Category Archives: Gulf Coast Insider

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

 

 

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

 

 

Clearwater Beach aerial 2

Accommodations or Flight, Which to Book First

Booking Your Flight First

passenger jetBooking an airline flight first is a good idea. Why? Because if you book your accommodations first you might not find a flight to match it. With airlines running their flights tighter than ever, you need to know that you can get to your destination. Plus, your flight needs to be booked well ahead of time in order to save money.

Does booking a flight first come with risks? Yes it does. You can pay for your flight and wind up not finding the rental you want during the time period allowed for by your round trip tickets. That’s not good. You could wind up far away from the beach or other attraction you intended to enjoy.

 

Booking Your Accommodations First

beach accommodationsBooking accommodations first is also a plan that can work. If you book far enough ahead, it will be easier to get a flight to match. Since popular destinations often take reservations a year or more in advance, you might find airfare tickets with greater ease, given a long enough lead time.

Does booking accommodations first carry a risk? Of course it does. You might wind up with reservations and no flight to go with them. If you get a flight that doesn’t match your reservations, your vacation can be thrown out of sync, forcing you to purchase extra nights where you didn’t intend to stay. Worse still, you might have a shorter flight than your paid accommodations, forcing you to pay for nights you don’t get to enjoy.

 

Make Vacation Flight Plans and Accommodations Match

beach vacationThe solution to synchronizing your flight plan with your accommodations might be easier than you think. You see, popular destinations often set availability on a Saturday to Saturday schedule. During high season especially, vacation rentals in our personal favorite destination, Clearwater Beach, will often only book beach cottages, homes, or condos on a one week, Saturday to Saturday, basis. The majority of problems with booking during peak seasons comes when travelers do not know about the one week restrictions. While you can book hotels for any nights you want, vacation rental homes and condos stick rather rigidly to their weekly schedules, at least during peak times. In case you don’t know, booking a vacation rental for a week is much less expensive than staying at a hotel for seven nights. That means staying in a hotel that was not part of your plans can take a heavy toll on your expenses. As with any hotel or vacation rental, check ins are in the afternoon and check outs are in the morning, so plan your flight accordingly. Put this all together and you might find making your flight and accommodations match much easier.

  • Plan ahead
  • Book your accommodations at least six months to one year before your vacation
  • Have in mind that your vacation accommodations might need to be Saturday to Saturday
  • Book your flight on a Saturday to Saturday schedule
  • Have a plan to fill the hours where flight schedule doesn’t match check in and check out times, especially for families with young children

Clearwater Beach accommodationsIf you schedule your flight and accommodations to match a standard one week stay, and you book far enough into the future, your job becomes easier. Even here in our vacation rental office, we had to agree that booking a flight first is probably the best plan of action, due to the sometimes-volatile nature of flight reservations. Understanding the vacation rental field before you book is advantageous. Call ahead or use the Internet to get a feel for the accommodations at your destination. We suggest Clearwater Beach!

Study your destination, understand booking dates, and plan ahead. With your research done, you can book your flight and accommodations like a pro.

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

To Drive or Not to Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

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

 

white beach sand

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Geological History of Florida

Florida Below Sea Level

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

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

Florida Rising out of the Sea

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

Prehistoric Florida

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

Modern Florida

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

 

Origin of Clearwater Beach and Gulf Coast Sands

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

Florida Gulf Coast

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

A Beach Less Traveled

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Best Beaches in America

 

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

 

Sea turtle

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Sea Turtles

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Turtle Hatching Season on the Florida Gulf Coast

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

 

Turtle Egg Laying on the Beach

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

 

Turtle Season Guidelines for Beach-goers

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

 

Local Turtle Trivia

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

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

 

Other posts  you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

Refences:

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

Fun Florida Facts

Fun Florida Facts

Clearwater BeachVacation Paradise

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

 

Fun Florida Facts

Florida oranges

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

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

frown face

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fun Facts about Clearwater Beach Region

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Weird Florida News Right Here in Clearwater

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

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

Ingraving of native Floridians

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Native American Indian Mounds

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

 

Native American Mound Builders of Florida

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

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

 

Where to Find Mound Sites

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

Safety Harbor MoundJungle Prada Park

Philippe Park

Pinellas Point Temple Mound

Anclote River Park

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Curious History of Philippe Park

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

References:

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

Strange Florida news

Weird Florida News Right Here in Clearwater

Weird Florida News

Florida map of Pinellas CountySometimes a news story comes out of the state of Florida that sounds a little odd. Strange news from Florida includes the legends of the chupacabra and the skunk ape monsters, the house made of bowling balls, the drive-in church, and more. Then of course comes the crazier variety like the woman arrested after throwing her husband’s chicken into the pool, or the man who attempted robbery with a tomahawk.  Yes, we citizens of Florida smirk at these too. However, a while back we noticed our own local slice of bizarre Florida, not all that far from Clearwater Beach. While we won’t be disclosing the exact location, we took pictures of the strange occurrence we found.

 

Local Piece of Weird Florida

Guinea Pig and Marsh RabbitA common variety of rabbit living in Florida is the marsh rabbit. These rabbits are most often seen at dusk, and almost always next to areas of tall grass, where they like to make their homes. They frequent marshes where the abundant undergrowth makes perfect homes for them. Within the stiff grasses that grow along the water, the small-eared rabbits create pathways that look a lot like tunnels. While there is nothing surprising about finding marsh rabbits in Florida, this time we found something else. Living in perfect harmony with the wild rabbits was a Guinea pig! He huddled next to the rabbits and foraged alongside of them. The rabbits had clearly accepted the Guinea pig as part of their community.

The animal was well-known to local residents who said the Guinea pig had lived among the rabbits for quite some time. Apparently, each evening at sunset, when the rabbits come out to forage, the small Clearwater, Florida resident draws a small crowd of onlookers.

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