Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Long Way Home via the Best Beaches in America

Posted on: June 13th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Take some video of the beaches and then head back to the office. The idea seemed simple enough at the beginning of the day.

I headed out with my new phone, one capable of live streaming video, anticipating an outing of about one to two hours. Our headquarters in on the island of Clearwater Beach, so finding nice subjects to photograph and video is pretty easy. I had someone from the office drop me off at the north end of the public roads and set off with my camera running. I didn’t have much video of that area because it is not right outside our door so I figured I would treat our Facebook fans to some new sights.

Clearwater Beach

The day was sunny with a few clouds and the water and sand looked great. I headed north, away from the areas I normally traveled, just to make sure the content was fresh. The breeze coming in off the Gulf of Mexico cooled me while the sun above warmed me up. The effect was very pleasant. It should come as no surprise that the longer I walked, the more I enjoyed my time in the outdoors. I walked quite far, and since I’d done the hike before, I had a general idea of where I was. A long way up the beach it occurred to me that by going a little bit farther, I might reach the point where Clearwater Beach merged with Caladesi Island State Park. That’s when I decided to go for it. It was a perfect beach day, so why not?

The problem was that to go ahead with my plan meant not going back to the office. Sure, it was my job to collect images of the area, but running away from the office was a new trick I hadn’t tried before. Would it work out? I took my chances and went for it. Before too long I reached the first landmark.

Clearwater Beach shell tree

On the northern end of Clearwater Beach is a what we call the Shell Tree. It is nothing more than some mangrove bushes but visitors have been hanging seashells on the trees for years. Most are ordinary seashells but others have been hand painted with colors or with personal messages. Some show the names of couples while others commemorate lost loved ones. Others indicate when visitors took their Clearwater Beach vacation. The result is a fun site to visit and, hopefully, interact with. I passed through the trees and continued northward.

Clearwater Beach shell tree 2

It wasn’t long after the shell tree that I came to the park sign indicating that I had reached Caladesi Island State Park. The great thing about this area is that not many people reach the location because of the effort to arrive. The only two means of getting there are to walk quite a long way or to arrive by boat. A few people were present, but once they walked by, I was alone again at the border of the two islands. A waterway once passed between the two islands, back when they received their separate names, but a hurricane some forty years ago filled the channel in with sand. In the present, only those who know the history of the islands understand why the sand they walk on bridges two islands together. At that point, so far north of the office, I knew that going back would be more trouble than going forward. I did not realize at the time that I was wrong.

Caladesi Island park sign

I forged ahead, passing onto Caladesi Island. The beach was remarkable, of course, and completely wild. A forest of palm trees grew on the inland sands while a few stray trees attempted to stake a claim to the shoreline, which is risky business for a plant with such a small root system. A few had fallen to high tides. Not far ahead, however, I saw people gathered among beach chairs and umbrellas. That marked the location where the Caladesi Island Ferry dropped off visitors to enjoy the beach for a few hours. I reached the spot and headed inland. The aside from the ferry off the island, there was a concession stand, and I was hungry. I first secured a seat on the ferry and then went to get the hot dog I had anticipated. Well, the Caladesi Island concession stand doesn’t serve hot dogs. How is that possible? I settled for a chicken sandwich. The ferry captains were ready to go and so helped to put my order on rush, which was very nice of them. With my chicken sandwich in hand, I boarded ferry and we set out right away.

Caladesi Island palm tree

The ride between the islands is fantastic. The ferry travels through the mangrove bayous of Caladesi Island that then open onto the waters of St Joseph Sound. You are provided views of the small islands that dot the harbor and get to see a host of different watercraft playing on the water. The only boat that is doing any serious business is the ferry. Every other boat on the water is out there for sightseeing or fishing. Still, the waters are full of jet skis, motorboats, kayaks, paddleboards, and sailboats. It’s a actually a lot of fun to watch that many people out having their own fun.

Caladesi Island Ferry

The other end of the line is at Honeymoon Island State Park. The captain helped me pay my ride ticket because explaining a one-way ticket proved kind of difficult. Apparently, no one does that. The confusion was understandable, since a round trip walk like the one I was taking was fairly out of the question. While the walk of the beach might workout, the conditions were about to change, and so was the distance. You see, although I was as far north as I was going to go, I was not yet at the half way point. That’s when I learned something I did not know. The Jolley Trolley, which I planned to use as transportation, did not come to Honeymoon Island. Between me and the trolley stop stretched Dunedin Causeway.

Causeway to Honeymoon Island

The Dunedin Causeway is nothing to shake a stick at while on foot. That is the conclusion I came to about an hour later. It’s all fun and games on the sand, but when you hike a mile or more in flip-flops, things change. Still, it was a weekend and the Dunedin Causeway was hopping with activity. If there is a way to have fun at the beach or on the water, it is happening at the causeway. Plus, visitors can pull their cars right up to the shore so it becomes a combination of beach outing and tailgate party. Dunedin Causeway does not have the fantastic sands found on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and so the atmosphere might best be described as “relaxed.” Stated another way, as long as your clothes are on, you can pretty much do what you like. The good news is that, despite the potential for chaos, it’s actually a very well-behaved gathering place.

The return road trip lacked the dazzle of the beginning, which was just fine, because by that time I was a bit tired. I walked the less interesting second half of the Dunedin Causeway and arrived at the bus stop where the causeway met the coastal road. The last bit of charm arrived when I boarded the trolley. It was one of the converted city busses, with an all wood interior, including the seats. Aside from the pleasant décor, each seat took up more room than a normal bus, creating a spacious seating area.

Clearwater trolley bus

Alas, I was not done yet. While I might have taken the trolley all the way to the beach, I knew better. The Clearwater Beach Ferry is a great way to go and so I got off of the trolley and walked down to the docks under the bridge to Clearwater Beach. I made it onto the ferry just before it left, a second lucky break in one day. The ride to the island of Clearwater Beach is another fun water adventure, even if it is “just” a water taxi. My ride ended at the Clearwater Beach Public Library, which has its own dock! To my fortune, the library is only a block from the office. I padded my tired feet along the waterfront of Clearwater Harbor and crossed the street to the office.

Despite being a long and tiring day out, I was not sorry a bit. I also wasn’t fired from my job. I had taken a lot of pictures and created eight videos, which made it all worthwhile. I put my flip-flops away for a few days and considered myself lucky for having the experience.

If you are ever in the Clearwater Beach area, you might want to give parts of this Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island hike a try. If you want to try the entire experience, I would recommend calling an Uber or Lyft cab to drive you across the Dunedin Causeway and then down the coast to Clearwater. Whether you will take the second ferry ride is up to you, but it’s pleasant and is a great idea on heavy beach traffic days.

You can see the recordings of the live feeds below.

Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island Ferry

Honeymoon Island Causeway

Clearwater Beach Ferry

Other posts you might enjoy:

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

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

Vacation Rental Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Ask Questions Before You Book Your Vacation Rental

A vacation destination sets you free to explore a new piece of the world. Unfortunately, it also comes with challenges. In order to know what you are getting into, you have to ask a lot of questions. Here is a short list of questions which we handle often.

 

Vacation FAQs

vacation rental condoWhere is my vacation rental? Well, that’s important, isn’t it? You need to know not only the town, but where specifically in that town you will be staying. Are you on the beach? Are you near it? That’s matters. In fact, it’s vital information that can make or break your vacation plans. Be sure to nail down exactly where your accommodations will be. Your vacation rental company should provide a map with the exact location marked.

How far ahead should I book? Unfortunately, that question is often asked too late. If you intend to visit a popular vacation destination during its peak season, you had better book ahead a full year. For the less traveled seasons, or less known destinations you will want to book three to six months ahead. If you miss those deadlines, you may wind up booking at higher, last-minute rates.

vacation rental condoHow many does it sleep? Knowing the number that the unit sleeps is key. Be sure your rental will accommodate your party. Some rentals consider an overcrowded unit to be a breach of contract by the renter. If you want to stay cheaper, try to find places that utilize sofa sleepers for extra guests.

What size are the beds? Questions regarding bed size aim at personal taste and type of party. Some couples want king size beds, others are fine with queen size. When bed size can really come into play is when two families travel together, which includes the extended-family vacation. You may want to make sure that the couples each have a king or queen size bed. You can also ask for units that have more than one master bedroom. They are less common, but they do exist.

beachfront accommodationsQuestions about money. Questions about money are perhaps the most important. Aside from the obvious “how much” inquiry, you will want to know how payment is made. Is it all up front? Is there a deposit? Is there a penalty for cancelling? Is the money refundable? Those are all important details. The company you use should be able to answer them easily. Be sure to validate that your company is the real deal, especially if they are asking for a full payment up front.

How do I know my vacation rental company is real? That is a question you will want to answer before you pay. Don’t use non-official, garage-sale style sites to book a vacation rental. A week at a beach condo can cost in the thousands. You should know your company is legitimate before paying. Check the BBB, make sure the rental company has a website, and look online for reviews.

beachfront condoWhere do I check in? Not knowing where to check in can throw a wrench into your first day of vacation. Ask the booking agent where you need to arrive then check it on an online map. If it doesn’t seem right, be sure to call them back for specific directions.

What is the layout of the vacation rental? This is more than one question really. Does it have a kitchen? How many bedrooms does it have? Will the dining table seat your group? Does the unit have a washer and dryer? Does it have a balcony or patio? What floor is it on? What is the view? Where do I park? Those are all very important details that you need to know. Write them down before you call so you don’t forget to ask. A good online directory should tell you all those things. So should a good booking agent.

vacation condoWhat can you expect to find inside your rental unit? Will it have a dishwasher and an icemaker? Can you expect beach towels and beach chairs? What about toilet paper, paper towels, and soap? Those answers vary greatly between rental agencies and even between units rented by the same company. Knowing those answers ahead of time will help you prepare. The agent you contact should be able to tell you what will be waiting for you and what you need to bring.

What activities and attractions are nearby? An agency, even an online one, should have an idea what you will find nearby. That is why you are booking that unit in the first place! Clearwater BeachThe online booking site should answer at least some of those questions. An over-the-phone agent should also have an idea of what you will find outside your door. After all, the things-to-do list is one of the most important features of most vacations. You should be able to receive a short list, at the very least, before booking your vacation rental.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams

Accommodations or Flight, Which to Book First

Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition

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

Beach Kite Festival

kite festival Treasure IslandThe Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition flew over the Florida Gulf Coast again this January, lighting up the daytime sky with bright colors. The day started with mild breezes, not the kind you want for a kite competition, or for flying the giant sized kites. Fortune was on the side of the kite flyers, however, when the afternoon weather brought winds that were perfect for kite flying. The skies were partly cloudy, and it the type of day where some people wore shorts and others light jackets. Crowds lined the sidewalk, using the wall at the edge of the sand for seating. The turnout was fantastic, with the beach restaurants and bars filled to capacity. The large crowds lent an atmosphere of excitement to the event.

 

Sport Kite Competition

sport kitesThe completion portion of the festival was as fun to watch as ever. One of the events that drew the most comments was the children’s kite races, where youngsters, holding kites several times their size, raced across the sand. Other competitions included synchronized kite flying, sport kite flying, and flying sport kites to music.

 

Giant Kites

giant kitesWhile the sport kites were flying, all manner of non-competition kites were sailing over the beach at Treasure Island. The giant octopus kite was a favorite again. Many new kites made their first appearances as well. The kite receiving the most comments was the figure of a scuba diver with a shark swimming just behind him. A kite premiering at the beach was the image of a geisha with the flowing tail of the kite representing her dress.

 

Perfect Beach for Kite Flying

kite at Treasure Island BeachWith kites filling skies over the beach, it was easy to enjoy a walk across the sand. The combination of large, colorful, slow moving kites and racing sport kites created a mesmerizing effect.

The location at Treasure Island Beach was well chosen, the sand being wider than any other location on the coast. Plenty of fun shops and restaurants are nearby, as well as tourist activities like fishing charters and day cruises. The festival comes to the beach each year in January, providing a great excuse to get out to the shore at this great beach community.  If you are considering a trip to the Florida Gulf Coast for the winter, the Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition is an event to keep in mind.

 

 

Treasure Island Kite Festival Videos

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Sky Surfing Clearwater Beach

A Beach Less Traveled

Secrets of the Fall at Clearwater Beach

 

Clearwater Color Run Strikes Again

Posted on: December 24th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Clearwater Color Run

Clearwater Color RunThe Color Run arrived in Clearwater, Florida again this December, turning the runners and the pavement a variety of bright shades. The 5k race, touted as the Happiest 5k on the Planet is a variation of the standard foot race in that the course has color stations. Each station holds a different vibrant hue of chalky dust, thrown at the racers when they pass. Set up like a gauntlet, race volunteers hurl or squirt day-glow powders onto the happy racers. This December’s race had four checkpoints, making the runners a living pallet of shades.

 

Color Run Racers

Clearwater Color RunThe Color Run painted the streets of Clearwater last year in January, making the gap eleven months rather than twelve. The turnout was just as good as last year, if not better. The streets were filled to the horizon on several Clearwater streets. Police helped with traffic at the corners, some, apparently, winding up with colors on their uniforms before the race was over. The Color Run was as good a time as always, with the racers smiling and waving as they went by. The volunteers also appeared to have fun pitching the powder onto to the runners.

 

Coachman Park Party

Clearwater Color RunThe race started and ended in Coachman Park, at the foot of the bridge to famous Clearwater Beach. The park is below the Clearwater Public Library, and next door to one of the trolley stop that takes tourist to see Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies.  The park is on the waterfront, with a dock and marina, making Coachman Park a great place for any event. An after-party happens each year on the park grounds, where anyone missing some colors on their clothing or hair is finished off. Plenty of race day souvenirs are available on-site. The park provides a perfect party-like atmosphere to end off the lively Color Run race.

 

Clearwater Florida

Coachman ParkClearwater is a great destination for a Florida vacation, with some of the most famous beaches in the USA on its doorstep. Nearby, visitors can find Fort De Soto Park, St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Caladesi Island State Park. The City of Clearwater is one of the big three of Tampa Bay, the other two being Tampa and St Petersburg. It is a lively metropolitan area that has great fishing opportunities, nearby wilderness, and fantastic resort beaches. It is easy for visitors to find the attractions that make them happy in Clearwater.

 Clearwater Color Run video


Other posts you might enjoy:

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach

 

 

To Drive or Not to Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

Posted on: July 6th, 2014 by admin 2 Comments

Facts Travelers Need to Know

Clearwater Beach entranceOne of the most important facts that travelers need to know is how they will get to their destination. We are centrally located on the Florida Gulf Coast, at the heart of Clearwater Beach.  A fair number of visitors who use our vacation rental office drive here from other cities in the United States. A large number also fly in, primarily using Tampa International Airport. Those visitors arrive from both the U.S. and foreign cities. It probably will come as no surprise that our beach is known worldwide as a vacation destination. Clearwater Beach is here to welcome you regardless of where your journey began.

 

Tampa International Airport

The airport, as the name suggests, is located in the neighboring city of Tampa, one of the big three of Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater. The drive from the airport to Clearwater Beach is 21 miles and can take 35 minutes on days when traffic is light. During rush hours or other heavy traffic periods, it is a good idea to plan for a 40 to 60 minute drive. The route takes you across one of the most beautiful stretches of road in our area, known as the Courtney Campbell Causeway. It is a low-lying, man-made land bridge, reaching across the upper portion of Tampa Bay. Visitors arriving via this route are treated to sweeping views of the sparkling blue waters of the famous bay. It is the perfect introduction to our beautiful coastal area.

 

To Walk or Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

Clearwater Beach roadsThe island of Clearwater Beach is only three and a half miles long. The tourist district of Clearwater Beach is even smaller, making it a perfect place for a no-car vacation. You can walk to the beach, restaurants, and gift shops, as well as some of the great attractions, like Pier 60 or the marina to catch a dolphin watching boat tour. While a walking-only vacation is an option, there might be some nearby sites that are just too far for walking. Those include neighboring tourist towns like John’s Pass, Dunedin, and Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, or regional theme parks like Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. For those options, a car is a handy item to have. However, if you do not want to bring your car, or you simply live too far away to drive to Clearwater beach, there are other options for getting around on your beach vacation.

 

Jolly Trolley

Jolly TrolleyThe Jolly Trolley is a great way to get around the coastal communities of our county. It runs from the town of Tarpon Springs in the north, to Sand Key, which is the southern end of the beaches that are part of the City of Clearwater. The Jolly Trolley also heads east, to the town of Safety Harbor, where you can find some fun tourist shops. The trolley is all about tourism, with a fun look and an open air design that allows you to view the sights as you travel. For beach transportation from Belleair Beach down to St Pete Beach, a trolley-style bus will take you using the same pass you purchased for the Jolly Trolley.

 

Day Tripper

daytripper autosDay Tripper provides charter transportation for groups up to twenty to key locations around Tampa Bay. Some of the stops include Tarpons Springs, Dunedin, Downtown St Petersburg, John’s Pass, and Busch Gardens. Day Tripper is familiar with the normal length of stay at the sites visited and is ready to transport you back to where you boarded at the end of your visit.

 

Beach Taxi Services

Taxi services at the beach range from the expected to the unexpected. While you will find normal automobile taxi services, you will also find more unique forms of transportation. Many of the bars, such as Shephards, Brown Boxer, Toucans, Pier 60 House, Shipwreck, and others will give you a ride in a golf cart style taxi. Naturally these services are aimed at clientele. While this might seem limiting, some of them will give you a free drink when you arrive at your destination. Aside from the golf carts, you will also find bicycle taxis during peak times at locations like Clearwater Beach.

 

Getting around your Beach Town

Whether you bring a car on your beach vacation can be matter of choice or circumstances. Having a car for sightseeing is a great idea. However, if you wind up at Clearwater Beach without a car, you can still get around to a surprisingly large variety of tourist destinations.

Clearwater Beach

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Location of Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park

Click map to enlarge

You will find Honeymoon Island State Park on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It is just north of Clearwater Beach and Caladesi Island, both of which are popular tourist destinations. Honeymoon Island is reachable by car thanks to the Dunedin Causeway, which is a popular weekend destination for boaters, fishermen, and those who enjoy a more casual beach experience. The park has a manned entrance gate with a required entry fee of 4-8 dollars depending on the number of people in your car.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Center

Honeymoon Island Nature CenterAny trip to the Honeymoon Island State Park nature trail should begin at the nature center. While the nature center is not at the trailhead, it will give you an idea of what you might find on the island. The rangers are always willing to help, and will answer any questions you have. Mangrove shores Honeymoon IslandYou will find books on the area, dioramas of island wildlife, kid-friendly displays they are allowed to touch, interactive videos, and a display on the island’s history. Outside is an observation deck that overlooks the shallows of St Joseph Sound where you can often observe Honeymoon Island ospreys diving for fish.

 

Honeymoon Island Loop Trail

Honeymoon Island nature trailThe Honeymoon Island nature trail is a 2.5 mile loop, which runs the length of the island’s pine forest. Honeymoon Island has two peninsulas that reach northward. The western arm is mostly beach, while the eastern stretch is forested, with shores covered by mangrove trees. The stretch of water between the two peninsulas is called Pelican Cove. The looping nature trail, which is on the eastern arm of the island, has a number of connectors, allowing hikers to shorten their hike by making smaller loops. Although you will walk through a forested area, the trail will also have lots of sun, so be sure to bring your hat and perhaps some sunscreen. The surface of the trail is sand, sometimes covered with grass or pine needles, but sometimes not. Be sure to use footwear that goes well with soft, sandy terrain. Keep an eye out for the small signs along the nature trail that give you information on island features.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Trail Foliage

Honeymoon Island slash pineThe most prominent plants you will find on the Honeymoon Island nature trail are the tall slash pines. You will also see them as the barren dead trees where the ospreys like to build their nests. The other common trees are palms and mangroves, a staple plants for the Florida Gulf Coast. In the past, the island appeared somewhat dry, with stretches of low foliage where you could see hikers on the other side of the loop trail. Cactus flower FloridaAfter the island received a prescribed burn a few years ago, the plants filled in the spaces that were previously empty. Now a host of the new slash pines are growing, which is one of the main purposes behind prescribed burns. In addition to the trees you will see a seemingly endless variety of other plants, many of them with flowers. During the spring you will also see the prickly pear cacti in bloom.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Trail Wildlife

Florida osprey nestThe most popular feature on the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail are the ospreys. These fishing hawks are expert at catching their meals out on the Gulf of Mexico, in St Joseph Sound, and in Honeymoon Island’s Pelican Cove. You will often see them flying back to their enormous nests with fish in their claws. The grand nests are easy to see because the ospreys most often build them in dead trees. Joining the ospreys on Honeymoon Island are breeding pairs of bald eagles and great horned owls. These latter two, however, are not as easy to spot as the abundant ospreys. Gopher tortoise on Honeymoon IslandIn addition to many types of birds on the island, you will also come across the gopher tortoise, an island inhabitant that is also popular with visitors. Some of the tortoises will make hasty retreats into the island brush while others will calmly watch you walk by. The tortoises and the birds mentioned above are not the only natural inhabitants, so keep your eyes peeled and you will surely discover more wildlife along the Honeymoon Island nature trail.

 

Honeymoon Island Nature Trail Amenities

Picnic area Honeymoon Island State ParkAt the head of the Honeymoon Island nature trail you will find a number of helpful amenities. A small park sits next to a parking lot that never seems to fill up, which is very handy. The small park contains picnic pavilions and a fairly large playground for the kids. You will find a restroom across from the parking lot which also happens to be next to the western trail head of the looping nature trail. If you turn right on path behind the restroom, you will be heading onto the nature trail. If you take the path to the left, it will take you to the famous Honeymoon Island beach. As for that beach, we will let you know more about the other fantastic features of Honeymoon Island State Park in upcoming blogs.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Gulf Coast Bald Eagles

Spoil Your Vacation at Clearwater Beach

Posted on: April 25th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Defining Spoiled

The word spoil has a list of different definitions. While they all follow a common theme, they are not all alike.

The common modern usage of the word spoil means to ruin or degrade, such as

  • 1. A spoiled child, 2. Spoiled fruit, 3. Spoiled plans.

The word spoil comes from an older usage however, originating in the days of attacking and looting cities. It means to loot the valuables from a location, such as a city or town. It is synonymous to despoil, as in

  • 1. Spoils of war, 2. A spoiled city, 3 spoiling enemy villages
great blue heron

Great blue heron on a spoil pile

Another definition comes from the byproducts of construction or mining. Waste materials created from drilling or digging are called spoil. An example would be spoils from a basement excavation being used for landscaping.

  • 1. A large spoil pile

So what does all of that have to do with a Clearwater Beach vacation? Let’s see!

 

Pirate Spoils at Clearwater Beach

Pirate ship

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

Did you know the Florida Gulf Coast has a pirate history? It’s true. Tampa Bay area is no stranger to pirates. In fact, the modern Gasparilla Invasion celebrates a pirate who sailed the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gasparilla treasure, along with some others, is rumored to be hidden along our shores. Many of those pirate spoils, taken from victories over merchant ships, have never been found! Have they sifted down deeper into the sands of the beach? Has the landscape shifted and put the pirate spoils under waters of the Gulf of Mexico? While you walk the sands of the beach on your Florida Gulf Coast vacation, will you inadvertently walk several feet above the long lost treasure of pirate spoils? It’s possible! Rumor has it that, after large storms on the Gulf, coins from pirate conquests might wash up on the shore. None of our guests have discovered pirate treasure yet (that we know of), but it is fun to imagine coming across a coin poking out of the sand.

 

Spoil Islands of Clearwater

Spoil island

View from one island to the next

The harbor that runs between the City of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach is very shallow. Navigating a boat through the waters requires staying within the marked channels or having a sonar to check the depth under your boat. The boating channels that run the length of Clearwater Harbor were created in the 1950’s. The waste material from dredging, called spoil, was dumped in piles at regular intervals. The spoil piles collected vegetation and local wildlife quickly, becoming established islands in a very short time. The islands soon became a playgrounds for local boaters, an attraction the islands maintain to this day. The small islands, wrapped in shallow vegetation or covered with small forests of pines, palms, or oaks, are open to boaters and campers. The spoil islands are property of the State of Florida that has no plans to develop the islands or charge for their use. The islands make great stopovers while cruising the waters of the harbor on a motor boat, kayak, or paddle board. They are great places to relax or walk the shore.  Taking a picnic basket or beach chairs to the islands is a popular past time for those who know this local secret. If you are planning on boating the harbor on your Clearwater Beach vacation, be sure to check them out!

 

Go ahead and spoil your Clearwater Beach vacation

Clearwater BeachWhen we say spoil your Clearwater Beach vacation, we are talking about having fun.

Walking our shores under the Florida sun, you can imagine our pirate history. Is there a pirate chest of gold somewhere beneath your feet? Are the spoils of a pirate raid buried under your vacation rental unit? Will you find pirate gold underneath a seashell on the beach?

While boating our beautiful turquoise harbors, look to one of the tiny spoil islands. The small islands are usually empty, ready for you to land and claim the territory for your own –at least for a little while. Occupying your own island for a few hours of your vacation might give you some fun vacation memories for you to treasure.

So go ahead. It’s okay. Have some fun and spoil your Clearwater Beach vacation.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How to Successfully Use Vacation to Relieve Stress

What Is a Causeway?

What Is a Beach Villa?

 

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

Posted on: April 22nd, 2014 by admin No Comments

Beaches on the move

Clearwater Beach dunes and beachThe beaches along the Florida Gulf Coast are among the best loved beaches in America. The soft white sand is soothing to the feet and glows brightly in the sunshine. The pleasant nature of the sand makes the beaches famous, and the area has become a favorite vacation destination. What visitors to the area might not realize, however, is how much Mother Nature can move around that soft white sands.

 

Effects of Wind and Sea on the Beach

Kiteboarding Clearwater BeachA visit to the beaches of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida will introduce you to the powdery white sands of which we speak. While pushing  your toes through the sands, your feet will tell you how soft the tiny grains are. Some call it “sugar sand” while others compare it to powder. On a day with higher winds, you might feel the sand gently blowing across your ankles. Over time, this can create a considerable effect. In addition to the wind, the weather patterns create different currents offshore. Over time, the effects of wind and water can significantly change the beach landscape.

 

Mangroves and Sand Dunes on the Florida Gulf Coast

Mangrove shores of the Florida Nature CoastWhile you visit the beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast, you will notice two things; mangrove trees and sand dunes. Mangrove trees are easy to identify from their sturdy root systems that lift the trees up over the sand or water. These trees help to clean the water while protecting the shoreline from erosion. While a shore of mangrove trees may not be as appealing to some as a wide-open, sandy beach, the trees are an essential part of the Florida coastline. Mangroves can even withstand the powerful forces of hurricanes, protecting inland areas from many of the storms’ effects. Clearwater Beach sand dunesSand dunes may sometimes block the view of the open sand and sea, but they form an irreplaceable function for the beaches. They store sand for times of greater erosion and help to block the flood waters during storm surges. A beach without dunes is far more vulnerable to erosion than one with a healthy dune system. On your Florida vacation, be sure to treat the mangrove forests and the grasses on the sand dunes with the respect they deserve.

 

History of Shifting Sands on the Florida Gulf Coast

Johns Pass

Johns PassThe most famous story of our changing shoreline comes from a location known as John’s Pass, currently a fun tourist day trip destination. However, the popular boating route and tourist stop of John’s Pass did not always exist. The barrier islands along the coast of what is now Pinellas County continued uninterrupted past the present day channel. According to local history, a storm in 1848 washed away the sands and left an opening in the barrier islands, connecting the Gulf of Mexico and the intra-coastal waterway. The passage is now an essential route for boaters that includes a large drawbridge. Waterfront dining and shops have capitalized on the location, which is a plus for tourists to the Central Gulf Coast.

Dunedin Pass

Clearwater Beach to Caladesi IslandThe second, well-known change in the shoreline was started in 1921 by a hurricane. The water channel known as Dunedin Pass was altered by the storm, and in combination with other forces, caused the sand bar at the north end of Clearwater Beach to migrate northward until the pass closed. It is now possible to walk from Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, although locals have not allowed Caladesi’s status as an independent island to fade.

Three Rooker Bar

sand barAnother unique feature of the local coastal landscape shaped by tidal forces is Three Rooker Bar. This land feature began as a sand bar but now is a tiny island supporting both plant and animal life. Thanks to the quickly changing landscape of Three Rooker Bar, you will find it listed online as both an island and a sand bar, depending on where you look. If the forces that made the sand bar continue, not only will the title of island remain, but the island will continue to grow in size.

 

Florida Gulf Coast has a Tradition of Change

Hurricane Pass Dunedin FloridaThe beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast have a tradition of change. While mankind can and does have an effect on preserving beaches, the landscape will continue to shift. You can experience this process for yourself by visiting the channel that runs between Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island. This passage owes its existence to the hurricane of 1921, thus giving it the name Hurricane Pass. You will find long spits of soft, white sand reaching out toward the passage from both islands. You will also see large, areas of sand just beneath the surface, many of which you can walk on during low tides. If you are lucky enough to return to the beaches year after year, you will notice a marked change at Hurricane Pass. The sands on either side of the boating channel are in constant flux. The shape of the beaches changes visibly, while the sand bars move from one location to another.

 

Gulf Coast Beaches

Palm shadows on the beachYour beach holiday on the shores of Florida’s West Coast will surely be amazing. The beaches are renowned for their soft white sands and wonderful weather. You can choose between a manicured public beach or the wild shores of the less-visited barrier islands. In fact, you can visit both during the same day! Keep in mind that the beaches you walk upon might appear the way they do just for you, right at that moment. The next time you visit, you can then see if you recognize the subtle changes in our beaches. Finding the differences can be entertaining so be sure to bring your camera. It might be fun to add the changing sands of the Central Gulf Coast to the list of beautiful sights you will see on your Florida vacation.

 

 



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