Tag Archives: Central Gulf Coast

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.

 

Other posts you might like:

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Central Gulf Coast Fishing Secret

 

Clearwater Marina

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

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.

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts

Understanding Florida Gulf Coast Weather

 

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!

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

The Best Beaches in America

 

Monkey at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Gulf Coast Local Secret #18

Florida Gulf Coast Primate Rescue

ChimpanzeeThe purpose of the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary is to provide a place to live for rescued and donated primates. They have a growing collection of animals, not all of them primates, which is open for public viewing. Inside you will see lots of monkeys and apes, including chimpanzees, orangutans, baboons, spider monkeys and more. Additionally you can see alligators, tortoises, and an assortment of birds. The sanctuary is privately funded, so it does not come off as a major theme park like Busch Gardens, but the animals are well cared for and casual observation shows a lot of happy, furry faces.

 

Florida Gulf Coast Secret Primate Sanctuary

BaboonsWhy is the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary on our local secrets list? While they certainly do advertise, you will not find neon lights flashing on the roadside. The unassuming sign for the sanctuary has pictures of the animals, and the parking lot is a simple strip off the side of the road. The setting does not necessarily leap out at passers-by. You might need a local to help you arrive!  However, for animal lovers and for those who want close by entertainment for the kids (or grownups) the sanctuary is a fun place to visit. The staff give helpful information and you might even get to pet a live alligator -a small one. Give the sanctuary a try!

Safety Harbor Museum

Clearwater Beach Volleyball

Gulf Coast Local Big Bird Secret

 

Tiger Busch Gardens Tampa Florida

Top Theme Parks near Clearwater Beach

Homosassa Springs

Homosassa Springs hippoHomosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located seventy miles drive north of Clearwater Beach. The park displays rescued and other creatures native to Florida. The list includes black bears, alligators, bald eagles, otters, and many more. The number of different bird species at the central pond and the aviary are amazing. A unique park resident is the hippopotamus once used in Hollywood movies, granted official Florida citizenship to overcome its status as a non-native species. The number one attraction at the park, however, are the manatees. Both wild and park animals can be seen swimming in park waters. The manatees you will find in pens are there to receive care, followed by release back into the wild. The park has a unique underwater room where you can view the manatees being fed.

 

Lowry Park Zoo

Lowry Park Zoo orangutanLowry Park Zoo sits just north of the city of Tampa and is a 25 mile drive east from Clearwater Beach. It is a large zoo with plenty to see. Stoll on wooden boardwalks past large aviaries or ground level animal enclosures. You can get a close up view of a wide variety native and exotic species of animals. The Lowry Park Zoo is large enough to plan an all day trip from Clearwater Beach. Kids love the zoo because of the carnival rides located at the center of the park. The kids’ area includes fun things like slides, a water fountain area to play in, pony rides, and a petting zoo.

 

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa Florida tigerBusch Gardens is the top theme park within easy reach of Clearwater Beach. Busch Gardens in Tampa has an African theme, which goes well with the animals you will view there. You will find fantastic roller coasters and other fun rides, as well as kid-friendly attractions, like the massive playground called Treetop Trails. Click here to see their huge list of attractions. If you want to offer your family some extra excitement on your Clearwater Beach vacation, then give Busch Gardens in Tampa a try.

 

 

Related Links:

Florida Springs

Gulf Coast Bald Eagles

Moccasin Lake Nature Park

 

Tarpon Springs sunken s hip

Gulf Coast Sunken Ship

Gulf Coast Local Secret #17

Does the Gulf Coast Have Sunken Ships?

Of course the Gulf Coast has sunken ships! You will find that any harbor locations around the world have long histories of sunken ships. Before European ships arrived, Native Americans plied the waters in smaller craft. The coasts of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida have been in use by large ships since the Americas were first settled. Settlers, war ships and even pirates used the shores of Florida, especially Tampa Bay, where Fort De Soto State Park still displays cannons used to defend the mouth of the bay. The maritime history of the Florida Gulf Coast is fascinating, and worth looking into.

 

Sunken Ships on the Florida Gulf Coast

ShipwreckA number of websites help divers and others locate known shipwrecks along Florida’s coast. If you are a diver, these are great resources. However, if you are the average tourist, it is not likely you will be diving on shipwrecks. So how can you see your own sunken ship?

 

Tarpon Springs Sunken Ship

Tarpon Springs (7)This local secret turns out to be in Tarpon Springs. Tarpons Springs is a fun, Greek-style tourist destination with enough shops, boat tours, and dining to keep any visitor happy. Located on the Anclote River, Tarpon Springs is known for its Sponge Docks, where the catch of the day is sponges. Little known to most of those walking the docks is that Tarpon Springs has its own sunken ship that you can see. Protruding from the waters of the Anclote River, you can catch a glimpse of part of this ship, identified by the pitch of its mast and derricks. Look for it midway down the docks. If you are lucky enough to take a boat tour past this ship wreck, the guide will surely tell you all about it, and you will get a close up view of this modern sunken ship.

Related Posts:

5 Best Places to Escape at Clearwater Beach

Tarpon Springs Activities

The Best Beaches in America

 

Florida deer at sunset

Sunset Deer Sightings

Gulf Coast Local Secret #15

Large Deer Population in Florida

Florida deerFlorida rarely drops below 50 degrees in the winter, making it a great place for wildlife. While this attracts species that don’t tolerate cold easily, it also makes a perfect environment for just about everything else. Florida has a thriving deer population. While it might seem difficult to see deer in an area as populated as Tampa Bay, you might be surprised.

 

Where to See Deer Every Night

Florida deerDeer sightings on a nightly basis can be almost guaranteed for our local secret #15. Well-known by locals, Chesnut Park is a great place to visit any time of the day. The park has endless picnic spots, more hiking trails than most other parks, and has lakefront access and a boat ramp onto Lake Tarpon. In addition to the possibility of alligator sightings, you can also see the local deer population. The park is home to dozens (if not more) of deer which come out of their hiding places in the forest when the sun goes down. The park closes officially after sunset but you still have time to watch the deer come out. Keep your eyes sharp toward the edge of the forest. The baseball field is one of favorite sunset hangouts. Try this park out -it’s a great place to visit –and then wait for the sun to set. You should get to see quite a few deer.

Where to See Great Horned Owls on the Florida Gulf Coast

Clearwater Beach Seagulls

Dolphin Jam

Florida Osprey

Osprey Nesting Season on the Florida Gulf Coast

Gulf Coast Local Secret #12

What is an Osprey?

Honeymoon Island (7)aAn Osprey is a predatory bird that hunts only fish. It has black and white feathers, the male and female differing only slightly. They are large hawks, most being larger than an average chicken. They range across the U.S. and beyond, wherever good fishing opportunities can be found. Osprey fish by diving down and grabbing fish that swim near the surface by using their very fish-hook like talons. They are a lot of fun to watch and are a favorite for expert and beginning bird watchers, as well as photographers.

 

Where Can I See Ospreys on the Florida Gulf Coast?

Osprey nestA better question might be, where can’t you? Osprey are not rare and visitors to Florida’s Gulf Coast can see them easily, flying through the sky or perched high in the tree tops. Any open bay or lake might attract one of these raptors so keep an eye out for them. Also known as a Fish Hawk, they often nest in the tops of dead trees, but visitors might notice large dishes or pans set on top of telephone poles. Those are for Osprey nests, which are quite large. The utility company offers these birds nesting places in lieu of the Ospreys choosing their own in less desirable locations. Along the Florida Gulf Coast, most very large nests in trees, on utility poles, or on billboards belong to Ospreys.

 

See Nesting Ospreys

Osprey nest, Palm Harbor2While you can see nesting Osprey almost anywhere, the locals know the best place to get excellent views of Ospreys building nests and rearing their chicks. This local secret is the very well-known Honeymoon Island. Aside from the great beach, Honeymoon Island has a fairly long hiking trail that loops. On the Eastern trail you will see large numbers of Osprey nests in the tall, dead, bark-free trees. A pair of Ospreys should be working each nest.

 

When to See Nesting Ospreys

Florida OspreyThe Osprey arrive to nest on Honeymoon Island some time in or near February. If you are visiting in late January through March, go to the Honeymoon Island nature trail to view these fantastic birds. If you like taking photos, they will give you great shots as they fly in with nesting materials early in the season, or fish for their chicks later on.

 

Related Posts:

Moccasin Lake Nature Park

Gulf Coast Local Big Bird Secret

The Best Beaches in America Are Here

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Gulf Coast Local Secret #9

Fort DeSoto (3)The Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is one of the most scenic bridges in America. Add that to the reality that it carries drivers to the vacation paradise of the Central Gulf Coast, and you have a must-see bridge. But where is the best place to view it?

 

Fort De Soto (5)On the Road Photos

Plenty of good pictures can be taken from either side. While the roadway does curve, allowing for moderate side shots, we don’t consider the roadway to be the best location from which to take the ultimate pictures.

 

The Secret to Great Sunshine Skyway Bridge Views

Fort DeSoto (1)

The best location to enjoy the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is Fort De Soto Park. The view is great, capturing the turquoise waters of the bay along with a perfect shot of the bridge from the side. To get to this viewing location, you have to enter Fort De Soto Park. You get far more than a view of the bridge by taking this trip. The beach at Fort De Soto Park is voted best in America repeatedly. In addition, you can tour through what remains of the actual fort, including interior rooms and exterior cannon firing areas –complete with cannons. The experience as a whole is fantastic.

 

Related Posts:

Clearwater Beach Voted Best Sunset Location

Central Gulf Coast Cities

Dog Beaches and Parks

Florida Alligator

Places to See Alligators on the Florida Gulf Coast

Gulf Coast Local Secret # 7

Florida Alligators in the Wild

Alligator Palm Harbor Florida

Seeing alligators in the wild is one of the thrilling sights you can experience along the Florida Gulf Coast. While you might just see them on drive down the highway, sitting on bank or swimming across a waterway, it’s more fun to see one from much closer up. Don’t worry. You can view them safely if you follow simple guidelines.

 

AlligatorSafely Viewing Alligators

The good news is that Gulf Coast alligators are generally very well fed by their natural environment and they take no interest in you as food. However, it is best not to trigger their natural instincts. All you need to do is show them respect and keep your distance. An alligator can lunge twenty feet in a very swift charge so stay far beyond of this distance at all times. Also, avoid going between an alligator and the water. Never feed alligators. Please see this link for a complete list of safety tips for viewing alligators from an authoritative source.

 

Catch a Glimpse of Florida Alligators

Homossassa Springs (5)The best places to view alligators in the wild are in Florida’s nature parks. The natural parks of the Gulf Coast are great places to take walks in the woods and along shorelines. When you are near the water, keep your eyes peeled and you might catch a glimpse of a Florida alligator. Two parks well-known for sightings are Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor and Sawgrass Park in Saint Petersburg. The secret of seeing alligators is to look for a low flat object in the water, barely above the surface. At Chesnut Park, try walking along the boardwalk next to the boat ramp. You stand a good chance of seeing baby alligators here, hiding among the brush beside the boardwalk. At Sawgrass Park, scan the main water way and its banks. You might find someone looking back!

 

Alligator Season in Florida

Homossassa SpringsAlligators like warm weather so the best viewing times are spring, summer and fall. If it is cold, you might just see one, but most are tucked away out of sight so viewing opportunities are lower. Otherwise, stay alert whenever you are near fresh water ponds or rivers. Alligators are fun to watch and make great photographs for your Florida vacation photo album. See if you can get your sighting!

Note: If you fail to get your glimpse, try Homosassa Springs where very large, live alligators are on display.

Related Posts

Clearwater Beach Seagulls

Gulf Coast Local Big Bird Secret

Dolphin Jam