Tag Archives: Florida Gulf Coast

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!

 

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Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

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Clearwater Color Run

Clearwater Color Run 2014

Is the Clearwater Color Run a Race or a Party?

Clearwater Color RunAttendees to the Clearwater Color Run in January of 2014 were in for more than just a race. Long before the race began Coachman Park filled with racers in white shirts and their camera-toting companions. Tents dotted the field, selling T-shirts, drinks, and unique photo opportunities. An instructor on the Coachman Park stage led a large number of participants in a Zumba dance warm up. Once at the starting line, an MC standing on top of a tower next to the gates kept the crowd lively by throwing give-away items into the throng of runners. The atmosphere of the Clearwater Color run seemed more like a party than a race before the starting gun ever fired.

 

Clearwater Color Run Is Not Your Ordinary 5K

Clearwater Color RunThe Clearwater Color Run was a lot like other 5K races with one distinct difference; the racers get pelted with colored paint dust along the way. Standing at the first station we saw the racers doused with purple. The cloud plume was so thick we could barely see the people inside. Coming out the other side, the color-stained runners were smiling and laughing. When we moved to the 4.5 kilometer mark, the smiles were fewer, but the spirits of the runners were still high. Many of the participants gave us cheers as they ran by, headed down the last slope toward the finish line. By this time they had gone through all four color tossing stations and were completely covered with bright dust.

 

The Clearwater Color Run After Party

Clearwater Color Run after raceWhile there was no official after party for the Clearwater Color Run, the festivities at the finish line did just as well. The organizers held a contestant dance off on the stage while music blared and bubbles from large machines filled the air. At regular intervals the guys on stage called for a color toss, in which all those gathered nearby threw colored paint dust into the air. It was a great event for all ages, with lots of teens and kids of younger ages participating. The Clearwater Color Run was promoted as the happiest 5K on the planet, which it seemed to do a pretty good job of delivering.

 

 

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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:

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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 Bald Eagle

Gulf Coast Bald Eagles

Gulf Coast Local Secret #14

Bald Eagles Live on the Florida Gulf Coast

Bald EagleBald Eagles are primarily a northern bird but did you know they also live in Florida? They summer in the far north and then some migrate south or gather along the coasts of Alaska and Canada in the winter. However, the ones that live in Florida enjoy the same weather as the rest of us in the Sunshine State, which means you can find them here year round. Like so many other birds, Bald Eagles nest along the Gulf Coast. Finding one of their nests is a rare treat for locals and visitors alike.

Local Pride toward Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle

Homosassa Springs

Bald Eagles are no longer on the endangered species list but they are still under protection by law. A casual search on the Bald Eagle locator found over 44 nests within 15 miles of Clearwater Beach (2012.) However, you might find the local populace is quite protective of their Bald Eagles. Be sure to obey any signs posted regarding approaching the nests to closely.

Were to see a Bald Eagle

Florida Bald EagleWhile you can go to the locations listed on the Bald Eagle locator application, it might be easier to see them in a park, where you can approach on a hiking trail rather than someone’s front yard. Honeymoon Island is a paradise for birds, containing nests for Ospreys, Great Horned Owls and Bald Eagles. When the Bald Eagles return to nest, the rangers are usually the first ones to notice. They will let you know where the birds are and you might also see signs along the nature trail. Be sure to obey signs in the state recreation area. The eagles in this park enjoy a fair amount of protection from park caretakers. You will not get a close up view so be sure to bring your binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens. Despite the distance, this location makes the local secrets list because it is easier to find, the nest site is fairly predictable, and it is not on private land.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Tampa Activities

Activities in Tampa

Tampa Downtown (1)Florida Beach Rentals accommodations are primarily on the beach, or very close to it. But you should know that not too far away are some great day trip activities. Most everything in Tampa is one hour or less from our vacation rentals. Why not give one of them a try?

Big Cat Rescue, Tampa

Busch Gardens, Tampa

Florida Aquarium

Legoland, Tampa

Lowry Zoo

MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry)

Seminole Hard Rock Café, Tampa

Tampa Bay History Center

Tampa International Plaza

Tampa Pitcher Show, movie and dinner in same room

Hurricanes and the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

hurricane-symbolHurricanes do influence Florida Gulf Coast weather. The systems are large and create an effect on weather at remarkable a distances. The good news is that the Central Gulf Coast, where Florida Beach Rentals is located, does not receive direct impact very often. The warm waters of the Gulf most often send the storms northward until they meet with winds crossing the United States from the West, putting the Northern Gulf Coast in the bull’s eye. (Yikes!) Another piece of good news for the Central Gulf Coast is that modern meteorology predicts storm paths with admirable accuracy, providing ample forewarning of impending activity. Storm season coincides with summer months, when waters are warmest, the peak of the season going from July through September.