Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island
Caladesi Island  Image: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

If you haven't already been to Caladesi Island and you are thinking of taking a beach vacation, then you might as well start planning your visit. According to many beach experts, Caladesi Island State Park, which encompasses most of the barrier island on which it is found, boasts the best beach in the nation. That's saying quite a lot when you consider all of the great beaches that can be found across the country. The highly esteemed Dr. Beach, a.k.a. Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, is just one beach expert that puts the main Caladesi Island beach in his group of national favorites. You can hardly beat Caladesi Island State Park when it's a quality day at the beach that you're after, which is why so many Clearwater area visitors make it a point to pay it a visit.

There are a few reasons why the main Caladesi Island beach is so highly regarded. For starters, the undeveloped barrier island on which it is found ensures a natural experience that is bound to have you feeling relaxed from the moment you step off the ferry. In addition to being beautiful, Caladesi Island is also tranquil, which is a nice change from the busier pace of life in nearby destinations such as Clearwater, St Petersburg, and Tampa. The soft white sand on this island near Clearwater beckons visitors to take a break for a while and enjoy the warm sea breezes. It's all about relaxation and burning off stress when you visit Caladesi Island, which is just one reason to keep the Caladesi Island hotels in mind when trying to find your ideal Clearwater area accommodations.

In addition to being undeveloped and tranquil, Caladesi Island State Park is also very clean, as one might expect. This has a lot to do with the endless amount of praise that the main Caladesi Island beach receives. The sand quality is about as good as it gets, as is the water quality, thanks to the beach's excellent management. It's understandable if you choose to do little more than relax on the inviting, three-mile beach when visiting Caladesi Island. That's not all that there is to do, however, and you're bound to get hungry at some point. Having a picnic at Caladesi Island State Park is always a good idea, and there are pavilions that are available if you want some shelter while you eat. When you're not eating or relaxing at the beach, you can try some kayaking along a mangrove-shaded trail, do a little fishing, take advantage of the birding opportunities, or go hiking. There are a few distinct habitats on Caladesi Island, which makes general sightseeing extra rewarding.

Part of the charm of visiting Caladesi Island is the trip itself. The island is only accessible by boat, which adds to its romantic appeal, and you can dock at the 108-slip marina if you have your own craft. For those who are taking the ferry over from Honeymoon Island, voyages are offered on the hour. The ferry captain usually offers narrative explanations of some of the sights along the way, which adds to the experience, and you're sure to savor the warm Florida breezes. Unfortunately, you can only stay on the island for four hours if you're taking the ferry over and don't have accommodations. It's a short walk to the main beach once you disembark the ferry, and there's a café near the dock if you want stop for something to eat or drink before you hit the sand.

Top image: rcgtrrz (flickr)

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