Posts Tagged ‘Florida Parks’

Shell Collecting in the Clearwater St Pete Area

Posted on: April 14th, 2016 by MB 1 Comment

Seashell collection

The Beauty of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Central Gulf Coast is the area of Florida from Tampa Bay regional beaches down to greater Naples region. The area is defined by the remarkable white sands that cover the beaches in volume. This article will cover our stomping grounds of Tampa Bay, where we have personally gone to collect our shells. These beaches have grown in popularity, now that the secret it out. The weather is usually agreeable in this region and basking on the beaches is a slice of heaven. During the hot months of summer, the water turns to a striking turquoise hue, lit from above by the more direct rays of the sun that are not present in the winter.

seashell collecting

The Best Seashells

The beaches are better traveled now, more visitors understanding the joy of walking the shores. That of course, leads to shell collecting. So are there enough shells? You would think not, but experience has shown that a walk down the beach will find beautiful shells to collect. Still, the question has arisen, “Where can I find the best shells?”

Going the Extra Mile for Seashells

The answer is that to get the best shells, you have to do a little extra work. You probably saw that coming but to soothe your disappointment, we will point you in the right direction.

The Right Timing for Seashell Collecting

The best time to collect seashells is before someone else gets there! Too easy, we know, so let’s break it down. Morning is best, sunrise even better. If you can arise early and hit the beach, you will find the shells that will otherwise get picked up by the larger daytime crowds. The other timing you might want to watch for is low tide. Check local charts for your area to see when the water will be lowest. More goodies which you can reach will line the shore. Be careful to leave living creatures alone, which includes starfish. Starfish go so slowly that their movements are often missed. Shells with inhabitants should be left alone.

Beachcoming Clearwater Beach

The Right Place for Seashell Collecting

The best places for seashell collecting are those that are infrequently visited. Plenty of beaches along the Central Florida Gulf Coast fall under that designation, so let’s get started.

Caladesi Island State Park is hard to get to. You have the choice of walking for a very long way north from Clearwater Beach or taking a boat. A ferry runs from Honeymoon Island to the Caladesi Island which makes it not so difficult as some other islands, but you have to pay the ferryman. Once there, you will not have to wonder why this beach is on the list of good shelling locations. While you will still have to hunt for the big, dazzling shells, you will find no lack of scallops, clams, oysters, and cockles. Depending on how the waves have impacted the shore, you might find them in heaps.

Honeymoon Island State Park is another place that has hard to reach parts. The northern end takes a long time to reach on foot, leaving boating as the easiest method to reach it. Once you leave the frequently visited parking lot area of the island, headed north, you will head farther and farther into the zones that people don’t often go. Thanks to that, and the great length of the beach, you are virtually guaranteed to find great shells. If you do make it to the northern tip of the island, congratulations. Not only will you find fantastic shells, you will also be standing at one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

spiral seashell

Anclote Key Preserve State Park includes the island of Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sand Bar. These three islands are uninhabited and have no roads to reach them. Boating is the only option. Non-motorized craft should be operated by those with some experience because of distance, waves, wind, and motorized boat traffic. Once there your eyes will pop at the shells you find. We have no need to run through the list of Florida shells for these islands. You have a chance to find them all. Anclote Key Preserve State Park sees so little traffic, especially Anclote Key, that you might encounter the shelling treasures of a lifetime.

Fort Desoto County Park and Shell Key are side by side barrier islands that have fantastic shelling opportunities. Fort Desoto is accessible by car and Shell Key by boat. Kayaks can be rented at the park to help you reach Shell Key. While Fort Desoto receives a large amount of traffic during peak seasons, it still has areas that are hard to reach, or which visitor simply don’t explore. That leaves those zones to you, the shell collector. Walk away from the main parking lot area in any direction and you will encounter a wide variety of shells. And if you rent a kayak, here is the key; cruise the shallow inlets where the water is only a foot deep or so. Shells no one else will find will appear just beneath your boat.

Egmont Key is the last location on our list. It is far from the other islands and motorized boats are recommended as reaching it crosses major boating channels. Fortunately, a regular ferry departs Fort Desoto for the island. Here you will find miles of beaches that see very few visitors. Aside from the archeological goodies on Egmont Key, walking the beach will fill your shelling bag, and quite quickly. It is a shell collector’s dream.

Seashell on Clearwater Beach

Finding Shells the Easy Way

Clearwater Beach, Sand Key, Indian Rocks, Redington, Madeira, Treasure Island and St Pete Beach all receive tourism traffic but enjoy ample sea life as well. Lucky finds can still be encountered on our standard beaches, and often are by the fortunate passersby. Keep your eyes sharp in all these locations for things other than shells. You never know what you might find amid the sands of the Florida Gulf Coast.


Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

A Beach Less Traveled

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park


A Beach Less Traveled

Posted on: May 4th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Where is Sand Key Beach?

Sand Key ParkSand Key Beach is located at Sand Key Park, on the barrier island known as Sand Key. This barrier island, or key, is the next island south from Clearwater Beach. Sand Key Park is very easy to access if you are visiting Clearwater Beach or the beach communities to the south such as St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, or Belleair Beach. All of those beach communities are found on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida, to the west of Tampa and Tampa Bay. In other words, Sand Key Beach is located at the heart of a very active beach zone and tourist destination. The park entrance is very close to the Sand Key Bridge that leads across Clearwater Inlet, the waterway between Sand Key and Clearwater Beach.


Enjoying Sand Key Beach

Sand Key BeachOnce you park at the very large parking lot at Sand Key Beach, you will see the beach, beyond a set of grassy dunes. Winding pathways of sand or concrete lead between the dunes, taking out onto the expansive area of sand. Restrooms and outdoor beach showers are available for visitors. After you stroll past the palm trees and sand dunes, you will have to cross a fair stretch of sand to get to the water, so make sure your cooler has wheels! Sand Key Beach is adjacent to Clearwater Inlet, which is the waterway allowing boats to pass between Clearwater Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. A jetty protrudes out from the northern edge of the beach, creating the entrance to Clearwater Inlet. South of the jetty is all beach. Sand Key Beach is a great place for swimming or wading. With the large area of sand, you are free to set up your towel or beach chair just about anywhere. Sand Key Beach trailIn fact, that is one of the joys of Sand Key Beach; it is a beach less traveled. While times such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Spring Break might see a larger number of people, chances are you will encounter a smaller, quieter group of beach goers at Sand Key. Keep in mind that this is Florida Gulf Coast beach, which means it will have the fantastic white sands for which the coastline is famous. If you enjoy a mild day at the shore, Sand Key might be your beach.


Hidden Gems at Sand Key Park

Fishing pier Sand Key ParkSand Key Beach is just a part of Sand Key Park. The park has much more to explore. Sand Key Park is a kid friendly place. Aside from the endless joys of the beach, the park also has a playground set, nestled next to a stand of shade trees that shelter the set from the afternoon sun. Sand Key Park is also pet friendly. A fenced dog park is available with separate areas for smaller and larger dogs. The dog park has benches for owners and a number of shade trees. Additionally, you will find picnic pavilions and a walking trail. The picnic area has its own restroom, which also near the dog park. The walking trail runs through the wooded areas of the park and past a saltwater marsh, making for a refreshing diversion. The large shade trees along Clearwater Inlet have become a hangout spot for barbeques and relaxing in the shade on beach chairs. The spot is excellent for watching Clearwater Harbor traffic pass by. Last but not least are the fishing opportunities at Sand Key Park. The entire waterfront of Clearwater Harbor, from the jetty to the Sand Key Bridge, is very popular among local fishermen and tourists alike. Sand Key Park playgroundCloser to the bridge you will find a small parking lot and pier just for fishing. This out-of-the-way fishing retreat seems distant from the rest of the park. It is also a nice spot to launch a short hike along the walking path or to the Sand Key Bridge. The bridge walk is a worthy endeavor, with sweeping views of Clearwater Harbor, Clearwater Inlet, the island of Sand Key, Sand Key Park, the community of Clearwater Beach, and the city of Clearwater. With all the hidden gems at Sand Key Park, you could spend the better part of a day exploring.


A Beach Less Traveled

Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaSand Key Park is a great place to go for a beach day with fewer people on the beach. It is a favorite place for flying kites because of the room available on the wide swaths of sand. If the beach combing, sunbathing, and swimming are not enough, you can take a hike around the park, watch the boat traffic go by, or try your hand at fishing. If that all sounds like fun, then give Sand Key Beach a try on your next Florida Gulf Coast vacation.


Other posts you might enjoy;

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

3 Essential Rules for Taking Your Pet on Vacation

5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach


Sunset Deer Sightings

Posted on: January 20th, 2014 by admin No Comments

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

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Posted on: December 15th, 2013 by admin No Comments

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

Secret Caladesi Island Shell Tree

Posted on: November 9th, 2013 by MB 2 Comments

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?

Related Posts

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

Aerial of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach


Central Gulf Coast Museums

Posted on: September 27th, 2013 by MB No Comments

Central Gulf Coast Museums of Florida

Looking for a museum to spend several entertaining hours of the day? Here is a list of sites for great experiences while learning more about life.

Dali Museum Exterior

Dali Museum

Armed Forces Military Museum

Dali Museum

Fantasy of Flight aircraft museum

Florida Craftsmen art center

Florida Railroad Museum


Heritage Village

Heritage Village

Heritage Village and Florida Botanical Gardens

Leepa Rattner Museum of Art

Morean Arts Center

Museum of Science and Industry



Ringling Bros img

Ringling Museum

Ringling Museum of Ringling Brother Circus fame

South Florida Museum and aquarium

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum

Tampa Bay History Center

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