Tag Archives: Gulf Coast

North Sandbar Anclote Key

Sandbar Island Paradise

Island in the Sun

North Sandbar IslandNorth Sandbar is a place that lives in all of our imaginations. Dream of a tiny island, one where few people go, but which is a safe place to be. Cover it with soft white sand and paint clear turquoise waters around its shores. When you are done, you might have come close to North Sandbar. It is a tiny island located off of the coast of Tarpon Springs, Florida, a fun little tourist town on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It is to the north of such famous places as St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park, and Honeymoon Island State Park. When you go through that list of names, you will realize that the island called North Sandbar is located in the midst of a popular vacation destination. However, if you make your way to this remote sandbar, you will find that you are nearly alone. With absolutely perfect beaches of soft, white sand, it is a destination you might want to include in your travel plans.

 

Remote Destination of North Sandbar

island boating FloridaThe only access to the uninhabited islands of our area is by boat. While Caladesi Island is a popular boat destination, you can walk there from Clearwater Beach. Honeymoon Island is connected by a bridge. Go farther north, however, and you will not reach the islands without crossing the water. Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sandbar are the three most northern points of land. All three enjoy a low visitation rate, due to the difficulty of getting there. If you do not own a boat, you have to rent or charter one. While you can kayak there, the trip is not recommended for beginners because of the open water between, which is exposed to wind and waves. The photos in this blog were taken on a trip with Private Island Charters. The coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a boaters’ paradise, with endless locations to visit. On holidays, the little island can fill up, but on most other days of the year, it is a gentle, soothing place to soak in the sun and sea. The northern barrier islands are a perfect destination for a day of boating.

 

The Evolution of an Island

North Sandbar of Anclote KeyNorth Sandbar appears as though it might be an extension of Anclote Key to its south. The sand extends in a long bar, easily a mile in length. At its northern tip, North Sandbar rises out of the water to become a tiny island, complete with mangrove bushes and grass. Google Earth has this sandbar listed at Rapp Island, although we found no other source on the whole of the Internet that confirmed the assignment of that name, casting doubt on the title. While it seems as though the sandbar might become part of Anclote Key, the matter is debated by locals. The conflicting forces are the accumulation of sand rising to the surface and a strong current that runs between the sandbar and Anclote Key. A study of the history of Honeymoon Island formation suggests that the sandbar might become a northern extension of Anclote Key, as a nearly identical formation was in place at Honeymoon Island a mere thirty years ago. In that case, the sandbar did become part of the island, despite the channel that flowed between. Time will tell if the joining occurs, and if North Sand Bar will eventually come under the title of Anclote Key, enjoyed by future boaters who might never know the two keys were ever separated.

 

Enjoying the Shores of North Sandbar

North Sandbar of AncloteThe shores of North Sandbar are some of the most beautiful you will find. The beaches are formed by the lightest sands, those most susceptible to movement in the currents, deposited onto a sandbar that has risen from the waves. That makes the grains among the softest you will find. The white color is remarkable, dazzling to the eye and cool to the feet. When the sand is submerged in shallows, it illuminates the water to a sparkling turquoise color. The island is perfect for sitting on the sand or strolling the shores. However, a walk around the island will only take a few minutes, so plan for a large dose of relaxation. The shallows are expansive, making wading and swimming conditions perfect. If you head south toward Anclote Key, you can stroll with your ankles in the water for nearly a mile. So, if you share the inclination to restore your soul on the shores of a remote island, you should give this tiny gem a try.

 

Private Island ChartersThis trip to the islands was provided by Private Island Charters (727-534-8818) (Facebook link)

 

 

North Sandbar trip

North Sandbar

North Sandbar Anclote

North Sandbar

Boating to Anclote Key sandbar

North Sandbar

Island Paradise Central Gulf Coast of Florida

North Sandbar

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

 

Geocaching in Paradise

Geocaching in Paradise

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.

 

 

 

pirate ship

Shaking Hands with Pirates

Outlaws of the High Seas

Captain Memo

Captain Memo docked at Clearwater Beach Marina

While the pirates of the Caribbean have become a household name, it is also true that those same pirates roved beyond the Caribbean, to the Carolinas and westward to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and even to New Orleans. While the notion of pirates is romantic, the truth might surprise you. Piracy began long before the Golden Age of Piracy, with which we are most familiar, occuring in the 1700s and 1800s. Men –and women –boarded ships to plunder merchant vessels from the earliest times of shipping history. All parts of the world knew piracy, wherever ships were sailed. The pirates plying the waters of the North American coast, the Bahamas, and the Antilles were the most recent version, existing shortly before the nations of Europe, along with that of the United States, agreed to abolish the practice. But, if piracy is an illegal activity to begin with, how could abolishing it lead to its end? Read on to discover why it worked.

 

Marauding Pirates

John Levique Pirate Fest

John Levique Pirate Festival at John’s Pass, Madeira Beach, Florida

Piracy is labeled as the act of theft or plunder, by means of violence, committed by the crew of a ship, usually against another ship. Piracy’s heyday came when gold was discovered in the Americas. Attacking a ship laden with gold taken from the Native American tribes offered a hefty reward. Pirates worked on their own, keeping all the booty taken from their attacks to themselves. Numerous pirates became rich, and sometimes famous, based on the success of their exploits. Because of the routes of the American treasure shipments, the Caribbean and the coast of Florida were well-known hideouts for pirates.  You might think that the major countries who sailed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean worked hard to put an end to piracy.  The truth, is that they did not. They were, in fact, guilty of the very same crime.

 

Attack of the Privateers

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion Tampa

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion Tampa, Florida

During times of war, it benefited one side to attack the merchant vessels of the other. Interrupting shipments of goods crippled the supply routes of the enemy. In order to entice ship crews to become privateers, countries would commission a privately owned vessel to engage in privateer attacks. Often, the reward for plundering of enemy ships was the cargo itself. With such bounties to choose from, privateer crews attacked with relish. Unfortunately, that also led to violence. More than one privateer gained fame via a reputation for cruelty. If privateers sound a lot like pirates, it’s because they were. By 1908, the countries invovled agreed to a ban, thus ending further commissions for privateer vessels.

 

Buccaneers of the Caribbean

Treasure Island Florida

Pirate at Treasure Island, Florida

Blurring the line between pirate and privateer were the buccaneers. Buccaneers behaved much like privateers, in that they were well organized. They did not, however, have official permission from governments to “do business.” Their name comes from “smoked meat” which, apparently, they did while in the West Indies Islands. Their ilk was more specific than other pirates of the world, being best known for plundering Spanish ships in the Caribbean and sometimes on the west coast of Africa. Their trade began as meat sellers in the West Indies, but looting ships and attacking coastal towns proved more profitable. Buccaneer ships, it seems, operated much like businesses, the loot being divided equally. They also attacked land targets, which true sea pirates did not often do. Because of the benefit of impeding enemy ships, many governments turned blind eyes to the activities of the buccaneers.

 

End of the Golden Age of Piracy

Captain Memo

Captain Memo on Clearwater Harbor

The lines between buccaneers and privateers, and their pirate counterparts were often indistinct. Both privateers and buccaneers went outside the guiidelines of the governments that supported them. The violence committed by all three groups became notorious. With an overall disruption of shipping by pirate and pirate-like activities, governments began to turn against the practice. By the 1900s, it had fallen into disfavor. The days of governments shaking hands with privateers were over, a withdrawal of commissions for such ventures ensuing. That left the outlaw pirates alone, with even their home ports eventually turning against them, leading to the end of the so-called Golden Age of Piracy.

 

Florida Pirates

pirate flagMore pirates, privateers, and buccaneers came to Florida’s shores than you might imagine. Pirate treasure stories abound, and pirate festivals throughout the state are popular. Be sure to keep up with our continuing pirate stories, in which we will tell you who among the world’s most famous pirates visited our area.

 

 

Sand sculpture at Treasure island

Treasure Island Sanding Ovation Festival Takes Sand Sculpting Art to a Science

Sanding Ovation 2014

Go with the Flow sculptureThe Sanding Ovation sand sculpting competition returned to Treasure Island Beach again in November. The event gave residents and visitors a good reason to visit the area’s largest beach. With an enormous expanse of sand available, the event had plenty of space. Artists set up on the north end of the outdoor venue, with vendors streaming southward, the southern end capped by a stage for live music. With music streaming overhead, visitors were treated to a huge assortment of goodies to browse in the vending tents, while smoke from the food vendors wafted through the air. Live bands, food, and souvenirs added to the allure of thes sand sculptures, creating an event that drew large, happy crowds.

 

Beach Treasures and Cuisine

Food tent at Treasure IslandThe array of vending tents and food stalls were impressive at the Sanding Ovation event. Set up on the sands of Treasure Island Beach, the wares were arrayed in long lines, displaying every type of beach themed merchandise imaginable. Beach dresses, sculpted wood home décor, jewelry, art, curious, and toys were among the many choices. For those who were hungry, the Sanding Ovation event was the right place to be. Brats, fresh seafood, Greek food, and local grouper fish sandwiches were all within easy reach. Food vendors at Sanding OvationOf course, iced tea, lemonade, snow cones, and ice cream were also on the menu. At the north end of the event, a large tent held a full bar which served soft drinks as well as alcohol. Although the sand sculptures were enough to lure the crowds to Treasure Island, the extra goodies at the Sanding Ovation festival put the finishing touch on the event.

 

Sand Sculpting Contest at Treasure Island Beach

Divided Self sand sculptureThe key attraction of the Sanding Ovation event was the collection of sand sculptures. Artists from Treasure Island and across the globe converged on the beach to put their talents to the test. The Sanding Ovation artists did not disappoint. Sand sculpture entitled ForbiddenThe artistic ideals were pretty heavy, in fact, visitors commented on how much interpretation was available for each piece. One portrayed rediscovering self, another a “Divided Life,” set alongside a sculpture entitled “Forbidden,” which displayed a woman holding a ball and chain as if it were precious. An area nearby offered visitors a chance to pose alongside a snowman and snow woman crafted from sand. The logos of area businesses who sponsored the event were displayed, as you might suspect, in sand. Large crowds milled around the artwork, discussing which they liked best, what each piece might mean, and peering at who had earned the highest marks in the sand sculpting contest.

 

Sanding Ovation Sand Sculpting Contest Winners

1st Place Winner & People’s Choice Award

Love Never Dies sculpture

Love Never Dies by Jonathan Bouchard

2nd Place Winner

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

3rd Place Winner & Sculptors’ Choice Award

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

 

Treasure Island, Florida

Finding Your Old Self Again sculptureTreasure Island sits on the northern reaches of the Central Gulf Coast, enjoying the renowned white sands and beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It his home to great beach shops, ideal beach restaurants, and cool beach bars. It borders famous John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk which is home to waterfront dining and souvenir shopping. Nearby attractions are Fort Desoto Park and Clearwater Beach. If you are looking for a fun vacationTreasure Island Beach spot, take a closer look at this active beach. The sands are wider than any other beach in the region and it boasts plenty of the great tourist attractions that go along with a memorable beach vacation. One more reason to visit? The Sanding Ovation festival will return to Treasure Island again next year!

 

Sanding Ovation Video

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Super Boat Races 2014 at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

 

Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Discovering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass a Grille Chowder ChallengeThe Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge happened last weekend, November 8th and 9th, bringing a lively event to a beach community that is a bit different from the rest of its neighbors on the coast. Pass A Grille is a laid back Florida beach community, sitting on a relatively small section of island. It is the southernmost inhabited section of the barrier islands along Florida Gulf Coast of Pinellas County. It is located just south of St Pete Beach and just north of the uninhabited Shell Key. Pass A Grille might not be the kind of place where you wind up often, it being the end of the road, with no way out other than the way you came in. The fantastic white sands of the Florida Gulf Coast line its shores, with beautiful views to the south of the barrier islands there. In the heart of Pass A Grille you will find Hurley Park, with a picnic pavilion, a basketball court, and a baseball field. On November 8th and 9th this year, Hurley Park became the staging ground for the annual Chowder Challenge, a chowder cook-off that set area restaurants against each other in a very friendly competition.

 

Entering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Chowder Challenge desertsWe arrived at the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge as inexperienced novices, new to the ways of the competition. Hurley Park was filled to the brim with chowder lovers who had arrived before us. Vender tents lined the perimeter, with the rest of the grass area occupied by dining tables, every one filled with chatting chowder challengers. Souvenirs were available along with an inviting table of deserts just outside the gates of the baseball field. Entering the main event area cost $20, an entrance fee that purchased a wristband pass into the chowder sampling area. We paid while still in mystery as to what we would get. To put it simply, the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge wound up being more than worth it.

 

Serving up the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Chowder Challenge chowdersEntering the baseball diamond we saw the participating restaurants for the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge lining the outer edge. Plenty of room was left over for milling in the center of the field, a space used by many to aim for the next bowl of chowder. We were handed rectangular trays with papers set on them that showed the names of the competing Tampa Bay area restaurants. The labeled tray was accompanied by a score card. It took only a moment to understand the game. Under pop up canopies the restaurant representatives waited with vats of chowder ready to serve the hungry crowds. When we visited the first table, we were served a tiny cup of chowder, placed carefully over the restaurant name. We went from table to table, collecting more of the small cups, placed over the corresponding names of the restaurants. Then it was off to taste the chowder at the dining tables spread across the lawn. It was time to decide who was king of the Chowder Challenge.

 

Chowder Challengers at Pass A Grille

The Chowder Challenge had some great competitors, including some of the best restaurants in the Tampa Bay region. One of the remarkable characters of the event is that every single booth had smiling participants, happy to talk to event attendees or pose for photos.

  • Chowder Challenge LoewsShells Chowder ChallengeBilly’s Stone Crab
  • Brass Monkey
  • Crabby Bills
  • Gennaro’s
  • Jackie’s on Corey
  • Leverocks Seafood House
  • Loews Don CeSar Resort & Spa
  • Middle Grounds Grill
  • PJs Oyster BarFriendly Fisherman at Chowder ChallengeNori Thai
  • PJ’s Oyster Bar
  • Rick’s Reef
  • Ricky T’s
  • RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost
  • Salty Rim
  • Shark Tales of St Pete Beach
  • Shell’s Seafood
  • Salty Rim at Chowder ChallengeLeverocks at Chowder ChallengeSt Pete Produce & Deli

 

We did our best to catch every name, and to taste every chowder! If we missed your restaurant at the Chowder Challenge or somehow left off your name, please let us know and we will add you to our list!

 

Choosing the Chowder Challenge Champion

Chowder Challenge votingOur attempt at picking a winner at the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge went well – at first. With the first eight chowders to choose from, we picked our winners. When we went back to sample eight more, the trouble began. There really weren’t any bad chowders. On the higher end of the tasting scale were some of the best chowders we’d ever tried. Some topped out the list on traditional style chowders while others served up recipes we hadn’t heard of before, such as the Rumfish version of Caribbean Lion Fish Chowder or the Nori Thai chowder which included coconut. By the time we were done with our second tray of samples, we had to go get more score cards because our first ones were destroyed with too many conflicting marks – and yes, they had chowder on them. The final scoring was tallied via plastic gold coins, handed to us when we purchased our entry. Attendees received only three of the golden coins with which to vote. Each restaurant table had business cards or menus to remind us who they were, but they also had plastic beach buckets. The buckets were for the gold coins. Attendees were to choose their top chowders and drop the coins off at their three favorite restaurant booths. Chowder Challenge Chowder choiceWe grudgingly eliminated the runners up and dropped off our coins. Because we also made a mess of the second score cards, we can no longer tell you where those coins went. Our personal favorites were Ricky T’s, Salty Rim, Shells Seafood, Brass Monkey, Leverocks, and Loews Don CeSar, with our unique-recipe favorite going to Rumfish Restauant’s Lionfish Chowder. We hope the others will understand. We left the Chowder Challenge with full bellies and smiles on our faces, thanks to all the great chowders.

 

​Official Winners of the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

The official winners according the official Chowder Challenge Website were:

Golden Ladle:  RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost for its Caribbean Lionfish Chowder
Peoples Choice 1st Place:  Shells for its New England Clam Chowder
People’s Choice 2nd Place:  Gennaro’s for its Gennaro’s Clam Chowder
People’s Choice 3rd Place:  Friendly Fisherman for its Clam Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Choice:  Shark Tales for its Fresh Seafood Clam Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Honorable Mention:  Lowes – Don CeSar for its Conch Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Honorable Mention:  Shells on St Pete Beach for its New England Clam Chowder

 

Looking forward to the Next Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Billys at Chowder ChallengeWe will return next year to the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge and here is why. The food was remarkable, giving us a wide variety of the best chowders our region had to offer. Despite the miniature size of the bowls, we were eventually unable to get to the bottom of the final samples, so it was satisfying for the big eaters too. The restaurant participants were all smiles, happy to be there and very personable when approached. Further, and possibly best, were the fellow attendees. The tables were large, fitting more than one group at a sitting. When we sat down, the conversations were easy to start because each person attending was also sampling the chowders. Don Cesar at Chowder ChallengeThe exchange of ideas began immediately, concerning which chowders were best, and which restaurants had cooked them. Because of the constant flow of attendees moving from the chowder serving area to the seats outside the baseball field, we wound up sitting in two different locations, each time striking up conversation with other happy chowder tasters.

For all of those reasons, we are looking forward to the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge next year and we hope to see you there too.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

John’s Pass

 

white beach sand

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Geological History of Florida

Florida Below Sea Level

Clearwater BeachWhile walking the beaches in Florida, you might take a moment to reflect on how the beaches came to be. Underneath the beautiful soft sands is a marine legacy that reaches back millions of years.

Florida has spent much of its long life below sea level. Millions of years ago, North America and South America had not yet connected and the Gulf of Mexico did not yet exist in its present form. Florida was merely sea floor, part of the continental shelf of North America.

Florida Rising out of the Sea

Florida bayouSea animals lived and died over millions of years, depositing their skeletons and shells on the sea floor. That happened in such volume that the marine animal remains became a sediment that eventually formed into limestone. The limestone build up became the foundation for more sediment, bringing Florida closer to the surface. The sea level fluctuated with the coming and going of the ice ages. Each time Florida rose above the water, only to be covered by the seas once again.

Prehistoric Florida

Giant slothsWhen the land was above sea level, vegetation and land animals moved into Florida. The animal life of early Florida included elephants, sloths, saber-tooth tigers, and giant beavers. When North America and South America joined together, the Gulf of Mexico was born.

Modern Florida

beach sandFlorida subsequently rose and fell beneath the waves until, finally, portions of it remained above sea level permanently. The Florida we recognize formed at the end of the last ice age when sea levels matched those we know in present time.

 

Origin of Clearwater Beach and Gulf Coast Sands

Quartz stoneThe powdery white sands of Clearwater Beach are part of the legacy of Florida. With the talk of sea beds and millions of sea creatures creating a limestone bedrock, it might seem logical to assume that the seashore was created from fragmented shells. In fact, the soft, white sands of Clearwater Beach came from the Appalachian Mountains. Clearwater Beach sands are made of quarts rather than sea shells. This light colored rock is responsible for the brilliant color of Gulf Coast sands. In ages past, rivers that are now long gone, carried the eroded stone of the Appalachian Mountains southward. Appelachian MountainsGeologists have said that the mountain range was once as tall and jagged as the Rocky Mountains. The Appalachians are actually a much older mountain chain, eroded, over the millennia, into rolling peaks at lower elevations. All that rock traveled southward, ground eventually into tiny grains. Those beautiful bits of stone now form the sands of Clearwater Beach and the Florida Gulf Coast on which we walk today.

Florida Gulf Coast

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

A Beach Less Traveled

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Best Beaches in America

 

references: http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/student/barr1/report.htm    https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pangaea    http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/land/land.htm    http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/geohist-2.htm     http://practical-microscopy.blogspot.com/2011/06/where-is-best-beach-sand.html

 

Honeymoon Island Florida

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

Setting out for the North End of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkAnywhere you go at Honeymoon Island State Park can be a fantastic experience. The island has multiple areas that offer great entertainment for those arriving from near or far. You can visit the main beach area, the nature trail, nature center, or the dog beach. However, if you want to enjoy a beach walk you will remember for a lifetime, then set the north end of Honeymoon Island as your destination.

The park entrance fee is 4 to 6 dollars, depending on the size of your party, and the parking lots are large, with a surprising capacity. Your destination, however, is the north end of the beach. Honeymoon Island State ParkYou will drive past the sign for the Caladesi Island Ferry and the Dog Beach. You will ignore the concession stand and the area of the beach most popular for sunbathing and swimming. You will drive past the nature center and the nature trail. At the very end,, the road will loop back and, after you drive around the 180 degree turn, you will find the entrance to the parking lot you seek.

Here you will find fencing marking off an area of beach eroded by storms and, to the north, you will see the brush of the island. With your hat on and your sun lotion applied, you are ready to go on your Honeymoon Island beach walk.

 

Preparing for a Walk on Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe beach walk is long, taking as much as two hours to reach the tip of the island, so here are some tips to help you better enjoy the experience. Take along a bag for collecting shells. A net-style sack is best since plastic is uncomfortable to carry on warm days. If your skin is sensitive to the sun, you might want to wear long sleeves. The sun here can be hot, and in the summer, quite intense. For those who are accustomed to sunshine, sun tan lotion is still recommended. With the sea breeze and the bright rays, you’ll want to be protected on this wonderful, long walk on the beach. A sun hat is the other item at the top of the list. Leave your sunbathing for another day and enjoy this stroll in as much comfort as you can. The other tip for comfort and safety is checking on the weather. In the summer, if the rain chances are over 20 to 30 percent, then a brief seasonal storm is likely to occur along the coast. Honeymoon Island State ParkThese storms build toward late afternoon and then burst with heavy showers and lightning. They come and go quickly but it is a good idea not to be on the beach when they occur. If you see tall clouds building over the Gulf or inland, it is a good idea to turn back. This beach walk is best planned for the morning. In normal conditions, you can walk all the way to the tip, explore your surroundings, and then make the return stroll without having any worries about the weather.

 

Starting your Beach Walk on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe start of your walk to the north end of Honeymoon Island begins at the parking lot where you will see a trail winding through the bushes and palm trees. Immediately beyond, you will see a small body of water to your right, which is the southernmost tip of Pelican Cove. Of course, to your left, is the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Honeymoon Island State ParkThe beach here, depending on conditions and season, is often gravely with very little sand. Don’t get discouraged though, this beach has many faces, and the best is yet to come. Head north from here, keeping between the island grasses and the water. As you go, the beach will change, and you will be treated to many sights and sounds of Honeymoon Island.

 

Birds of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkOne of the fantastic sights on your Honeymoon Island beach walk is the multitude of birds that live on the island. Great blue herons, white egrets, sand pipers, pelicans, black skimmers, gulls, ospreys, terns and many more species of birds occupy the shoreline and the island’s interior. You will see signs as you walk that inform you that the interior of the island is a bird sanctuary. Honeymoon Island State ParkIt is easy to agree with this code, because aside from protecting the birds, the beach sands make a far better terrain for walking than the brush-filled interior. You can find to identify birds at various shops, and perhaps at the Honeymoon Island nature center. The best charts are laminated so that they last longer. It can be fun to try and identify the birds you are viewing while you continue along the coast into the soft white sands of Honeymoon Island.

 

Beach Combing on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkBeach combing the shores of Honeymoon Island is a favorite activity. The shoreline changes while you go along, providing many different surfaces where you can search for treasures. The eroded section where you begin the northward walk is one of the best for the more unusual items, such as rocks with interesting patterns. Farther north, where fewer people visit, you will encounter more of the undisturbed items. Honeymoon Island State ParkHere you might find complete clam or snail shells, as well as whole sand dollars. On certain days, the beachcombing can be so good, it might put you in danger of not reaching your destination, if you indeed intend to make it to the northern tip of the island. You might have to choose which of the pleasures of Honeymoon Island you want to indulge in most.

 

Remarkable Sands of Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State ParkThe Gulf Coast of Florida is known for its remarkable white sands and Honeymoon Island beaches are no exception. While some parts of the shore might be strewn with gravely, white, coral stone, others are covered with the soft white sands that make the Florida Gulf Coast famous. Walking along the waterline will give you ample opportunity to enjoy the changes on this natural section of beach. The farther north you go, better the sands become. Be sure to look around while you go, the natural shapes the sand takes can be quite interesting. If you have the fortitude to keep going, you will eventually find yourself at the northernmost tip which might find to be the very best part of Honeymoon Island.

 

Beach Walk of a Lifetime

Honeymoon Island State ParkAt the northern tip of Honeymoon Island you will find beach paradise. Take a moment to sit and take in the scenery. You will see the other arm of Honeymoon Island to your southeast, across the waters of Pelican Cove. Boats will surely be out on the Gulf of Mexico. You will see the mainland to your east and a scattering of more barrier islands to your north. For an added treat, closely observe the sands surrounding you. You will see that the wind has sculpted them into shapes courser sands cannot hold. You will also see footprints of birds, perfectly preserved in the tiny grains. The waters and breezes of the Gulf of Mexico move the sands of the island north. That means that the softest, lightest grains of sands find their way to that part of the island. Honeymoon Island State ParkMake sure you take off your shoes –if you are still wearing them. Sink your toes into the powdery sands for an experience like no other. The shallow waters, with white sands just beneath, will glow a beautiful turquoise in the sunlight, a perfect place to dip your feet. Once you have had your fill, it will be time to turn back and walk the beach south once again. You will then be among those who know why the walk north on Honeymoon Island is a beach walk of a lifetime.

Last 30 Seconds of Sunset

Other posts you might enjoy:

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Sand Key Beach

A Beach Less Traveled

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