Tag Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Low tide on Florida Gulf Coast

How Knowing Tidal Schedules Can Make or Break Your Florida Gulf Coast Vacation

Tides of the Florida Central Gulf Coast

Low tide at Honeymoon Island FloridaUnderstanding Tampa Bay tides might help you to enjoy your vacation more. Knowing the water level can help make activities like boating, fishing, and beach combing more enjoyable. The tides of Tampa Bay are more difficult to predict than you might think. Because Tampa Bay is so large, the tides take quite a while to reach the far reaches of the interior bay areas. You will find the tide on one side of the peninsula might be higher or lower than the other. While the interior coastline of Tampa Bay doesn’t have much in the way of beaches, if you are boating on the bay you will definitely want to check the proper charts. Fortunately, area residents know the different tidal areas and charts are available in which you can find the exact area you intend to visit. However, if you are cruising the beaches along the Gulf Coast, you will not find the tidal variations a problem, and you can check a single chart for all the coastal beaches. But why check the charts at all? Let’s take a look at some good reasons to know the tides.

Florida Central Gulf Coast Tides Might Leave You High and Dry

Sailboat at Honeymoon islandBoaters need to know the tides of the Florida Gulf Coast more than anyone. That seems obvious enough but how can that effect your vacation? Well, if you wind up on a boat, it might have quite a big effect. Because the waters of our harbors are so shallow, it is necessary for any boat with a motor to have sonar to detect depth. Running aground in the shallows is a serious danger. If you wind up renting a boat or Jet Ski, you need to be aware of water depth and keep to the marked channels. However, motorized boats aren’t the only craft that need to know how deep the water is. Even a tiny kayak can bottom out in our harbors, inlets and bayous. It is quite common for kayakers to get out and walk across low tide areas. While walking in the waters of the Gulf Coast can be pleasant, it can also be mucky. Planning your trip with the tides in mind is a good idea.

Plan Your Fishing Trip around the Gulf Coast Tides

Fishing the Florida Gulf CoastIf you plan to fish along our coastlines, you should look up the tides. Wading out into the shallows of the Gulf is much more pleasant at high tide when your buoyancy will keep you from sinking into a muddy bottom. You might also find the fish come in at high tide to feed in areas unavailable at low tide. Dolphins sighted fishing the shallows at high tide are proof of that. You can also use the tides to know when the best time is to catch fish in the tidal currents off the ends of the islands and at the mouths of inlets and bayous.

Low Tide is the Best Time to Walk the Gulf Coast Beaches

Clearwater BeachLow tide on the Florida Gulf Coast is one of the best times to walk the beach. The swath of hard packed sand is larger, and you will see many more shells. On the dry, tumbled sand, it is sometimes hard to find any shells at all. You will also find more unbroken shells near the waterline at low tide. You might even catch a glimpse of the live sea life down by the water. It is common to find living sea snails washed onto the shore, as well as live starfish, sand dollars, and clams. It can be interesting to see them in their natural state.

As far as high tide goes, you might find that it is the best time to swim, as the water is not so shallow.

Drying out Live Starfish and Shells

Seashells for salePlease don’t do that. Because we are a popular tourist resort, it is a good idea for visitors to leave live sea animals alone. If each tourist took live starfish or sea snails from the shore, it could have an impact on the sea life. Leave the live animals in place so that the next tourist can experience the pleasure of seeing them too. Gift shops and even the beach Walgreens have shells and starfish for sale that are in perfect condition. Also, store-bought shells and starfish already have the odors removed, which is more difficult to do on your own than you might think. Trust us when we say that odor free mementos make much better souvenirs of your Florida Gulf Coast vacation.

 

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Clearwater Marina

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf shores fishing

Dunedin Causeway, Florida

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico is lots of fun. While this blog is about charters, be aware that you can also fish from beaches, piers, causeways, and other great locations. Wading into the coastal waterways is popular, especially in Clearwater Harbor or St. Joseph Sound. Our coasts are very shallow, so you can wade out a surprising distance. If you take a drive down the coastal roads of Clearwater and Dunedin, you will spot fishermen wading far out into the harbor. However, the shallow waters are home to certain types of fish, while the deeper waters off the coast are home to completely different varieties. That is why fishing charters on the Central Gulf Coast are so popular.

 

Find Fishing Charters on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Fishing Gulf of MexicoFinding a fishing charter near Clearwater Beach is not difficult. In fact, you will find fishing charters on the Central Gulf Coast are plentiful. A walk down the docks of Clearwater Marina will light up the eyes of anyone who likes deep sea fishing. You have the choice of small private charters or very large fishing vessels.

Map of Florida Gulf CoastYou will also find a lineup of fishing charters at the Dunedin docks, just north of Clearwater on the coastal road. If you are closer to the southern beaches of St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, or the Redington Shores area, you will find fishing charters along the intra-coastal waterway, or at the popular tourist docks of John’s Pass.

Prices will vary, usually related to the size of the boat or the quality of the charter. Some are simple fishing trips. Others include perks like a cooler of beer and snacks. The charters usually run from 4  to 8 hours. The minimum of 4 hours is necessary because of how far out your captain will have to go in order to reach deep waters.

 

Best Fish of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Clearwater Marina fishing charter

Clearwater Beach Marina

The Gulf of Mexico has some delicious fish, and the Central Gulf Coast of Florida is no exception. Topping the list of yummy Gulf Coast fish are flounder, grunts, Spanish mackerel, dog fish, and grouper. (If you catch a black grouper, make sure that’s the one you cook up!) The recipe you use is up to you, but if you don’t feel like cooking fish on vacation, that’s ok. Many of the local restaurants will cook your fish for you! That’s right, the local cooks will take your fish and serve it up restaurant style. It’s a great way to go, and it makes for some fond Florida Gulf Coast vacation memories too.

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts

Understanding Florida Gulf Coast Weather

 

Florida Gulf Coast of Pinellas County

Where the Heck is Pinellas County and Why Should I Care?

Pinellas County Is the Florida Central Gulf Coast

Clearwater BeachPinellas County is home to some of the best tourist destinations in the United States. We are pointing out Pinellas County in this blog for that very good reason. According to HomeAway.com, a general understanding a location is one of a traveler’s top concerns. Vacationers want to know where they are going!

A term has recently appeared labeling our coastline the Florida Central Gulf Coast. The area has become famous for its white sand beaches and growing number of tourist attractions. Within this region you will find Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach, Fort Desoto State Park, Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, Tarpon Springs, Lake Tarpon,  and St Petersburg.

The area boasts such attractions as Pier 60 Sunset Festivals, Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies, the Dali Museum, and John’s Pass. The on-the-water attractions in the area are truly endless. They include dolphin sighting tours, dinner cruises, sunset cruises, pirate ship cruises, deep sea fishing, and more.

 

Where is Pinellas County?

We could write a thousand words explaining the location of Pinellas County, Florida but why not just show you some maps?

Pinellas County Florida

Pinellas County Florida Map

 

Pinellas County is for Everyone

WClearwater Beach, Oct 1, 2013 (5)hy is Pinellas County a premier vacation destination? The answer is that Pinellas County has beaches that fit every taste.

If you like a beachfront resort hotel with fine dining, beachfront bar and grill, a swimming pool, sun deck, and umbrellas on the beach, you will find them here in Pinellas County, Florida.

If you want a vacation home or vacation cottage on or near the beach, you will find them for rent throughout our beach communities. If you like natural beaches with miles of untouched coastline that you can walk at your leisure, we have those too.

IMG_4918The turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico are ready to explore regardless of your tastes. You can take a dinner cruise across Clearwater Harbor, or take in the sunset on a fun-loving pirate ship. Booze cruises and dolphin sighting excursions are available as well. If you want a less structured way to get out on the water, you can rent jet skis, stand up paddle boards, power boats, or a kayaks.

You will find developed beaches or areas where Ma and Pa rentals are king. State and county parks deliver wildlife experiences as well as looks into Florida’s History.

Pier 60 Clearwater BeachYou can dive into dynamic beachfront activities or just disappear into a calm beach paradise. The choice of vacation types is endless but all of them include the white sand beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. You might want to add this vacation destination to your wish list. Pinellas County has it all!

 

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Clearwater Beach shoreline

How to Successfully Use Vacation to Relieve Stress

Using Vacation to Relieve Stress

Clearwater BeachVacations are well known to relieve the tension of everyday life. The job and rigors of home life are left behind, replaced by something else. But what is that something else for you? Is it a dynamic location that keeps you active or is it a mellow retreat that allows you to indulge in relaxation? For most people, it is a little bit of both. Here at the beach we are familiar with plenty of ways to do play hard or kick back. But why does it work? How do vacations take you away from it all? Why doesn’t it always work? What can you do to improve your chances of casting aside your day-to-day stress?

 

How to Enhance Stress Relief on Vacation

Honeymoon Island, FloridaThe secret to relieving stress on vacation might be easier than you think.  Two main methods exist;

  • Dynamic action
  • Nothing at all

Of course, we may be over-simplifying. What do these two options really mean?

 

A Dynamic Vacation Relieves Stress

Parasailing Clearwater BeachAn active vacation is a great way to relieve stress. Here at the beach that can mean swimming, volleyball, jet skis, power boat rentals, scooter rentals, or even parasailing. Actions such as those can have the effect of yanking you away from the world you left behind. It is difficult to remain focused on daily troubles while jetting across the waves or while dangling a hundred feet above the Gulf of Mexico. Dynamic activities absorb your attention. They work very well for putting you in the present, where you can enjoy your vacation destination with a new perspective.

 

A Relaxing Vacation Relieves Stress

Beach umbrellas on Clearwater BeachIt might go without saying that relaxation relieves stress. What could be better than sitting on a recliner beneath a beach umbrella for a few hours? How about a stroll on the beach? Other activities are mild enough to find places on the relaxation side of the equation. Try riding bikes down the beach sidewalks, walking the shoreline, searching for seashells, dining out, or taking a harbor cruise to see dolphins or watch the sunset. After a number of relaxing activities you might find you feel much better.

 

Planning a Stress Free Vacation

Clearwater BeachPlanning a stress free vacation might involve very little actual planning. Once you choose your destination (we suggest the beach), the next part of your plan should involve activities. Our recommendation is to consider a combination both dynamic and relatively idle activities. Start with something at the top of your excitement level. Give your vacation kick-start. You might find that an activity that gets your heart beating will make the rest of your vacation much more enjoyable. In other words, start with a bang to reorient yourself to your new environment. Afterward, it’s time to relax the days away with an ice cold drink on a sandy beach. You might achieve that stress free vacation you’ve always wanted.

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Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

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Aerial of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island

 

Clearwater Beach Pier 60 acrobats

Ultimate Tourist Attraction at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 Is at the Heart of Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 Clearwater BeachIt is impossible to walk the white sand shores of Clearwater Beach without noticing Pier 60. The pier derives its name from Highway 60, which is the route that leads from the city of Tampa all the way across the city of Clearwater and onto Clearwater Beach. The pier is in a direct line with the highway, an easy landmark to find. Pier 60 is the central hub of beach activities and is visible from all of the beachfront hotels, condos and cottages of Clearwater Beach.

 

Pier 60 Gift Shop and Fishing Pier

Pier 60 fishermen Clearwater BeachThe Pier 60 gift shop and fishing area might not be the pier’s best known features, but they are still very popular. Midway along the pier you will find a building and a gate. To pass the gate to the fishing section of the pier you need to pay a dollar. While this might not seem like much money, in fact, so many fishermen use pier each year that it makes a surprising amount of revenue. It also leaves the fishing end of Pier 60 mostly to the fishermen. The building at mid-pier is a tackle and gift shop. You can buy fishing bait or vacation souvenirs, such as T-shirts or seashells. The division in Pier 60 makes it a great multi use location at Clearwater Beach.

 

Pier 60 Nightly Sunset Festival

Pier 60 sunset festivalThe nightly festival at Pier 60 is one of the main tourist attractions at Clearwater Beach. From two hours before sunset to two hours after sunset the pier hosts a nightly festival. Artisans and craftsmen of all types set up tables and booths at the pier to sell their wares or their talents. You will find seashells, paintings of seascapes, jewelry, and a large variety of other assorted crafts for sale. You will also find face painting, hair braiding, hand drawn portraits, and other unique trades. The craftsmen at the sunset festival make Pier 60 a perfect tourist destination for anyone vacationing at Clearwater Beach.

 

Friday and Saturday Night at Pier 60

Clearwater Beach Pier 60 acrobatsThe weekend at the Pier 60 nightly festival is a prime entertainment event at Clearwater Beach. On the weekend nights, street performers join the festivities. You will find jugglers, fire breathers, sword jugglers, magicians, acrobats, or break-dancers putting on their shows at the pier. The entertainment always varies, which means you never know which show you will catch. If you are on vacation at Clearwater Beach, the weekend sunset festival at Pier 60 is not an event you want to miss.

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Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

Florida Bald Eagle

Gulf Coast Bald Eagles

Gulf Coast Local Secret #14

Bald Eagles Live on the Florida Gulf Coast

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

Local Pride toward Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle

Homosassa Springs

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

Were to see a Bald Eagle

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

Related Posts:

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Gulf Coast Local Secret #9

Fort DeSoto (3)The Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is one of the most scenic bridges in America. Add that to the reality that it carries drivers to the vacation paradise of the Central Gulf Coast, and you have a must-see bridge. But where is the best place to view it?

 

Fort De Soto (5)On the Road Photos

Plenty of good pictures can be taken from either side. While the roadway does curve, allowing for moderate side shots, we don’t consider the roadway to be the best location from which to take the ultimate pictures.

 

The Secret to Great Sunshine Skyway Bridge Views

Fort DeSoto (1)

The best location to enjoy the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is Fort De Soto Park. The view is great, capturing the turquoise waters of the bay along with a perfect shot of the bridge from the side. To get to this viewing location, you have to enter Fort De Soto Park. You get far more than a view of the bridge by taking this trip. The beach at Fort De Soto Park is voted best in America repeatedly. In addition, you can tour through what remains of the actual fort, including interior rooms and exterior cannon firing areas –complete with cannons. The experience as a whole is fantastic.

 

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Gulf Coast Local Secret #8

Hurricane Pass, DunedinA Different Kind of Bar on the Florida Gulf Coast

Gathering with friends at a bar takes on a whole new twist along the Florida Gulf Coast. You can certainly go to an ordinary bar with tables, stools and a serving counter, but that’s not the kind of bar we’re talking about. These secret local hangouts are favorites of the local populace, and you can’t get there on foot or by car. These bars are made of sand.

 

Kayaks on Honeymoon IslandA Sand Bar Is a Hangout Spot on the Florida Gulf Coast?

Most people think of a sand bar as a submerged strip of sand running parallel to the shore of a beach –but not these sand bars! The hangouts in question do not run along the beach, and at low tide they quite often rise completely out of the water. The locals know they are there, even when they can’t see them. At the right time of day, boaters gather along these expanses of sand to have a good time. You can find large gatherings of people strolling the bars, playing, swimming and even grabbing a picnic aboard their anchored boats.

 

Where Are the Secret Florida Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts?

The two best known sand bars for gathering together with friends and strangers are in Saint Petersburg, Florida and Dunedin, Florida.

Hurricane PassThe first, in Saint Petersburg is on the Bayou Grande which runs just south of Weedon Island Preserve. You may find gatherings of locals here, their boats pitched along the bars that rise from the waters at the center of the waterway. Oddly enough, on this bayou, you will find people gathered in the shallow water even when the sand bars are not in sight.

The second, in Dunedin, Florida is off the northern tip of Caladesi Island, an island known for having some of the best beaches in America. Here, a wide swath of sand rises from the waves to form a wide platform for people to anchor and play. Speed boats, jet skis and kayakers congregate at low tide to scan the sands, wade and just plain have fun.

 

This Gulf Coast Secret is Relative

As you might have guessed from the descriptions, these hangouts are only a secret to area visitors. The locals know all about them. Try to get onto a boat and check them out!

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Pass between Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island, Florida

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

Gulf Coast Local Secret # 6

Hurricane Pass, DunedinUnique Gulf Coast Tidal Currents

Hurricane Pass is located between Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island off the Dunedin Causeway in Dunedin Florida. Other locations in the area also have inlets dubbed “hurricane pass,” but this one is accessible on foot along the beaches. The pass was created by a hurricane nearly a hundred years ago and now serves as a great throughway for boat traffic. Because of its location, it is affected by tides from the inland waterways of Saint Joseph Sound on either side of the Dunedin Causeway. When the tides move in and out of the sound, the water is pushed through this narrow channel in great volume and speed.

 

Why Is Hurricane Pass a Gulf Coast Local Secret?

Hurricane Pass

Hurricane Pass Video

While most people know about the pass, what locals have discovered is that visiting the pass during incoming and outgoing tides can be fun! If you are an experienced kayaker, you can play in the tides that pull past the tip of Caladesi Island. On foot, you will see how the nearby city of Clearwater got its name when the crystal clear waters go swishing past your feet on the tip of Honeymoon Island. You might catch a glimpse here of eddies that grow as big as 100 feet across.

 

Play Safe in the Gulf of Mexico

Keep safety in mind when playing in the Gulf of Mexico. Dipping into these powerful currents is not recommended! Avoid stepping near the edge of the shallow ledge of sand that is clearly visible at this location. Keep the kids under good control. Great, safe places to swim are a very short stroll away so use those if you want do dive in. Please enjoy this wonder of nature with a measure of prudence.

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