A Beach for Everyone

When it comes to spending a day at the beach in our area, you really can’t go wrong, but it does help to have an idea of what to expect before you head out. Below, we break down a few of our favorite beaches and what makes them unique.

Fred Howard Park Beach: The family favorite

1700 Sunset Dr., Tarpon Springs

Located on the north end of Tampa Bay’s barrier islands, this beach offers shallow water, gentle waves and a clean shoreline, making it ideal for visitors with youngsters in tow. Sea grass beds are great for snorkeling and this is also the perfect spot to give kayaking or paddle boarding a try, with rentals available on site. Light concessions are available – for more food choices, head to nearby Tarpon Springs.

Amenities: Picnic shelters, restrooms, playgrounds, ball fields, on-site parking, kayak/canoe launch, water sport/beach gear rentals, beach showers, lifeguards (March-September)

Honeymoon Island State Park: The nature-lover’s dream

1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin

Located at the western end of the Dunedin Causeway, Honeymoon Island combines the best of hiking and beachgoing. Nature lovers will delight in the island’s three-mile Osprey Trail, which takes you through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests in Florida. Be on the lookout for great horned owls, osprey and eagles nesting. Visit the on-site nature center to learn more about the park’s unique history and natural resources. After your hike, hit the four miles of white sand beach perfect for swimming, fishing and shelling. Note: The North Beach offers a wider, more pristine expanse of white sand beach. Lifeguards are not available, so use caution in the water.

Amenities: Picnic shelters, restrooms, playground, dog beach, concessions, beach showers, beach rentals, nature center, ferry service to Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island State Park: The unspoiled gem

Offshore Island, Dunedin

One of the state’s last undeveloped barrier islands, this three-mile stretch of pristine white sand regularly makes it to the top of the list of America’s best beaches. This is a relaxing spot for swimming, fishing, hiking and kayaking through the mangroves. It is only accessible by boat. Catch the ferry from Honeymoon Island or rent a kayak on the Dunedin Causeway and make the leisurely paddle.

Amenities: Marina with electric and water hookups, snack bar and gift shop, picnic tables, playground, restrooms

Clearwater Beach: The tourist trap

1 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater

If you are wanting to live like a tourist just miles from home, Clearwater has you covered. Hop aboard a dolphin cruise or set sail on Captain Memo’s Pirate Boat. Visit former home of world-famous Winter the Dolphin (may she rest in peace) at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Indulge in five-star dining or settle in to watch the sunset at one of the many beachside restaurants. Grab a little Florida kitsch at the numerous beach shops, and be sure to check out all of the fun happening throughout the summer at Pier 60.

Amenities:  Cabana rentals, water sport/beach gear rental, lifeguards, restrooms, beach showers, covered playground, fishing pier, marina, multiple restaurants and shops

Sand Key Park: The peaceful retreat

1060 Gulf Blvd, Clearwater

Just south of Clearwater Pass, this 95-acre park offers a much more tranquil beach experience than its lively neighbor to the north. Escape the crowds and take a little time to appreciate nature. Endangered sea turtles frequently lay eggs here, and endangered birds can be found nesting and feeding in the rare salt marsh. Two large full-service resorts nearby offer numerous dining options within steps of the park.

Amenities: Cabana rentals, beach wheelchairs, outdoor shower towers, bathhouses, water sport/beach gear rental, lifeguards (March-September), playground, concessions, kayak rentals, trails, dog park

Fort De Soto Park: The something-for-everyone beach

3500 Pinellas Bayway S., St. Petersburg

The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto covers 1,136 acres in a series of five interconnected islands (keys). Enjoy three miles of white sandy beach, paved, paddling and nature trails, ferry service to Egmont Key and a historic fort. With a whopping 15 picnic shelters, this is a great place for large family gatherings. It is also one of the few beaches in the area where you can go camping. And dogs will feel right at home here, too, with their very own park and stretch of beach.

Amenities: Picnic shelters, grills, playgrounds, bike trails, bike and water sport rental, dog park and dog beach, fishing pier, restrooms, lifeguards (March-September), campground, boat ramp, concession stand and souvenir shop, historic fort

Indian Rocks Beach: The easy-access beach

Indian Rocks Beach offers expansive white sand beaches with ample public access without the crowds and commercialism. There are 27 public beach access parks, more than any other Pinellas County barrier island beach town. Parking is also plentiful, as you may park on most city streets for free; just a short walk across Gulf Blvd. will have your toes in the soft sand and warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There are also a number of restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Amenities: Public restrooms are available at three locations within the city; Main Beach Access Park, Kolb Park, and the IRB Nature Preserve/ Dog Park.

 St. Pete Beach: The entertainment mecca

St. Pete Beach frequently makes it to the top of “best beach” lists world-wide, not only because of its white sand beaches and warm Gulf waters, but also because of the ample activity. There are plenty of beach-side amenities including restaurants, Tiki bars, cabana rentals, jet ski rentals and other adventure opportunities. There are also a number of full-service resorts and retro boutique hotels lining the beach, as well as shops along the historic Corey Avenue.

Amenities: Ample parking, restrooms, showers, water fountain, three boardwalks, swimming

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