Archive for the ‘Gulf Coast for Children’ Category

Crossing Tampa Bay on a Bike

Posted on: November 28th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Courtney Campbell Causeway

Causeways have one purpose; or at least they’re supposed to.

Bike on Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail

When a body of water requires a long bridge, one way to avoid a costly bridge of pure concrete is to pour dirt instead, creating a long strip of land on which to put a road. To maintain the flow of water and to allow boats to pass, true bridges are built along the way. The result is several long island-like structures with a few bridges hooking them together. And, just like that, you have a road across a large body of water that previously created a barrier for motorists.

Courtney Campbell Causeway

The Courtney Campbell Causeway spans the waters at the northern end of Tampa Bay, Florida. In one of the most populated areas of Florida, causeways like this one changed a drive that used to take two or more hours into one that now takes only twenty to thirty minutes. The Courtney Campbell is one of three such long causeways that cross Tampa Bay, connecting Tampa with St Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as providing access to a dozen other smaller cities.

Waterfront Recreational Playground

While causeways were originally intended to do no more than support a road, the truth is that when you build and island, people will come. Causeways throughout the region have become recreational favorites for the people of the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. Since the “dirt” in Florida is actually sand, that’s what causeways are made of. Where sand meets water, you have a beach. It is easy to imagine why these areas become popular. Beyond the obvious attraction of sand and water is the relaxed atmosphere. Causeways are laid back areas where come-as-you-are applies. Parking often follows a similarly loose guidelines. While city codes do apply, such as no fires, for the most part you can do as you please.

Courtney Campbell trail sign

Regarding the tradition of public use and recreation on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the cities of Clearwater and Tampa agreed. Like the great railroad built across the USA, the two cities built bike paths from their shores toward the opposite city, meeting halfway across Tampa Bay. The effort resulted in a ten-mile bike path linking the two cities together. The Tampa side completed in 2013 and the Clearwater side in 2015. The news was greeted by locals with enthusiasm. The drive between the two cities had always been known as a scenic drive, treating visitors who land in the Tampa airport with sweeping water views on their way to the beaches that are across Tampa Bay. With the new bike and walking path, the vistas were now open to everyone.

Sunset on Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail

Making the most of the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail

When I heard about the trail opening last year, I put it on my list of things to do. After moving much closer to the trail, I set out to see it for myself. The ride turned out to be more enjoyable than I expected. The levelness of the trail was, perhaps, the greatest bonus. With little effort, I crossed half the causeway in the blink of an eye. Because I went after work, the November sun was setting while I rode, offering a view even better than I imagined. The trail is a great place to take in the view, blow off the stress of the day, bird-watch, and, of course, get some exercise. If you are a cyclist or an avid walker who is visiting our area, you might want to put this trail on your list.

Courtney Campbell sunset

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Ditching a Car for the Ferry to Clearwater Beach

No Roads Found to Caladesi Island

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

 

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Hopping a Ride on the Little Toot Dolphin Tour

Posted on: June 28th, 2016 by MB No Comments

After years of watching the Little Toot dolphin tour set out onto Clearwater Harbor, I finally decided it was time to get on board. While I’ve done dolphin sighting cruises at Clearwater Beach before, I’ve never done one on the unique vessel called the Little Toot. In fact, the best dolphin pictures in my collection are from a ride where we ran parallel to that boat with the dolphins jumping in its wake.

Little Toot

The dolphins in Clearwater Harbor are bottlenose dolphins, made popular in numerous TV shows and movies. Most recently, Clearwater area dolphins appeared in the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale II, with the celebrity dolphins Winter and Hope.

Living in the Clearwater, Florida area gives locals ample opportunities to see dolphins. They appear quite often along the boat docks, in the harbor, and out in the Gulf of Mexico. Boaters in the area are treated to sightings regularly. In fact, if you are here long enough, you will eventually see them from your car as you drive near the waterways. While we are accustomed to the sightings, we all agree that each sighting is still a special event. For visitors to the area, dolphin sightings take on somewhat magical air. That’s why the dolphin sighting tours on Clearwater Harbor and out on the Gulf of Mexico are so popular. You will often see the tour boats cruising the harbor or past the beach.

Clearwater Harbor dolphinEach tour boat has its own perks. Some are conducted on giant speed boats, others on comfortable pontoon boats with lots of seating. The Little Toot is a vessel that looks like a tug boat. Because of its design, it creates a tall rolling wake when it picks up speed. That’s a good thing when you are searching for dolphins. A wake is a very alluring thing for bottlenose dolphins. They love to play and jump in the waves, and the Little Toot makes the best ones.

Our tour took us around Clearwater Harbor. We skipped going out onto the Gulf of Mexico because it was a windy day the water was too choppy for sighting dolphin fins. It took a bit of time but we did get a few sightings of fins breaking the water. Finally, however, we found some dolphins who wanted to play. When we passed them by, they followed us and caught up to our wake. The following video shows them jumping from the water using the large waves created by the Little Toot.

Most every dolphin sighting tour in the area offers a dolphin sighting guarantee. If you don’t get to see any dolphins, you get your next ride for free. The great part of the tour is that, even without dolphins, the ride is scenic and well worth the time. The other good thing is that you are almost always going to see dolphins. If you get the chance to visit the area, make sure to put one of these dolphin tours on your list of things to do.

Clearwater Beach Summers

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

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

Clearwater Beach with tons of shells

Hot Summer Days

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

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

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

Clearwater Beach outing

The Joys of Summer at the Beach

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

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

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

Perfect waters at Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival Strikes Again!

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

Sugar Sand Festival crowd

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival 2016

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

Busker Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival

Hub of Clearwater Beach

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

Beethoven at Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival

Music Themed Sand Sculptures

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

Ray Charles sculpture Sugar Sand Festival Clearwater Beach

Favorite Clearwater Beach Event

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

Pier 60 during Sugar Sand Festival

Other articles you might like:

Tampa Falls to Gasparilla Pirate Attack Again

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Ultimate Tourist Attractions at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

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

Shell Collecting in the Clearwater St Pete Area

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

Seashell collection

The Beauty of the Florida Gulf Coast

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

seashell collecting

The Best Seashells

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

Going the Extra Mile for Seashells

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

The Right Timing for Seashell Collecting

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

Beachcoming Clearwater Beach

The Right Place for Seashell Collecting

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

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

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

spiral seashell

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

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

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

Seashell on Clearwater Beach

Finding Shells the Easy Way

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

A Beach Less Traveled

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Discovery Tour of Anclote River and Anclote Key

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by MB 4 Comments

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

 

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Pirate Day Fun and Warfare

Posted on: May 31st, 2015 by MB 1 Comment

John Levique Pirate Days at John’s Pass

Happy Return of Piracy

Maidens au portPirate days returned to John’s Pass in Madeira Beach, Florida May 8th through the 10th. The pirate festival has become a well-known excuse to visit the already popular tourist destination of John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. The site is a well-known favorite for locals and visitors alike, due to its fun shops and great restaurants. The tourist-style shops sell nautical knickknacks, T-shirts, mugs, and lots of other touristy items. The restaurants are fantastic, some of them having dining docks on the waterfront. The ice cream and taffy shops add the finishing touch. The boardwalk and village are the perfect size for strolling, big enough to keep visitors looking but small enough so that you can see it all.

 

Pirates Everywhere

PiratesJohn Levique Pirate Days added a special buzz to the shopping and dining village at John’s Pass. Merchant tents lined the streets while the main parking lot had been converted into a tent with a stage for bands. A second performers’ tent stood at the other end of the street, with a fighting ring for pirate disputes and tents for visiting pirates. The streets were filled with visitors shopping, eating or just sightseeing. At every turn more pirates showed up, walking the streets in every directions, grizzly pirates, lady pirates, lone pirates, or packs of pirates. A lot of pirate paraphernalia was for sale in the merchant tents, for anyone wanting to join the fray.

 

Real Life Pirate Battle – Almost

Pirate shipThe pirate invasion of John’s Pass happened at noon. The battle, as it turned out, was between the pirate tour boat that docks at John’s Pass and the Hubbard’s Dolphin Tour boat. The two large vessels spun around the waters of the pass at surprising speed, shooting water cannons at one another. Added to the mix were cannon blasts that echoed off the shops of the boardwalk. SmPirate cannonsaller boats weaved into the battle, armed with their own water cannons, taking any opportunity to strike at the “invading” pirate ship. On the shore, more pirates fired cannons, ones much larger than those on the ships. The pass reverberated, literally, with the booming of cannon fire.

 

 Join the Pirates

John Levique Pirate DaysAfter the pirate show, it was time to return to the shops, the vendor tents, the shows, and a chance to dine on the waterfront. Despite the all the activity, the parking was reasonably priced and easy to find. Thanks to the small size of John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, it was not difficult to find the car again. The event was a lot of fun, which it always is. Visitors to this yearly festival are advised to check the online schedule. It will help guide you toward the times when bands are playing, when the pirate invasions and battles occur, and promotional specials offered by bars of John’s Pass. If you are living in the area, or you plan to visit in May, be sure to check this event out in the coming years. John Levique Pirate Days really is one of the best events of the year.

Pirate Battle Video

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Salvador Dali Museum

 

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Touring Barrier Island Heaven

Posted on: May 24th, 2015 by MB 1 Comment

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)

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