Posts Tagged ‘beaches’

Long Way Home via the Best Beaches in America

Posted on: June 13th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Take some video of the beaches and then head back to the office. The idea seemed simple enough at the beginning of the day.

I headed out with my new phone, one capable of live streaming video, anticipating an outing of about one to two hours. Our headquarters in on the island of Clearwater Beach, so finding nice subjects to photograph and video is pretty easy. I had someone from the office drop me off at the north end of the public roads and set off with my camera running. I didn’t have much video of that area because it is not right outside our door so I figured I would treat our Facebook fans to some new sights.

Clearwater Beach

The day was sunny with a few clouds and the water and sand looked great. I headed north, away from the areas I normally traveled, just to make sure the content was fresh. The breeze coming in off the Gulf of Mexico cooled me while the sun above warmed me up. The effect was very pleasant. It should come as no surprise that the longer I walked, the more I enjoyed my time in the outdoors. I walked quite far, and since I’d done the hike before, I had a general idea of where I was. A long way up the beach it occurred to me that by going a little bit farther, I might reach the point where Clearwater Beach merged with Caladesi Island State Park. That’s when I decided to go for it. It was a perfect beach day, so why not?

The problem was that to go ahead with my plan meant not going back to the office. Sure, it was my job to collect images of the area, but running away from the office was a new trick I hadn’t tried before. Would it work out? I took my chances and went for it. Before too long I reached the first landmark.

Clearwater Beach shell tree

On the northern end of Clearwater Beach is a what we call the Shell Tree. It is nothing more than some mangrove bushes but visitors have been hanging seashells on the trees for years. Most are ordinary seashells but others have been hand painted with colors or with personal messages. Some show the names of couples while others commemorate lost loved ones. Others indicate when visitors took their Clearwater Beach vacation. The result is a fun site to visit and, hopefully, interact with. I passed through the trees and continued northward.

Clearwater Beach shell tree 2

It wasn’t long after the shell tree that I came to the park sign indicating that I had reached Caladesi Island State Park. The great thing about this area is that not many people reach the location because of the effort to arrive. The only two means of getting there are to walk quite a long way or to arrive by boat. A few people were present, but once they walked by, I was alone again at the border of the two islands. A waterway once passed between the two islands, back when they received their separate names, but a hurricane some forty years ago filled the channel in with sand. In the present, only those who know the history of the islands understand why the sand they walk on bridges two islands together. At that point, so far north of the office, I knew that going back would be more trouble than going forward. I did not realize at the time that I was wrong.

Caladesi Island park sign

I forged ahead, passing onto Caladesi Island. The beach was remarkable, of course, and completely wild. A forest of palm trees grew on the inland sands while a few stray trees attempted to stake a claim to the shoreline, which is risky business for a plant with such a small root system. A few had fallen to high tides. Not far ahead, however, I saw people gathered among beach chairs and umbrellas. That marked the location where the Caladesi Island Ferry dropped off visitors to enjoy the beach for a few hours. I reached the spot and headed inland. The aside from the ferry off the island, there was a concession stand, and I was hungry. I first secured a seat on the ferry and then went to get the hot dog I had anticipated. Well, the Caladesi Island concession stand doesn’t serve hot dogs. How is that possible? I settled for a chicken sandwich. The ferry captains were ready to go and so helped to put my order on rush, which was very nice of them. With my chicken sandwich in hand, I boarded ferry and we set out right away.

Caladesi Island palm tree

The ride between the islands is fantastic. The ferry travels through the mangrove bayous of Caladesi Island that then open onto the waters of St Joseph Sound. You are provided views of the small islands that dot the harbor and get to see a host of different watercraft playing on the water. The only boat that is doing any serious business is the ferry. Every other boat on the water is out there for sightseeing or fishing. Still, the waters are full of jet skis, motorboats, kayaks, paddleboards, and sailboats. It’s a actually a lot of fun to watch that many people out having their own fun.

Caladesi Island Ferry

The other end of the line is at Honeymoon Island State Park. The captain helped me pay my ride ticket because explaining a one-way ticket proved kind of difficult. Apparently, no one does that. The confusion was understandable, since a round trip walk like the one I was taking was fairly out of the question. While the walk of the beach might workout, the conditions were about to change, and so was the distance. You see, although I was as far north as I was going to go, I was not yet at the half way point. That’s when I learned something I did not know. The Jolley Trolley, which I planned to use as transportation, did not come to Honeymoon Island. Between me and the trolley stop stretched Dunedin Causeway.

Causeway to Honeymoon Island

The Dunedin Causeway is nothing to shake a stick at while on foot. That is the conclusion I came to about an hour later. It’s all fun and games on the sand, but when you hike a mile or more in flip-flops, things change. Still, it was a weekend and the Dunedin Causeway was hopping with activity. If there is a way to have fun at the beach or on the water, it is happening at the causeway. Plus, visitors can pull their cars right up to the shore so it becomes a combination of beach outing and tailgate party. Dunedin Causeway does not have the fantastic sands found on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and so the atmosphere might best be described as “relaxed.” Stated another way, as long as your clothes are on, you can pretty much do what you like. The good news is that, despite the potential for chaos, it’s actually a very well-behaved gathering place.

The return road trip lacked the dazzle of the beginning, which was just fine, because by that time I was a bit tired. I walked the less interesting second half of the Dunedin Causeway and arrived at the bus stop where the causeway met the coastal road. The last bit of charm arrived when I boarded the trolley. It was one of the converted city busses, with an all wood interior, including the seats. Aside from the pleasant décor, each seat took up more room than a normal bus, creating a spacious seating area.

Clearwater trolley bus

Alas, I was not done yet. While I might have taken the trolley all the way to the beach, I knew better. The Clearwater Beach Ferry is a great way to go and so I got off of the trolley and walked down to the docks under the bridge to Clearwater Beach. I made it onto the ferry just before it left, a second lucky break in one day. The ride to the island of Clearwater Beach is another fun water adventure, even if it is “just” a water taxi. My ride ended at the Clearwater Beach Public Library, which has its own dock! To my fortune, the library is only a block from the office. I padded my tired feet along the waterfront of Clearwater Harbor and crossed the street to the office.

Despite being a long and tiring day out, I was not sorry a bit. I also wasn’t fired from my job. I had taken a lot of pictures and created eight videos, which made it all worthwhile. I put my flip-flops away for a few days and considered myself lucky for having the experience.

If you are ever in the Clearwater Beach area, you might want to give parts of this Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island hike a try. If you want to try the entire experience, I would recommend calling an Uber or Lyft cab to drive you across the Dunedin Causeway and then down the coast to Clearwater. Whether you will take the second ferry ride is up to you, but it’s pleasant and is a great idea on heavy beach traffic days.

You can see the recordings of the live feeds below.

Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island Ferry

Honeymoon Island Causeway

Clearwater Beach Ferry

Other posts you might enjoy:

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

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


Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

Posted on: April 22nd, 2014 by admin No Comments

Beaches on the move

Clearwater Beach dunes and beachThe beaches along the Florida Gulf Coast are among the best loved beaches in America. The soft white sand is soothing to the feet and glows brightly in the sunshine. The pleasant nature of the sand makes the beaches famous, and the area has become a favorite vacation destination. What visitors to the area might not realize, however, is how much Mother Nature can move around that soft white sands.


Effects of Wind and Sea on the Beach

Kiteboarding Clearwater BeachA visit to the beaches of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida will introduce you to the powdery white sands of which we speak. While pushing  your toes through the sands, your feet will tell you how soft the tiny grains are. Some call it “sugar sand” while others compare it to powder. On a day with higher winds, you might feel the sand gently blowing across your ankles. Over time, this can create a considerable effect. In addition to the wind, the weather patterns create different currents offshore. Over time, the effects of wind and water can significantly change the beach landscape.


Mangroves and Sand Dunes on the Florida Gulf Coast

Mangrove shores of the Florida Nature CoastWhile you visit the beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast, you will notice two things; mangrove trees and sand dunes. Mangrove trees are easy to identify from their sturdy root systems that lift the trees up over the sand or water. These trees help to clean the water while protecting the shoreline from erosion. While a shore of mangrove trees may not be as appealing to some as a wide-open, sandy beach, the trees are an essential part of the Florida coastline. Mangroves can even withstand the powerful forces of hurricanes, protecting inland areas from many of the storms’ effects. Clearwater Beach sand dunesSand dunes may sometimes block the view of the open sand and sea, but they form an irreplaceable function for the beaches. They store sand for times of greater erosion and help to block the flood waters during storm surges. A beach without dunes is far more vulnerable to erosion than one with a healthy dune system. On your Florida vacation, be sure to treat the mangrove forests and the grasses on the sand dunes with the respect they deserve.


History of Shifting Sands on the Florida Gulf Coast

Johns Pass

Johns PassThe most famous story of our changing shoreline comes from a location known as John’s Pass, currently a fun tourist day trip destination. However, the popular boating route and tourist stop of John’s Pass did not always exist. The barrier islands along the coast of what is now Pinellas County continued uninterrupted past the present day channel. According to local history, a storm in 1848 washed away the sands and left an opening in the barrier islands, connecting the Gulf of Mexico and the intra-coastal waterway. The passage is now an essential route for boaters that includes a large drawbridge. Waterfront dining and shops have capitalized on the location, which is a plus for tourists to the Central Gulf Coast.

Dunedin Pass

Clearwater Beach to Caladesi IslandThe second, well-known change in the shoreline was started in 1921 by a hurricane. The water channel known as Dunedin Pass was altered by the storm, and in combination with other forces, caused the sand bar at the north end of Clearwater Beach to migrate northward until the pass closed. It is now possible to walk from Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, although locals have not allowed Caladesi’s status as an independent island to fade.

Three Rooker Bar

sand barAnother unique feature of the local coastal landscape shaped by tidal forces is Three Rooker Bar. This land feature began as a sand bar but now is a tiny island supporting both plant and animal life. Thanks to the quickly changing landscape of Three Rooker Bar, you will find it listed online as both an island and a sand bar, depending on where you look. If the forces that made the sand bar continue, not only will the title of island remain, but the island will continue to grow in size.


Florida Gulf Coast has a Tradition of Change

Hurricane Pass Dunedin FloridaThe beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast have a tradition of change. While mankind can and does have an effect on preserving beaches, the landscape will continue to shift. You can experience this process for yourself by visiting the channel that runs between Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island. This passage owes its existence to the hurricane of 1921, thus giving it the name Hurricane Pass. You will find long spits of soft, white sand reaching out toward the passage from both islands. You will also see large, areas of sand just beneath the surface, many of which you can walk on during low tides. If you are lucky enough to return to the beaches year after year, you will notice a marked change at Hurricane Pass. The sands on either side of the boating channel are in constant flux. The shape of the beaches changes visibly, while the sand bars move from one location to another.


Gulf Coast Beaches

Palm shadows on the beachYour beach holiday on the shores of Florida’s West Coast will surely be amazing. The beaches are renowned for their soft white sands and wonderful weather. You can choose between a manicured public beach or the wild shores of the less-visited barrier islands. In fact, you can visit both during the same day! Keep in mind that the beaches you walk upon might appear the way they do just for you, right at that moment. The next time you visit, you can then see if you recognize the subtle changes in our beaches. Finding the differences can be entertaining so be sure to bring your camera. It might be fun to add the changing sands of the Central Gulf Coast to the list of beautiful sights you will see on your Florida vacation.



First Day of Summer

Posted on: June 25th, 2013 by MB No Comments

Welcome to Summer                                 21 June 2013

Beach cabana Clearwater BeachFlorida Beach Rentals welcomes the first day of summer to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Sun and sand are always in abundance on our powder white beaches that draw in visitors worldwide. From the famous sponge docks of Tarpon Springs to the far reaches of Saint Petersburg beaches and the Island Keys of Fort De Soto Park, visitors and locals alike flock to the shores to enjoy Gulf breezes and to wade and play in the pleasant waters.

A Trip to the Beach on the First Day of Summer

The choice of where to spend the first day of summer might not be as easy as it seems. The coastline of the Gulf of Mexico offers a dizzying number of choices. For beach-goers, soft white sands meet with sparkling turquoise waters, a paradise that stretches for miles. Sun lovers need only choose their favorite beach atmosphere to make their decision. Among the choices are:

  • ·Howard Park
  • ·Honeymoon Island
  • ·Caladesi Island
  • ·Clearwater Beach
  • ·Belleair Beach
  • ·Indian Rocks Beach
  • ·Indian Shores
  • ·Redington Beach
  • ·Madeira Beach
  • ·Treasure Island
  • ·St. Pete Beach
  • ·Pass A Grille
  • ·Fort Desoto Park

Centers of Activity for the First Day of Summer

Clearwater BeachThe cities of the Tampa Bay area are ideal for summer entertainment so why not get started right away? Stroll down avenues among both neighbors and travelers from afar while you choose which of the many shops to visit. Tourist shops abound on the gulf coast from Tarpon Springs, to Clearwater and St. Petersburg. You will find many avenues filled with gift shops, perfect for browsing and window shopping. Some of the best in the area can be found at:

  • ·Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
  • ·Dunedin Main Street
  • ·Safety Harbor
  • ·Downtown St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Pier
  • ·John’s Pass

Into the Wild on the First Day of Summer

Taking a trip into the natural beauty of Florida is a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of the season. The region is dotted with parks that display Florida wilderness, and wildlife in its original habitat. Opportunities to hike along waterway paths or amid tall palms and pines abound. Some of the better known parks are:

  • ·Starkey Wilderness Park
  • ·Brooker Creek Preserve
  • ·Key Vista Nature Park
  • ·Wall Springs
  • ·Anderson Park
  • ·Chestnut Park
  • ·Honeymoon Island
  • ·Florida Botanical Gardens
  • ·Sunken Gardens
  • ·Lake Seminole Park
  • ·Weedon Island State Preserve

Summer is Yours

Whatever you choose to do, the Tampa Bay area is sure to keep you entertained. Contact us at Florida Beach Rentals to find out more about the countless opportunities in our region of the Gulf Coast. Summer is yours. Make the most of it!


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