Caladesi Island, A Local Weekend Getaway
The sun is out, but someone turned down the heat. Never fear; taking local short trips are worth firing up the engines and setting a course for a quick getaway. Exploring and having an adventure doesn’t have to stop when the temperature dips. Throw on a cozy sweatshirt and set the course for a little adventure.
One such easy weekend trip is to Caladesi Island State Park, a barrier island located in the Dunedin and Clearwater area on the Gulf Coast of Florida. This destination is only reachable by private boat or ferry rides and offers a protected state park with loads of activities. The bonus is that right next door is Honeymoon Island which is also an untouched nature adventure.
Taking the inside route through Tampa Bay toward Pinellas Park is more scenic than the Gulf, but it will take longer. Depending on your boat’s speed, you may break up the cruising by staying at a transient slip in St. Petersburg or Tampa Bay, then finish the cruise to the island the next morning.
Alternatively, the next night, you could head to Clearwater to secure a slip at the municipal or private marina. During the shoulder season, the activity should be rather tame. Though, during the summer months, things can get lively near the municipal marina, so you may choose to explore the resort or private marinas for a more peaceful night stay.
Upon arrival at Caladesi Island, you can pull into the dock area where the ferries dock. They charge a daily rate of $6.00 per boat for up to 8 people and $2.00 per extra person. If you plan to stay overnight, call Florida State Parks ahead to book a slip at 800-326-3521 or you can go to their reservation system at!park/10.
A word of caution if your vessel’s draft is more than 4 feet, the channel and the dock area should be avoided. During low tide, depths can be less than 4 feet in that area. Instead, anchor out and then dinghy in, parking at the dock and paying the entry fee.
Caladesi Island offers the best hunting for shells if you are into shelling. With it being a popular shelling destination, there are still plenty of shells for everyone, but to get the best shells, try to get there early. Caladesi Island is the quieter island of the two, but Honeymoon Island also offers a pleasant shelling experience.
Caladesi Island has plenty of other activities to enjoy. Hike along the three miles of trails that take you through the natural and indigenous vegetation where trees like Sabal Palm, Southern Red Cedar, and Oak trees thrive about the salty spray from the sea. If you are a birdwatcher, there are plenty of species to view, and you might even catch a glimpse of the Gopher Tortoises wandering around. Loggerhead turtles have also been spotted leaving crawl marks in the glistening white sand. Also take caution as there are rattlesnakes on the island as a multitude of warning signs state.
Amenities on the island include picnic pavilions, nice bathhouses, and a park concession selling sandwiches, other food, ice, and T-shirts. There are also kayaks available for rent seasonally.
If you haven’t had your fill of untouched island exploring, you can take your tender to neighboring Honeymoon Island and experience its natural splendors. There is also a ferry that goes between the two for a fee, so you can hop aboard as an alternative. For more information about the island, go to the Florida State Parks website at: