Category Archives: Gulf Coast activities and attractions

Fall Festivals Clearwater Beach

Fantastic Fall Festivals St Pete to Clearwater Beach

Why Visit the Florida Gulf Coast During the Fall?

The beaches from Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach on the Florida Gulf Coast are exciting places to visit year round. While we experience seasons like everyone else, our winter temperatures are mild, making us a popular tourist destination from January through March. Other season attract visitors too, summer time at the beach still being as popular as ever.

Abeach festivallthough we enjoy year-round tourism, the numbers go up and down as the seasons come and go. One of our lower seasons for visitors is autumn. School starts and family vacations must end, at least for a little while. Attention goes back to the daily duties of life and Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the coastline in between is left for future vacations.

Does that mean that Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the beaches in between aren’t worth visiting in the fall?

Absolutely not.

In fact, it is difficult to find a more dynamic time than October at our Gulf Coast beaches. Why, you ask? Is it the cooler temperatures? The remarkable sunsets? The cheaper accommodations? While those are good reasons, they are not the number one best reason.  To learn why you should visit us in October, then read on.

 

11 Days of Bliss on the Florida Gulf Coast

Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach is a great place to visit as the year coasts toward a close. In fact, you might find October is the most exciting month of the year!

Clearwater Jazz Holiday

Clearwater Jazz HolidayThe magic begins with Clearwater Jazz Holiday. The event has reached its 35th year, now pulling in some of the greatest talent in jazz. The seating is in open air Coachman Park. Enjoy great music under the Florida sun or stars at this fun, four days of concerts. Clearwater Jazz Holiday is October 16 through 19.

World Windsurfing Championship

windsurfingFor the first time ever, the Youth World Windsurfing Championship is coming to the USA, with Clearwater Beach hosting the event! The event will take place at one of our favorite locations, Pier 60. Watch this one week event from the Pier, the water, or the beach. This competition is new to us but not to the world. International windsurfers will compete at this event, introducing Clearwater Beach to people from around the globe. World Windsurfing Championship at Clearwater Beach runs from October 18th to the 25th.

2014 World Paddle Association Championship Race

paddleboardsJoining the biggest weekend of the year are the Paddle Board Races at St Pete Beach. Head to the beach to watch the standup paddle board races just off shore. This event will be held on the U.S. east coast for the first time, right here at St Pete Beach. If you are a fan of the exploding trend of standup paddle boards, then this is an event you will want to attend. The 2014 World Paddle Association Championship Race happens October 24th to the 26th.

Beach Walk Chalk Walk

mermaid chalk artBeach Walk is a beachfront boardwalk-style sidewalk at Clearwater Beach, popular because its proximity to the sands and beachfront shops. During our favorite October weekend this sidewalk is transformed into a canvas for a host of chalk artists. The event has been a hit each year, filling the sidewalk with viewers. The event draws a wide variety of artists, offering visitors an amazing selection of chalk art. With all the other events happening at the beach, this event provides a very pleasant and interesting addition to the activities. Come to Clearwater Beach to see this event, or, if you are here for some other festival, make sure you visit the Beach Walk while you are here. Beach Walk Chalk Walk Festival runs October 24th through the 26th.

Stone Crab Festival Weekend

The stone crab season is a very special holiday on the Florida Gulf Coast, with events dotting the coastline of the Florida Gulf Coast.

Tarpon Springs Annual Greek Food and Wine Festival

Tarpon Springs sponge boatAt the top of the county, you will find Tarpon Springs, home of the famous Sponge Docks, one of the largest suppliers of natural sponges in the world. This fun tourist area is known for its Greek culture, making the festival held here make perfect sense. The Tarpon Springs Annual Greek Food and Wine Festival is held October 24 through 26, joining the culinary festivals of the Stone Crab Weekend, with a Greek twist, of course. If you like tourist towns, Greek culture, and good food, give this one a try!

John’s Pass Seafood Festival

Johns Pass Village and BoardwalkNear the bottom of the county you can enjoy John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, another well-known tourist attraction on the Florida Gulf Coast.  John’s Pass Seafood Festival joins the big weekend events of October 24 to 26 of 2014. The event includes live music, vendors, arts and crafts, and, of course, seafood. John’s Pass is fun on an ordinary day. Visiting the boardwalks during a festival is a real treat. Don’t miss this event in Madeira Beach, just north of Treasure Island.

Clearwater Beach Stone Crab Festivals

Stone Crab weekend festivalThe stone crab weekend at Clearwater Beach one of the best events of the year at this famous Gulf Coast beach. Cooters and Frenchy’s are the two main spots for the festivals. Cooters fills their parking lot with extra seating and live music while Frenchy’s closes off Baymont Street in front of their original restaurant for a banquet and block party with live music. The event is very lively and lots of fun. Daytime crowds are great but when the sun sets the party atmosphere really cranks up, giving guests some great beach memories. And then, of course, there’s the stone crabs, which are in season only once a year. This annual beach festival is one you don’t want to miss, so mark your Clearwater Beach calendars for the weekend of October 24th to the 26th.

Autumn at the Beach

Clearwater BeachIf you can make it to the Florida Gulf Coast during October you should definitely do so. Even more events occur during November and December but we will cover those in later blog posts. Be sure to keep your eyes on Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, St Pete Beach, and Tarpon Springs for the autumn season. We have a great festival line up for you here on the Florida Gulf Coast.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

The Amazing Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival at Clearwater Beach

 

 

Super Boat National Championship Clearwater Beach

Super Boat Races 2014 at Clearwater Beach

Super Boat National Championship Coming to Clearwater Beach

Clearawter Beach Super Boat National ChampionshipThe time has come again to get excited about Super Boat racing at Clearwater Beach. This year, the Bright House 2014 Clearwater Super Boat National Championship will run from Friday, September 26th through Saturday the 28th. Last year’s event was exciting, drawing a great beach crowd as well as a flotilla of boaters to watch the event. Eight classes of boats will blast past America’s favorite beach in a series of exciting racing events. The races is timed to coincide with fantastic weather on the Florida Gulf Coast, experiencing daytime temperatures that typically rang from the mid 70s to mid 80s. Sunshine and moderate temperatures equals a great day at the beach to for a spectator event. Before you reach the sands you might hear the roar of the powerful engines of these apex race machines, getting you in the mood for an exciting coastal event at Clearwater Beach.

 

Super Boat Racing next to Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

Super Boat Races Clearwater BeachThe Super Boat racing event occurs right offshore from famous Pier 60 at the heart of Clearwater Beach. Seating for the event is ample, being the beach itself! Bring your own chair or towel to spend the day on the beach watching the high speed boats roar past. You will experience all the pleasures of a typical day at the beach plus a whole lot more. You can still wade out a short distance to cool off in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, even with the powerful boats thundering past just off shore. Be sure to bring a cooler and some sunscreen, as well as any other sun protection, like a wide brimmed hat. You won’t want to leave once you arrive at the Clearwater Beach Super Boat Races.

 

Viewing Super Boat Races from a Boat

Super Boat National Championship Clearwater BeachThe other unique viewing opportunity for the Clearwater Beach Super Boat Races belongs to the boaters. A long line of boats forms, parallel to the beach, demarcating the event boundaries. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t own a boat to join the armada. Many of the local boat touring companies offer rides out to see the races. The event is fun to watch and draws plenty of people to the beach, so be prepared ahead of time. If you plan to book a private charter boat, you might want to call ahead for reservations. Calling the larger tour boat companies in advance is also recommended. Regardless of means you choose for getting out on the water, your views for this event are sure to be spectacular.

 

Booking Ahead for the Super Boat Races at Clearwater Beach

Take it from a Clearwater Beach vacation rental company, you will want to book your accommodations in advance when choosing Clearwater Beach as your destination. The Super Boat Races are right around the corner, so make your plans now to attend this upcoming event. If you want to use Florida Beach Rentals, we do have openings at the time of this writing.Clearwater Beach Super Boat Races

 

Enjoying Clearwater Beach during the Super Boat National Championship

Clearwater Beach Super Boat RacesBe sure to check out all the other great entertainment opportunities at Clearwater Beach. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the beautiful shores of the Florida Gulf Coast. Possibilities include walking the beach at night, touring the souvenir shops, dining, beach combing, touring local parks, boating, parasailing, and, of course, visiting famous dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale movies. The list does not stop there, however. You can look into all the other remarkable things to do at Clearwater Beach during the Super Boat National Championship in our Gulf Coast Activities and Attractions posts.

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Ultimate Tourist Attraction at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

 

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

 

Segway Adventure

The Segway Adventure at Clearwater Beach

What is a Segway?

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

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

 

The Segway Tour at Clearwater Beach

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

 

Experiencing Clearwater Beach on a Segway

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

 

Is The Clearwater Beach Segway Adventure for You?

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

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

What Is a Causeway?

 

Gulf Coast artificial reefs

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Pinellas County Artificial Reefs

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

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

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

 

Materials for Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

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

Diving on Florida Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

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

Fishing Florida Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

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

How to Locate Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

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

 

 Enjoying the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Never Confuse a Bayou with a Backwater Again

Gulf Coast Sunken Ship

 

Ingraving of native Floridians

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Native American Indian Mounds

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

 

Native American Mound Builders of Florida

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

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

 

Where to Find Mound Sites

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

Safety Harbor MoundJungle Prada Park

Philippe Park

Pinellas Point Temple Mound

Anclote River Park

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Curious History of Philippe Park

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

References:

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

Winter the dolphin

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A Day at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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

 

Harborview Center

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

 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Ferry

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

 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Features

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

Winter and Hope

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

Rescued Sea Life

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

 

Sealife Safari Boat Tour

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

 

Perfect Family Outing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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

Dolphin Tale I Trailer

Dolphin Tale II Trailer


Other posts you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail