Low tide on Florida Gulf Coast

How Knowing Tidal Schedules Can Make or Break Your Florida Gulf Coast Vacation

Tides of the Florida Central Gulf Coast

Low tide at Honeymoon Island FloridaUnderstanding Tampa Bay tides might help you to enjoy your vacation more. Knowing the water level can help make activities like boating, fishing, and beach combing more enjoyable. The tides of Tampa Bay are more difficult to predict than you might think. Because Tampa Bay is so large, the tides take quite a while to reach the far reaches of the interior bay areas. You will find the tide on one side of the peninsula might be higher or lower than the other. While the interior coastline of Tampa Bay doesn’t have much in the way of beaches, if you are boating on the bay you will definitely want to check the proper charts. Fortunately, area residents know the different tidal areas and charts are available in which you can find the exact area you intend to visit. However, if you are cruising the beaches along the Gulf Coast, you will not find the tidal variations a problem, and you can check a single chart for all the coastal beaches. But why check the charts at all? Let’s take a look at some good reasons to know the tides.

Florida Central Gulf Coast Tides Might Leave You High and Dry

Sailboat at Honeymoon islandBoaters need to know the tides of the Florida Gulf Coast more than anyone. That seems obvious enough but how can that effect your vacation? Well, if you wind up on a boat, it might have quite a big effect. Because the waters of our harbors are so shallow, it is necessary for any boat with a motor to have sonar to detect depth. Running aground in the shallows is a serious danger. If you wind up renting a boat or Jet Ski, you need to be aware of water depth and keep to the marked channels. However, motorized boats aren’t the only craft that need to know how deep the water is. Even a tiny kayak can bottom out in our harbors, inlets and bayous. It is quite common for kayakers to get out and walk across low tide areas. While walking in the waters of the Gulf Coast can be pleasant, it can also be mucky. Planning your trip with the tides in mind is a good idea.

Plan Your Fishing Trip around the Gulf Coast Tides

Fishing the Florida Gulf CoastIf you plan to fish along our coastlines, you should look up the tides. Wading out into the shallows of the Gulf is much more pleasant at high tide when your buoyancy will keep you from sinking into a muddy bottom. You might also find the fish come in at high tide to feed in areas unavailable at low tide. Dolphins sighted fishing the shallows at high tide are proof of that. You can also use the tides to know when the best time is to catch fish in the tidal currents off the ends of the islands and at the mouths of inlets and bayous.

Low Tide is the Best Time to Walk the Gulf Coast Beaches

Clearwater BeachLow tide on the Florida Gulf Coast is one of the best times to walk the beach. The swath of hard packed sand is larger, and you will see many more shells. On the dry, tumbled sand, it is sometimes hard to find any shells at all. You will also find more unbroken shells near the waterline at low tide. You might even catch a glimpse of the live sea life down by the water. It is common to find living sea snails washed onto the shore, as well as live starfish, sand dollars, and clams. It can be interesting to see them in their natural state.

As far as high tide goes, you might find that it is the best time to swim, as the water is not so shallow.

Drying out Live Starfish and Shells

Seashells for salePlease don’t do that. Because we are a popular tourist resort, it is a good idea for visitors to leave live sea animals alone. If each tourist took live starfish or sea snails from the shore, it could have an impact on the sea life. Leave the live animals in place so that the next tourist can experience the pleasure of seeing them too. Gift shops and even the beach Walgreens have shells and starfish for sale that are in perfect condition. Also, store-bought shells and starfish already have the odors removed, which is more difficult to do on your own than you might think. Trust us when we say that odor free mementos make much better souvenirs of your Florida Gulf Coast vacation.

 

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Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf shores fishing

Dunedin Causeway, Florida

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico is lots of fun. While this blog is about charters, be aware that you can also fish from beaches, piers, causeways, and other great locations. Wading into the coastal waterways is popular, especially in Clearwater Harbor or St. Joseph Sound. Our coasts are very shallow, so you can wade out a surprising distance. If you take a drive down the coastal roads of Clearwater and Dunedin, you will spot fishermen wading far out into the harbor. However, the shallow waters are home to certain types of fish, while the deeper waters off the coast are home to completely different varieties. That is why fishing charters on the Central Gulf Coast are so popular.

 

Find Fishing Charters on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Fishing Gulf of MexicoFinding a fishing charter near Clearwater Beach is not difficult. In fact, you will find fishing charters on the Central Gulf Coast are plentiful. A walk down the docks of Clearwater Marina will light up the eyes of anyone who likes deep sea fishing. You have the choice of small private charters or very large fishing vessels.

Map of Florida Gulf CoastYou will also find a lineup of fishing charters at the Dunedin docks, just north of Clearwater on the coastal road. If you are closer to the southern beaches of St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, or the Redington Shores area, you will find fishing charters along the intra-coastal waterway, or at the popular tourist docks of John’s Pass.

Prices will vary, usually related to the size of the boat or the quality of the charter. Some are simple fishing trips. Others include perks like a cooler of beer and snacks. The charters usually run from 4  to 8 hours. The minimum of 4 hours is necessary because of how far out your captain will have to go in order to reach deep waters.

 

Best Fish of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Clearwater Marina fishing charter

Clearwater Beach Marina

The Gulf of Mexico has some delicious fish, and the Central Gulf Coast of Florida is no exception. Topping the list of yummy Gulf Coast fish are flounder, grunts, Spanish mackerel, dog fish, and grouper. (If you catch a black grouper, make sure that’s the one you cook up!) The recipe you use is up to you, but if you don’t feel like cooking fish on vacation, that’s ok. Many of the local restaurants will cook your fish for you! That’s right, the local cooks will take your fish and serve it up restaurant style. It’s a great way to go, and it makes for some fond Florida Gulf Coast vacation memories too.

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Florida Gulf Coast of Pinellas County

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

Pinellas County Is the Florida Central Gulf Coast

Clearwater BeachPinellas County is home to some of the best tourist destinations in the United States. We are pointing out Pinellas County in this blog for that very good reason. According to HomeAway.com, a general understanding a location is one of a traveler’s top concerns. Vacationers want to know where they are going!

A term has recently appeared labeling our coastline the Florida Central Gulf Coast. The area has become famous for its white sand beaches and growing number of tourist attractions. Within this region you will find Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach, Fort Desoto State Park, Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, Tarpon Springs, Lake Tarpon,  and St Petersburg.

The area boasts such attractions as Pier 60 Sunset Festivals, Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies, the Dali Museum, and John’s Pass. The on-the-water attractions in the area are truly endless. They include dolphin sighting tours, dinner cruises, sunset cruises, pirate ship cruises, deep sea fishing, and more.

 

Where is Pinellas County?

We could write a thousand words explaining the location of Pinellas County, Florida but why not just show you some maps?

Pinellas County Florida

Pinellas County Florida Map

 

Pinellas County is for Everyone

WClearwater Beach, Oct 1, 2013 (5)hy is Pinellas County a premier vacation destination? The answer is that Pinellas County has beaches that fit every taste.

If you like a beachfront resort hotel with fine dining, beachfront bar and grill, a swimming pool, sun deck, and umbrellas on the beach, you will find them here in Pinellas County, Florida.

If you want a vacation home or vacation cottage on or near the beach, you will find them for rent throughout our beach communities. If you like natural beaches with miles of untouched coastline that you can walk at your leisure, we have those too.

IMG_4918The turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico are ready to explore regardless of your tastes. You can take a dinner cruise across Clearwater Harbor, or take in the sunset on a fun-loving pirate ship. Booze cruises and dolphin sighting excursions are available as well. If you want a less structured way to get out on the water, you can rent jet skis, stand up paddle boards, power boats, or a kayaks.

You will find developed beaches or areas where Ma and Pa rentals are king. State and county parks deliver wildlife experiences as well as looks into Florida’s History.

Pier 60 Clearwater BeachYou can dive into dynamic beachfront activities or just disappear into a calm beach paradise. The choice of vacation types is endless but all of them include the white sand beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. You might want to add this vacation destination to your wish list. Pinellas County has it all!

 

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How to Successfully Use Vacation to Relieve Stress

Using Vacation to Relieve Stress

Clearwater BeachVacations are well known to relieve the tension of everyday life. The job and rigors of home life are left behind, replaced by something else. But what is that something else for you? Is it a dynamic location that keeps you active or is it a mellow retreat that allows you to indulge in relaxation? For most people, it is a little bit of both. Here at the beach we are familiar with plenty of ways to do play hard or kick back. But why does it work? How do vacations take you away from it all? Why doesn’t it always work? What can you do to improve your chances of casting aside your day-to-day stress?

 

How to Enhance Stress Relief on Vacation

Honeymoon Island, FloridaThe secret to relieving stress on vacation might be easier than you think.  Two main methods exist;

  • Dynamic action
  • Nothing at all

Of course, we may be over-simplifying. What do these two options really mean?

 

A Dynamic Vacation Relieves Stress

Parasailing Clearwater BeachAn active vacation is a great way to relieve stress. Here at the beach that can mean swimming, volleyball, jet skis, power boat rentals, scooter rentals, or even parasailing. Actions such as those can have the effect of yanking you away from the world you left behind. It is difficult to remain focused on daily troubles while jetting across the waves or while dangling a hundred feet above the Gulf of Mexico. Dynamic activities absorb your attention. They work very well for putting you in the present, where you can enjoy your vacation destination with a new perspective.

 

A Relaxing Vacation Relieves Stress

Beach umbrellas on Clearwater BeachIt might go without saying that relaxation relieves stress. What could be better than sitting on a recliner beneath a beach umbrella for a few hours? How about a stroll on the beach? Other activities are mild enough to find places on the relaxation side of the equation. Try riding bikes down the beach sidewalks, walking the shoreline, searching for seashells, dining out, or taking a harbor cruise to see dolphins or watch the sunset. After a number of relaxing activities you might find you feel much better.

 

Planning a Stress Free Vacation

Clearwater BeachPlanning a stress free vacation might involve very little actual planning. Once you choose your destination (we suggest the beach), the next part of your plan should involve activities. Our recommendation is to consider a combination both dynamic and relatively idle activities. Start with something at the top of your excitement level. Give your vacation kick-start. You might find that an activity that gets your heart beating will make the rest of your vacation much more enjoyable. In other words, start with a bang to reorient yourself to your new environment. Afterward, it’s time to relax the days away with an ice cold drink on a sandy beach. You might achieve that stress free vacation you’ve always wanted.

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Pet vacation

3 Essential Rules for Taking Your Pet on Vacation

Control Your Pet while on Vacation

Dogs on beachIt is not always easy to find a vacation rental that will accept pets. Once you do, it is definitely in your best interest to have your pet under control. You don’t want your little pal to chew up something you have to pay for, and you certainly don’t want him or her to piddle in the vacation rental. Two obvious ways to prevent problems with pet control are pet crates and leashes. Yes, even cats can be put on leashes. If your cat reacts poorly to a collar then a crate is definitely something you should consider. An animal on the loose and one in a crate make two very different impressions on property owners. Good control of your pet should extend through the time of your stay. If you are in a vacation condo, you will encounter your neighbors while walking your pet. If your pet is loose while outside, this could cause a number of problems. Dogs can frighten people, especially if the animal is large. Your very friendly pooch might just want to say hello, but if the incident scares your neighbor, you might wind up with a complaint. A leash that can be kept at six feet is advisable while leaving the building. Only let your pet greet people who show interest in meeting him or her. Only allow your pet off the leash in approved areas. Check the Internet for local dog parks near your vacation rental.

 

Clean Up After Your Pet while on Vacation

Tarpon Springs catThe last thing you want to do while on vacation with your pet is to leave a mess behind. The terrain surrounding your vacation rental will be new to you. You will not know by looking whether someone will mind if you leave pet droppings behind. Even in the middle of a forest you should clean up your pet’s droppings to protect the local wildlife. Of course, at a beach rental, you are dealing with some of the most valued real estate in the region. Picking up after your pet is essential. Never leave droppings on the beach, and don’t bury it under the sand! The other key feature of cleaning up after your pet has to do with odor. You must keep in mind that someone will be staying in the same unit when you leave. While you might be able to make a pet “accident” disappear to the eye, the cleaning crew should know about it so they can sanitize the floor at that location. The other big no-no is to allow your pet’s odor to wind up in the fabric of sofas or beds. If your pet is of the opinion that he or she is too good for the floor, then use a blanket or towel to protect the permanent fabrics of the unit. And, be absolutely sure to wash the cloths your pet slept on. Nothing is more off-putting than to pull a blanket to your chin and smell the last tenant’s pet. You can prevent your pet deposit from being used for clean up by protecting your vacation rental from pet odors

 

Never Try to Hide Your Pet at a Vacation Rental

Big dogHiding your pet at a vacation rental might seem like a good idea, but really, it’s not. When you consider that some vacation rentals might actually evict you, it’s just not worth the risk. The other penalty you might face is added fees. A vacation rental office has every right to charge a pet deposit fee once they have found out you have an animal in your unit. You could also face additional cleaning fees. But money is not the only thing you might lose. You also damage your reputation with the vacation rental office. You have committed deception and now the rental office won’t trust you. Will they be as willing to rent to you next time? You never know. If you bring your four-footed family member into a location that does not allow pets, especially a condominium complex, you might upset the neighbors. That’s not a situation a vacation rental company wants. Ordinarily, pet deposits are not very much money compared to the trouble you could get into by sneaking in your pet. In the long run, it pays to be up front about your furry friends. When you stay at a pet friendly vacation rental, you will have nothing to worry about but planning your next day of fun.

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vacation rental scams

How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams

Vacation Rental Scams Are Out There

Vacation rental scams are terrible to hear about. People look at beautiful pictures online of a perfect vacation rental; it’s on the beach, it has enough rooms for the family, it has a pool, and all the amenities they wanted. When they email the owner, the price is perfect, comparable but just a little lower than the others. They hand over their credit card information and the charge for the deposit goes through. Or perhaps it is worse. Maybe the person puts down the whole amount in advance. Vacation rentals can cost thousands of dollars. When you try to contact the person again just before it’s time to go on vacation, they are not there to answer. Another, more gruesome situation, is when the prospective tenants arrive for their vacation to find the unit does not exist or is occupied by permanent residents who know nothing about the rental. Both legitimate vacation rental companies and scammers take money upfront at the time of booking, either a deposit or the full amount. The length of time between booking and the actual vacation can span from a few weeks to over a year ahead of time. It is horrifying to discover that the money you paid so long ago has been stolen. The trail is cold and the vacation rental scammer is long gone.

 

Avoiding Vacation Rental Scams

Vacation rental scammers take advantage of your trust. To fight back against them, unfortunately, you need to be a little suspicious. Or, taking a higher road, let’s say you need to be vigilant. Every time you book a vacation rental, you should check into the person or company before you pay. Consider it a matter of routine. With the Internet, this is easier than ever. Do you know the name of the company? The name of the person? Enter the name in a search and see what you get. Known scammers will light up the screen with alerts and warnings. Once you have gotten over that hurdle, it’s time to see who they really are. Do they have a website? Are they listed on Yelp, Urban Spoon, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, or other similar web directories? Are they members of the Better Business Bureau? It is difficult for scammers to be listed for any length of time on websites like those. Betrayed consumers will readily report abusive businesses to those websites –and so should you! The reports of fraud will cause their ratings to drop or, more likely, get them banned, or create a scam alert, depending on the site.

 

Vacation Rental Scam Checklist

  • Do they have a website?
  • Do they have a blog, Facebook page, or other social media outreach?
  • Do their online vacation rental listings appear realistic?
  • Does the rental address check out as a real address on Google Maps or Map Quest?
  • Are they listed with online business directories?
  • Are they members of the BBB?
  • Do they have a phone number where they can be reached?
  • Do they answer their phone or return your calls?
  • Do their email responses include company info such as name and address?
  • Do they have online reviews from previous vacation rental customers?
  • Do they send receipts?
  • Do the receipts include company name and address?

 

Leave Vacation Rental Scams Behind

Remember that most of the vacation rental companies out there are not scammers. While some companies are better versed in good service than others, for the most part, they are all operating legitimate businesses. Don’t let the scammers spoil all the fun. It is wise to do your research first, then call the company afterward. Why would you want to do it the other way around anyway! Doing research first lends to two good results. One, you will not waste time talking to a company you have not checked out yet. Two, you will have a greater chance of securing the exact rental you want. When you call up already knowing you can trust the vacation rental office, your only concern is which rental you will choose. You can make your decision faster than someone who has doubts. You might also avoid losing that perfect vacation rental to the person on the other line who made their decision first.

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Gorgeous Autumn Weather at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater BeachClearwater Beach has seasonal weather just like anywhere else. While you will never find snow here, it can dip down to perhaps the 40’s in the winter time. However, we are fortunate enough to not see those extremes very often. The fall in Clearwater Beach is never so cold. The weather is warm and the sun is most often shining. The subtropical rainstorms of summer afternoons are fading away and all that is left to replace them is warm air and sandy beaches. While autumn might not seem like prime time to take a beach vacation, you might be surprised how much fun you can have here at Clearwater Beach from September to November.

 

Fantastic Fall Festivals at Clearwater Beach

Stone Crab Fest Clearwater BeachOne of the best parts about autumn at Clearwater Beach is the festivals. You will find some of the best events hidden in the last third of the year. Among the best known festivities are the various stone crab festivals, the Chalk Walk festival, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, the Super Boat Races, the TriRock Triathlon, and the Dunedin Celtic Music festival. Coming to Clearwater beach after summer has Clearwater Beach Chalk Walk 3013ended can definitely have its advantages. All the above events draw great, upbeat crowds, all those attending enjoying the setting of the Florida Gulf Coast. Clearwater Beach comes alive during many of these events, adding an exciting buzz to the air in addition to the natural beauty of the beach.

 

Find Cheaper Vacation Rentals at Clearwater Beach

Vacation rental with beach viewOne of the most popular things about coming to Clearwater Beach in the autumn months is the price. While the cheapest time to come is still November and December, you will find that the rates you search for online for autumn are going to be less expensive than spring and summer.

 

Cleawater Beach in Autumn

Clearwater harbor lightsIf the tourism high season of spring or the traditional beach days of summer aren’t for you, then consider a trip to Clearwater Beach in the fall. You will find warm days with good weather, an abundance of festivals to attend, and rates that might put a smile on your face. Clearwater Beach in the fall is a great vacation idea.

 

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Clearwater Beach Pier 60 acrobats

Ultimate Tourist Attraction at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 Is at the Heart of Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 Clearwater BeachIt is impossible to walk the white sand shores of Clearwater Beach without noticing Pier 60. The pier derives its name from Highway 60, which is the route that leads from the city of Tampa all the way across the city of Clearwater and onto Clearwater Beach. The pier is in a direct line with the highway, an easy landmark to find. Pier 60 is the central hub of beach activities and is visible from all of the beachfront hotels, condos and cottages of Clearwater Beach.

 

Pier 60 Gift Shop and Fishing Pier

Pier 60 fishermen Clearwater BeachThe Pier 60 gift shop and fishing area might not be the pier’s best known features, but they are still very popular. Midway along the pier you will find a building and a gate. To pass the gate to the fishing section of the pier you need to pay a dollar. While this might not seem like much money, in fact, so many fishermen use pier each year that it makes a surprising amount of revenue. It also leaves the fishing end of Pier 60 mostly to the fishermen. The building at mid-pier is a tackle and gift shop. You can buy fishing bait or vacation souvenirs, such as T-shirts or seashells. The division in Pier 60 makes it a great multi use location at Clearwater Beach.

 

Pier 60 Nightly Sunset Festival

Pier 60 sunset festivalThe nightly festival at Pier 60 is one of the main tourist attractions at Clearwater Beach. From two hours before sunset to two hours after sunset the pier hosts a nightly festival. Artisans and craftsmen of all types set up tables and booths at the pier to sell their wares or their talents. You will find seashells, paintings of seascapes, jewelry, and a large variety of other assorted crafts for sale. You will also find face painting, hair braiding, hand drawn portraits, and other unique trades. The craftsmen at the sunset festival make Pier 60 a perfect tourist destination for anyone vacationing at Clearwater Beach.

 

Friday and Saturday Night at Pier 60

Clearwater Beach Pier 60 acrobatsThe weekend at the Pier 60 nightly festival is a prime entertainment event at Clearwater Beach. On the weekend nights, street performers join the festivities. You will find jugglers, fire breathers, sword jugglers, magicians, acrobats, or break-dancers putting on their shows at the pier. The entertainment always varies, which means you never know which show you will catch. If you are on vacation at Clearwater Beach, the weekend sunset festival at Pier 60 is not an event you want to miss.

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What Is a Causway?

Definition of Causeway

CausewayWhen you visit Clearwater Beach or any other location on the Central Gulf Coast, you will soon hear the locals talking about causeways. More than one visitor has asked the question, “What is a causeway?” According to Dictionary.com and Mirriam-Webster.com, a causeway is a raised road or path such as those that cross wet areas or water. It also refers to Roman style roads, and can refer to paving a road with cobblestones or gravel. Of course, we are not building Roman style roadways here in Florida. Our causeways are used to get you across the water. But why does the Central Gulf Coast of Florida use causeways instead of bridges?

Bridges and Causeways of the Florida Gulf Coast

We do use bridges here in Florida, but we are also very fond of our causeways. Causeways lead us to our beaches! You will also find causeways leading across Tampa Bay itself. The roads across Tampa Bay span a very large stretch of water, three in total, the Gandy, Hwy 275, and the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

  • Gandy: 2 of the 5 miles is causeway; 3 miles of bridge
  • HWY 275 bridge, roughly half of the 7 miles is causeway
  • Courtney Campbell Causeway is 9.5 miles, almost all of which is causeway

The bridge spans over the bay raise up off the water, with pylons holding them up, allowing for boat traffic. The causeways are made from rocks and fill dirt. Of course, fill dirt In Florida is also known as sand. The dirt then has a long road paved over top of it. Tampa Bay and the surrounding waterways of the Florida Gulf Coast are shallow. Tampa bay is reportedly only about 12 feet deep! Such shallow waters lend well building causeways.

Why Are Florida Causeways So Popular?

BridgeThe causeways around the Florida Gulf Coast are popular for a variety of reasons. The foremost reason is an ease in traffic. According to CourtneyCampbell.org, the roadway between Tampa and Clearwater sees over 50,000 motorists a day! With three such bridges crossing Tampa Bay, you can imagine the relief the causeways give to the land routes that encircle the water. The other reason the causeways are popular might not occur to you until you see them for yourself. Causeways provide many extra miles of coastline!  You will see plenty of Florida natives and tourists enjoying the shoreline along the causeways. They make great launch sites for small craft and are also very popular fishing destinations. The Courtney Campbell Causeway is even considered a scenic roadway, which it truly is. The vistas of Tampa Bay are beautiful from all three of these large Florida causeways.

Clearwater Beach Causeway

Clearwater Beach causewayWhen you come to Clearwater Beach for vacation it is likely you will cross the Courtney Campbell Causeway on your way into Clearwater from the Tampa airport. Enjoy the ride! After you pass through downtown Clearwater, you will be treated to our little causeway here at the beach. It is lined with large palm trees and has a wide biking and walking trail along its southern shore. The Clearwater Beach causeway also takes you past the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movie. Keep the causeway in mind on your Clearwater Beach vacation. The beach causeway is a great place for morning walks or afternoon bike rides.

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Honeymoon Island of the Florida Gulf Coast.

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Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Clearwater BeachThe Central Gulf Coast of Florida is known for its islands. In fact, you might already know one or two of their names without realizing it. Did you know that Clearwater Beach was an island? Most of the popular beaches along our coastline are situated on barrier islands, those little strips of land that sit just off the mainland. All of the beaches from Clearwater Beach down to Fort Desoto State Park are found on just such islands. Those fantastic stretches of beach are known for their beautiful white sands and sparkling turquoise waters. But what about some of the other islands nearby? Read on, because the Central Gulf Coast of Florida has some great island surprises in store for you.

 

Anclote Key Island

Anclote Key barrier island lighthouse

Anclote Key lighthouse

You will find Anclote Island at the northern end of the Central Gulf Coast. The island sits just off the mouth of the Anclote River. Anclote Island is roughly one mile off the coast, and it has no bridge leading to it. If you want to visit the island, you have to go by boat. Thankfully the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are calm, and you can make the journey in pretty much any type of craft. You can also catch a ride on a tour boat out of Tarpon Springs, a tourist town located on the Anclote River. Just let them know where you want to go ahead of time and they will take you out to Anclote Island for a visit. The southern end of the island has a lighthouse you can view, although its stairs are no longer open for climbing. Otherwise, the island is a wilderness. Why visit a wilderness? Several miles of beach almost entirely to yourself is the answer. You will see wild palms ruffling in the breeze while you collect shells from shoreline a bounty not found on the more frequently visited beaches. The north tip of the island has a swath of some of the softest, whitest sand you will find anywhere. If you enjoy wilderness areas, Anclote Island is a must see destination on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida.

 

Weedon Island

Weedon IslandWeedon Island is situated on Tampa Bay, one of the best-known bodies of water on the west coast of Florida. While Tampa Bay does not really have beaches, Weedon Island is still a worthy destination. You will find a wilderness park on the site with boardwalks that weave through the various types of mangroves along the shoreline. A historic site has been excavated at the park, close to the parking lot. The park also boasts a large nature center with an outdoor garden. Despite all these features, the park is known for something else; its fantastic kayak trails. Weaving throughout the mangroves is a waterway suitable for kayaks and canoes. This popular attraction is the longest kayak trail on the Central Gulf Coast. Part of your waterway journey will take you past a panoramic view of Tampa Bay itself, with the city of Tamp visible in the distance. You will also pass by and under the boardwalk trail leading hikers throughout the mangroves. The convenient kayak launch dock also has a popular fishing pier that makes good use of the currents that flow in and out of the park at high and low tides. If you enjoy hiking or kayaking in a natural Florida setting, then Weedon Island might become one of your favorite Central Gulf Coast islands.

 

Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon IslandHoneymoon Island is one of the most popular destination along the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. The island offers a perfect blend of developed and natural coastline. A very large parking area accommodates the high season beach traffic along this very long beach. A concession stand sits at the south end of the parking lot. If you have a dog, this is the beach for you, with a dog beach at the south end of the island. You will need a leash but this is still a great place to introduce your pooch to the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern side of the island has a great Nature Center, a playground, and a long nature trail. The nature trail leads past nesting osprey, great horned owls, and bald eagles. You will also see gopher tortoises and armadillos along the trial. The most visited feature, of course, is the beach itself. It is a long island, with only the southern end developed for tourists. However, you are free to walk northward, immersing yourself in the natural coastline. The beach is beautiful white sand most of the time, although rougher weather will sometimes expose the small coral rocks underneath –as well as a lot of great seashells! Walking to the northern tip of the island is not a hike for beginners, especially in the full heat of summer. If you do make it to the northern end, you will be treated to one of the most pristine coastlines of powder-soft white sand the Central Gulf Coast has to offer.

 

Caladesi Island

Caladesi IslandCaladesi Island may be the most idyllic of the island destinations of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. Formerly a separate island, a storm rearranged the sands and connected the island to the barrier island to the south. What is the island to the south? It’s Clearwater Beach! While that makes walking to Caladesi Island possible, it doesn’t make it easy. The walk from Clearwater Beach is a long one, another hike you might want to consider carefully if summer is in full swing. However, armed with a water bottle or two, you can make the hike up to Caladesi Island along some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. Soft white sand, sea shells, palm trees, and long stretches of bird sanctuary will mark your journey as you head northward. The northern tip of the island is similar to Honeymoon Island and Anclote Island, with a deposit of remarkably soft, white sand. You will also find that the north end of Caladesi Island is only a short distance away from Honeymoon Island’s southern end. You will likely see dogs playing on the strip of dog beach located there on the other island. If a long walk is not your style, that’s OK. You can catch a ride on a boat from either Honeymoon Island or Clearwater Beach. Whether a ferry boat or a charter, the boat will take you to the docks at Caladesi Island, located within the water channels leading into the island interior. Beyond the dockside concession stand is the beach access and a wilderness trail. You will also find a kayak trail at the docks, similar to the one at Weedon Island. Caladesi Island wins awards on a regular basis as one of the best beaches in the United States. When you arrive, you will see why Caladesi Island has earned a top spot among the islands of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida.

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