Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

My Four Hour Vacation at Clearwater Beach: Belle Harbor Vacation Condo Feature

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by MB No Comments

After three years working at Florida Beach Rentals, I decided it was time to check out one of the Clearwater Beach units for myself. That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen our vacation rental units. I have been to almost every one of them and photographed them for over a year before our current, very talented photographer took over. Currently I provide the social media content for our vacation rental company here in Clearwater Beach, Florida. You might have seen our videos and photographs on our Facebook page (FLBRentals). When I say that I wanted to check out a rental I mean that I wanted to get a taste of the vacation rental experience. While touring the units and photographing them is actually a lot of fun, I always wondered what it would be like to stay in them and get a feel for the units we as a company provide.

Clearwater Beach Florida

Our reservations team leader, Jackie, suggested a perfect unit. It was upscale, clean, had a water view, was close to the beach, and was open for me to use. I set out with my social media hardware to capture the experience. While I was looking for the perfect vacation experience, this one didn’t take me too far away. It was right across the street from our office, which I thought was a bit funny. It reminded me of putting a tent in my parent’s back yard and calling it a camping trip. Despite lacking a romantically remote location, I couldn’t argue. It was a very nice condo.

Belle Harbor rainbow

Rainbow captured over Belle Harbor condos

The featured condo for my day of social media broadcasting was in the Belle Harbor condominiums, unit 408. I shot about six videos for the unit, some inside and others showing off the features of the condo and what was nearby. That was not hard to do at Clearwater Beach, Florida. The poolside area at Belle Harbor is waterfront, as is the Jacuzzi and even the fitness center. A walk to the beach was definitely on the list. I was curious how long it would take me to get from the room to the beach. The video pegged at five minutes. That’s not bad. Next I went to get a Starbucks coffee. I’m not going to give away here the secret of how to find Starbucks at Clearwater Beach. There are no signs and you have to know where it is. To discover it for yourself, watch the video below.

Belle Harbor pool

While I didn’t sleep at the unit, I was very enjoyable to be there. I caught up on the weather with the big screen TV and took a stroll on the waterfront sidewalk which I didn’t know Belle Harbor had! The unit was a three bedroom that looks perfect for a family and the master bedroom is large.

Master bedroom Belle Harbor condo

In truth, I should not really be writing this in the past tense, because, right at this moment, I am typing this blog post in the master bedroom. When I walked in and saw the desk, I knew I had to find a reason to sit there and make use of it. Right now I am looking out the large picture windows at palm fronds waving in the breeze.

Balcony view vacation condo

If you’re wondering why I haven’t said, “It would sure be nice to stay here,” that just seems too obvious. It’s a very nice unit. While I won’t get to reap the benefits of a full month’s stay here, taking an afternoon outing to enjoy the unit has been a really great time. In fact, my seat here, with the relaxing view, is genuinely soothing to the soul. So, I will write my last lines here and then fold down the screen of my laptop. My mini vacation will be over and it will beill beh was mantic mping trip c them and  time to head back across the street to the office, which I can see peeking out from between the palm trees.

More info on this unit

Please enjoy my Belle Harbor virtual vacation videos below.




Other posts you might enjoy:
Fairy Tales in the Sand at Clearwater Beach
Fantastic Fall Festivals St Pete to Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach Marina

 

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Clearwater Beach Summers

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Summer time at the beach is hard to beat. When that beach is especially beautiful, it’s even better. Clearwater Beach is great to visit any time of the year. Each season has its own perks. If you arrive in one season, you are likely to be envious of those who visit in the others. Perhaps that’s human nature. But let me describe why the summertime in Clearwater Beach will make you happy.

Clearwater Beach with tons of shells

Hot Summer Days

If summer at Clearwater Beach has a downside, it’s the heat. It gets hot here and you might sweat. And there you have it. That’s the downside. But then, that’s why the beach is so great! Three things make this beach enjoyable on a hot day.

  1. You can beat the heat by swimming! The water feels great and a dip into it will refresh you. By observation, the people who go into the water don’t come back out again for quite a while. A walk down the shore on an average summer beach day will find lots of heads and shoulders bobbing above the waves. If you don’t want to go in all the way, the Gulf of Mexico also feels great on your feet.
  2. The breeze coming off the Gulf of Mexico usually cools down the beach by about seven to ten degrees -at least that’s how it feels. There are days where walking on the sidewalk will warm you right up but a walk along the shore just moments later feels just fine. The sea breeze is a blessing and smells good too. And really, wouldn’t you prefer walking on the beach?
  3. The sand at Clearwater Beach is white. While the sun does warm it up, it never becomes too hot to walk on. Even on the hottest day you will never have to hop and skip across heated sands. That also means the heat reflecting off the sand is far less.

As far as problems go, beating the heat at the beach is pretty fun to solve.

Clearwater Beach outing

The Joys of Summer at the Beach

Now let’s look at the upsides of going to the beach in the summer.

  1. In the summer you will find more people enjoying the traditional beach outing. That means taking the family to the shore with a cooler and spending the day having fun. Catching sun is no problem and you will never have to worry about bringing a jacket along. The days are longer too. By our count, that makes for more beach time. I think anything you enjoy doing in the summer might just be better at the beach.
  2. The Pier 60 Nightly Sunset Festival operates all year round, yet, somehow, it seems to have a bit of extra magic in the summer. With the long days and blazing sunsets, the fun-seeking crowds show up to see the street performers and to pick up a unique souvenir from the Pier 60 vendors. For whatever reason, the crowds just seem to cheer the performances a little bit louder in the summertime.
  3. The dolphins of our coast also like the warm summer days. Whether the dolphins would agree with me or not, I don’t know, but it seems easier to get them to play in the wakes of the boats in the summer. I’ll let the dolphins have the last word on that because you can successfully spot them on dolphin tours all year long. On a recent dolphin tour in June, we saw quite a few.
  4. The best thing about summer at Clearwater Beach, however, has got to be the colors of the water. In the summer, the sun shines directly down, piercing the water and lighting up the white sands underneath. That creates a dazzling turquoise color that people love to see. But it’s not just the turquoise that makes the Gulf of Mexico special in the summer. When the waves roll into the sand around your feet, it is remarkably clear. Whether it is the angle of the sun, the amount of light, or some other factor, the summertime waters at Clearwater Beach are remarkable.

So, there you have it. The beach is an awesome place to go in the summer. Now that I’ve said it, it seems kind of obvious.

Perfect waters at Clearwater Beach

A Slow Ride up the Withlacoochee River

Posted on: May 26th, 2016 by MB No Comments

 

 

Cypress trees on the Withlacoochee River

Getting Away from it all in Florida

Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida is a great place to spend time and is our home base.  This blog post, however, is about a nice little day trip away from our area which is very easy to take. We set our sights on a river cruise and hit the road on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Calm waters of the Withlacoochee River

The Withlacoochee River

The Withlacoochee River is a slice of Florida that takes you back to simpler times. The name Withlacoochee means little-big river. Because the river changes size drastically during rainy years, that is an apt name. The Withlacoochee starts in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve which is Northeast of Tampa. The river flows Northwest to the Gulf of Mexico on a 141-mile course. The land is flat so the river flows rather slowly, a deceptive appearance considering how much water it can move. The river flows through areas that are lightly inhabited and often used for raising horses and cattle. If that sounds like a laid back place, it is.

Banks of Withlacoochee River

Covered Pontoon Boat Ride on the Withlacoochee River

Our Withlacoochee River ride started near Dunnellon, Florida at the dock next to a restaurant called Stumpknockers. We caught our ride with Capt Mike’s Lazy River Cruises, which, by the way, requires a reservation so that Capt Mike knows your coming. Our group and the others along only totaled eight people so it was a nice light load on the pontoon boat. It’s covered with a nice roof so it’s a good ride even on sunny days. Capt Mike knew the river very well and told us all kinds of interesting facts about the area.

Cypress reaching roots into Withlacoohee River

A Lazy River through Florida Swamps

After the tour, I looked down on the area on a map to see that our ride flowed through an area that had zero habitation to the north and very little to the south. The river takes care of that little detail by rising and falling dramatically, especially during very heavy rainfall years. Apparently 2004 caused the river to rise ten feet and grow to over a mile wide. On either side of the river grew a forest of cypress, mixed with a few other volunteers like palm trees, oaks, and pine. The cypress trees ruled the area, however, because of their ability to live in wet, swamp-like conditions. The river banks rose just few feet before a broad and seemingly endless flatland began. We could see between the cypress trunks for a very long way until finally, the volume of tree trunks cut off the view. I imagined trekking through that wilderness with its herds of deer, wide variety of birds, and other wildlife. Unfortunately, that list also included mosquitoes and biting flies, which made the safe position aboard the boat a welcome place from which to view the swamp. The sights were amazing and something few people get to see thanks to the challenging conditions present when on foot in such areas.

Flood marks on cypress trunks

Floodwater marks on cypress trunks

Wildlife and Wild Views

On our trip we received a lucky break when we pulled in close to something called a hummingbird moth. I didn’t know that kind of moth existed and might have seen it before without realizing since it looked and flew exactly like a real hummingbird. We spotted deer among the cypress trees, fish in the water, dragonflies, red shouldered hawks, swallowtail kites, wading herons, and baby alligators. The boat moved slowly, the river flowed in a clam, steady flow, and the forest blocked off the sounds of the world. It made for a very pleasant trip.

Deck on the Withlacoochee

Easy Day Trip Perfect for a Vacation

This boat tour sets out from a spot where Route 200 crosses over the Withlacoochee River. It is approximately two hours north of either Clearwater Beach or Disneyworld in Kissimmee, Florida. That’s a big day trip but if you are looking for something to soothe your soul during an otherwise hectic vacation, this is definitely the ticket.

Road sign in the Withlacoochee River

Other posts you might enjoy:

Sharing Natural Paradise of Three Rooker Bar

Discovering Egmont Key

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Sun reflected off the Withlacoochee River in Florida

Video of our ride down the Withlacoochie River.

 

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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

 

Paradise Lost; A Beach in Peril

Posted on: February 18th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Honeymoon Island State Park Beach

4 Million Dollar Face Lift

Honeymoon Island BeachHoneymoon Island received a face lift last year designed to restore its remarkable beaches so that visitors could enjoy the shores that have thrilled beach-goers for decades. Stone jetties were added and sand was pumped onto the shore. The beaches looked fantastic and were ready to move forward, allowing visitors to enjoy the famous Honeymoon Island Beach into the future. The reality, however, has turned out quite different. A trip to the beach just two days ago revealed a troubling picture.

The Perfect Beach

Perfect beach Honeymoon IslandTen years ago when I first toured Honeymoon Island, I was taken by its swaths of white sand, beautiful palms, and ample space for visitors. The beachfront was lined with parking lots that filled up on busy weekends, the sands occupied with happy visitors. I joined them, sunning and swimming at the beach with friends and taking long walks to the north and south along the white-sand shores.

Destructive Storms

Coral rock beachEven then I heard concern voiced for the island due to the shifting sands. Over the years I watched the beach change but after a rather heavy set of storms, I returned to find the sand gone, with the substrate of coral rock in its place. The beach had been carried away so deeply that one section of parking lot had been undercut and collapsed. It was then that the serious efforts to save this cherished beach began in earnest. That led to last year’s jetties and sand replenishment. Logic, a visual study, and the experts agreed that the extra sand would be held in place by the rocks. In fact, the anticipated  sand movement should have piled up against the rocks, allowing nature to create even more beach area. Alas it did not prove so.

No More Beach Walks?

Honeymoon Island beach walkDuring the recent visit, I found most of the beach I had known missing, and certainly no large swaths of sand. January and February had brought high winter tides, which are normal, but the tides were also accompanied by high winds, perhaps associated with the El Nino conditions. The sand that was pumped onto the beach has been effected, and much of it seems to be gone. When I walked north, I saw that during recent high tides, the waters of the Gulf had washed completely across the beach into the inland waterways and only a few, very small areas of beach had remained above the waterline. Honeymoon Island parking lotThe waters reached the parking lot as well, with large pools collected in the low areas of pavement. I cut my walk north short because the rising tide met with the inland shrubbery, leaving no space to walk.

Startling Beach Erosion

Eroded beachBoardwalks led out onto the sand in the past. Those boardwalk ramps have now been shortened, with the ends fenced off and the beach access provided via stairs leading off the sides instead of the ends. When I walked north toward the dog beach area, I was alarmed to find the surf rolling into the mangrove bushes which had once been some fifty yards up the shore. The evidence of shifted sands was everywhere, which included washes of sand pushed inland alongside of uprooted bushes. Dog beach is now divided by a miniature estuary that runs about two feet deep. I will admit, the dogs didn’t seem to mind.

Return of the Natural Beach?

Honeymoon Island jettiWhat will the future of Honeymoon Island be? A placard on site suggests that the island is attempting to revert to the shape it had before development. After watching the sands at the various islands moving about, it seems that letting nature take its course is not a bad idea. As this Herculean effort to restore the beach proves, nature is going to run its course regardless. The question still remains, however, as to whether or not the beach will continue to wash away. Rock barrierThe rock barriers are still in place. Will the calmer summer tides and currents pile the sand back up? The island was created by natural forces so its disappearance is highly unlikely. As for the beach, it seems that a game of wait and see might be in order. I, for one, hope to see natural forces bring the sands back. Wishful thinking? Let’s hope not.

Central Gulf Coast Beaches to Visit

Clearwater BeachArea beaches that are surviving well are Anclote Key, Caladesi Island just to the south, and, of course, Clearwater Beach which has done quite well. Clearwater Beach, may, in fact, be the recipient of some of those migrating sands. Islands south of Clearwater Beach were replenished in the past and casual observation suggests they are remaining intact. If you are looking for sandy beaches in the area to visit, both natural and developed, those would be the locations to visit.

Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island dog beachHoneymoon Island was one of the top beaches in the area and a favored seashore for spending the day in the sun and surf. The park’s allure for locals and tourists will continue but without the swaths of soft beach sand that once drew crowds, its future attendance will undoubtedly suffer. The saving graces of the island park include a nature center, picnic area, dog beach, a ferry to a neighboring island, and a nature trail that has remarkable bird watching opportunities.

Best Wishes for Honeymoon Island

Will the county try again to save the beach? Will the erosion create a much different island shape than the one we know today? Will the beach save itself? Or will the jetties create the intended effect and capture the shifting sands?  Those of us who love Honeymoon Island State Park will keep a close watch on its progress and hope for the best.

Honeymoon Island

Discovering Egmont Key All Over Again

Posted on: November 24th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Egmont Key flowersA long time ago, in a land right under your feet, a river ran to the sea. As the eons passed, the shoreline moved and the seas rose and fell. Today at the mouth of that ancient river-that-no-longer-runs is an island known as Egmont Key. Formed by the ancient lay of land, it differs from the nearby barrier islands, which were created wind, waves, and shifting sand. Located on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this fascinating Florida island sits at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Egmont Key beachEgmont Key State Park is remote and well worth the effort of visiting.

November marks the days for visiting the island, not because of the season, but rather the Discover the Island event which is organized by the Egmont Key Alliance,. While Egmont Key is open all year long, the event invites guests to the island for tours, food, displays, and souvenirs which are not ordinarily present. By doing so, the Egmont Key Alliance increases awareness and support for preserving the important island and its unique history.

Egmont Key lighthouseEgmont Key has served many purposes over the years, but its strategic position at the mouth of Tampa Bay dictated its destiny for military use. A fort sat on the island as well as guns for defending the mouth of the bay. While modern technology has overcome the need for a station on the island, it was used from the Civil War through World War Two to defend the important harbor. Tour guides for the event explained the various unique ways those stationed on the island kept the mouth of Tampa Bay safe. Many of the concrete structures still stand. Others have sunk beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and sit off shore beneath the waves, victims of a shifting shoreline.

Train wheels Egmont KeyIn the present, the island supports a lighthouse, several old bunkers, and the brick streets of a bygone military base that you can walk. Amid the reminders of days gone by are railroad tracks that ran from the base out to a pier for loading boats. Palm trees and mangroves cover the island, the brick streets running through a palm forest now, rather than a base. On the west side of the former buildings is the beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand paradise. You will rarely find this beach occupied, except, of course, for the Discover the Island days.

Egmont Key beachThe southern portion of the island is off limits to visitors, being the domain of nesting birds and sea turtles. The large preserve is home to an amazing number of birds during nesting seasons, although our guide explained that November was not a peak month. Despite most of the island being a preserve, the portion that is open for touring is quite large and more than enough to fill an entire day of exploring.

Egmont Key FerryMark your calendars for November to take advantage of this fun and informative event. While you can visit the island any time you like, the Discover the Island event might be the best time to learn about the island’s history. It is also a good time to go if you don’t particularly want to be on an island all by yourself. Despite what type of experience you enjoy, guided or solo, be sure to check out this island. A ferry runs to it regularly from Fort Desoto Park. Don’t miss out on this unique experience!

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Shaking Hands with Pirates

Clearwater Beach Marina

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

Chowder Challenge Hits the Spot

Posted on: November 18th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Chowder Anticipation

Chowder Challenge 2015We were waiting for the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge long before it appeared on the 2015 calendar of events. This was a hit with us last year and we ready to go back. How many events have the best restaurants in the area all cooking to impress you? Last year’s event was a lot of fun so we set the date on the calendar and made our plans to attend.

Pass A Grille and St Pete Beach

Chowder Challenge 2015While the event is put on by the community of Pass A Grille, this year the park where the event is normally held was in use for a road repair project. Alas, the Chowder Challenge event was moved to another gorgeous, outdoor, waterfront venue in St Pete Beach. We heard the music on the way in and were pleased to see that the band had been set up right next to the intra-coastal waterway, providing a deep blue background for their stage. Dining tables spread across the lawn to the left, with nearly ever seat filled. The much-anticipated “chowder arena” awaited to the right. The chowder was ready, and so were we.

Chowder, Chowder, and More Chowder

Chowder ChallengeWe were happy to pay for our wrist band and get right to it. We started at the Shells booth and then made our way around the tent-ringed lawn. In total, we had to return three times in order to sample all of the chowders available. That’s a lot of chowder. You will notice that we are not saying clam chowder because, at this event, the types of chowder can vary in wild and fascinating ways. Aside from clams, the ingredients included grouper, shrimp, and conch, crab, and some others. The good news is that, with top recipes and restaurants involved, it was impossible to go wrong.

Picking a Chowder Challenge Winner

Chowder ChallengeWe won’t give away our personal chowder challenge favorites here, but we will say that there were too many delicious chowders to easily pick the winners. At the gate, you are given three coins to award vendors of your choice. That means you can only pick three top chowders. A pad and golf pencil are provided to keep the all-important notes. We made our difficult choices and voted from a host of top picks. It was hard to do, but that was the burden one bore when attending the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge for 2015.

According to the Facebook page for the Chowder Challenge;

The Golden Ladle Award went to Shells of St. Pete Beach.

Event judges gave the top spot to Snapper’s Sea Grille of St. Pete Beach.

The coins dropped at the booths decided the People’s Choice Award;

First Place –         Shells of St. Pete beach

Second Place –   Rumfish Grill at TradeWinds Island Resort

Third Place –      Loews at Don CeSar Hotel.

Pass a Grille

Pass a Grille is a Florida community at the south end of St Pete Beach, located on the Central Gulf Coast. This charming island town is quiet and fun to visit, with a fantastic stretch of sand for beach lovers.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

 

Ditching a Car for the Ferry to Clearwater Beach

Posted on: October 19th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Going to Clearwater Beach has always been enjoyable but now the Clearwater Ferry has added a bit more to the experience.

An Easier Way to Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Ferry boardingOne of the things we sometimes hear at our Florida Beach Rentals offices is that our customers are in traffic on their way to Clearwater Beach. While Clearwater Beach traffic doesn’t compare to places like New York or Los Angeles, it can take a bit of time to get over the bridge to our island on a Saturday afternoon. More than once we discussed how nice it would be to have a water taxi to get across Clearwater Harbor on busy days. Apparently, we were not alone. The owners of The Tropics Boat Tours recently launched a water taxi to make the crossing.

Beach Parking with Perks

Clearwater FloridaThe Clearwater Ferry starts at Coachman Park, home to many of the City of Clearwater’s favorite festivals. A large paved parking area flanks the park and, in this case, the parking lot is the main attraction. While parking on Clearwater Beach tends to fill up and cost money, it is free in the spacious lot next to Coachman Park. The parking lot puts you in a good location too. The lot is next door to both the Clearwater Public Library and Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, which is a museum-style display based on the Dolphin Tale movies that star celebrity dolphins Winter and Hope. Also nearby is well-known Cleveland Street with the Capitol Theater, a number of restaurants, and a Starbucks. While the whole point might be to get across the water to Clearwater Beach, it is also nice to know that the amenities of Downtown Clearwater are within easy reach.

Scenic Route to Clearwater Beach

Clearwater FerryThe Clearwater Ferry waits for passengers at the foot of the pier, just under the bridge. Signs lead the way to the loading ramp, just in case you don’t see the vessel right away. Boarding is easy and plenty of seating lines the perimeter. The ride goes quickly, but despite that, plenty of great scenery goes by. The tranquil waters of Clearwater Harbor glide under the ferry while it plies its way alongside the causeway. To the left stands an uninhabited mangrove island that has become a bird sanctuary. Birds always fill the branches or stand in the shallows of this harbor landmark. The docking arrives sooner than you might expect, the ride only taking perhaps 5 minutes.

Reaching more of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater FerryAn unexpected perk arose near the end of the Clearwater Ferry ride. Working on Clearwater Beach made me curious about the ferry service and whether it would be feasible on heavy traffic days like weekends or holidays. To my surprise, the pilot explained that they now drop people off at the Clearwater Beach Library at no additional charge. The extra distance went quickly and when we arrived, I stepped onto the shore a mere block from where I worked. With service to the main marina and the library dock, much of the beach is covered. For many employees, these two stops eliminate most of the walking. For tourists, the disembarking sites lead to the two most visited areas of Clearwater Beach. The Clearwater Ferry is even considering an additional stop to the southern end of Clearwater Beach which would make the entire public beach area accessible on foot after disembarking.

Thumbs Up for Clearwater Ferry

Aside from being convenient and affordable (day passes $3 to $8) the ferry is an enjoyable ride. While the route never varies, it does go through a channel used by many of the tour boats while out on the harbor. The views are fantastic, as they always are while out on the waters of the bay. It is hard to imagine a more scenic route to get to work.

Clearwater Ferry

 

More posts you might enjoy:

No Roads Found to Caladesi Island

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

 



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