Beach into the future. The reality, however, has turned out quite different. A trip to the beach just two days ago revealed a troubling picture.

The Perfect Beach

Perfect beach Honeymoon IslandTen years ago when I first toured Honeymoon Island, I was taken by its swaths of white sand, beautiful palms, and ample space for visitors. The beachfront was lined with parking lots that filled up on busy weekends, the sands occupied with happy visitors. I joined them, sunning and swimming at the beach with friends and taking long walks to the north and south along the white-sand shores.

Destructive Storms

Coral rock beachEven then I heard concern voiced for the island due to the shifting sands. Over the years I watched the beach change but after a rather heavy set of storms, I returned to find the sand gone, with the substrate of coral rock in its place. The beach had been carried away so deeply that one section of parking lot had been undercut and collapsed. It was then that the serious efforts to save this cherished beach began in earnest. That led to last year’s jetties and sand replenishment. Logic, a visual study, and the experts agreed that the extra sand would be held in place by the rocks. In fact, the anticipated  sand movement should have piled up against the rocks, allowing nature to create even more beach area. Alas it did not prove so.

No More Beach Walks?

Honeymoon Island beach walkDuring the recent visit, I found most of the beach I had known missing, and certainly no large swaths of sand. January and February had brought high winter tides, which are normal, but the tides were also accompanied by high winds, perhaps associated with the El Nino conditions. The sand that was pumped onto the beach has been effected, and much of it seems to be gone. When I walked north, I saw that during recent high tides, the waters of the Gulf had washed completely across the beach into the inland waterways and only a few, very small areas of beach had remained above the waterline. Honeymoon Island parking lotThe waters reached the parking lot as well, with large pools collected in the low areas of pavement. I cut my walk north short because the rising tide met with the inland shrubbery, leaving no space to walk.

Startling Beach Erosion

Eroded beachBoardwalks led out onto the sand in the past. Those boardwalk ramps have now been shortened, with the ends fenced off and the beach access provided via stairs leading off the sides instead of the ends. When I walked north toward the dog beach area, I was alarmed to find the surf rolling into the mangrove bushes which had once been some fifty yards up the shore. The evidence of shifted sands was everywhere, which included washes of sand pushed inland alongside of uprooted bushes. Dog beach is now divided by a miniature estuary that runs about two feet deep. I will admit, the dogs didn’t seem to mind.

Return of the Natural Beach?

Honeymoon Island jettiWhat will the future of Honeymoon Island be? A placard on site suggests that the island is attempting to revert to the shape it had before development. After watching the sands at the various islands moving about, it seems that letting nature take its course is not a bad idea. As this Herculean effort to restore the beach proves, nature is going to run its course regardless. The question still remains, however, as to whether or not the beach will continue to wash away. Rock barrierThe rock barriers are still in place. Will the calmer summer tides and currents pile the sand back up? The island was created by natural forces so its disappearance is highly unlikely. As for the beach, it seems that a game of wait and see might be in order. I, for one, hope to see natural forces bring the sands back. Wishful thinking? Let’s hope not.

Central Gulf Coast Beaches to Visit

Clearwater BeachArea beaches that are surviving well are Anclote Key, Caladesi Island just to the south, and, of course, Clearwater Beach which has done quite well. Clearwater Beach, may, in fact, be the recipient of some of those migrating sands. Islands south of Clearwater Beach were replenished in the past and casual observation suggests they are remaining intact. If you are looking for sandy beaches in the area to visit, both natural and developed, those would be the locations to visit.

Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island dog beachHoneymoon Island was one of the top beaches in the area and a favored seashore for spending the day in the sun and surf. The park’s allure for locals and tourists will continue but without the swaths of soft beach sand that once drew crowds, its future attendance will undoubtedly suffer. The saving graces of the island park include a nature center, picnic area, dog beach, a ferry to a neighboring island, and a nature trail that has remarkable bird watching opportunities.

Best Wishes for Honeymoon Island

Will the county try again to save the beach? Will the erosion create a much different island shape than the one we know today? Will the beach save itself? Or will the jetties create the intended effect and capture the shifting sands?  Those of us who love Honeymoon Island State Park will keep a close watch on its progress and hope for the best.

Honeymoon Island

Wonders of Winter on Clearwater Beach

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Treasures on the Beach

The beach is always an enjoyable place. Summer is the time people flock to the shores to dip into the waters or sunbathe on the shores. Winter, however, has its own sort or allure at the beach. It is a place to take long walks, to observe what you see on the sand, or to spend time with someone you care about.

sponge on beach

Winter brings higher tides, the waterline rising to surprising heights during full moons of December and January. At Clearwater Beach recently, the high tides were accompanied by high winds and larger waves, a unique event for a beach that ordinarily sees waves of a foot or less.

Conch on Clearwater Beach

The draw of the waves and high tide brought things to shore that one does not usually get a chance to see. Peculiar creates wound up scattered across the sand, bringing delight to those who were wise enough to go to beach on a cold day.

Seashell on Clearwater Beach

The Tampa Bay area, which includes Clearwater, is known for its sponges. A wide variety grows on the shallow, warm seafloor of this region. The turbulent waters detached those in unprotected areas, or that were perhaps old or even dead. They many shapes and colors added to the display on the beach.

Sponges on Clearwater Beach

The birds gathered to pick through the treasures, though in the early morning they more often gathered in groups to huddle against the cool breeze.

Seagull at sunrise Clearwater Beach

While many people enjoy a clean, debris-free beach, this wash-up was a delight. The faces of those walking the shores showed their enjoyment and the scattered display prompted strangers to discuss their finds and to comment on the peculiar volume of sea life on the sand.

Horsehoe crab on Clearwater Beach

The visual treasures of the beach were the type that easily create beach memories that can last a lifetime.

Conch with visible eyes

Discovering Egmont Key All Over Again

Posted on: November 24th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Egmont Key flowersA long time ago, in a land right under your feet, a river ran to the sea. As the eons passed, the shoreline moved and the seas rose and fell. Today at the mouth of that ancient river-that-no-longer-runs is an island known as Egmont Key. Formed by the ancient lay of land, it differs from the nearby barrier islands, which were created wind, waves, and shifting sand. Located on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this fascinating Florida island sits at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Egmont Key beachEgmont Key State Park is remote and well worth the effort of visiting.

November marks the days for visiting the island, not because of the season, but rather the Discover the Island event which is organized by the Egmont Key Alliance,. While Egmont Key is open all year long, the event invites guests to the island for tours, food, displays, and souvenirs which are not ordinarily present. By doing so, the Egmont Key Alliance increases awareness and support for preserving the important island and its unique history.

Egmont Key lighthouseEgmont Key has served many purposes over the years, but its strategic position at the mouth of Tampa Bay dictated its destiny for military use. A fort sat on the island as well as guns for defending the mouth of the bay. While modern technology has overcome the need for a station on the island, it was used from the Civil War through World War Two to defend the important harbor. Tour guides for the event explained the various unique ways those stationed on the island kept the mouth of Tampa Bay safe. Many of the concrete structures still stand. Others have sunk beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and sit off shore beneath the waves, victims of a shifting shoreline.

Train wheels Egmont KeyIn the present, the island supports a lighthouse, several old bunkers, and the brick streets of a bygone military base that you can walk. Amid the reminders of days gone by are railroad tracks that ran from the base out to a pier for loading boats. Palm trees and mangroves cover the island, the brick streets running through a palm forest now, rather than a base. On the west side of the former buildings is the beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand paradise. You will rarely find this beach occupied, except, of course, for the Discover the Island days.

Egmont Key beachThe southern portion of the island is off limits to visitors, being the domain of nesting birds and sea turtles. The large preserve is home to an amazing number of birds during nesting seasons, although our guide explained that November was not a peak month. Despite most of the island being a preserve, the portion that is open for touring is quite large and more than enough to fill an entire day of exploring.

Egmont Key FerryMark your calendars for November to take advantage of this fun and informative event. While you can visit the island any time you like, the Discover the Island event might be the best time to learn about the island’s history. It is also a good time to go if you don’t particularly want to be on an island all by yourself. Despite what type of experience you enjoy, guided or solo, be sure to check out this island. A ferry runs to it regularly from Fort Desoto Park. Don’t miss out on this unique experience!

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Shaking Hands with Pirates

Clearwater Beach Marina

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

Ditching a Car for the Ferry to Clearwater Beach

Posted on: October 19th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Going to Clearwater Beach has always been enjoyable but now the Clearwater Ferry has added a bit more to the experience.

An Easier Way to Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Ferry boardingOne of the things we sometimes hear at our Florida Beach Rentals offices is that our customers are in traffic on their way to Clearwater Beach. While Clearwater Beach traffic doesn’t compare to places like New York or Los Angeles, it can take a bit of time to get over the bridge to our island on a Saturday afternoon. More than once we discussed how nice it would be to have a water taxi to get across Clearwater Harbor on busy days. Apparently, we were not alone. The owners of The Tropics Boat Tours recently launched a water taxi to make the crossing.

Beach Parking with Perks

Clearwater FloridaThe Clearwater Ferry starts at Coachman Park, home to many of the City of Clearwater’s favorite festivals. A large paved parking area flanks the park and, in this case, the parking lot is the main attraction. While parking on Clearwater Beach tends to fill up and cost money, it is free in the spacious lot next to Coachman Park. The parking lot puts you in a good location too. The lot is next door to both the Clearwater Public Library and Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, which is a museum-style display based on the Dolphin Tale movies that star celebrity dolphins Winter and Hope. Also nearby is well-known Cleveland Street with the Capitol Theater, a number of restaurants, and a Starbucks. While the whole point might be to get across the water to Clearwater Beach, it is also nice to know that the amenities of Downtown Clearwater are within easy reach.

Scenic Route to Clearwater Beach

Clearwater FerryThe Clearwater Ferry waits for passengers at the foot of the pier, just under the bridge. Signs lead the way to the loading ramp, just in case you don’t see the vessel right away. Boarding is easy and plenty of seating lines the perimeter. The ride goes quickly, but despite that, plenty of great scenery goes by. The tranquil waters of Clearwater Harbor glide under the ferry while it plies its way alongside the causeway. To the left stands an uninhabited mangrove island that has become a bird sanctuary. Birds always fill the branches or stand in the shallows of this harbor landmark. The docking arrives sooner than you might expect, the ride only taking perhaps 5 minutes.

Reaching more of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater FerryAn unexpected perk arose near the end of the Clearwater Ferry ride. Working on Clearwater Beach made me curious about the ferry service and whether it would be feasible on heavy traffic days like weekends or holidays. To my surprise, the pilot explained that they now drop people off at the Clearwater Beach Library at no additional charge. The extra distance went quickly and when we arrived, I stepped onto the shore a mere block from where I worked. With service to the main marina and the library dock, much of the beach is covered. For many employees, these two stops eliminate most of the walking. For tourists, the disembarking sites lead to the two most visited areas of Clearwater Beach. The Clearwater Ferry is even considering an additional stop to the southern end of Clearwater Beach which would make the entire public beach area accessible on foot after disembarking.

Thumbs Up for Clearwater Ferry

Aside from being convenient and affordable (day passes $3 to $8) the ferry is an enjoyable ride. While the route never varies, it does go through a channel used by many of the tour boats while out on the harbor. The views are fantastic, as they always are while out on the waters of the bay. It is hard to imagine a more scenic route to get to work.

Clearwater Ferry

 

More posts you might enjoy:

No Roads Found to Caladesi Island

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

 



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