Posts Tagged ‘Fort Desoto’

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

 

Geocaching in Paradise

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by admin 2 Comments

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching Clearwater BeachThe word geocache comes from two words, geo and cache. The word geo refers to the Earth, and cache refers to a secret storage location. In the case of geocaching the item can be anything! The game is to find the stashed object, usually hidden in plain sight in a public place. Players find the locations using their phones’ GPS.

Geocache Clearwater BeachThe beauty of geocaching is that anyone can play. All you need is a phone that will accept the app (application) for playing the game presented on the web site, geocaching.com. According to the web site, there are 2,579,133 active geocaches hidden across the globe, and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.

Geocache at beachThe caches are created by ordinary people who are also playing the game. Hidden objects can be as simple as a log book which you sign when you find the cache. Others can be as large as a pirate’s chest, and have items of interest stored inside. One of the mottoes of the game is if you take something away, you should leave something else behind.

 

How to Find a Geocache

Clearwater Beach sand duneOnce you have loaded the geocache app, your screen will display the geocaches near you –or across the globe, if you want. Your job is to go out and find them. They can be in the city or the countryside. Hiking trails are favorite places, as are public landmarks. Your GPS will get you close. Once you are there, it is your job to figure out how and where the geocache is hidden. Favorite tricks are to put the items under something, or to hide them inside of common objects. Here at Clearwater Beach, one of them is hung on fishing string inside a sign post. Another is attached to a bolt set inside a piece wood, both attached to a fence at the end of a beach road. Use your wits and imagination to discover your first geocaches. After a few finds, you will get better at discovering caches.

 

Florida Gulf Coast is Geocache Paradise

Gulf Coast IslandThe Florida Gulf Coast is a paradise. Our beaches are covered in soft white sand, often with mangrove forests nearby. The boating opportunities are endless. The combination of the two make this a fantastic place to geocache. Discovering a hidden cache in the city might be fun, but have you ever found one on an uninhabited island? Some of the caches here in our area are hidden underwater, some are near ruins of wartime bunkers, and others are stashed in a wooded area on islands accessible only by boat. The terrain of our area ups the game a notch, adding water and difficulty of access.

Snorkel for geocacheWhile we don’t believe you need an additional excuse to head out to an island, geocaching on the Florida Gulf Coast makes it all the more exciting. On Anclote Key you will find miles of beach that rarely see visitors. You will also have the opportunity to find the three geocaches hidden there. Honeymoon Island State Park is a beach island paradise. It is home to at least twelve hidden items. Caladesi Island, accessible by ferry or a very long walk, hides five of the caches to date. Nine of the stashed goodies wait for you on famous Clearwater Beach.beach nature trail The long chain of barrier islands of the coastline hide many more. From Sand Key to John’s Pass, a popular tourist destination, our count is thirty five. Famous St Pete Beach has its own collection, some eleven by our tally. Fort Desoto park, which is one of the best beach destinations in our area, has enough geocaches to keep you busy for long while. A quick glance at the map told us that a geocacher can find over eighty hidden stashes without ever leaving our beaches.

 

Age Limits for Geocaching

geocaching in a kayakWhile you are hunting for the hidden items on our barrier islands, you will also be enjoying sunshine and beautiful shorelines. Shelling, sunbathing, beach walks, boating, and other pleasures await visitors to the remarkable shores of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the fun beach towns in between are some of the most cherished beaches in the U.S. Add geocaching to the mix, and you might experience an adventure you did not anticipate. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of finding a treasure on an island? barrier island geocachingYou might imagine that geocaching is the domain of the young, but, so long as you have a phone that loads apps, no age barrier exists. Anyone who possesses a sense of play can join the hunt. So on you next trip to the white sand shores of our coast, give at least one of the caches a try. You might take away a fun vacation memory you did not expect.

 

 

 

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Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

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

Barrier Islands of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Off the Pinellas County shorelines of the Florida Gulf Coast are a series of barrier islands. It is very likely you know the names of some of them, like Clearwater Beach, or Honeymoon Island. We’ll break them all down for you, so that you too can be an expert on the barrier islands of our area. We’ll start in the north off the shores of Tarpon Springs and head south past Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Belleair, Largo, Seminole, Gulfport, St Petersburg, and beyond. Once you are a barrier island expert, you will be able plan your Gulf Coast vacation trek up and down our shoreline with much keener insight.

 

Anclote Key

Anclote Key barrier island lighthouse

Anclote Key lighthouse

Anclote Key Preserve State Park is directly off shore of the mouth of the Anclote River, the waterway that runs past the tourist destination of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. You can depart from those docks on a tour boat that will take you to Anclote Key, where you can walk the shores, view the historic light house, or just spend some time on one of Florida’s best natural beaches. You will find lots of driftwood and seashells on this island, since it can only be reached by boat.

 

Three Rooker Island

Gulf Coast ShoresThree Rooker Island is one step up from a very large sand bar. This tiny barrier island is a favorite hangout spot for boaters. You can only get to the bar by boat and anchoring off its shores is a great way to spend the afternoon. The shores of the small key are the soft, powdery white sand for which the Florida Gulf Coast is famous. Swim from your boat or from the shore. On a walk down the beach in ankle deep water you might be able go from one end to the other of the two mile stretch of Three Rooker Island.

 

Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island, Florida

Honeymoon Island sunset

Honeymoon Island State Park is one of the most famous of the barrier islands along our coastline. It has long stretches of white sand beaches, a concession stand, lots of parking, a dog beach, nature center, playground, and nature trail. It is also where you catch the ferry to neighboring Caladesi Island to the south. The island is a great place to beachcomb for shells. You can also see nesting ospreys, bald eagles, and great horned owls, or perhaps one of the burrowing gopher tortoises. On a trip to Honeymoon Island you can choose the type of adventure you want to have. In fact, you will have to, because the Honeymoon Island is too large to see all in one day.

 

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island is just north of Clearwater Beach. You can even walk to the island from the south, because a storm some decades ago filled in the opening between the two islands. Of course, you can skip the long walk by taking the ferry from Honeymoon Island. Caladesi Island is known for its pristine white sand beaches. You will feel as if you are in the wilds when you walk along its northern shores. You can also view plenty of Florida birds that use the island for nesting. This famous retreat belongs on your must-see list for your Florida Gulf Coast vacation. Caladesi Island is one of our best.

 

Clearwater Beach Island

Clearwater BeachThe most famous of all the barrier islands along our coast is Clearwater Beach Island. It was formerly known as Tate’s Island, named after a family that lived on the island when the area was first settled. Clearwater Beach became the tourist destination we know today after the bridge was built from the city of Clearwater. Clearwater Beach has more tourist attractions than you can shake a stick at, including the famous Pier 60 nightly sunset festival, and the nearby home of Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies. With its beautiful white sand beaches and multiple attractions, Clearwater Beach makes a perfect base of operations for a Florida Gulf Coast vacation.

 

Sand Key – Sand Key Beach to Madeira Beach

Madeira Beach, Florida

Madeira Beach, Florida

The long barrier islands of Sand Key starts just south of Clearwater Beach. It extends down through some great beach communities until it ends at John’s Pass, which is one of the best tourist destinations in the region. To the south of Sand Key Beach is Belleair Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Redington Shores, North Redington Beach, and Madeira Beach. The beach communities on Sand Key are some of the calmest of our region of the Gulf Coast, perfect for family vacations. You should definitely check into the many diners along the scenic drive down the length of Sand Key.

 

Treasure Island

Treasure Island BeachTreasure Island has one of the widest swaths of sand on the entire chain of barrier islands. This is a good location to look into local festivals. The beach makes a perfect location for large events, which is exactly what they do on Treasure Island. The bridge heading east from Treasure Island leads into Seminole, Gulfport, and St Petersburg, which is why this is a good location to find restaurants, pubs, and gift shops. Treasure Island is one of the barrier islands along our coast you will want to keep your eye on.

 

Long Key – St Pete Beach and Pass A Grille Beach

Long KeyLong Key is the last of the residential barrier islands on the strip. You will find St Pete Beach and Pass A Grille Beach here. St Pete Beach is one of the more developed tourist districts in the area. You will find plenty of dining and entertainment in the area. It is also a great place for family vacations. Pass A Grille Beach has the distinction of being the most southern beach community on our coast, with plenty of Florida charm.

 

Mullet Key and Shell Key Preserve

Fort Desoto ParkMullet Key is home to famous Fort Desoto Park. The interior waters are shallow and calm, thanks to the islands’ horseshoe shape, making a great place for boating. The park is rich with history, and beautiful white beaches. It is a fantastic destination for a family beach day, complete with shaded picnic areas and shallow wading areas. Shell Key Preserve is just north of Fort Desoto. It is a preserve for local wildlife, especially a large number of local birds, who nest and rear their young there. Shell Key is a great place for boaters and birdwatchers.

 

Egmont Key

Snorkeling FloridaEgmont Key State Park sits at the entrance to Tampa Bay. The lighthouse has been used in times of peace and war since 1858. Ruins of Fort Dade, from the same era as Fort Desoto, can be found on the island. Be aware, however, that access to the southern end of the key is limited because of the shore bird refuge there. The island is reachable only by boat. Once there, you can fish, picnic, swim, hike, or tour the ruins. It one of the most difficult to reach islands listed here, but Egmont Key is definitely worth visiting.

 

Other blog posts you might like:

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

Aerial of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island

 

Fort Desoto Beaches, Boating, and History

Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Visit Fort Desoto for the History

Fort Desoto cannonThe history of Fort Desoto Park in Florida is still present in its large cannons, and rooms buried under sand dunes that you can tour. Visitors can get up close and personal with the fort, touching the cannons and entering the old store rooms. Fort Desoto was built and named at the turn of the century in 1900 during the Spanish-American war. Henry B Plant, a railroad tycoon who brought the railroad to Tampa Bay, helped to urge the government to build the fort. Real history buffs might also want to visit the Henry B Plant museum in Tampa. The large Fort Desoto cannons were set to shoot ships trying to enter Tampa Bay, with help from a lookout on nearby Egmont Key, which also has ruins. The remains of Fort Desoto are fun to tour and are very close to the beach and the visitor center at the park.

 

Visit Fort Desoto for the Boating

Boating and kayaking at Fort Desoto FloridaOne of the best features of Fort Desoto Park is the waterways that surround the barrier islands there. Fort Desoto is a barrier island with several other small islands nearby. A good number of them are mangrove islands but you will also find locations where you can land your boat on a tiny, sandy beach. The type of boat you choose will determine where you can go. With a power boat you will be able to cover more ground but you will also need to be aware of the vast shallows surrounding Fort Desoto. On a kayak you will be able to navigate in even the shallowest waters but you will be limited by how far you can paddle. Plenty of other boat types are possible but power boats and kayaks are the most readily available. Naturally, your finances and personal preferences will have something to do with the boat you choose. One of the perks of boating in the area is finding a private strip of beach which is virtually your own for an hour or two. You also might find beautiful areas of wildlife, or coves with lots of shells to beachcomb. Boating is a great addition to a beach day at Fort Desoto Park.

 

Visit Fort Desoto for the Beaches

Fort Desoto beachThe best beaches in America are found along the Florida Gulf Coast, and Fort Desoto is definitely one of them. The beaches there, as well as several others along our coastline, win awards for the beast beaches in America repeatedly. Once you visit Fort Desoto, you will see why. The coastline is covered in fine, white sand, and the waters are blue, with a bright turquois color where the sun strikes the sand in the shallows. It is a long beach which can support quite a lot of visitors. This is a good thing, because on busy days like holidays or Spring Break, the beach fills up. Fortunately, the parking lot is built to accommodate very large crowds. The park also has a picnic area under shade trees right next to the beach. Last year the beach won an award for Best Family Beach. With wide swaths of sand, picnic areas, and plenty of sights to see, it is easy to see why Fort Desoto won the award.

 

Other blog entries you might like:

The Best Beaches in America

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Dog Beaches and Parks

 



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