Tag Archives: vacation

Sand sculpture at Treasure island

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

Sanding Ovation 2014

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

 

Beach Treasures and Cuisine

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

 

Sand Sculpting Contest at Treasure Island Beach

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

 

Sanding Ovation Sand Sculpting Contest Winners

1st Place Winner & People’s Choice Award

Love Never Dies sculpture

Love Never Dies by Jonathan Bouchard

2nd Place Winner

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

3rd Place Winner & Sculptors’ Choice Award

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

 

Treasure Island, Florida

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

 

Sanding Ovation Video

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Super Boat Races 2014 at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

 

Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Discovering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

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

 

Entering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

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

 

Serving up the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

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

 

Chowder Challengers at Pass A Grille

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

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

 

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

 

Choosing the Chowder Challenge Champion

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

 

​Official Winners of the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

The official winners according the official Chowder Challenge Website were:

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

 

Looking forward to the Next Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

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

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

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

John’s Pass

 

Clearwater Beach aerial 2

Accommodations or Flight, Which to Book First

Booking Your Flight First

passenger jetBooking an airline flight first is a good idea. Why? Because if you book your accommodations first you might not find a flight to match it. With airlines running their flights tighter than ever, you need to know that you can get to your destination. Plus, your flight needs to be booked well ahead of time in order to save money.

Does booking a flight first come with risks? Yes it does. You can pay for your flight and wind up not finding the rental you want during the time period allowed for by your round trip tickets. That’s not good. You could wind up far away from the beach or other attraction you intended to enjoy.

 

Booking Your Accommodations First

beach accommodationsBooking accommodations first is also a plan that can work. If you book far enough ahead, it will be easier to get a flight to match. Since popular destinations often take reservations a year or more in advance, you might find airfare tickets with greater ease, given a long enough lead time.

Does booking accommodations first carry a risk? Of course it does. You might wind up with reservations and no flight to go with them. If you get a flight that doesn’t match your reservations, your vacation can be thrown out of sync, forcing you to purchase extra nights where you didn’t intend to stay. Worse still, you might have a shorter flight than your paid accommodations, forcing you to pay for nights you don’t get to enjoy.

 

Make Vacation Flight Plans and Accommodations Match

beach vacationThe solution to synchronizing your flight plan with your accommodations might be easier than you think. You see, popular destinations often set availability on a Saturday to Saturday schedule. During high season especially, vacation rentals in our personal favorite destination, Clearwater Beach, will often only book beach cottages, homes, or condos on a one week, Saturday to Saturday, basis. The majority of problems with booking during peak seasons comes when travelers do not know about the one week restrictions. While you can book hotels for any nights you want, vacation rental homes and condos stick rather rigidly to their weekly schedules, at least during peak times. In case you don’t know, booking a vacation rental for a week is much less expensive than staying at a hotel for seven nights. That means staying in a hotel that was not part of your plans can take a heavy toll on your expenses. As with any hotel or vacation rental, check ins are in the afternoon and check outs are in the morning, so plan your flight accordingly. Put this all together and you might find making your flight and accommodations match much easier.

  • Plan ahead
  • Book your accommodations at least six months to one year before your vacation
  • Have in mind that your vacation accommodations might need to be Saturday to Saturday
  • Book your flight on a Saturday to Saturday schedule
  • Have a plan to fill the hours where flight schedule doesn’t match check in and check out times, especially for families with young children

Clearwater Beach accommodationsIf you schedule your flight and accommodations to match a standard one week stay, and you book far enough into the future, your job becomes easier. Even here in our vacation rental office, we had to agree that booking a flight first is probably the best plan of action, due to the sometimes-volatile nature of flight reservations. Understanding the vacation rental field before you book is advantageous. Call ahead or use the Internet to get a feel for the accommodations at your destination. We suggest Clearwater Beach!

Study your destination, understand booking dates, and plan ahead. With your research done, you can book your flight and accommodations like a pro.

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

To Drive or Not to Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

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

 

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach MarinaClearwater Marina enjoys a central location on Clearwater Beach, adjacent to the roundabout at the entrance and across the street from the beach and Pier 60. It is home to a fair number of private boats and yachts but also an extensive collection of tour boats and fishing charters. On ordinary days, you will see visitors gathered along the sidewalks that run the length of docks. The number of opportunities to get out onto Clearwater Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico is surprising. If you are considering spending a vacation at Clearwater Beach without an excursion out onto the water, you should think again. The Clearwater Beach Marina is a perfect place to create treasured vacation memories.

 

Things to Do at Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina jet skisAt first glance, the Clearwater Beach Marina has two things, tour boats and fishing charters, but if you look deeper, you will find more. In the lineup of tour boats you will discover a wide variety of choices. The docks provide pirate cruises, dolphin sighting tours, giant cigar speedboat tours, party cruises, sunset cruises, and dinner cruises. The fishing charter choice offer a wide range of choices too. Charters run either half day or full day, run to our shoreline reefs or out to the deeps of the gulf, use small private boats or large multi-passenger vessels. With smaller charters, you can even request certain types of fish, and, if possible, the captain will take you to where they are found.

In addition to the passenger and charter vessels, you will also find a host of other watercraft available. The Clearwater Marina vendors rent jet skis, speed boats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards. Scuba excursions, parasailing boats, and sailboat charters also set off from the docks of the marina. You can even charter a boat to take you sightseeing or shelling on Clearwater Harbor or Clearwater area beaches and barrier islands.

 

 

Clearwater Beach Marina Experience

Clearwater Beach cruiseIncluding the Clearwater Beach Marina experience in your vacation plans is a good idea. Boating adds a dynamic dimension to your stay.

You will find the Clearwater Harbor and Gulf of Mexico tours offer more than you would expect. The smaller tour boats will always have a cooler on board, many with alcohol. You will also find the boat crews are very hospitable, allowing you to bring your own drinks and store them in their coolers. Some boat crews will give informative talks about the Clearwater Beach area. There is usually a photo op available on the docks via the tour company too.

Clearwater Beach fishing charterFor those who love fishing, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are renowned. Some of the best tasting fish in the world come from our waters, and casting a line to catch them is fun. Whether you like the relaxation of being out on the water or the excitement of reeling in a great catch, the Gulf of Mexico will satisfy.

Some of the tour boats offer a fun atmosphere with music, like the Tropics Boat Tours, the Calypso Queen, or the pirate ship, Captain Memo, which is a favorite for kids. The dolphin sighting tour guides usually right were the dolphins are, helping to make your ride memorable. Dolphin sighting Clearwater BeachBe sure to take your camera because the dolphins love to play in the wakes of boats, giving you ample opportunity to make them part of your vacation photo collection.

All of the tours are enjoyable, some of them exciting. Whatever type of excursion you choose, you will probably come away with more than you expected.

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

 

beach road

To Drive or Not to Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

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

Clearwater Beach crosswalk

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Walking the Tourist District of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach causewayOne of the great things about Clearwater Beach is that you might be able to spend the length of your vacation without using your car. Your on-foot beach vacation can include going to the beach, dining, nights at Pier 60, all the shopping Clearwater Beach has to offer, and even some famous area attractions. The entire island is only three and a half miles long and much of that is residential. The tourism area of Clearwater Beach is approximately 1.5 miles long.  Your walk could be much shorter, depending on where you start. From the central roundabout, the tourist district reaches half a mile north and one mile south. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter the dolphin, is a one mile walk. If you enjoy walking, or don’t want to bother with your car, then you will surely enjoy a vacation at Clearwater Beach.

 

Where to Walk on Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Mandalay AveAt the north end of the tourist district of Clearwater Beach you will find a perfect area to lie out on beach right alongside of some great restaurants. Just south of that you will encounter the shopping area of Mandalay Avenue, which is almost like a large outdoor mall. Of course, this ‘mall’ has a road down its center! Lining both sides of the street are clothing, souvenir and surf shops, as well as a very good selection of restaurants ranging from simple diners up to the high-end hotel resort restaurant inside the Sandpearl Hotel. There are also a number of very nice bistros. At the center of the beach is the roundabout, Pier 60, and the Clearwater Beach Marina. Pier 60 is the home of the nightly Sunset Festival. At the marina you can catch a fishing charter, a harbor cruise, sunset cruise, dinner cruise, dolphin sighting tour, or you can rent a watercraft to tour the harbor on your own. Clearwater BeachThe south end of Clearwater Beach has the long, beachfront walkway known as Beach Walk. There you will find more great restaurants, bars, and another hotel resort restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. South Beach district of Clearwater Beach also has miniature golf, bike rentals, and the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, where you can get more information on the area. All told, it would take longer than most vacations last to visit each gift shop and dine at every restaurant on Clearwater Beach.

 

Clearwater Beach Pedestrian Safety

Clearwater BeachWhile walking the beaches and sidewalks of Clearwater Beach, visiting the shops, and dining at the many restaurants, you will want to keep your mind on safety. At times, the pedestrian traffic at the beach can be quite heavy. While that contributes to a fun beach resort atmosphere, it also means that pedestrians and motorists need to be mindful of one another.

Crosswalks and Traffic Lights at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater BeachWhile the freedom of walking the fun tourist district of Clearwater Beach cannot be denied, it should not be done carelessly. Both motorists and pedestrians have rules for safety to follow. First, and most importantly, are the rules for motorists. Driving more than 25 miles an hour at the beach is flirting with disaster. While not getting a ticket is one good reason not to speed, the real purpose is to protect people on foot.

Stop for Pedestrians at Clearwater Beach Crosswalks

Clearwater BeachMotorists visiting Clearwater Beach need to know that stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks is the law in Florida. That means if you see a pedestrian on the sidewalk waiting to cross the road, you need to stop your car and let them go. Not doing so can get you a ticket, which is a vacation memory you don’t need. Responsibility also lies with pedestrians. Be careful at crosswalks. Not everyone knows they need to stop! Wait until you are sure the motorist knows you are crossing and has stopped.

Clearwater Beach Crossing Lights

Clearwater Beach crosswalkClearwater Beach has a crossing light for pedestrians. Cars need to stop for these lights but so do the pedestrians! Crossing against this light on foot can be dangerous. The same is true for the standard crossings at intersections with traffic lights. While it might seem safe to cross against the signal, the curves of the road and the landscaping at Clearwater Beach can often hide automobiles from view. Cars can surprise you more often than you would imagine while you are right in the middle of the street.

Walking and Driving Clearwater Beach at Night

Clearwater Beach at nightNighttime at Clearwater Beach is a time for even greater caution. Fun on vacation can include getting a little tipsy for some. At night, more so than in the daytime, people will cross the road at random spots. This is jay walking and should not be done, but since it is common, motorists need to keep a sharp eye out for pedestrians. You should slow and stop your car for someone crossing the street at Clearwater Beach no matter where they cross.

Rules of the Road at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach roundaboutWhile navigating Clearwater Beach, realize that the roundabout is meant for cars. While you will see something that looks like a sidewalk out at the center of the roundabout, it is not meant for pedestrians. Crossing into the center of this traffic circle is not safe on foot and should not be done. You should also know that at the small bridge leading into Clearwater Beach, you will find a pedestrian underpass that provides a very safe crossing. Motorists should always give bicyclists three feet of space when passing them. It is the law to do so in Florida. For a safe ride along the causeway to Clearwater Beach, use the bike path that runs along the waterfront.

Walking the Streets of Clearwater Beach

Walking the streets of Clearwater Beach is fun. The strolls up and down the gift shops and restaurants can create some fond vacation memories. Just stay alert and know the rules, and your journey through the treasures of Clearwater Beach will be one to remember.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

Top 7 Walks at Clearwater Beach

Secret Caladesi Island Shell Tree

 

 

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

 

Florida Gulf Coast osprey

Exploring the Honeymoon Island Nature Trail

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.

 

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Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Gulf Coast Bald Eagles