Category Archives: On the Water in Florida

Clearwater Ferry

Ditching a Car for the Ferry to Clearwater Beach

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

An Easier Way to Clearwater Beach

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

Beach Parking with Perks

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

Scenic Route to Clearwater Beach

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

Reaching more of Clearwater Beach

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

Thumbs Up for Clearwater Ferry

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

Clearwater Ferry


More posts you might enjoy:

No Roads Found to Caladesi Island

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Clearwater Marine Aquarium


Three Rooker Bar

Sharing Natural Paradise of Three Rooker Bar

Ever Changing Island

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


Finding Three Rooker Bar

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


Wildlife Preserve

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


Accessible by Boat

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


Barrier Island Paradise

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

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

Discovering Egmont Key

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast


Anclote Key

Discovery Tour of Anclote River and Anclote Key

Boat Tours of the Anclote River

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


Anclote River

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


Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico

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


Anclote Key

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


Return to the Sponge Docks

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


Odyssey Cruises: 727-934-0547


Other posts you might enjoy:

It Is All Greek to Florida

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach


paddleboaring Clearwater harbor

Paddleboarding Clearwater Beach

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Clearwater Paddleboard CoPaddleboarding dates back over a thousand years, but modern paddleboarding, as a widely popular sport, seems to have its start somewhere around the year 2000, when boards designed for standing were brought to the US. The new style boards were easier to stand on than a surfboard, and far more buoyant. With the surge in popularity, the boards continued to evolve, the newest editions being wider and more stable than ever before. Stand Up Paddleboarding was born. Today when paddleboarding, falling into the water is far less likely. Some constants still remain, of course. Paddleboarding is still a workout, and first-timers will still discover new muscles –especially the next day.


Morning Paddle at Clearwater Beach

Stand Up PaddleboardClearwater Paddleboard Company extended an invitation to go paddleboarding a while back, which was easy to say yes to. The big decision was not so much when to go but rather whether we should paddle the shores of Clearwater Beach or the waters of Clearwater Harbor. While that decision might be a hard one for visitors, it was a little easier for us locals. For visitors, the sandy shores of the beach are a big draw. You can wave to your friends on the shore or enjoy the lively beach activities while you paddle by. For two employees who work on the beach, our bets were on the guaranteed-to-be-calmer waters of the harbor. With our plans set, we met in the morning, before most beach businesses opened. Clearwater Paddleboard Company has a large van which is capable of carrying a lot of paddleboards. We unloaded the boards at the library. Yes, the Clearwater Beach library has a boat ramp and a dock. After a short paddleboarding lesson, we pushed off the dock and into Clearwater Harbor.


Paddleboarding Clearwater Harbor

Paddleboard Clearwater Harbor The harbor in the morning is remarkably calm. On the morning of our paddle it was like glass. The calm waters made up for the lack of sunshine, with seasonal clouds gathered overhead. We started with a tour of some favorite waterfront homes, something only some might appreciate, us among them. We then turned around and headed toward Clearwater Marina. The paddle took us past anchored sailboats, boats docked at the marina, and under the causeway bridge. We did not get to see dolphins but we did get to see some stingrays swimming by. The paddle was relaxing but also a little bit of work. It made for a perfect morning outing before heading off to work. We arrived back at the docks after an easy trip back, where we loaded the boards back onto the van. The owner of Clearwater Paddleboard Company was very accommodating, but who wouldn’t be in a good mood when their job is to help people go paddleboarding?


Paddleboard Season

Cleawater Paddleboard CoThe great news about paddleboarding at Clearwater Beach is that you can do it all year round. Cleawater Paddleboard CoThe waters of the Gulf of Mexico are almost always calm and the waters of the harbor are even calmer. A lot of fun sites are reachable with this simple watercraft, and it makes for a very relaxing sightseeing tour. Your chances of seeing dolphins swim by are actually quite high anywhere around Clearwater Beach, with lots of exotic birds thrown into the mix. If you are visiting the area, and you want to try paddleboarding, Clearwater Beach is a great location to get your feet wet, literally.


 Paddleboarding video


Clearwater Paddleboard Co. 727-744-9008


Other posts you might enjoy:

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach


Barrier Island Touring

Touring Barrier Island Heaven

Barrier Island Touring with Private Island Charters

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


North Sandbar

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


Island Currents

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


Three Rooker Bar

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


Island Boating

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


Private Island Charters: 727-534-8818


Other posts you might enjoy:

No Roads Found to Caladesi Island

Discovering Egmont Key

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

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

North Sandbar Anclote Key

Sandbar Island Paradise

Island in the Sun

North Sandbar IslandNorth Sandbar is a place that lives in all of our imaginations. Dream of a tiny island, one where few people go, but which is a safe place to be. Cover it with soft white sand and paint clear turquoise waters around its shores. When you are done, you might have come close to North Sandbar. It is a tiny island located off of the coast of Tarpon Springs, Florida, a fun little tourist town on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It is to the north of such famous places as St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park, and Honeymoon Island State Park. When you go through that list of names, you will realize that the island called North Sandbar is located in the midst of a popular vacation destination. However, if you make your way to this remote sandbar, you will find that you are nearly alone. With absolutely perfect beaches of soft, white sand, it is a destination you might want to include in your travel plans.


Remote Destination of North Sandbar

island boating FloridaThe only access to the uninhabited islands of our area is by boat. While Caladesi Island is a popular boat destination, you can walk there from Clearwater Beach. Honeymoon Island is connected by a bridge. Go farther north, however, and you will not reach the islands without crossing the water. Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sandbar are the three most northern points of land. All three enjoy a low visitation rate, due to the difficulty of getting there. If you do not own a boat, you have to rent or charter one. While you can kayak there, the trip is not recommended for beginners because of the open water between, which is exposed to wind and waves. The photos in this blog were taken on a trip with Private Island Charters. The coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a boaters’ paradise, with endless locations to visit. On holidays, the little island can fill up, but on most other days of the year, it is a gentle, soothing place to soak in the sun and sea. The northern barrier islands are a perfect destination for a day of boating.


The Evolution of an Island

North Sandbar of Anclote KeyNorth Sandbar appears as though it might be an extension of Anclote Key to its south. The sand extends in a long bar, easily a mile in length. At its northern tip, North Sandbar rises out of the water to become a tiny island, complete with mangrove bushes and grass. Google Earth has this sandbar listed at Rapp Island, although we found no other source on the whole of the Internet that confirmed the assignment of that name, casting doubt on the title. While it seems as though the sandbar might become part of Anclote Key, the matter is debated by locals. The conflicting forces are the accumulation of sand rising to the surface and a strong current that runs between the sandbar and Anclote Key. A study of the history of Honeymoon Island formation suggests that the sandbar might become a northern extension of Anclote Key, as a nearly identical formation was in place at Honeymoon Island a mere thirty years ago. In that case, the sandbar did become part of the island, despite the channel that flowed between. Time will tell if the joining occurs, and if North Sand Bar will eventually come under the title of Anclote Key, enjoyed by future boaters who might never know the two keys were ever separated.


Enjoying the Shores of North Sandbar

North Sandbar of AncloteThe shores of North Sandbar are some of the most beautiful you will find. The beaches are formed by the lightest sands, those most susceptible to movement in the currents, deposited onto a sandbar that has risen from the waves. That makes the grains among the softest you will find. The white color is remarkable, dazzling to the eye and cool to the feet. When the sand is submerged in shallows, it illuminates the water to a sparkling turquoise color. The island is perfect for sitting on the sand or strolling the shores. However, a walk around the island will only take a few minutes, so plan for a large dose of relaxation. The shallows are expansive, making wading and swimming conditions perfect. If you head south toward Anclote Key, you can stroll with your ankles in the water for nearly a mile. So, if you share the inclination to restore your soul on the shores of a remote island, you should give this tiny gem a try.


Private Island ChartersThis trip to the islands was provided by Private Island Charters (727-534-8818) (Facebook link)



North Sandbar trip

North Sandbar

North Sandbar Anclote

North Sandbar

Boating to Anclote Key sandbar

North Sandbar

Island Paradise Central Gulf Coast of Florida

North Sandbar



Other posts you might enjoy:

Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts

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Florida Barrier Island Breakdown


Geocaching in Paradise

Geocaching in Paradise

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching Clearwater BeachThe word geocache comes from two words, geo and cache. The word geo refers to the Earth, and cache refers to a secret storage location. In the case of geocaching the item can be anything! The game is to find the stashed object, usually hidden in plain sight in a public place. Players find the locations using their phones’ GPS.

Geocache Clearwater BeachThe beauty of geocaching is that anyone can play. All you need is a phone that will accept the app (application) for playing the game presented on the web site, According to the web site, there are 2,579,133 active geocaches hidden across the globe, and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.

Geocache at beachThe caches are created by ordinary people who are also playing the game. Hidden objects can be as simple as a log book which you sign when you find the cache. Others can be as large as a pirate’s chest, and have items of interest stored inside. One of the mottoes of the game is if you take something away, you should leave something else behind.


How to Find a Geocache

Clearwater Beach sand duneOnce you have loaded the geocache app, your screen will display the geocaches near you –or across the globe, if you want. Your job is to go out and find them. They can be in the city or the countryside. Hiking trails are favorite places, as are public landmarks. Your GPS will get you close. Once you are there, it is your job to figure out how and where the geocache is hidden. Favorite tricks are to put the items under something, or to hide them inside of common objects. Here at Clearwater Beach, one of them is hung on fishing string inside a sign post. Another is attached to a bolt set inside a piece wood, both attached to a fence at the end of a beach road. Use your wits and imagination to discover your first geocaches. After a few finds, you will get better at discovering caches.


Florida Gulf Coast is Geocache Paradise

Gulf Coast IslandThe Florida Gulf Coast is a paradise. Our beaches are covered in soft white sand, often with mangrove forests nearby. The boating opportunities are endless. The combination of the two make this a fantastic place to geocache. Discovering a hidden cache in the city might be fun, but have you ever found one on an uninhabited island? Some of the caches here in our area are hidden underwater, some are near ruins of wartime bunkers, and others are stashed in a wooded area on islands accessible only by boat. The terrain of our area ups the game a notch, adding water and difficulty of access.

Snorkel for geocacheWhile we don’t believe you need an additional excuse to head out to an island, geocaching on the Florida Gulf Coast makes it all the more exciting. On Anclote Key you will find miles of beach that rarely see visitors. You will also have the opportunity to find the three geocaches hidden there. Honeymoon Island State Park is a beach island paradise. It is home to at least twelve hidden items. Caladesi Island, accessible by ferry or a very long walk, hides five of the caches to date. Nine of the stashed goodies wait for you on famous Clearwater Beach.beach nature trail The long chain of barrier islands of the coastline hide many more. From Sand Key to John’s Pass, a popular tourist destination, our count is thirty five. Famous St Pete Beach has its own collection, some eleven by our tally. Fort Desoto park, which is one of the best beach destinations in our area, has enough geocaches to keep you busy for long while. A quick glance at the map told us that a geocacher can find over eighty hidden stashes without ever leaving our beaches.


Age Limits for Geocaching

geocaching in a kayakWhile you are hunting for the hidden items on our barrier islands, you will also be enjoying sunshine and beautiful shorelines. Shelling, sunbathing, beach walks, boating, and other pleasures await visitors to the remarkable shores of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the fun beach towns in between are some of the most cherished beaches in the U.S. Add geocaching to the mix, and you might experience an adventure you did not anticipate. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of finding a treasure on an island? barrier island geocachingYou might imagine that geocaching is the domain of the young, but, so long as you have a phone that loads apps, no age barrier exists. Anyone who possesses a sense of play can join the hunt. So on you next trip to the white sand shores of our coast, give at least one of the caches a try. You might take away a fun vacation memory you did not expect.




Gasparilla invasion

Tampa Falls to Gasparilla Pirate Attack Again

Tampa Falls to Pirate Invasion

Jose GasparillaThe City of Tampa fell to invasion once again this year as pirates sailed into Tampa Bay. The pirate ship named the Jose Gasparilla sailed up the bay to the convention center where the pirates accepted the key to the city from the mayor. The ship was filled to the brim with pirates, every crow’s nest and deck filled with attacking buccaneers. With cannons thundering, the ship made its way from Port Tampa Bay up Seddon Channel, which ends in front of Tampa’s convention center. An armada of private boats and cruise boats surrounded it, filling the channel from side to side and end to end. The arrival of the ship was greeted by the screams of the capacity crowd along the waterfront.


Pirate Party of the Year

Gasparilla festivalThe Gasparilla Pirate Invasion first occurred on horseback, all the way back in 1904. The ship, Jose Gasparilla was added later, apparently being the world’s only fully-rigged modern day pirate ship. The festival is now over a hundred years old and as popular as ever. The streets swarmed with attendees, a large portion wearing pirate gear. Vendors were out in force, booths and carts providing plenty of food and souvenirs. Downtown Tampa parking lots switched from hourly charges to a onetime fee for the day to accommodate the event that filled Tampa to to the brim. The festivities officially began at 11:30 but would-be pirates began to appear in the streets as early as 8:30 in the morning. By the end of the Invasion, the streets were filled from side to side with Gasparilla revelers.


Gasparilla Pirate Armada

pirate armadaOne of the best parts of the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion each year is the armada of private and charter boats that accompany the arrival of the tall ship Jose Gasparilla. Charters from our own Clearwater Beach were among the flotilla, our camera capturing Starlite Majesty, The Tropics, Two Georges, Super Queen, and Calypso Queen. The boats arrived to the waters surrounding the convention center non-stop, most of them decorated with beads and other pirate gear. One boater had his own cannon. While the gun was only a foot long, it had all the explosive sound of a large cannon. Private boats cruised the shoreline throwing beads to the waiting crowds along the railings of the convention center. The result was a dizzying array of moving boats, loud music, cannon fire, and shouting crowds.


Tampa Waterfront

Gasparilla Pirate InvasionThe Tampa waterfront is a pleasant place to be any day of the year. The area has seen many improvements over the decades. Waterfront dining is the most popular attraction, second only to strolling the waterfront walkways. It is the site of a popular Fourth of July celebration, as well as many other events throughout the year. Amalie Arena and Curtis Hixon Hall are two sports and concert venues at the water’s edge for Tampa fun seekers. And, of course, the waterways of Tampa are a paradise for private boat owners to enjoy, a surprising number of restaurants catering to those arriving by boat. Gasparilla invasionAdding the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion to the Tampa Waterfront is a great idea for the city. The city bursts at the seams for the Gasparilla themed events that include the Gasparilla Kids Parade, the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, the regular Gasparilla Parade, and the nighttime pirate festival. If you are planning a trip to the Tampa Bay area, which includes Clearwater and Saint Petersburg, keep the end of January in mind for the dynamic Gasparilla Pirate Festival events.


Video of Gasparilla Pirate Invasion


Other posts you might enjoy:

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Ultimate Tourist Attraction at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach