Category Archives: Florida Wildlife

Three Rooker Bar

Sharing Natural Paradise of Three Rooker Bar

Ever Changing Island

driftwood on islandThree Rooker Island is the most recent of the barrier islands to emerge, according to Wikipedia, although the accolade of newest island now actually goes to the sand bar north of Anclote Key. Anclote Key is estimated to be 1000 years old. That makes Three Rooker Bar an island which emerged very recently. Not surprisingly, it is a shoreline on the move. The light-weight sands that comprise the island are easy for wind and water to pick up and move.  Storms which push additional amounts of water are also a major factor in shaping the juvenile island. According to locals, Three Rooker Bar has split, reformed, and split again in just the last decade. During our visit, a strongly flowing channel of water divided the two halves. The islands of the area are constantly on the move, with the shores often appearing different the next time a visitor stops by. When you tour Three Rooker Bar, take a good look. It will only appear in that condition for a short while. What you find on your next visit will be a new surprise.

 

Finding Three Rooker Bar

Boating barrier islandsThree Rooker Bar is three miles off the coast of Pinellas County, Florida, where the cities of Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs meet. For those who need more general orientation, it is in the Tampa Bay area but is in the Gulf of Mexico, not the bay. The island is part of the Anclote Key Preserve State Park, being the most southern of three islands. It is only accessible by boat. For your boating GPS, it lies at coordinates 28.119170, -82.842028.

 

Wildlife Preserve

Anclote Nature PreserveBecause the island is part of the Anclote Key Preserve State Park, it is important not to tread across areas that are marked off. Anclote Key Preserve is a nesting place for many species of birds and is also used by nesting sea turtles. During certain seasons, the park service will rope off areas of Three Rooker Bar and Anclote Key to protect the nests. That is also why taking dogs to the island is not permitted. So, if you see areas marked or roped off, respect the zones and keep your visit to the other parts of the island.

 

Accessible by Boat

Island boating Gulf CoastThree Rooker Bar is accessible only by boat and is approximately three miles off shore. That means you have to own you own boat, rent a boat, or hire a charter. Rentals and charters are easy to find, although renting a speedboat should be done with caution. The Gulf of Mexico is shallow, especially along the shoreline and in the harbors. It is easy to run aground on a sand bar. Smaller, personal watercraft are the most affordable but, for kayakers, days with lower winds and waves are recommended, since the three mile stretch is directly across open water. Island hopping FloridaThe challenges of getting to the island inhibit visitation, and that low level of visitors makes for a private, or at least semi private island experience. Be advised, that on some occasions, such as major holidays, the island can fill up with boaters and become a pretty wild party atmosphere. On most days, however, it is a peaceful location to stroll the shores, collect shells, fish, catch sun, or just relax.

 

Barrier Island Paradise

Three Rooker Bar is the one of the most beautiful locations you will find in the area, perhaps even in the United States. If you like beaches, remote locations, white sands, boating, and sunshine, this island is a perfect destination for you. Just be sure to respect the island while you are there. You just might find your own private paradise.

Three Rooker Bar, FloridaThree Rooker Bar, FloridaThree Rooker Bar, FloridaOther posts you might enjoy:

Discovering Egmont Key

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

Anclote Key

Discovery Tour of Anclote River and Anclote Key

Boat Tours of the Anclote River

Odyssy Cuises boatThe river and island boat tour begins with a visit to the ticket booth on locally-famous Dodecanese Blvd, home of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. Lined with fun gift shops, fantastic Greek restaurants, and ridiculously stocked desert shops, Dodecanese Blvd is a perfect place to gather people together for boat tours. The city of Tarpon Springs was founded along the Anclote River, where sponge divers docked their boats. The sponge trade is still alive and thriving today, with a multitude of sponge diving boats docked at the edge of the river. Thanks to the active tourism at the Sponge Docks, a number of cruise companies have made the docks their home as well. Gulf of Mexico tourThe cruises have various themes, some explaining the sponge industry in detail, others putting emphasis on dolphin sightings, sunsets, and local wildlife. Thanks to the gentle currents of the Anclote River, all of the tours are guaranteed to be relaxing. And for scenery, an Anclote River tour cannot be beat.

 

Anclote River

Anclote River TourThe Anclote River begins far inland, winding through mangrove forests and low lying terrain where no homes are built. The river is fed by run off and by a multitude of springs, creating a constant flow toward the Gulf of Mexico. Rain and spring waters are not the only forces to affect the river, however. The Gulf of Mexico plays it part twice a day as tides rise and fall. According to local boat captains, the tides of the Gulf of Mexico can push up river as much as four miles, which is about a mile beyond the docks themselves. For those who know what to look for, the leading edge of the tide can be spotted as a small wave moving upstream. Anclote Key lighthouseThe width of the Anclote River between the Sponge Docks and the Gulf of Mexico ranges from less than 200 feet to over 1000 feet, making it fairly easy to navigate –or so says a passenger. Boats ply the river constantly, from small speed boats to large fishing and shrimping vessels. The tour boats are among the traffic that use the river, making their way from the docks westward, out to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico

Ospreys on Anclote RiverWe were invited to ride on the Odyssey Cruises tour boat via local connections, which is to say, a couple of us from the Florida Beach Rentals office live in Tarpon Springs. Odyssey has a large pontoon boat which is perfect for carrying tour groups down the river. They offer multiple themes for their tours, including dolphin sighting, sunset cruises, and trips to Anclote Key, which is an island just off the coast. We pushed off the docks just after noon with the fascinating island of Anclote Key as our destination. The ride down the river was as entertaining as ever, with our tour guide pointing out wildlife and local features of the landscape. Anclote River ParkFlorida is home to some remarkable birds, most of the notable ones being large wading birds, though Ospreys, or fish hawks, are an exception to that rule. The ride down the river was roughly three miles, winding past commercial docks, restaurants, private homes, mangrove islands, and waterfront city parks. At the end of the river, the banks curved away and the mangroves dwindled to reveal the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Our destination was in plain view three miles out, the island of Anclote Key.

 

Anclote Key

Anclote Key, FLWe landed on the southern tip of Anclote Key, beaching on the region of shifting sands and sandbars. Tidal rivers ran across the island while the soft white sands the region is famous for covered the shores.  Despite being a land form in transition, plants had found purchase on the newly formed spit of land shooting off the southern end of Anclote Key. Seashells on Anclote KeyWe offloaded onto the sands, with several other island-hopping beach-goers already there to greet us. Odyssey Boat Tours gave us a time limit to play on the island and set us free. The passengers scattered, each choosing his or her own direction.  Anclote Key is a three miles long, far too much terrain for us to explore fully, so a search of the immediate area was the next best thing. Shelling on shifting sands of a sandbar was ideal. The tidal rivulets running across the sand made it even better. The shells were easy pickings. The springtime waters were a sparkling turquoise color, and the sand, as always, was as soft as talcum powder. Although we were given ample time to explore, it seemed too soon when the boat horn blew, rounding us up again.

 

Return to the Sponge Docks

Anclote Key beachOur return trip included a search for dolphins, though we had no luck on that day. It did, however, give us some appreciated extra time on the water. We arrived back at the Sponge Docks happy travelers. The overall tour was quite enjoyable. The boat ride put a number of us in the mood for the excellent deserts available just across the street, although I think some of us might have had that in mind all along. The tour seems a great idea for adding a pair of entertaining hours to the day. With an affordable price tag for this boat tour of the Anclote River, the Gulf of Mexico, and Anclote Key, it is an easy choice for a bonus activity during a vacation outing to Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

 

Odyssey Cruises: 727-934-0547 rio@odysseycruises.net

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

It Is All Greek to Florida

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

 

Barrier Island Touring

Touring Barrier Island Heaven

Barrier Island Touring with Private Island Charters

Anclote River ParkWhen Private Island Charters extended an invitation to tour the barrier islands of the coast, the offer was impossible to refuse. The tour started at Anclote River Park, a well-known destination for Tarpon Springs locals. While the park is not so much a destination for tourists, it does have many positive draws. Aside from the boat ramp, it has picnic pavilions with lots of shade of trees around, a swimming beach, and a Native American mound site. We set off from the boat dock at the park and headed out the boaters’ channel at the mouth of the river.

 

North Sandbar

North SandbarOur first destination was the island that most locals call North Sand Bar. It is part of a long sandbar that has risen above the water. It now supports mangrove trees, bushes and grass, despite being very small. The sands are perfectly soft, and bright. A few people were strolling the island while a number of private fishermen worked the shallows around the island. It is a beautiful place, which is most often a peaceful place to enjoy near solitude on remarkable beaches. We took a tour of the island on foot after dropping anchor. With such an abundance of shallows, it is a great place for wading.  After circling the island on foot, which took only minutes, we waded out into the shallows of the sand bar. Then, with more to see ahead of us, we climbed back onto the boat and headed off for more island exploring.

 

Island Currents

Anclote Key sandbarNorth Sandbar nearly connects to Anclote Key to the south but is cut off by a strong current that flows between. Anclote Key is a three mile long island that is uninhabited. It is well established, with forests and grasses along its length. Visitors to the island can almost always enjoy solitude on its beaches. The island also has a lighthouse from the 1800s. While visitors can no longer climb the tower, it is nice for photographs as well as being an important part of local history. We cruised by the northern end of the island using the channel between the island and the sandbar. Because the day was slightly windy, we did not stop the Private Islands Charter boat on Anclote Key, due to the higher surf rolling onto its western side, which is where the beaches are.

 

Three Rooker Bar

Three Rooker BarThe next island to the south is called Three Rooker Bar. Maps vary on its name, refering to it as both an island and a sandbar. The sands of Three Rooker Bar are still moving about, with a channel currently cutting the island in half. According to locals, the island was split in half in the past but then reformed. A recent storm split the island again, and a strong current now passes between the two halves of Three Rooker Bar. We stopped on the southern half, pacing around its shores for a  while. The shelling next to the tidal current was fantastic. The flow of water between the island halves was as strong as any river, creating surf where it issued into the waters on the west side of the island. While we wanted to circle the island on foot, the southern end was roped off for the nesting birds. The trees on the southern end of the island were inviting, but we left them to the birds and their nests and returned the way we came. The return trip to the docks was a sun-filled ride across the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Island Boating

Private Island ChartersThe charter was a lot of fun, with Captain Todd going wherever requested. He explained that most excursions include dolphin sightings. The sites within reach are numerous, with even more locations either north or south of the places we visited. Honeymoon Island State Park is within reach, as is Howard Park, the Anclote River, and the northern Nature Coast. Captain Todd said that, while he has taken fishermen out, most his charters are booked by vacationers who want to see the area. The region of the Gulf of Mexico his boat plies is remarkable, with pristine natural islands, state parks, an historic river, and more. The choice is yours. You can ask to go where you like, or you can sit back and let Private Island Charters treat you to the treasures of the coast.

 

Private Island Charters: 727-534-8818

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

No Roads Found to Caladesi Island

Discovering Egmont Key

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

If you would like to stay at a waterfront vacation rental with a private dock serviced directly by Private Island Charters call us at Florida Beach Rentals and we will do our best to accommodate you. (727-288-2020)

Discover the Island of Egmont Key

Discovering Egmont Key

Discover the Island at Egmont Key

Lighthouse on Egmont KeyThe Discover the Island event hit Egmont Key last month, giving area residents and visitors a great reason to learn more about the unique island. The island is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, north of the main shipping channel. Egmont Key Alliance put on the event, adding plenty of fun additions to an already fascinating destination. The event was held November 8th and 9th (2014) with plenty of promotion to let us all know to show up. Attending the event was a rewarding experience, even for those who had visited previously. Visitors were allowed to explore the island at will, with lots of goodies thrown in, such as historical re-enactors, a kids area with games and crafts, a silent auction to help support island preservation efforts, and, of course, a food tent. With the fascinating terrain, wildlife, ruins, and rich history, the Discover the Island event at Egmont Key was a crowd pleaser.

 

Exploring Egmont Key

Ruins on Egmont Key

Island railroad ruinsVisitors were free to discover the ruins of Egmont Key’s military bunkers, which date back well over a hundred years. Only the concrete and some metal remains, leaving the buildings without doors, and open to tour. The decaying buildings are the ruins of Fort Dade, part of a defense structure for Tampa Bay that includes nearby Fort DeSoto. The building began in the 1800’s for the Spanish-American War. The island saw military use up through the Second World War, when it served as an observation and targeting station against enemy ships who might try to enter Tampa Bay. Today on the island, tourists can view the ruins up close. Fort ruins on Egmont KeyMany of Egmont Keys buildings have sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, due to erosion of the island’s west coast. Other ruins are open to enter, including bunkers, housing, and a guard house. Targeting towers stand amid the brush of the island while a network of brick roads lead through a military compound partly reclaimed by forest. Although the event provided an excellent excuse to tour the ruins, Egmont Key is open year round.

Egmont Key Lighthouse

Egmont Key lighthouseA lighthouse still stands on Egmont Key, providing a light, into the present day, to direct ships and other vessels that navigate near the island. The lighthouse, erected in 1858, is the second to exist on the island, the first lasting only a short period before being too damaged by weather for safety. The existing lighthouse has unusually thick walls, the inside being no more than a spiraling metal stairway. For the sake of preservation, visitors are not allowed to climb the tower. For the lighthouse reenactorDiscover the Island event, a historical re-enactor waited at the tower bottom to share his knowledge of the lighthouse, as well as the island itself. No question could stump him, his information on the site satisfying every query. The lighthouse is the best known building on the island, serving as a symbol for Egmont Key.

Guided Tours of Egmont Key

Guided tours at Egmont KeyFor the Discover the Island Event, guided tours were available to walk guests by the most important sites. The guides, versed in the islands military and natural history, walked large groups around the island, describing the role of each building visited. They shared such details as storage containers for mine field parts, underground houses, the methods for targeting enemy ships, Fort Dade operations, an island railway, and more. They also stopped the tour groups at a presentation regarding the wildlife inhabitants of the island. Guides told of the gopher tortoise, an endangered species which lives on the island, digging boroughs into the soft sand. History display at Egmont KeySea turtles nest on the island, and the entire southern end is occupied by the Egmont Key Wildlife Refuge, which is a nesting site for numerous species of birds. Another station provided an up close look at military memorabilia. The tours provided great information, the history portions delivered in the environment where the history occurred.

Discover the Island Goodies

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve raptorA number of other great goodies were in store for visitors who attended the Discover the Island event. Civil war re-enactors set up camp on the island, performing military drills for the crowds that gathered. The drills were well done, with historical commentary from the commanding officer. The order to fire was silent, however, out of respect for a wildlife attraction at Egmont Key for the day. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve  brought a collection of live raptors. Owls, hawks, and falcons were out in the open for visitors to view while they walked down the preserved walkways of the island. Reenactment camp at Egmont KeyAt another site, closer to the beach, pirates (in paper hats) had taken over the lawn, with a pirate chest and kids games. Near the foot of the lighthouse, memorabilia for the island was on sale, as well as a crowd pleasing grilling tent serving hot dogs, chips, and drinks. When put together, the extras thrown into the preservation-themed event made the Discover the Island event a perfect reason to visit Egmont Key.

 

Egmont Key

Egmont Key beachIf Egmont Key sounds like a destination you would like to visit, you are right! The island enjoys the white sand beaches cherished on the Florida Gulf Coast, including the sparkling Gulf of Mexico waters. A ferry departs from Fort Desoto Park on a regular basis. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time. Egmont Key Park is open year round for visitors. For the price of a ferry ride, you can tour its spectacular light house, fascinating ruins, and remarkable beaches. The brick roads of Fort Dade are yours to explore. For those who keep their eyes peeled, the local wildlife might make an appearance as well.

If you are planning a visit to the Central Gulf Coast of Florida, be sure to put Egmont Key on your list of unique sites to see.

Egmont Key video

Egmont Key video

Egmont Key video

Guns on Egmont Key video

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

 

 

Clearwater to Caladesi shoreline (3)

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Barrier Islands of the Florida Gulf Coast

Caladesi IslandClearwater and the City of Dunedin have some of the best barrier islands in the United States. They are the three best known islands in the area, consisting of Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island, and Honeymoon Island. Other great islands are also along our coast, just to be clear, with Anclote Key and Three Rooker Island to the north and Sand Key, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach, and Mullet Key to the south. The sands of the Florida Gulf Coast on the move, however, creating a changing history for the barrier islands.

 

Clearwater Beach and Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon IslandWhen the area was first settled, the islands of Clearwater Beach and Honeymoon Island were in a very different condition than they are today. Clearwater Beach was called Hog Island and later on, Tate’s Island. It had no access other than by boat. Later, a causeway was built and it was named Clearwater Beach. Honeymoon Island was much smaller. Development plans came and went for the island, the land eventually becoming a state park. Shifting sands over the last century have connected the nearby sand bars to the island, more than doubling its length. The northern extension of the island created a fantastic stretch of soft white sand beach and the enclosed waters of Pelican Cove.

 

Dunedin Pass

Caladesi Clearwater land bridgeThe shape of Caladesi Island has changed less than the other islands, probably due to the abundance of mangrove trees there. The most striking change is the sand bar that grew northward from Clearwater Beach, connecting the two islands. The waterway that used to run between the two islands was called Dunedin Pass. It was a popular passageway for boaters entering and leaving the intra-coastal waterway. Over time, the sands on the south side of the pass began to move northward. Dredging was discussed, and the city even voted, successfully, to purchase a dredging machine in 1977. The plan to keep Dunedin Pass open was not to be, however. In 1985, Hurricane Elena struck the area and filled the waterway with enough sand to make in impossible to navigate by boat. With the sand already moving northward from Clearwater Beach, the pass soon filled in completely. Today, beachgoers can walk across the sand bridge between the two islands. It has filled in with enough sand to create a complete beach. Only memories and written  history allows newcomers to know that Dunedin Pass was ever there.

 

Exploring Dunedin Pass

Clearwater Caladesi land bridge 2Several methods exist for exploring Dunedin Pass. Walking northward from Clearwater Beach is the most common. It takes a little time and effort, especially on hot summer days, but beachgoers can walk the sands northward, arriving at the old pass in less than an hour. Another method would be to take the Caladesi Island Ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park. Once on the beach, visitors can walk south to find the narrow area of sand. If you are lucky enough to have a boat on hand, you can arrive via the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Boaters can cruise up the coast from Clearwater Pass or down the coast from Hurricane Pass. While in a boat on the coast, it is not easy to spot the old pass. The sand appears the same up and down the beach, rising too high for boaters to see over to the harbor. One clue is the park sign, set on the beach, telling beachgoers that they have arrived at Caladesi Island State Park. Clearwater to Caladesi shoreline (8)The remains of the pass are just south of the sign. The last route to pass is by boat on the intra-coastal waters. This route, however, is not for larger boats. To actually land on the eastern side of the beach, you will need a watercraft such as a kayak or a paddleboard. The water shallows to just a few inches for quite a long stretch before you can land. When you do, a very short walk takes you to the crest of the beach where you overlook the white sand beaches and the Gulf of Mexico.

The pass is a beautiful stretch of sand, some of the softest and whitest you will find in the area. It is also a part of the beach much less traveled, leaving the beauty of the area almost to you alone. Dunedin Pass is well worth visiting.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Curious History of Philippe Park

 

 

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach MarinaClearwater Marina enjoys a central location on Clearwater Beach, adjacent to the roundabout at the entrance and across the street from the beach and Pier 60. It is home to a fair number of private boats and yachts but also an extensive collection of tour boats and fishing charters. On ordinary days, you will see visitors gathered along the sidewalks that run the length of docks. The number of opportunities to get out onto Clearwater Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico is surprising. If you are considering spending a vacation at Clearwater Beach without an excursion out onto the water, you should think again. The Clearwater Beach Marina is a perfect place to create treasured vacation memories.

 

Things to Do at Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina jet skisAt first glance, the Clearwater Beach Marina has two things, tour boats and fishing charters, but if you look deeper, you will find more. In the lineup of tour boats you will discover a wide variety of choices. The docks provide pirate cruises, dolphin sighting tours, giant cigar speedboat tours, party cruises, sunset cruises, and dinner cruises. The fishing charter choice offer a wide range of choices too. Charters run either half day or full day, run to our shoreline reefs or out to the deeps of the gulf, use small private boats or large multi-passenger vessels. With smaller charters, you can even request certain types of fish, and, if possible, the captain will take you to where they are found.

In addition to the passenger and charter vessels, you will also find a host of other watercraft available. The Clearwater Marina vendors rent jet skis, speed boats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards. Scuba excursions, parasailing boats, and sailboat charters also set off from the docks of the marina. You can even charter a boat to take you sightseeing or shelling on Clearwater Harbor or Clearwater area beaches and barrier islands.

 

 

Clearwater Beach Marina Experience

Clearwater Beach cruiseIncluding the Clearwater Beach Marina experience in your vacation plans is a good idea. Boating adds a dynamic dimension to your stay.

You will find the Clearwater Harbor and Gulf of Mexico tours offer more than you would expect. The smaller tour boats will always have a cooler on board, many with alcohol. You will also find the boat crews are very hospitable, allowing you to bring your own drinks and store them in their coolers. Some boat crews will give informative talks about the Clearwater Beach area. There is usually a photo op available on the docks via the tour company too.

Clearwater Beach fishing charterFor those who love fishing, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are renowned. Some of the best tasting fish in the world come from our waters, and casting a line to catch them is fun. Whether you like the relaxation of being out on the water or the excitement of reeling in a great catch, the Gulf of Mexico will satisfy.

Some of the tour boats offer a fun atmosphere with music, like the Tropics Boat Tours, the Calypso Queen, or the pirate ship, Captain Memo, which is a favorite for kids. The dolphin sighting tour guides usually right were the dolphins are, helping to make your ride memorable. Dolphin sighting Clearwater BeachBe sure to take your camera because the dolphins love to play in the wakes of boats, giving you ample opportunity to make them part of your vacation photo collection.

All of the tours are enjoyable, some of them exciting. Whatever type of excursion you choose, you will probably come away with more than you expected.

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

 

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

 

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