Tag Archives: Dunedin

Florida Gulf Coast osprey

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Location of Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Click map to enlarge

You will find Honeymoon Island State Park on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It is just north of Clearwater Beach and Caladesi Island, both of which are popular tourist destinations. Honeymoon Island is reachable by car thanks to the Dunedin Causeway, which is a popular weekend destination for boaters, fishermen, and those who enjoy a more casual beach experience. The park has a manned entrance gate with a required entry fee of 4-8 dollars depending on the number of people in your car.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Center

Honeymoon Island Nature CenterAny trip to the Honeymoon Island State Park nature trail should begin at the nature center. While the nature center is not at the trailhead, it will give you an idea of what you might find on the island. The rangers are always willing to help, and will answer any questions you have. Mangrove shores Honeymoon IslandYou will find books on the area, dioramas of island wildlife, kid-friendly displays they are allowed to touch, interactive videos, and a display on the island’s history. Outside is an observation deck that overlooks the shallows of St Joseph Sound where you can often observe Honeymoon Island ospreys diving for fish.

 

Honeymoon Island Loop Trail

Honeymoon Island nature trailThe Honeymoon Island nature trail is a 2.5 mile loop, which runs the length of the island’s pine forest. Honeymoon Island has two peninsulas that reach northward. The western arm is mostly beach, while the eastern stretch is forested, with shores covered by mangrove trees. The stretch of water between the two peninsulas is called Pelican Cove. The looping nature trail, which is on the eastern arm of the island, has a number of connectors, allowing hikers to shorten their hike by making smaller loops. Although you will walk through a forested area, the trail will also have lots of sun, so be sure to bring your hat and perhaps some sunscreen. The surface of the trail is sand, sometimes covered with grass or pine needles, but sometimes not. Be sure to use footwear that goes well with soft, sandy terrain. Keep an eye out for the small signs along the nature trail that give you information on island features.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Trail Foliage

Honeymoon Island slash pineThe most prominent plants you will find on the Honeymoon Island nature trail are the tall slash pines. You will also see them as the barren dead trees where the ospreys like to build their nests. The other common trees are palms and mangroves, a staple plants for the Florida Gulf Coast. In the past, the island appeared somewhat dry, with stretches of low foliage where you could see hikers on the other side of the loop trail. Cactus flower FloridaAfter the island received a prescribed burn a few years ago, the plants filled in the spaces that were previously empty. Now a host of the new slash pines are growing, which is one of the main purposes behind prescribed burns. In addition to the trees you will see a seemingly endless variety of other plants, many of them with flowers. During the spring you will also see the prickly pear cacti in bloom.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Trail Wildlife

Florida osprey nestThe most popular feature on the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail are the ospreys. These fishing hawks are expert at catching their meals out on the Gulf of Mexico, in St Joseph Sound, and in Honeymoon Island’s Pelican Cove. You will often see them flying back to their enormous nests with fish in their claws. The grand nests are easy to see because the ospreys most often build them in dead trees. Joining the ospreys on Honeymoon Island are breeding pairs of bald eagles and great horned owls. These latter two, however, are not as easy to spot as the abundant ospreys. Gopher tortoise on Honeymoon IslandIn addition to many types of birds on the island, you will also come across the gopher tortoise, an island inhabitant that is also popular with visitors. Some of the tortoises will make hasty retreats into the island brush while others will calmly watch you walk by. The tortoises and the birds mentioned above are not the only natural inhabitants, so keep your eyes peeled and you will surely discover more wildlife along the Honeymoon Island nature trail.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Trail Amenities

Picnic area Honeymoon Island State ParkAt the head of the Honeymoon Island nature trail you will find a number of helpful amenities. A small park sits next to a parking lot that never seems to fill up, which is very handy. The small park contains picnic pavilions and a fairly large playground for the kids. You will find a restroom across from the parking lot which also happens to be next to the western trail head of the looping nature trail. If you turn right on path behind the restroom, you will be heading onto the nature trail. If you take the path to the left, it will take you to the famous Honeymoon Island beach. As for that beach, we will let you know more about the other fantastic features of Honeymoon Island State Park in upcoming blogs.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Gulf Coast Bald Eagles

Pinellas Trail

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

Pinellas Trail Scope

Pinellas TrailThe Pinellas trail currently consists of 37 miles of pathway that runs from Tarpon Springs in the north down through multiple communities until it reaches downtown St Petersburg at the southern end of the Peninsula. The trail is dedicated to Fred Marquis who was instrumental in the development of the pathway. Despite traveling through nine cities, the trail most often passes between tall trees that provide much welcome shade and solitude. You will find multiple opportunities to sightsee along the trail, the type of attraction depending on which section of the trail you choose. (We particularly like the connection to the bike path leading to Clearwater Beach.) Pinellas TrailThe path will take you past waterways, interesting features of small communities, and the more complex sights of the larger cities of the peninsula. Taking the entire trail is a bit much for most people so just pick the area you are most interested in seeing. The trail winds through Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Belleair, Largo, Seminole, Gulfport, and St Petersburg. Choose your favorite city and get started on your tour of the Pinellas Trail!

 

Pinellas Trail Experience

Pinellas TrailDeciding which part of the Pinellas Trail is the best for you is a matter of personal preference. Some people enjoy the long stretches of wooded pathway while others like the stopovers in popular cities like Tarpon Springs or Dunedin. At Clearwater, you can take a diversion on the bike path over the causeway to the beach. In Largo you will pass by the large grounds of Largo Central Park and, farther south, Walsingham Park, home to Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village. Passing from Seminole to St Petersburg, you will have an opportunity to cross the longest bridge on the trail, spanning the waters of Long Bayou, with sweeping views across the water to the north and south. The trail begins –or ends- at the docks in St Petersburg, a great place to bike and walk along the scenic downtown waterfront. Regardless of where you use the trail, you are bound to have a relaxing and interesting experience. The memorable sights and enjoyable stretches of the Pinellas Trail are worth visiting.

 

More Information on the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas TrailHere are some links to more information as well as some maps of the trail

Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail

Guide to the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (map)

St Petersburg Bike Map

 

Related Blogs:

What Is a Causway?

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

 

Florida road trip

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

Clearwater Beach Day Trip Adventures #2

Map Tapron Safety Dunedin Tampa StPetersburgFun Florida Gulf Coast Cities

Looking for a great place to go on a day trip from Clearwater Beach? The region has some great tourist spots that you might want to know about. Try sampling some of the tourist hotspots in the neighboring towns of the area. Here is a brief summary of what you can find in the towns and cities of Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Tampa, and St Petersburg.

 

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs, FloridaTarpon Springs is known best for its history and Greek culture. The sponge industry began in the early 1900’s with many Greek divers recruited for the industry. The Greek community still thrives in Tarpon Springs and so does the sponge diving industry. You will see this for yourself when you walk past the sponge-laden boats moored alonge the riverside docks. You will also have multiple opportunities to eat Greek food at the area restaurants. Gift shops abound in Tarpon Springs. The souvenirs have a nautical theme, with an interesting addition of specialty soap and culinary shops. The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is entertaining for adults and a lot of fun for kids. If you like history, you will love Tarpons Springs. The historic district makes a nice scenic drive. History buffs should not miss the antique shops on East Tarpon Avenue, the Tarpons Springs Cultural Center, or the restored Safford House.

 

Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor, FloridaSafety Harbor is a quiet town on the east side of the county that is known for its art. Main Street in Safety Harbor is a pleasant walk with a mixture of diners, restaurants, art shops, and pubs. The walk to the Safety Harbor City Marina and pier is a pleasant diversion, while the dock area are often used for community events. The small but interesting Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center is very nearby. The local library is bracketed by the Art Park to the north and Baranoff Park to the south. The well-known Safety Harbor Resort and Spa sits over natural springs, which have been in use as a spa since the early 1900’s. The scenic drive along the coast of Safety Harbor is one of the best in the area, with beautiful Phillipe Park near the north end of the scenic drive. The other thing to note about Safety Harbor is that they seem to have an endless line up of festivals and street fairs.

 

Dunedin

Dunedin, FloridaThe Main Street strip of Dunedin is well-known for its large events and smaller street fairs. It hosts a Mardi Gras parade and a large St Patrick’s day evening event, as well as other seasonal events. Keeping an eye on Dunedin events is a good idea for anyone looking for diversions in the Clearwater Beach area. Main Street has a good number of pubs, restaurants, and gift shops. Main Street ends at a pier, marina, and city park, all within easy walking distance. Fresh seafood is available for sale at the docks. The popular Pinellas Trail bicycle and walking path runs directly through the center of town, and is built along the old railroad tracks. The old train station is a central historic building to the downtown area. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball winter training games are also held in Dunedin and are very close to Main Street.

 

Tampa

Tampa, FloridaTampa sits on the other side of Tampa Bay from the City of Clearwater, and is very likely where you will land when you fly into the area. While downtown Tampa is oriented more toward business than tourism, there are still plenty of great sites to see, especially along the many miles of waterfront. The popular Channel District is a great place to try out the dining or the bar scene. In the same general area you will find the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium. Another great museum you should visit is the Henry B Plant Museum, located at the grand hotel the railroad tycoon built to attract visitors to the area once the railroad was built. Old Water Street and Channelside Walk Way are great places to dine or spend the evening out. Close to the waterside attractions is the Tampa Bay Times Forum sports stadium. Tampa is also the home of the yearly Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, one of the largest events in the entire Tampa Bay area, in which a pirate invasion of Tampa is reenacted. The city of Tampa is large, so be prepared to drive between the many attractions.

 

St Petersburg

St Petersburg, FloridaWhile St Petersburg is also a large city, the downtown attractions are all surprisingly close together. In a relatively small area along the waterfront you will find the famous Dali Museum, the St Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, and the St Petersburg Museum of History. The Bay Shore Drive area is a hotspot for nightlife and is a good choice for an interesting dining experience. The University of Southern Florida is found amid the downtown attractions, with its own Barnes and Noble bookstore. The developed shorefront parks go on for a surprising distance, including Vinoy park, North Straub Park, and South Straub Park, among others. The sports stadium is located on the western side of downtown. Two main attractions of downtown St Petersburg are the very large pier on 2nd Ave, and the popular Saturday Morning Market, an outdoor flea and farmers’ market.

 

Road Trip!

While on your Clearwater Beach vacation, don’t miss the opportunity to head out for a day of fun. Find out for yourself what makes the Central Gulf Coast of Florida one of the best places on Earth!

 

Other blog posts you might like;

Florida Springs

Safety Harbor Museum

Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival

 

 

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

 

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.

Related Links

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Beach Troubles Solved

Central Gulf Coast Fishing Secret

 

Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival

Celtic Music on the Florida Gulf Coast

Dunedin Celtic Music Festival Florida Gulf CoastThe Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival was a very lively event. When you think of bagpipes, you might imagine green fields with a handful of men in kilts playing a tune. If you attended the Dunedin, Florida Celitc music event, you might never think of bagpipes the same way again. We arrived after dark to the sound of wailing bagpipes from the high school band. The effect was a good one right from the start. Even from deep within the large parking lot we could see the activity on the stage was not static. Hands were waiving in the air while the sound of deep drum beats thumped into the sky.

 

Dunedin Hosts Celtic Music Event on the Florida Gulf Coast

Dunedin FloridaDunedin occupies a fair stretch of the best coastline the Florida Gulf Coast has to offer. Situated between the tourist destinations of Tarpon Springs and Clearwater Beach, Dunedin boasts an active uptown section on Main St., several beautiful city parks, and world famous Honeymoon Island. It also runs along the inland side of Saint Joseph Sound, a waterway named Clearwater Harbor to the south. The pristine white sand beaches of Honeymoon Island and some of the best nightlife activities and festivals in the region makes Dunedin a name visitors should note. With a great history of successful events, it is no surprise that Dunedin put on a good show with the Celtic Music Festival. With great bands and a good selection of local vendors, including craft beer sales, the event was well-rounded entertainment.

 

Celtic Music Rocks the Florida Gulf Coast

Dunedin Florida Celtic Music FestivalWhen the Dunedin High School band left the stage, the KIlldares took over, showing the crowd that bagpipes have come a long way. With a lively fiddle player, they drew a crowd to the stage with some great modern music –Celtic style. Following the Killdares came Celtica, a Mohawk wearing band that showed the crowd that bagpipes could truly take part in a rock and roll band. The crowd-pleasing tunes rattled our rib cages, and inspired the crowd to sing along. They ended off to shouts and applauding of a happy crowd.

 

Related Posts:

Dog Beaches and Parks

Dolphin Jam

Serial Fun Stalking

 

Fishing catch

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.

 

Related Posts

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

Florida Gulf Coast Websites of Interest

Clearwater Beach Stone Crab Festival 2013

 

 

Dolphin Jam

 

Gaper Jam

What is a Gaper Jam? A Gaper Jam occurs after a vehicle accident happens on a busy road. Even when the authorities have arrived to handle the cleanup, passing motorist will slow down to stare at the wreckage. The word is surely created by the people one hundred cars back who are failing to get to work on time.

 

Dolphin Jam

Dolphin fins breaking the surfaceOnly along the Florida Gulf Coast will you find this other kind of gaper jam. This morning on the way into the Florida Beach Rental office, I was caught in a miniature gaper jam along the scenic Dunedin coastal road. This tiny traffic snarl was not created by a collision, but rather by a pod of dolphins swimming within twenty feet of the shoreline. Their presence was noted by the drivers because it was a windless morning, giving the waters of Saint Joseph Sound a smooth, glassy surface; ideal for dolphin sighting.

 

Dunedin Dolphin Sighting

The pod was not only breaking the surface with their many dorsal fins but was also creating a very noticeable disturbance as their bodies displaced a surprising amount of water. The displacement pushed the water upward and out to the sides, giving the appearance of mound of water moving northward through the harbor. The pod was keeping close together and I counted at least three fins, though the moving water suggested even more beneath the surface.

 

Dolphin Watching

While the Florida Gulf Coast has multiple dolphin sighting boat tours, seeing them at unexpected times is always a treat. The coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a favorite playgrounds for bottle nose dolphins. If you are planning a Central Gulf Coast vacation, be sure to bring your camera. While you are strolling along coastal waterways, keep a look out for dolphin fins. They make appearances much more often than you might think.

Dunedin Dining and Activities

Dunedin sits on the shores of Saint Joseph Sound but also claims two of the two top island beaches on the Central Gulf Coast. While the list of things to do, see and eat in Dunedin is lengthy, here are a few links to get you started.

Dunedin Restaurants

Jolli Mons Grill

Eddies Bar and Grill

Bonnies Breakfast and Lunch

Bistro Atlantis

Dunedin Beaches

Caladesi Island State Park

Honeymoon Island

Dunedin Activities

Caladesi Ferry

Drum Circle, Dunedin Brewery

Indian Rocks Beach

Central Gulf Coast Cities

Gulf Coast City Info

Below are links provided by Florida Beach Rentals for local Gulf Coast cities. These fun vacation destinations have tons of activities. The listed sites will help you learn more about the Central Gulf Coast. They also have some great ideas for places to go and things to do. The list is ordered from north to south.

Tampa

Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce

Dunedin

Dunedin Chamber of Commerce

Sand Key

Belleair Beach

Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Shores

Redington Shores

North Redington Beach

Redington Beach

Madeira Beach

Treasure Island

St Pete Beach

Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce

City of St Petersburg and the St Petersburg Chamber of Commerce