Tag Archives: Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Barrier Islands of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Off the Pinellas County shorelines of the Florida Gulf Coast are a series of barrier islands. It is very likely you know the names of some of them, like Clearwater Beach, or Honeymoon Island. We’ll break them all down for you, so that you too can be an expert on the barrier islands of our area. We’ll start in the north off the shores of Tarpon Springs and head south past Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Belleair, Largo, Seminole, Gulfport, St Petersburg, and beyond. Once you are a barrier island expert, you will be able plan your Gulf Coast vacation trek up and down our shoreline with much keener insight.

 

Anclote Key

Anclote Key barrier island lighthouse

Anclote Key lighthouse

Anclote Key Preserve State Park is directly off shore of the mouth of the Anclote River, the waterway that runs past the tourist destination of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. You can depart from those docks on a tour boat that will take you to Anclote Key, where you can walk the shores, view the historic light house, or just spend some time on one of Florida’s best natural beaches. You will find lots of driftwood and seashells on this island, since it can only be reached by boat.

 

Three Rooker Island

Gulf Coast ShoresThree Rooker Island is one step up from a very large sand bar. This tiny barrier island is a favorite hangout spot for boaters. You can only get to the bar by boat and anchoring off its shores is a great way to spend the afternoon. The shores of the small key are the soft, powdery white sand for which the Florida Gulf Coast is famous. Swim from your boat or from the shore. On a walk down the beach in ankle deep water you might be able go from one end to the other of the two mile stretch of Three Rooker Island.

 

Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island, Florida

Honeymoon Island sunset

Honeymoon Island State Park is one of the most famous of the barrier islands along our coastline. It has long stretches of white sand beaches, a concession stand, lots of parking, a dog beach, nature center, playground, and nature trail. It is also where you catch the ferry to neighboring Caladesi Island to the south. The island is a great place to beachcomb for shells. You can also see nesting ospreys, bald eagles, and great horned owls, or perhaps one of the burrowing gopher tortoises. On a trip to Honeymoon Island you can choose the type of adventure you want to have. In fact, you will have to, because the Honeymoon Island is too large to see all in one day.

 

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island is just north of Clearwater Beach. You can even walk to the island from the south, because a storm some decades ago filled in the opening between the two islands. Of course, you can skip the long walk by taking the ferry from Honeymoon Island. Caladesi Island is known for its pristine white sand beaches. You will feel as if you are in the wilds when you walk along its northern shores. You can also view plenty of Florida birds that use the island for nesting. This famous retreat belongs on your must-see list for your Florida Gulf Coast vacation. Caladesi Island is one of our best.

 

Clearwater Beach Island

Clearwater BeachThe most famous of all the barrier islands along our coast is Clearwater Beach Island. It was formerly known as Tate’s Island, named after a family that lived on the island when the area was first settled. Clearwater Beach became the tourist destination we know today after the bridge was built from the city of Clearwater. Clearwater Beach has more tourist attractions than you can shake a stick at, including the famous Pier 60 nightly sunset festival, and the nearby home of Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies. With its beautiful white sand beaches and multiple attractions, Clearwater Beach makes a perfect base of operations for a Florida Gulf Coast vacation.

 

Sand Key – Sand Key Beach to Madeira Beach

Madeira Beach, Florida

Madeira Beach, Florida

The long barrier islands of Sand Key starts just south of Clearwater Beach. It extends down through some great beach communities until it ends at John’s Pass, which is one of the best tourist destinations in the region. To the south of Sand Key Beach is Belleair Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Redington Shores, North Redington Beach, and Madeira Beach. The beach communities on Sand Key are some of the calmest of our region of the Gulf Coast, perfect for family vacations. You should definitely check into the many diners along the scenic drive down the length of Sand Key.

 

Treasure Island

Treasure Island BeachTreasure Island has one of the widest swaths of sand on the entire chain of barrier islands. This is a good location to look into local festivals. The beach makes a perfect location for large events, which is exactly what they do on Treasure Island. The bridge heading east from Treasure Island leads into Seminole, Gulfport, and St Petersburg, which is why this is a good location to find restaurants, pubs, and gift shops. Treasure Island is one of the barrier islands along our coast you will want to keep your eye on.

 

Long Key – St Pete Beach and Pass A Grille Beach

Long KeyLong Key is the last of the residential barrier islands on the strip. You will find St Pete Beach and Pass A Grille Beach here. St Pete Beach is one of the more developed tourist districts in the area. You will find plenty of dining and entertainment in the area. It is also a great place for family vacations. Pass A Grille Beach has the distinction of being the most southern beach community on our coast, with plenty of Florida charm.

 

Mullet Key and Shell Key Preserve

Fort Desoto ParkMullet Key is home to famous Fort Desoto Park. The interior waters are shallow and calm, thanks to the islands’ horseshoe shape, making a great place for boating. The park is rich with history, and beautiful white beaches. It is a fantastic destination for a family beach day, complete with shaded picnic areas and shallow wading areas. Shell Key Preserve is just north of Fort Desoto. It is a preserve for local wildlife, especially a large number of local birds, who nest and rear their young there. Shell Key is a great place for boaters and birdwatchers.

 

Egmont Key

Snorkeling FloridaEgmont Key State Park sits at the entrance to Tampa Bay. The lighthouse has been used in times of peace and war since 1858. Ruins of Fort Dade, from the same era as Fort Desoto, can be found on the island. Be aware, however, that access to the southern end of the key is limited because of the shore bird refuge there. The island is reachable only by boat. Once there, you can fish, picnic, swim, hike, or tour the ruins. It one of the most difficult to reach islands listed here, but Egmont Key is definitely worth visiting.

 

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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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7. Clearwater Beach Causeway

Clearwater Beach CausewayThe causeway to the beach is a long stretch between open waterways of Clearwater Harbor. The wide walking and biking path makes the trek a pleasure. A relatively tall bridge marks the border between downtown Clearwater and the Clearwater Beach causeway. Watching the boats go by from the bridge is a favorite past time. The causeway will also take you past Clearwater Marine Aquarium the home of Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies.

6. Clearwater Marina

Clearwater Beach MarinaAnother short but enjoyable walk is at the Clearwater Marina. The docks host all types of charter boats, harbor tours, dinner cruises, party cruises, fishing excursions, and boat rentals. The atmosphere is lively on weekends and even those not looking for a boat ride will find the goings-on entertaining.

 

5. Mandalay Avenue

Mandalay Avenue Clearwater BeachThe northern end of Clearwater Beach begins with a treasure trove of gift shops, cafes, restaurants, bistros, and novelty shops located along Mandalay Avenue. Walking this relatively short stretch is always a pleasure, especially for those seeking the vacation-town experience.

4. Pier 60

Pier 60 Clearwater BeachWhile Pier 60 doesn’t make for a long walk, it is still a good one. Centrally located on Clearwater Beach, it provides excellent views of the beach from an elevated position. A gift shop sits mid pier where visitors can buy T-shirts, seashells, or other vacation souvenirs. The real treat comes at sunset, when Pier 60 hosts a four hour festival in which vendors offer every type of knick knack imaginable. On weekends, street performers join the sunset festival.

3. Beach Walk

Beach Walk at Clearwater BeachBeach Walk is a boardwalk-style sidewalk that runs along the beach and beachfront shops of Clearwater Beach. It is located on the southern half of Clearwater Beach, referred to locally as South Beach. It takes visitors past some of the best stretches of sand Clearwater Beach has to offer, as well as some of the best gift shops and restaurants.

2. Caladesi Island walk

Walking to Caladesi IslandThe walk northward on Clearwater beach is the stuff vacation memories are made of. The long stretch of beach is a peaceful white sand paradise. The further you go, the fewer people you will see, until finally you reach the remarkable powdery white sands at the tip of Caladesi Island. This is a long walk with water bottle recommended, especially in the summer months.

1. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach FloridaWalking along the shoreline of Clearwater Beach is the perfect activity for locals and visitors alike. Collecting shells, dipping your toes into the gentle surf, and experiencing the sensation of the soft white sands on your feet are the highlights of this fantastic walk.

 

 

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Pass between Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island, Florida

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

Gulf Coast Local Secret # 6

Hurricane Pass, DunedinUnique Gulf Coast Tidal Currents

Hurricane Pass is located between Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island off the Dunedin Causeway in Dunedin Florida. Other locations in the area also have inlets dubbed “hurricane pass,” but this one is accessible on foot along the beaches. The pass was created by a hurricane nearly a hundred years ago and now serves as a great throughway for boat traffic. Because of its location, it is affected by tides from the inland waterways of Saint Joseph Sound on either side of the Dunedin Causeway. When the tides move in and out of the sound, the water is pushed through this narrow channel in great volume and speed.

 

Why Is Hurricane Pass a Gulf Coast Local Secret?

Hurricane Pass

Hurricane Pass Video

While most people know about the pass, what locals have discovered is that visiting the pass during incoming and outgoing tides can be fun! If you are an experienced kayaker, you can play in the tides that pull past the tip of Caladesi Island. On foot, you will see how the nearby city of Clearwater got its name when the crystal clear waters go swishing past your feet on the tip of Honeymoon Island. You might catch a glimpse here of eddies that grow as big as 100 feet across.

 

Play Safe in the Gulf of Mexico

Keep safety in mind when playing in the Gulf of Mexico. Dipping into these powerful currents is not recommended! Avoid stepping near the edge of the shallow ledge of sand that is clearly visible at this location. Keep the kids under good control. Great, safe places to swim are a very short stroll away so use those if you want do dive in. Please enjoy this wonder of nature with a measure of prudence.

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Central Gulf Coast Fishing Secret

Gulf Coast Local Secret #4

Hurricane Pass (11)Hurricane Pass Gulf Coast Fishing Secret

What is Hurricane Pass? Hurricane pass is the channel of water that flows between Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island. The two islands were connected until 1921 when a hurricane dug the sand away between them. The waterway between the mainland and the barrier islands is called Saint Joseph Sound. Each day, Hurricane Pass is burdened with the duty of letting tidal waters pass into and out of the Sound. The currents can be quite strong, sometimes creating swirling eddies 100 feet across of the tip of Honeymoon Island.

 

Hurricane Pass, DunedinWhat is the Gulf Coast Fishing Secret?

The currents that flow in and out of Saint Joseph Sound carry the nutrients that smaller fish like to feed on. The smaller fish pull in larger fish who want to feed on them in turn. You are at the top of this chain with pole in hand. You will see the water in motion right away when you arrive.

 

Gulf Coast Fishing Location

Hurricane Pass, DunedinThe site is on the southernmost tip of Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, Florida. You can take a boat there, naturally, but by car you must enter Honeymoon Island State Park, which has a small entrance fee. Turn left at the first chance and continue to the entrance to the dog beach which will starts in the brush to the left along the parking area. Follow all the pet owners down the trail but when they turn right you keep going straight until the trail veers left where you will see the water of Saint Joseph Sound ahead. Pick a spot anywhere on the tip of the island. Harbor patrols cruise the area so make sure your fishing license is in order.

 

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Kayaks on Honeymoon Island

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Gulf Coast Local Secret #3

Secret Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Hurricane Pass, DunedinCaladesi Island is accessible by two means, including a very long beach hike north from Clearwater Beach or by boat. The most popular means of arrival is the Caladesi Island ferry which cruises between Honeymoon Island beach and Caladesi. A fun way to arrive is by kayak. The most often used launch site is the Dunedin Causeway which serves as the bridge to Honeymoon Island. A great kayak rental shop sits on the shores, right at the best launch site on the narrow strip of land. Be sure to ask directions and be prepared to do some paddling, this is not necessarily a kayak trip for beginners. The good news is that some of the very best sightseeing in the region is along the route.

 

Directions to the Hidden Kayak Trail

Kayaks on Honeymoon IslandThe directions to the Caladesi Island kayak trail are simple -pretty much. Launch westward from the Dunedin Causeway toward the northern tip of Caladesi Island, which is close by and clearly visible. When you arrive at the other side of the waterway, be sure to get out and play or stroll on the north end of the island. It is one of the most beautiful strips of white-sand beach you will find on Earth. Be mindful of the bird sanctuaries! Once you are back in the boats, head south along the inland coast of the island. This is the long part of the trip. You will row past mangroves for quite a while. Enjoy the ride while you admire the mangroves and spot birds among the branches and stilt-like roots. Watch for the passing ferries. You will be able to locate the route to the Caladesi Island docks by seeing where they enter the mangroves. The opening is wide and has channel markers for larger boat traffic leading up to it. Cruise down the channel, turning right then left. Signs ought to tell you if you make a wrong turn by warning of shallow water. At long last you will arrive at the boat docks. But where is the kayak trail?

 

How to Find the Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

KayakerHidden along the edges of the Caladesi Island docks is the beginning of the kayak trail. Although it is nearly invisible to the eye, it is actually easy to find! Keep to the far left while entering the docks, keeping the mangroves at your elbow. When you round the left hand turn inside the dock area, you will see a maintenance area dead ahead. Keep looking to your left and you will see an opening in the mangroves with a small white sign. It is marker number one for the trail. Peering inside you will see a tunnel created by the roots and branches of the mangrove forest. It’s ok. Go ahead on in.

 

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Dunedin, Hurricane Pass (10)Enjoy the trail through the mangroves. You should see wildlife along the way. Birds hide out among the branches, and keep an eye out for the crabs that run up and down the mangrove roots. The entire trail is shaded, making for a very pleasant paddle. This is one of the top kayak adventures in the area, so enjoy. When you come back out into the Sound, just turn left and before long you will pass by the entrance of the channel leading to the Caladesi Island docks. Once you identify this landmark, you are on your way back to the Dunedin Causeway by the same way you arrived. Trip time: 2-4 hours.

 

 

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Caladesi Island

Secret Caladesi Island Shell Tree

Gulf Coast Local Secret #2

Clearwater to Caladesi shoreline (4)What Is the Caladesi Island Shell Tree?

The shell tree is a spontaneous project where people strolling northward on Clearwater Beach have hung shells and various other objects onto a tree on the shores of the barrier island . Along a hard to reach strip of white sand of the Gulf Coast, those on foot or traveling by boat can come across this peculiar phenomenon, standing out from the other natural scenery. Shells are placed in the crags of branches, hung on twigs or dangle from strings. Many of the shells are attached using drift items like nylon rope and ribbons. The tree is usually not visible until you are close by, due to the shells matching the color of the sand. However, once the visitor arrives, it is a fun and unique tourist attraction that few people get to see.

What Is So Secret about the Caladesi Island Shell Tree?

Caladesi Island

The hard-to-reach location of the Shell Tree is what keeps it a secret. Only the adventurous beach hiker or the happenstance boater will come across this “legendary” tree.  The tree is located on the southwestern shore of Caladesi Island (secret revealed!) and can only be reached on foot by walking north from Clearwater Beach or south from the public beach on Caladesi Island. The Caladesi Island beach is most easily reached by ferry. For visitors to find the tree by water they will probably need to understand the lay of the land just a bit to know where Caladesi Island becomes Clearwater Beach. The island is now connected to Clearwater Beach due to the impact of a past hurricane. Caladesi Island park signOne clue boaters and Clearwater Beach hikers can look for is the sign announcing the boundary of Caladesi Island. Otherwise, hikers and boaters are on their own. The tree remains a rare sight for good reason. The hikes are long (take water to drink) and the tree isn’t as easy to find as you might think. It blends well with its environment and only stands out prominently at close range.

Clearwater to Caladesi shoreline (5)Can I Add to the Secret Shell Tree?

The park system has ignored the tree so far, which is nice of them. The tree does not seem to mind, and the project is a unique piece of community art. The deserted strip of beach of Caladesi Island and Clearwater Beach shores in question has plenty of shells. Why not choose a unique one and add to the display?

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