Category Archives: Pinellas activities and attractions

Ingraving of native Floridians

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Native American Indian Mounds

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

 

Native American Mound Builders of Florida

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

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

 

Where to Find Mound Sites

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

Safety Harbor MoundJungle Prada Park

Philippe Park

Pinellas Point Temple Mound

Anclote River Park

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Curious History of Philippe Park

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

References:

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

Winter the dolphin

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A Day at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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

 

Harborview Center

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

 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Ferry

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

 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Features

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

Winter and Hope

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

Rescued Sea Life

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

 

Sealife Safari Boat Tour

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

 

Perfect Family Outing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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

Dolphin Tale I Trailer

Dolphin Tale II Trailer


Other posts you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Philippe Park

Curious History of Philippe Park

Phillippe Park

Philippe ParkPhilippe Park is located on the shores of Upper Tampa Bay, just north of the city of Safety Harbor, Florida, USA. The park is named after a French settler named Odet Philippe, who arrived at the location in 1842. The park faces east, toward the waters of the bay, with a drive that extends its length. It is easy to see across the bay at this point, since Upper Tampa Bay is a much smaller body of water than Tampa Bay to the south. Large shallows lie off the shores of the park with vast tidal flats sometimes rising above water during low tide. The park is filled with palm trees and oaks that shade the roads and lawns, keeping visitors cool on warm summer days. Because of the large mound built by Native Americans, and the history of Odet Philippe, the park was registered a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Philippe Park offers a relaxing venue for picnics, fun outings with the kids, or quiet walks on the waterfront.

 

 

Native American Mound Site at Philippe Park

Safety Harbor SiteThe Tocabaga tribe is estimated to have lived on the site of Philippe Park beginning around 900 A.D. They built a large ceremonial mound which still stands at the park, making it the largest surviving mound in the region. A village of 400 to 2500 Native Americans lived on the site, using bows and spears as well as tools fashioned from bones. Spanish explorers who arrived in the 1800s described them as a tall, strong people. Today the mound has a concrete path leading to its top with winding stairways descending the sides facing the bay. You will find signs posted at the park that describe the history of the native village more completely. For more information, travel just a few miles north to Safety Harbor where you will find the Safety Harbor Museum. The museum has history dioramas for kids and a set of books that describe the history of Philippe Park, the surrounding area, and the state of Florida.

 

Odet Philippe

Odet PhilippeFrench settler Odet Philippe came to the area in 1842 after serving in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army as a surgeon. The first European settler in the area, he created a grapefruit plantation, being the first to grow the fruit on the Florida peninsula. Grapefruit grows well in Florida, some of the trees bearing fruit nearly year round, surely making the choice a good one for Philippe. He also promoted cigar-making, a fact that becomes more interesting when you discover that twenty years after Odet Philippe’s death, the famous city of Ybor was founded by cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez-Ybor, whose cigar manufacturing became an overnight financial success. While the grapefruit orchards created by Philippe can no longer be found at the park, the temple mound is a part of the Odet Philippe’s life history. Safety Harbor SiteDuring a hurricane, he saved his family from the rising waters by fleeing to the top of the mound. The hurricane reportedly washed away part of the structure but the Philippe family survived. Philippe had a large family and many of his descendants still live in the region. You will find a grave marker for Odet Philippe by driving just beyond the mound site at Philippe Park.

 

 

Philippe Park in Present Time

Giant oakThe land acquisition for Philippe Park occurred in 1948, although the lands owned by Odet Philippe apparently included the City of Safety Harbor as well. The park is mostly an open area space with an abundance of trees. A single road leads from one end of the park to the other while a second road branches off to the base of the temple mound site. Previous to the upgrades in the 1980’s, the park served as an open space playground for the kids and a picnic area for families. Shoreline erosion created fun play areas for kids under the cover of exposed tree roots while rolling down the temple mound was a highlight for the little ones. Because of the erosion, and because Native American artifacts were being lost to erosion and looting, a sea wall was built in the 1980’s as well as the stair system that leads up the sides of the mound.

Today at Philippe Park you will find large picnic pavilions, walkways along the waterfront, trails, restrooms, two playgrounds, a baseball diamond, a volleyball court, a boat ramp, secluded parking spaces for fishermen, and a scenic drive to the north end of the park. Philippe ParkThe scenic drive through the park is made a one-of-a-kind experience by the remarkable oak tree hammock that spreads over the road midway through the park. For families, we recommend the playgrounds and the picnic areas, as well as the historic mound. Adults will enjoy the scenic drives, fishing, waterfront walks, or bicycling the length of the park. Philippe Park is a good choice for anyone who enjoys shady waterfront parks or firsthand ventures into the history of Florida.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

How to Successfully Use Vacation to Relieve Stress

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

 

Honeymoon Island State Park

Southern Pleasures of Honeymoon Island State Park

The Southern End of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkHoneymoon Island State Park has many faces, each one making the trip to the island worthwhile venture. It features natural beaches, a nature trail, nature center, a public beach, concession stand, loads of parking, and more. It provides a fantastic setting for anyone who likes wildlife or the beach.

One of the best thing about Honeymoon Island is that there is more than one type of beach. To the north you will find a very long stretch of beach that is in its natural state. Next to the parking lots is the best area of the island to have a day at the beach that will make your vacation memorable, with restroom facilities and a concession stand nearby. The southern end of Honeymoon Island is yet another region of the island that is a world of its own. This blog post focuses on the fantastic south end of the island. Read on to discover the southern pleasures of Honeymoon Island State Park.

 

Honeymoon Island Beach Trail

Beach trailYou can access the southern end of Honeymoon Island via the beach or the trail. While it might seem that they are almost the same, they actually quite different. At the beach, you will have the sea breeze to cool you and the beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. On the trail, the sea breeze might cool you off -or it might not. In the summer, it is a very warm walk. The payoff, of course, is that when you reach the end, you can dip into the water to cool off. If you have always wondered what it would be like to walk down a sandy trail amid the beach grasses, then this is a walk you should take. You will walk past palm trees and shrubs before breaking out into the open. Keep your eye out for wildflowers, as this trail is a very good place to view them. The sandy trail is also a great walk for photographers because the scenery changes in subtle ways as you go along. When you near the end, the path forks, leading to different sides of the island, which is quite narrow at this point. Beach trailTo the right is the dog beach and to the left is a cove. We recommend both! The dog beach is part of the main beach of Honeymoon Island while the cove offers a view of mangrove coastline and the Dunedin Causeway from a very small section of beautiful, white sand beach. If you want to see it all, then head left toward the cove, then walk the beach around the tip of the island. You will come wind up at dog beach and a second cove once you round the end of the island.

 

Fishing on Southern Honeymoon Island

Fishing at Honeymoon IslandAny shore you chose on Honeymoon Island is a fun fishing trip. Plenty of fishermen head to the park to fish just off shore, standing waist or chest high water. Because the Gulf Coast shores are shallow, you can walk surprisingly far out to do your fishing, well away from the swimmers at the beach. The very southern tip of the beach is a local fisherman favorite, however. The currents pass by the location strongly which provides excellent fishing opportunities. The current has also has washed away the softer sands, and that keeps most of the beach-goers away, leaving the spot open for fishermen. You will rarely visit the southern tip of Honeymoon Island without seeing someone fishing from this locally favored fishing spot.

 

Honeymoon Island Dog Beach

Dog Beach at Honeymoon IslandThe dog beach on Honeymoon Island is easy to find via the many signs. The best route to the dog beach is the beach trail. The path helps you to avoid pulling your dog through all the sunbathers on the regular beach, which is actually not allowed. You will definitely want to bring a baggie for dog droppings. Canisters to deposit used bags are provided. Your pets will enjoy the beach trail but they will definitely love the beach. A small section of split rail fence marks the area where your pet is allowed to be. Unfortunately, leashes are required on this beach and park rangers in boats might give you a ticket if you break the rule. While this might seem unfair, the land surrounding the trail to dog beach and all the grassland bordering the beach is a bird sanctuary. Keeping your dog on the trail and on the sands of the beach is a must. Rules aside, the dog beach is a fantastic place to play with your pet. It is also a fun place to sunbathe, which means you and your four legged friend can both get what you want from a trip to Honeymoon Island.

 

Coves of Southern Honeymoon Island

Cove at Honeymoon IslandYou will find two coves on the southern end of Honeymoon Island. They are both very small, one at dog beach and the other on the far side of the island’s tip. Both are great for swimming and are also fun places to land smaller watercraft such as kayaks of standup paddle boards. The eastern cove is less traveled, which might give you intermittent stretches of solitude. The other cove is right at dog beach. The dog beach cove is created by a sand spit reaching southward, separating the small section of water from the Gulf of Mexico. Because the spit is all soft white sand, it is a popular place for visitor to spend time and is therefore the most multi-purposed section of the entire island. Regardless of what you do at these two tiny coves, you might find them to be a pair of the most enjoyable spots on Honeymoon Island.

 

Caladesi Island Ferry

Caladesi Island FerryThe Caladesi Island Ferry sets out from the southern edge of Honeymoon Island. The ferry costs $14 for adults, $7 for kids, and is free for those 5 years and under. The boat ride is fun and you will definitely enjoy the beauties of Caladesi Island. To reach the ferry port, look for the signs right after you pass the entry gate of Honeymoon Island State Park. The road, which leads to the ferry or the dog beach parking lots, will be on the left.

 

Honeymoon Island offers a Beach for Everyone

Honeymoon Island State ParkIt is quite remarkable how many different activities you can enjoy just on the southern end of Honeymoon Island. Sunbathing, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, beach combing, bird watching, photography, and fun with your pet are all found in one relatively small space. And, oddly enough, it is one of the less-visited sections, which means you will also have a fair amount of elbow space. Put this park on your list of sites to see on your next Florida Gulf Coast vacation. Among the many other pleasures of island, you should definitely give the southern end of Honeymoon Island State Park a try.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

 

Beach Bar

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater BeachFavorite Party Spots on Clearwater Beach

Finding a fun place to let your hair down at night on Clearwater Beach is not really that difficult. Bright lights and lively music give these locations away. However, to make our list worthwhile, we have include why each of our five favorites have made the list.

 

Tropix Island Tiki Bar

Clearwater PassTropix is a bar located along the Clearwater Pass, that strip of water connecting the Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater Harbor. This bar includes access to its own tiny strip of beach. It is located at the back of the Quality Beach Resort of well-known Quality Hotel. This made our 5 favorite party places list for being laid back and comfortable. It is an open-air bar, right next to the pool, with very nice views of the water.

 

Cooters Clearwater BeachCooters of Clearwater Beach

Cooters is the next Clearwater Beach party location on our list. It made our list because of its ability to seamlessly blend a fun hang out spot that serves alcohol with a great family restaurant. The staff are friendly and laid back. It is located on Poinsettia Avenue that runs parallel to Mandalay Avenue. While it is not on the sands of the beach, it succeeds quite well at being a very beachy establishment. It is also one of the hosts of the yearly Stone Crab Festival at Clearwater Beach.

 

Crabby’s Bar and Grill

Crabbys Bar and GrillAnyone who knows Clearwater Beach knows the name Crabby Bill. A restaurant by that name sits at the central beach roundabout. However, the party location of which we speak is on the South Beach portion of the strip and is called Crabby’s Bar and Grill. This two story bar is flashy and bright, yet homey. It has fantastic views of the beach and immediate access to and from the popular Beach Walk that runs along the sands of Clearwater Beach. Party with friends and watch the sunset from this quintessential beach bar.

 

Brown Boxer

Brown Boxer Clearwater BeachThe Brown Boxer is located on the north end of the business district of Clearwater Beach on Mandalay Avenue. It has made our list of beach bar favorites because of two very important words, Happy Hour. Don’t let the terminology fool you however, because the happy hour specials at the Brown Boxer go from 11Am to 7PM. That’s quite an hour. Enjoy discounted drinks and maintain your center by eating happy hour chicken wings. You can even lean over the railing and wave at us here at the Florida Beach Rentals office. As a disclaimer, there is no guarantee that we will see you waving.

 

Shephards on Clearwater Beach

Shephards of Clearwater BeachAnyone who has strolled or driven Clearwater Beach after dark has surely discovered Shephards. Their rocking live music is a well-known beacon to beach bar party seekers. Have your smile ready at the door, as well as a high tolerance for ear thumping tunes and wild times. Shephards is an establishment for those who take their beach bars seriously. It has two options for night-clubing as well as a restaurant. Shephard’s Tiki Beach Bar has a waterfront deck facing Clearwater Pass.

 

 

Note Regarding Coconut Cove

Florida Beach Rentals manages vacation rentals at the Coconut Cove, sister hotel to the Quality Beach Resort mentioned above. That means that anyone staying in Coconut Cove has access to the beach and swimming pool at the Tropix Island Tiki Bar.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

The Amazing Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival at Clearwater Beach

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

 

Honeymoon Island Florida

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

Setting out for the North End of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkAnywhere you go at Honeymoon Island State Park can be a fantastic experience. The island has multiple areas that offer great entertainment for those arriving from near or far. You can visit the main beach area, the nature trail, nature center, or the dog beach. However, if you want to enjoy a beach walk you will remember for a lifetime, then set the north end of Honeymoon Island as your destination.

The park entrance fee is 4 to 6 dollars, depending on the size of your party, and the parking lots are large, with a surprising capacity. Your destination, however, is the north end of the beach. Honeymoon Island State ParkYou will drive past the sign for the Caladesi Island Ferry and the Dog Beach. You will ignore the concession stand and the area of the beach most popular for sunbathing and swimming. You will drive past the nature center and the nature trail. At the very end,, the road will loop back and, after you drive around the 180 degree turn, you will find the entrance to the parking lot you seek.

Here you will find fencing marking off an area of beach eroded by storms and, to the north, you will see the brush of the island. With your hat on and your sun lotion applied, you are ready to go on your Honeymoon Island beach walk.

 

Preparing for a Walk on Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe beach walk is long, taking as much as two hours to reach the tip of the island, so here are some tips to help you better enjoy the experience. Take along a bag for collecting shells. A net-style sack is best since plastic is uncomfortable to carry on warm days. If your skin is sensitive to the sun, you might want to wear long sleeves. The sun here can be hot, and in the summer, quite intense. For those who are accustomed to sunshine, sun tan lotion is still recommended. With the sea breeze and the bright rays, you’ll want to be protected on this wonderful, long walk on the beach. A sun hat is the other item at the top of the list. Leave your sunbathing for another day and enjoy this stroll in as much comfort as you can. The other tip for comfort and safety is checking on the weather. In the summer, if the rain chances are over 20 to 30 percent, then a brief seasonal storm is likely to occur along the coast. Honeymoon Island State ParkThese storms build toward late afternoon and then burst with heavy showers and lightning. They come and go quickly but it is a good idea not to be on the beach when they occur. If you see tall clouds building over the Gulf or inland, it is a good idea to turn back. This beach walk is best planned for the morning. In normal conditions, you can walk all the way to the tip, explore your surroundings, and then make the return stroll without having any worries about the weather.

 

Starting your Beach Walk on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe start of your walk to the north end of Honeymoon Island begins at the parking lot where you will see a trail winding through the bushes and palm trees. Immediately beyond, you will see a small body of water to your right, which is the southernmost tip of Pelican Cove. Of course, to your left, is the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Honeymoon Island State ParkThe beach here, depending on conditions and season, is often gravely with very little sand. Don’t get discouraged though, this beach has many faces, and the best is yet to come. Head north from here, keeping between the island grasses and the water. As you go, the beach will change, and you will be treated to many sights and sounds of Honeymoon Island.

 

Birds of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkOne of the fantastic sights on your Honeymoon Island beach walk is the multitude of birds that live on the island. Great blue herons, white egrets, sand pipers, pelicans, black skimmers, gulls, ospreys, terns and many more species of birds occupy the shoreline and the island’s interior. You will see signs as you walk that inform you that the interior of the island is a bird sanctuary. Honeymoon Island State ParkIt is easy to agree with this code, because aside from protecting the birds, the beach sands make a far better terrain for walking than the brush-filled interior. You can find to identify birds at various shops, and perhaps at the Honeymoon Island nature center. The best charts are laminated so that they last longer. It can be fun to try and identify the birds you are viewing while you continue along the coast into the soft white sands of Honeymoon Island.

 

Beach Combing on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkBeach combing the shores of Honeymoon Island is a favorite activity. The shoreline changes while you go along, providing many different surfaces where you can search for treasures. The eroded section where you begin the northward walk is one of the best for the more unusual items, such as rocks with interesting patterns. Farther north, where fewer people visit, you will encounter more of the undisturbed items. Honeymoon Island State ParkHere you might find complete clam or snail shells, as well as whole sand dollars. On certain days, the beachcombing can be so good, it might put you in danger of not reaching your destination, if you indeed intend to make it to the northern tip of the island. You might have to choose which of the pleasures of Honeymoon Island you want to indulge in most.

 

Remarkable Sands of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe Gulf Coast of Florida is known for its remarkable white sands and Honeymoon Island beaches are no exception. While some parts of the shore might be strewn with gravely, white, coral stone, others are covered with the soft white sands that make the Florida Gulf Coast famous. Walking along the waterline will give you ample opportunity to enjoy the changes on this natural section of beach. The farther north you go, better the sands become. Be sure to look around while you go, the natural shapes the sand takes can be quite interesting. If you have the fortitude to keep going, you will eventually find yourself at the northernmost tip which might find to be the very best part of Honeymoon Island.

 

Beach Walk of a Lifetime

Honeymoon Island State ParkAt the northern tip of Honeymoon Island you will find beach paradise. Take a moment to sit and take in the scenery. You will see the other arm of Honeymoon Island to your southeast, across the waters of Pelican Cove. Boats will surely be out on the Gulf of Mexico. You will see the mainland to your east and a scattering of more barrier islands to your north. For an added treat, closely observe the sands surrounding you. You will see that the wind has sculpted them into shapes courser sands cannot hold. You will also see footprints of birds, perfectly preserved in the tiny grains. The waters and breezes of the Gulf of Mexico move the sands of the island north. That means that the softest, lightest grains of sands find their way to that part of the island. Honeymoon Island State ParkMake sure you take off your shoes –if you are still wearing them. Sink your toes into the powdery sands for an experience like no other. The shallow waters, with white sands just beneath, will glow a beautiful turquoise in the sunlight, a perfect place to dip your feet. Once you have had your fill, it will be time to turn back and walk the beach south once again. You will then be among those who know why the walk north on Honeymoon Island is a beach walk of a lifetime.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Salvador Dali Museum

Salvador Dali Museum

Salvador Dali Museum Grounds and Gift Shop

Salvador Dali MuseumThe first impression of the Dali Museum comes from the impressive exterior. The new Salvador Dali Museum, opened in early 2011, is an impressive structure of concrete and glass that is designed to be a tribute to Dali’s style. Built into the concrete of the building are large stones, naturally found in Florida. Aside from the building being visually unique, it is also designed to protect the priceless Dali art collection inside from potential hurricanes. At the back of the museum are tables and chairs under large umbrellas next to a beautiful, landscaped garden. Salvador Dali MuseumA wishing tree is pinned with the adhesive wrist bands that serve as passes within the museum, while just beyond is a maze created by sculpted bushes. The garden area, the swirling patterns in the natural stone, the stark concrete walls, and the curving, multi-faceted windows succeed at impressing the visitors even before they have entered.

The doors open onto the gift shop, which is stocked with plenty of items related to Salvador Dali’s trademark works. Salvador Dali MuseumCoffee cups, melting clocks, books of Dali art, T-shirts and hats, puzzles, and prints of Dali’s work to hang on your own walls are just some of the things you will find in the Dali Museum gift shop. Just beyond is the ticket counter, the museum café, and they centerpiece spiral staircase. The upper floor, on which you will find the art displayed, has an interior observation deck where you can peer over the harbor and marinas of St Petersburg, Florida, including the popular St Petersburg Pier and its iconic inverted pyramid building.

While all of these things are interesting in their own right, you will see them all before your reach the very best part, which is the gallery displaying the paintings of Salvador Dali.

 

How to Tour the Salvador Dali Museum

Salvador Dali MuseumAt the ticket counter of the Salvador Dali Museum each visitor is asked how he or she would like to experience the gallery. One can simply stroll the gallery viewing the art, of course, but two other options are available. A guided tour will explain the life of Salvador Dali, the history of the Morse family collection, and, of course, the individual paintings of the Dali collection. The third option is to use a pre-recorded audio tour with headsets. By tapping the number displayed next to some of the paintings, visitors get to hear about the painting’s history and how it related to Dali’s life, along with a brief interpretation of the piece. Regardless of which method you choose, the overall experience at the Salvador Dali Museum is guaranteed to be rewarding.

 

Salvador Dali Art Collection

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

The art inside the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, is from the private collection of the Morse family. The Morse family collected the works of Dali for many years before deciding that a more formal setting than their home was needed. As you tour the gallery, you will see, up close, some of the most famous works of Salvador Dali. The gallery setting is a large room with high ceilings. Art is hung on the main walls and on solid partition walls that rund down the center of the room. The partitions walls provide the sensation of being in your own space to observe the works of art. Nothing (visible) separates the visitors from the artwork, allowing you to get as close as you like to the paintings. The gallery offers the freedom to tour at your own pace, and to study the works of art from any angle or distance you choose. The generous arrangement leaves the visitor free to appreciate the remarkable paintings of Salvador Dali in a very personal fashion.

 

St Petersburg Museums

The downtown area of St Petersburg, Florida is home to the Salvador Dali Museum. Also on the waterfront, you will find the St Petersburg Museum of History, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Chihuly Collection.

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John Levique Pirate Days

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

History of John Levique

John Levique Pirate Days 9The history of John Levique and the history of John’s Pass are linked by the legend naming John Levique as the first man to sail through the pass. According to the legend, a large storm rearranged the sands of the barrier islands, opening a new inlet to Boca Ciega Bay. The new inlet was subsequently named John’s Pass. The boardwalks, restaurants, and gift shops did not appear for another 150 years. The name John Levique is remembered, thanks to his discovery of the pass. Today, his name is used for one of the best celebrations you will find on the Florida Gulf Coast. John Levique Pirate days skeleton manequinJohn Levique was a turtle farmer, so you might wonder why the celebration is called ‘pirate days.’ Here on the Florida Gulf Coast, and especially in Tampa Bay, a true pirate history exists. The pirate theme, often invoked in this region, has been used to enhance the John Levique celebration. Once you’ve experienced the fun at the John Levique Pirate Days event, you will see that John Levique would probably not mind at all.

 

John’s Pass

John Levique Pirate DaysJohn’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is one of the best tourist stops on the Florida Gulf Coast. The small but popular shopping and restaurant district is lined with loads of souvenir shops and lots of great dining. John’s Pass is a fun diversion where you can spend hours walking from one interesting knickknack shop to the next. When you need to resupply your energy, you can choose from a number of unique restaurants, many of them on the waterfront. Seafood is popular at John’s Pass, thanks to the numerous fishing boats that use John’s Pass to reach the Gulf of Mexico. The boardwalks and sidewalks are fun to stroll, and when you are done with your dining, stop into a candy shop to finish off your day. You can find all of these things on an ordinary day at John’s Pass. During the John Levique Pirate Days celebration, that entertaining setting becomes a backdrop for much more.

 

John Levique Pirate Days Celebration

John Levique Pirate Days foodThe John Levique Pirate Days event was on our roster of things to see this spring. This year it was held May 9th through 11th. The event took us by surprise. We expected a few pirates standing in the doorways and perhaps few kiosks- not by a long-shot. The entirety of John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk had been transformed in to one giant event. The street was filled with tents and kiosks selling everything imaginable, much of it pirate themed. Instead of a parking lot we found a large tent where the musicians and dancers performed, along with lots of tables for dining. John Levique Pirate Days 8The other side of the parking lot was the food court, with banquet style vending stalls selling mouthwatering food. Amid the lively setup strolled a large number of attendees, enjoying shops, vending tents, the shows, and the food. However, all of those things together were still not the best surprise. We found no mere dozen pirates at the John Levique Pirate Days event, but rather the streets were filled with them. The pirates had erected tents to mock up how original pirates had camped on the shores of the Gulf Coast. Tons of professional pirate actors roamed the streets along with a number of enthusiasts. Aside from the pirate encampment, we found a pirate wrestling ring, a mechanical bull, a tropical bar, a hula hoop contest and an inflatable slide for the kids, and roaming musicians. John Levique Pirate Days 4Lastly came the large pirate show down at the waterfront of John’s Pass. On the sandy shore, amid the older pylons, some 50 to 60 pirates put on a mock battle. The battle included walking the plank, musket fire, sword fights, and, our personal favorite, ‘death by mermaid,’ which consisted of throwing convicted pirates to the trio of mermaids waiting just off shore. John Levique Pirate Days 6The mayhem lasted for a good five minutes, all under the thunderous explosions from cannons set on the shore. Watching from the drawbridge between Madeira Beach and Treasure Island, the handrails under our palms trembled from the shock wave of the cannon fire. Spectators lined the John’s Pass boardwalk to watch the show, many of them dressed in pirate costumes themselves.

 

John Levique Pirate Days Recommended

John Levique Pirate Days 7

For Love or Money Band

After our visit to the John Levique Pirate Days celebration, we definitely recommend it to visitors to the Florida Gulf Coast. The event was a lot of fun and definitely lived up to its name. There were pirates galore, lots of in-theme trinkets and souvenirs to purchase, good music shows, and fantastic food. The pirate battle topped off the event with a performance that brought the theme to life. The event has earned a place on our list of celebrations to visit year after year.

 

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Clearwater Beach T shirts

Gift Shop Essentials at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Tourist Shops

Clearwater Beach gift shopsWhen you visit Clearwater Beach, it is impossible to miss the gift shops along the main drag. Clearwater Beach is divided into two areas, North Beach and South Beach –at least according to the locals. It’s okay to consider Clearwater Beach all one place. It is a small barrier island and it is conceivable to walk from one end of the shopping district to the other. It is 1.5 miles from the Surf Style beach shop at the far end of South Beach to the North Beach parking lot that sits between Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and Palm Pavillion Beachfront Bar and Grill. Of course, you might want to pace yourself, because you will walk more than 1.5 miles if you stop at every T-shirt and souvenir shop along the way. We suggest dividing your Clearwater Beach souvenir-crawl into two outings, one for North Beach and one for South Beach.

 

Souvenirs from Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach gift shopSouvenir shopping at Clearwater Beach is not for the meek. You will find trinkets and keepsakes everywhere you go. Even if you stop at the Barefoot Beach House for ice cream or coffee you might walk away with a souvenir. Make sure you stop by Pier 60 for the daily Sunset Festival, which runs two hours before and after sunset. There you will find all manner of gifts and personal memorabilia for your Clearwater Beach vacation, including painted shells, beach photos, jewelry, and beach themed art of every description. Along the beachfront roads, every T-shirt shop we visited while researching this blog had an area set aside for jewelry, seashells, or other small souvenirs. Shot glasses, coffee cups, and other items with logos were also popular. You will have no trouble returning home from you vacation with a souvenir that says Clearwater Beach.

 

T Shirts and Beach Apparel at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach gift shopsOn our casual survey of Clearwater Beach gift shops, we discovered one overwhelmingly popular item on sale in every shop. That item was the forever-popular T-shirt. More than any other item, T-shirts dominated the stock along the beachfront. And, as you might imagine, lots of them had Clearwater Beach logos. And why not? One of the best ways to remember your fun-filled vacation is to wear a T-shirt you bought. Of course, you don’t have to buy just a T-shirt. Board shorts are a top seller for the guys and popular for the ladies is the beach dress, often worn over the over a bathing suit. With a beach dress in your bag, you are ready to for a quick dinner following your afternoon at the beach. Of course, if you want to wear something a little nicer for a dinner out, you can find that too!

 

Additional Beachwear for your Clearwater Beach Vacation

Clearwater Beach gift shopsWhile you are shopping for your day at Clearwater Beach, don’t forget to buy the other essentials. A sun hat is a good idea, especially in the summer.  You will probably want to shade your face by late afternoon. The other necessary requirements for your Florida outfit are flip flops or sandals and, of course, sunglasses. That might sound overly touristy, but really, these are the clothes you need to navigate the beach in comfort. The Clearwater Beach sands are bright-white in the sun, making sunglasses a good idea. Walgreens beach suppliesFlip flops don’t collect sand like other shoes and so are ideal for the beach. Lastly, don’t forget to get a beach towel or beach blanket. Hotel or household towels just don’t cut it. A big beach towel or a Mexican throw blanket are perfect for marking your territory on the beach. With these essentials in you beach bag, you are ready for your perfect vacation at Clearwater Beach.

 

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Clearwater Beach dolphin sighting tours

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

About Clearwater Beach Dolphins

bottlenose dolphinThe dolphins you will see on Clearwater Harbor and Gulf of Mexico tours are bottlenose dolphins. This type is of dolphin is probably the best known dolphin in the U.S., especially with such celebrities as Flipper from the popular 1960’s TV show, and Winter from the modern Dolphin Tale movies. (Winter lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium right here at Clearwater Beach!) The bottlenose dolphins of the Gulf of Mexico reach about nine feet in length and, unlike dolphins in colder regions, may stay in the same area all year long. They live 40 to 50 years and will raise one offspring about every three years. A local dolphin sighting tour guide at Clearwater Beach Marina told us that the baby dolphins will often have hair on them when they are first born. Clearwater Beach dolphinsDolphins will eat pretty much any kind of fish as well as some of the creatures that live on the sea floor. While they do have teeth, dolphins don’t chew, but rather swallow their prey whole. Dolphins can jump as high as 20 feet out of the water, although that is unlikely here in the shallow waters of Clearwater Harbor. Instead, our dolphins like to play in the wakes of boats, something you have an excellent chance of seeing on a Clearwater Beach dolphin sighting tour.

 

Where to Find a Dolphin Sighting Tour at Clearwater Beach

We would love to tell you the name of each and every tour company that offers dolphin sighting tours at Clearwater Beach. However, when we went to Clearwater Beach Marina to tally them up, our heads spun. If you want to catch a ride on a dolphin sighting tour on the waters of Clearwater Harbor or the Gulf of Mexico, you have nothing to fear. You will find hosts of boats ready to take you out for a cruise on the beautiful coastal waters of the Gulf Coast.

dolphin sighting toursIt can be fun to simply stand and watch the goings on down at the marina. Happy sightseers embark and set off quite frequently. You can choose from sleek speed boats, tropical pontoon boats, pirate ships, and more. Many boat crews will describe the landscape for you, making your tour complete. While some will allow you to bring along your own refreshments, most are ready with a complement of drinks or snacks for their passengers. The boat rides are easy to spot with lots of banners and signage. The unique tour boats wait on the water just beyond. The Clearwater Beach Marina is located right next to the roundabout at the center of Clearwater Beach.

 

What to Expect on a Clearwater Beach Dolphin Sighting Tour

Clearwater Beach dolphinYour chances of seeing dolphins on your harbor cruise are pretty good. We have a good population of bottlenose dolphins living along our shores. They frequent the harbor and intra-coastal waterways when not swimming in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The boat crews usually know where the dolphins are. On some days you will simply get to see dolphins swimming by in small pods, while on others they will treat you to a show by playing in the wake of your boat. A number of boat tours guarantee you will see dolphins, with a second free ride if you don’t. Clearwater Beach dolphinThe dolphins on our shoreline are not that difficult to find, however, and sightseers are rarely disappointed. Quite often, the boat tour will include a short stopover at an additional place of interest, like one of the spoil islands on the harbor. Ask where your tour will go when buying your tickets. Keep in mind that each tour will probably take a different route, since the dolphins move about. The crews of the many Clearwater Beach dolphin sighting tours will always take you to locations where they hope to find dolphins.

 

Perfect Addition to a Clearwater Beach Vacation

Dolphin sightingsA dolphin sighting tour is a perfect addition to a Clearwater Beach Vacation. There are lots of sights to see in the area. Aside from the white sand beaches you will find tons of shops and restaurants, as well as a good number of local attractions. When you are ready to get out onto the water, a dolphin sighting tour is a great way to go. Sit back with a refreshment in your hand and let your captain and crew do all the work for you. A dolphin sighting tour is the perfect way to add some fond memories to your Clearwater Beach vacation.

 

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