Tag Archives: St Pete Beach

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.

 

 

 

Fall Festivals Clearwater Beach

Fantastic Fall Festivals St Pete to Clearwater Beach

Why Visit the Florida Gulf Coast During the Fall?

The beaches from Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach on the Florida Gulf Coast are exciting places to visit year round. While we experience seasons like everyone else, our winter temperatures are mild, making us a popular tourist destination from January through March. Other season attract visitors too, summer time at the beach still being as popular as ever.

Abeach festivallthough we enjoy year-round tourism, the numbers go up and down as the seasons come and go. One of our lower seasons for visitors is autumn. School starts and family vacations must end, at least for a little while. Attention goes back to the daily duties of life and Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the coastline in between is left for future vacations.

Does that mean that Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the beaches in between aren’t worth visiting in the fall?

Absolutely not.

In fact, it is difficult to find a more dynamic time than October at our Gulf Coast beaches. Why, you ask? Is it the cooler temperatures? The remarkable sunsets? The cheaper accommodations? While those are good reasons, they are not the number one best reason.  To learn why you should visit us in October, then read on.

 

11 Days of Bliss on the Florida Gulf Coast

Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach is a great place to visit as the year coasts toward a close. In fact, you might find October is the most exciting month of the year!

Clearwater Jazz Holiday

Clearwater Jazz HolidayThe magic begins with Clearwater Jazz Holiday. The event has reached its 35th year, now pulling in some of the greatest talent in jazz. The seating is in open air Coachman Park. Enjoy great music under the Florida sun or stars at this fun, four days of concerts. Clearwater Jazz Holiday is October 16 through 19.

World Windsurfing Championship

windsurfingFor the first time ever, the Youth World Windsurfing Championship is coming to the USA, with Clearwater Beach hosting the event! The event will take place at one of our favorite locations, Pier 60. Watch this one week event from the Pier, the water, or the beach. This competition is new to us but not to the world. International windsurfers will compete at this event, introducing Clearwater Beach to people from around the globe. World Windsurfing Championship at Clearwater Beach runs from October 18th to the 25th.

2014 World Paddle Association Championship Race

paddleboardsJoining the biggest weekend of the year are the Paddle Board Races at St Pete Beach. Head to the beach to watch the standup paddle board races just off shore. This event will be held on the U.S. east coast for the first time, right here at St Pete Beach. If you are a fan of the exploding trend of standup paddle boards, then this is an event you will want to attend. The 2014 World Paddle Association Championship Race happens October 24th to the 26th.

Beach Walk Chalk Walk

mermaid chalk artBeach Walk is a beachfront boardwalk-style sidewalk at Clearwater Beach, popular because its proximity to the sands and beachfront shops. During our favorite October weekend this sidewalk is transformed into a canvas for a host of chalk artists. The event has been a hit each year, filling the sidewalk with viewers. The event draws a wide variety of artists, offering visitors an amazing selection of chalk art. With all the other events happening at the beach, this event provides a very pleasant and interesting addition to the activities. Come to Clearwater Beach to see this event, or, if you are here for some other festival, make sure you visit the Beach Walk while you are here. Beach Walk Chalk Walk Festival runs October 24th through the 26th.

Stone Crab Festival Weekend

The stone crab season is a very special holiday on the Florida Gulf Coast, with events dotting the coastline of the Florida Gulf Coast.

Tarpon Springs Annual Greek Food and Wine Festival

Tarpon Springs sponge boatAt the top of the county, you will find Tarpon Springs, home of the famous Sponge Docks, one of the largest suppliers of natural sponges in the world. This fun tourist area is known for its Greek culture, making the festival held here make perfect sense. The Tarpon Springs Annual Greek Food and Wine Festival is held October 24 through 26, joining the culinary festivals of the Stone Crab Weekend, with a Greek twist, of course. If you like tourist towns, Greek culture, and good food, give this one a try!

John’s Pass Seafood Festival

Johns Pass Village and BoardwalkNear the bottom of the county you can enjoy John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, another well-known tourist attraction on the Florida Gulf Coast.  John’s Pass Seafood Festival joins the big weekend events of October 24 to 26 of 2014. The event includes live music, vendors, arts and crafts, and, of course, seafood. John’s Pass is fun on an ordinary day. Visiting the boardwalks during a festival is a real treat. Don’t miss this event in Madeira Beach, just north of Treasure Island.

Clearwater Beach Stone Crab Festivals

Stone Crab weekend festivalThe stone crab weekend at Clearwater Beach one of the best events of the year at this famous Gulf Coast beach. Cooters and Frenchy’s are the two main spots for the festivals. Cooters fills their parking lot with extra seating and live music while Frenchy’s closes off Baymont Street in front of their original restaurant for a banquet and block party with live music. The event is very lively and lots of fun. Daytime crowds are great but when the sun sets the party atmosphere really cranks up, giving guests some great beach memories. And then, of course, there’s the stone crabs, which are in season only once a year. This annual beach festival is one you don’t want to miss, so mark your Clearwater Beach calendars for the weekend of October 24th to the 26th.

Autumn at the Beach

Clearwater BeachIf you can make it to the Florida Gulf Coast during October you should definitely do so. Even more events occur during November and December but we will cover those in later blog posts. Be sure to keep your eyes on Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, St Pete Beach, and Tarpon Springs for the autumn season. We have a great festival line up for you here on the Florida Gulf Coast.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

The Amazing Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival at Clearwater Beach

 

 

Gulf Coast artificial reefs

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Pinellas County Artificial Reefs

coral on reefLittle known to most tourists at Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach and the various tourists stops of the Central Gulf Coast are a series of artificial reefs located just off the coast. The reefs vary in distance from the shore, some being only a few hundred yards out while others are as far as 38 miles out in deeper waters. The artificial reef program was started in 1975, growing to the present day total of 42 sites. Most of the reefs, 29 of them, are close to shore. These inshore reefs were set down to help with beach replenishments. After sands were taken from the seafloor to help bolster area beaches between Sand Key and Treasure Island, the reefs were set down at areas where sands were removed. The 13 offshore reef sites are in deeper water and consists of larger materials than those close to the shore.

Both types of reef share a similar life cycle, growing barnacles and other sedentary sea life within just weeks. Fish arrive soon after to feed on these stationary creatures. Coral completes the reef community around the one year mark.

The purpose of the artificial reef program is to enhance fishing opportunities and to provide diving sites for scuba enthusiasts. The reefs also help to disperse the recreation areas of the Florida Gulf Coast, a very popular vacation destination. The increased number of diving and fishing sites offer visitors and locals greater opportunities for sport and play.

 

Materials for Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Deploying artificial reefsThe materials for the Gulf Coast artificial reefs ranges from the unique to the mundane. Many of the reefs are constructed from relatively simple items, such as pipes, pylons, and deconstructed bridge debris. Other sites contain treasures such as sunken barges, sunken ships, and even obsolete military tanks from WWII. The reef building materials have to pass an inspection for hazardous wastes and have to be relatively large in size. While it might seem that builders would simply drop the items into the water and be done, it is not so. The reefs are constructed with careful planning, intentionally creating openings that differ in size. The construction technique creates habitats for the various species that will arrive as the reef matures.

Diving on Florida Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Scuba diving on artificial reefsWhen we questioned divers regarding the artificial reefs of the Gulf Coast we were surprised to find out that even the simple reefs created from construction debris were popular dive sites. It seems that the attraction of many reefs is the sea life that surrounds them. Grouper, sting rays, eels, sea horses, sharks, coral, sponges and more find homes on and around the reefs. Lucky divers might also encounter sea turtles or dolphins. The visibility changes with Gulf conditions, giving views through 15 to 60 feet of water. Unique dive sites include the large barges and fishing boats, which divers can enter. The WWII tanks are also a popular dive.

Fishing Florida Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Fishing Gulf of MexicoThe other inspiration for the artificial reefs on Gulf Coast of Florida is to increase the fishing opportunities. The reefs not only provide good fishing destinations, they also create habitats for bait fish. Fishermen start at the reefs, casting their bait nets to scoop up the smaller fish. They can move on from there or stay, trying for the larger fish that troll the artificial structures below. Some of the more popular fish to catch are grouper, snapper, amberjack, and Spanish mackerel. The reefs closer to the shore are all marked for fishing on the maps, while those in deeper water are designated for mixed use. With the overwhelming popularity of fishing along the Gulf Coast, these new habitats provide additional locations for local fishermen and tourists to cast their lines.

How to Locate Gulf Coast Artificial Reefs

Artificial reefsModern technology makes finding the reefs quite easy. Each one is marked on the official maps, with GPS coordinates included. The intra-coastal waterways of the Florida Gulf Coast are shallow, creating a need for depth finders aboard pretty much every boat that plies the local waters of Clearwater Harbor, Boca Ciega Bay, or St Joseph Sound. Purchasing a GPS to have on board your boat is a good idea, although the more expensive devices come with both depth sonar and GPS. The reef program is no longer creating new sites but those that already exist are being maintained. Florida artificial reefsThat includes, in a few locations, buoys to mark them. If you are not interested in trying to find the reefs on your own, try a local dive shop. Guided tours will take out to the reefs and allow you to dive. Local fishing charters will know where the reefs are, naturally. It is their job to give the best fishing experience possible, which is an easy task on the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 Enjoying the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Fishing artificial reefsThe artificial reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast are there for the enjoyment of fishing and diving, creating locations that would otherwise be unavailable. The artificial reefs supply an added bonus for an area already full of recreation opportunities. With Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg being very popular Florida vacation destinations, it makes sense to expand the resources. If you are looking to take your Gulf Coast vacation a step further, why not give them a try?

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Never Confuse a Bayou with a Backwater Again

Gulf Coast Sunken Ship

 

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

 

Sea turtle

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Sea Turtles

Out of the 7 species of sea turtles on Earth, 4 of them lay their eggs on the Florida coastline.

    • Loggerhead sea turtleLoggerheads are large sea turtles that are named for their wide heads, sometimes 10 inches in width. Loggerheads are the most common turtle to nest on the beaches of Florida.

 

    • Green sea turtleGreen Turtles are known for their beautiful green shells, that are also, unfortunately, one of the reasons the species was hunted into an endangered condition. They range in warm waters across the globe and, when nesting in Florida, usually lay their eggs on the east coast.

 

    • Leatherback sea turtleLeatherback turtles are the largest of the sea turtles, some weighing as much as a compact car. The trademark shell is leathery with ridges running from front to back. These turtles can inhabit colder waters and dive over 3000 feet deep. They range worldwide, a small number of them laying eggs on Florida beaches.

 

  • Hawksbill sea turtleHawksbill turtles are named for their beak-like mouths. This turtle uses its sharp beak for eating sponges and invertebrates, common species in the Gulf of Mexico. In Florida, these turtles most often lay eggs on the east coast between Canaveral National Sea Shore and the Florida Keys.

Kemp’s Ridley is a rare turtle that swims the Gulf of Mexico but nests on the Gulf Coast shores of Mexico. Two other species of sea turtle are the Flatback, which lives in the waters north of Australia, and the Olive Ridley, which ranges in equatorial waters.

 

Turtle Hatching Season on the Florida Gulf Coast

Loggerhead turtle hatchlingsTurtle hatching season on the Florida Gulf Coast lasts from May through October. On the east coast of Florida, the season starts as early as March. While four species nest in Florida, only loggerhead turtles nest commonly on the Gulf Coast. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, turtles create 3-8 nests per kilometer on the shores of Pinellas County, where you will find Clearwater Beach and other popular destinations like St Pete Beach, Treasure Island Beach, Madeira Beach and Indian Shores. While Pinellas County is not the most prolific site for turtle nests, you should still keep an eye out for them while you are here.

 

Turtle Egg Laying on the Beach

Sea turtle eggsSea turtles do not return to land once hatched. Only the females will pull themselves ashore to lay eggs. The life cycle of sea turtles keeps the young ones in shallows or in areas with growth where they can take cover. When larger they move to the shallows, and then later, into open water. Loggerheads live approximately 50 years but do not begin mating until they are around 35 years old. Females will mate every two to three years, laying an average of four nests. Florida has groups that help to protect the sea turtles, volunteers locating nests and marking them off so that beach-goers to not dig or set up umbrellas or towels on top of the nests. When walking the beach, be on the lookout for stakes bearing orange or pink tape. Disturbing the nests is illegal. Many nests have cameras trained on them to deter anyone from vandalizing them.

 

Turtle Season Guidelines for Beach-goers

Sea turtle nestYou can play your part in protecting the sea turtles. Always leave the nests sites alone. If you believe you have found an unmarked sea turtle nest, be sure to contact authorities so that the nest can be protected. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies, will take your calls if you find a nest in Pinellas County, (727-441-1790). Other than human tampering and predation by animals, lights are the biggest threat to sea turtle hatchlings. Hatched sea turtles aim toward the greatest light, which, without beach housing, would be the moon reflecting off the sea. That is why many locations mandate that beach houses and businesses keep their shades drawn during turtle hatching season. You should not shine flashlights or other types of lights onto hatching sea turtles. Loggerhead sea turtleAdditionally, if you come upon an adult sea turtle coming ashore to lay eggs, keep your distance. If the turtle is frightened, it may return to the sea, in which case, it could drop its eggs into the open water where they will not survive. Hunting and loss of habitat has greatly reduced the sea turtle population. If you are given the opportunity, do your best to help them survive.

 

Local Turtle Trivia

Turtle sculptureHere in Pinellas County, home to Clearwater Beach, we love our turtles.

  • The Gopher Tortoise can be seen here in open flat lands like Honeymoon Island State Park.
  • Another local turtle, living in our freshwater ponds and lakes, is called a cooter. Cooter’s Restaurant & Bar, found right here on Clearwater Beach, takes its name from this turtle.
  • Up in Tarpon Springs, home to the famous Sponge Docks, you will find a fun pub called Lagerheadz,which is named after our local loggerhead turtles.

 

Other posts  you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

Refences:

http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/species/   http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/life-history/   http://www.seefloridaonline.com/turtles/   http://www.conserveturtles.org/florida.php?page=nestingseason   http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2013/freelance-articles-2013/sea-turtle-walks-bonnie-gross.html   http://www.seaturtle.org/faq/answers/6.shtml   http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/nesting/loggerhead/   http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Sea-Turtles/Loggerhead-Sea-Turtle.aspx

vacation activities

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

How Close do you stay to your Vacation Rental?

beach vacation rentalWhen you go on vacation, do you stay near your vacation rental or do you strike out to explore everything in the region around you? Some folks are happy to sit on the porch or balcony of their vacation rental and look out onto the world from the shade, comfort, and air conditioning of their unit. Others will keep within a zone in which they can walk. Others might take a single trip in the car during their stay, while still others might head out into the region surrounding their vacation rental each and every day. Which type of vacation goer are you?

 

Making the most of your Vacation Rental

beachfront rental condoHanging out in your vacation rental is not all that bad! Many of the vacation condos and vacation homes on Clearwater Beach and the other beaches of the Central Gulf Coast have large interiors with comfortable amenities. Vacation rentals will usually have some type of kitchen as well as televisions, cable service, and Wifi. If your rental comes with a pool, you might have all you need to keep you happy. If you have a beach view, then you really are at the beach when you sit out on your balcony. If long walks aren’t your thing, then a holiday spent inside your vacation rental might be the perfect getaway. And, if you are looking to relax in peace and quiet, sitting out on a patio or reclining by a pool is a great way to go.

 

Using your Vacation Rental as Beach Vacation Headquarters

Beach vacationWhen you rent a vacation rental on the beach it’s because you want to be at the beach! That’s fairly sound logic. Once you have arrived at your beach rental, it is sometimes hard to take the time to put away your luggage before heading out to the shore. The beach has soothing qualities that few people can deny. The sound of the waves and the feel of the sand combine with the beauty of the beach and water to create a sensation people will travel quite far to experience. So is it wrong to plant yourself on the beach and enjoy the sun and sand and sea every day of your vacation? Of course not! The beach is a favorite travel destination for very good reason. Enjoying your vacation to the fullest is easy to do at the beach, even if you do no more than walk from your vacation rental to the sand each day.

 

Choosing a Favorite Day Trip from your Vacation Rental

Lowry ZooSpending your days sunning and swimming at the beach is hard to beat, but once in a while, it is nice to break up a vacation with a day trip to an interesting nearby location. That is easy to do on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. A drive or a trolley ride up and down the coastline will take you past a host of other beaches. You will pass from major resorts to ma-and-pa style beaches and back again in a very short amount of time. Each beach community seems to have its own personality, so you can choose the one that suites you.  You could also visit one of the many tourist towns nearby for a dinner or a stroll down the main street. The one-day trip is a popular distraction for those who want to see nearby theme parks like Homosassa Springs, Dinosaur World, the Lowry Park Zoo, or Busch Gardens in Tampa. When your one day diversion is over, feel free to relax in your vacation rental or on the nearby sands of the beach.

 

Seeing it all on your Florida Beach Vacation

Great blue heron The dynamic, action packed beach vacation is often the choice of the adventurous souls among us. After you have walked the nearby beaches of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island it might be time to get into the car and head out to nearby tourists stops. How else can you see it all? You can choose tourist areas such as the St Petersburg museums, John’s Pass tourist shops and restaurants, the Florida Botanical Gardens, downtown Dundein, or the Tarpons Springs Sponge Docks. But if those aren’t enough, you should know that the region surrounding Clearwater Beach and Central Gulf Coast of Florida have more nature parks than you might think possible. Give the parks a try, if you enjoy hiking on wilderness trails or seeing the diverse wildlife of Florida, including the amazing variety of birds. If you choose to have a dynamic vacation touring the region surrounding the beaches, be warned, there is more to do than you can achieve in a single vacation. And please, Clearwater Beach and the Florida Gulf Coast have some of the best beaches in the world, so make sure you spend some time enjoying them too!

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

5 Best Places to Escape at Clearwater Beach

 

Caladesi Island

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

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

 

Johns Pass

Johns Pass

What is Johns Pass?

John's Pass drawbridgeJohn’s Pass is a fun tourist stop along the waterway known as John’s Pass. According to local history, it was created by a hurricane in the mid 1800’s, when the storm rearranged the shoreline, forming a new opening into the bay. Today the bay is known as Boca Ciega Bay, with John’s Pass serving as a major entrance. On your visit to John’s Pass, you will undoubtedly notice the active drawbridge, allowing taller sailboats into John’s Pass. Fishermen still embark from the shores of the pass and seafood restaurants dot the shoreline. Dolphins swimming in John's PassClose to major barrier island beaches, the undeveloped shores of the pass are lined with mangroves, a plant that is very good at fighting erosion. While you walk along the boardwalks, you will see plenty of seafood shops, mangroves, and passing boats. You might even get to see some of the dolphins that also frequently use John’s Pass to enter and exit Boca Ciega Bay.

 

Where is Johns Pass?

John's Pass mapJohn’s Pass divides the barrier islands that host the cities of Madeira Beach and Treasure Island, Florida, USA. Barrier islands line the coast of Pinellas County, home to Clearwater Beach, St Petersburg, and St Pete Beach, as well as the popular beaches of Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, Sand Key, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Redington Shores, Redington Beach, and Fort Desoto Park. John’s Pass sits among these famous beaches as a unique feature, being a well-visited attraction despite having no white-sand shoreline. You will find John’s Pass 16 miles south of Clearwater Beach and just 5 miles north of St Pete Beach. It is a fun place to visit and definitely worth the short trip from any of the local beaches. John’s Pass is an entertaining addition to a Gulf Coast beach vacation.

 

What to Do at Johns Pass

John's Pass restaurantJohn’s Pass is a quintessential tourist stop. You will find every type of nautical gift shop you can imagine, loaded with shells, starfish, toys, souvenirs, specialty soaps, t-shirts, dresses, hats, and even pirate costumes.  After you’ve cruised the gift shops, you will definitely want to dine at John’s Pass. The restaurants are one of the main reasons for visiting! Cruise the streets and the boardwalks to find your perfect dining experience. You can dine inside or out, on a pier over the water or down below the boardwalk in a fun and rustic setting. Some of the restaurants are tall enough to provide sweeping views of the area. Keep your eye out for the restaurants south of the drawbridge too! Jet Ski and parasail rentalAfter you have dined, it’s time for some taffy, coffee, or ice cream in one of the many sweets shops. You’re on vacation after all, right? Lastly, you will want to take advantage of the rentals and cruises at the docks. You can take a dolphin sighting tour or a cruise on a fun pirate ship. If that’s too slow for you, then rent one of the powerboats or jet skis. Fishing charters also cast off from the docks, so you might want to try them too. Whatever you like on a fun filled vacation, you will find some fun memories at the docks of John’s Pass.

Souvenir shop John's Pass

John’s Pass souvenir shops

Shops at John's Pass

John’s Pass restaurants

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other blogs you might like:

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

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