Caladesi Island State Park, Florida: The Best Kept Secret in Florida (Local’s Guide)

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Discover the paradise of Caladesi Island State Park in Florida, one of the best-kept secrets in Florida. With pristine beaches, unspoiled nature, and considered one of best beaches in America. This is your one-stop guide, prepared by a local, with all you need to know on how to explore Caladesi Island State Park as the locals do.

Caladesi Island State Park in Florida is one of the best-kept secrets and considered among Florida’s Top things to do. 

In 2018 Caladesi Island was considered one of the Top 10 Beaches in America and for a reason!

Caladesi Island State Park is home to pristine beaches and unspoiled nature, and it is located three miles offshore from Dunedin, just north of Clearwater Beach. It is one of the few undeveloped barrier islands left in the United States, the 600-acres State Park is accessible only by boat or kayak from the Honeymoon Island State Park or the Dunedin Causeway.

After living in different parts of the world and I continue to Pin the Planet t more than 40 countries (and counting), here is the place I have been calling home for the past 15 years of my life.

Yes, I know! I live where people vacation. And now you are about to know everything about this paradise in Florida and learn from a local how to better explore Caladesi Island, State Park. 

I am about to share with you some great tips on how to enjoy this hidden paradise, and its beauty, solitude, and nature just like the locals do. 

I hope you enjoy this guide and safe travels!

Caladesi Island State Park

Where is Caladesi Island State Park, Florida?

Located in the Gulf of Mexico, Caladesi Island State Park is west of Dunedin, Florida, and just north of the very popular Clearwater Beach. Whether you’re wanting to take a short day trip or looking to make it a multi-day camping and hiking expedition, Caladesi State Park is a great choice.

The two islands – Honeymoon Island and Caladesi  Island were once part of a single barrier island, and during the hurricane of 1921, they were split in half, getting the name of Hurricane Pass. It was in the mid-1500s when the Spanish explorers first surveyed this coast. 

Honeymoon Island State Park is connected to the city of  Dunedin on the mainland by a 1.5 mile-long man-made causeway, right to the park entrance, and from there you can take a ferry or rent a kayak and go visit Caladesi Island, State Park.

Combined, both islands have nearly a thousand acres of coastal wilderness to be explored. You can also take a day tour from Orlando with a speed boat

You reach Honeymoon Island State Park via the 2.5 miles long Dunedin Causeway – Use this address on the GPS:  1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698Phone information: 727-469-5918OFFICIAL WEBSITE

To make it easier, Caladesi Island State Park driving distance from the major cities:

⇒ Clearwater: 8.3 miles – 18 min

⇒ Tampa: 29.1 miles – 44 min

⇒ St. Petersburg: 29.2 miles – 44 min

⇒ Orlando: 112.3 miles – 2 hours

⇒ Miami: 294 miles – 4:30 hours

Caladesi Island State Park Overview

Caladesi Island State Park is a wild oasis, with a tranquil shoreline and pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. Located three miles offshore from Dunedin, just north of Clearwater Beach. It is one of the few undeveloped barrier islands left in the United States, the 600-acres State Park is accessible only by boat or kayak.

The beach is the main reason people visit Caladesi Island, it stretches for 4-miles from the North tip of the Island to Dunedin Pass. The beach is pristine, with crystal water, white sands, surrounded by nature, and framed with the blue sky almost all year long. 

This is just an island for you to visit, or spend a nice day with your family or enjoy nature. There is no hotel or restaurants here, but you can find restrooms and even a little place to get snacks.

Caladesi Island State Park

How to visit the Caladesi Island State Park

There are great options of things to do in Caladesi Island State Park, such as 3-miles of nature trails while you can observe several species of birds and the local fauna.

There are also a 3-miles of kayak trails for you to explore the Mangrove Kayak Trail where the water averages only 2 to 5 feet deep and the grass is protected.

Caladesi Island has also rich wildlife and it is also a bird sanctuary, including ospreys, pink roseate spoonbills, eagles, and hundreds of migratory birds. The interior brush is home to rattlesnakes, and you can also find the endangered gopher tortoises and raccoons.

In the clear water, you can spot playful dolphins, horseshoe crabs, life shells, and stingrays. Occasionally manatees, and hundreds of species of fishes, what make this sanctuary a paradise for the local wildlife, and also, for us to visit it.

If you are planning to spend the day, you can bring your own food and enjoy the picnic area with the grill, or you can grab a quick snack at the marina house cafe – offering food, souvenirs, and drinks.

Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park

How to Get to Caladesi Island

There are different ways to get to Caladesi Island, but my favorite, and what I recommend is by bringing your own or renting a kayak at the Dunedin Causeway and paddling to Caladesi island, park your kayak at the shore and explore the island on foot. But here you can find all the details on how to get to Caladesi Island:

Kayak to Caladesi Island

If you have your own kayak, paddleboard, or boat, you can visit Caladesi Island from Honeymoon Island – it is short and easy paddling. If you don’t have your own, you can rent a kayak, stand-up board, or a sailboat on the Dunedin Causeway and it is a short 15 minutes to the island from here.

When you rent your kayak or if you are taking your own, be aware that you will need to cross the boat channel, so make sure you are aware and safe. You can also take your kayak from Honeymoon Island and paddle about 15 minutes to Caladesi Island.

Be aware that you may see some dolphins or even manatees along the way and enjoy nature and the views!

Caladesi Island State Park

Ferry to Caladesi Island

Another option is to take a ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park or even wade over Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach. The ferries begin running at 10:00 a.m. every day, with numerous returns and departures, and you can stay on the island for 4-hours.

The round-trip is $16 per adult and $8 per kid from 6-12 years. You also need to pay the entrance fee to the Honeymoon Island State Park which is between $2 and $4 per adult.

Walking to Caladesi Island

Another alternative to the ferry or kayak is exploring Caladesi Island by walking north on Clearwater Beach. This is not the official way to enter the island, and I haven’t personally done it.

Where Caladesi was once a separate island, a few years ago, sand deposits connected it to Clearwater Beach for over 2 miles.  If you decide to walk, you will need to pass some scratchy trees, and depending on the tides, you will probably need to get in the water.

Note that there’s no public parking at the north end of Clearwater beach, you’ll need to either arrive by bicycle and lock up at a northern beach-access point or walk several miles on the beach. The walking is close to 3-miles and takes approximately 90 minutes. 

Boat to Caladesi Marina

There is no camping at Caladesi Island, but the 108-slip marina is equipped with water and electricity for overnight boat stays. To access by boat from Marker 14 on the Dunedin Causeway Channel, follow the channel markers into the Caladesi Island State Park marina.

Reservations can be made online at ReserveAmerica.com or first-come, first-served in the marina. You will have to pay a $6 entry fee at the marina, and additional charges if you decide to stay overnight.

Guidelines for Caladesi Island State Park

  • BE RESPONSIBLE: First thing first, never forget to be a Responsible Traveler. 
  • HOURS: Hours are 8 AM until sunset, 365 days a year.  
  • PETS: No pets are allowed on the beach.
  • AMENITIES: There is a picnic area, playground, restrooms, a Caladesi Cafe, and showers available on the island. 
  • Swimming, fishing, boating, and fires are allowed in designated areas only. 
  • Fireworks and hunting are prohibited. 
  • Alcoholic beverage consumption is allowed in designated areas only. 
Caladesi Island State Park

Best Accommodations Options Nearby Caladesi Island State Park, FL

If you are planning to visit Caladesi Island State Park and to stay overnight or during the weekend the closest area to stay is in Dunedin, followed by Clearwater –  I have listed the best accommodations options:

honeymon island accommodations

GREAT VALUE IN DUNEDIN

BEYOND THE WALL B& B is an amazing accommodation option with an immaculate room. The location is perfect. Outside of the downtown, but easy walking distance. Breakfast is filling and delicious. Bed and pillows are so comfortable.”

honeymoon islands florida hotel

CLOSEST TO HONEYMOON ISLAND

MERANOVA GUEST INN is located very close to the Dunedin Marina, with an outdoor swimming pool and bar and stunning views. This Bed & Breakfast has continental and a la cart breakfast and rooms with a terrace.

LUXURY OPTION

WYNDHAM GRAND CLEARWATER BEACH is located at the stunning Clearwater Beach and the rooms have an ocean view. Here you can enjoy an amazing outdoor pool with outstanding views.

Caladesi Island State Park

Where to Eat near Caladesi Island, Florida

You can find 2 cafes on Honeymoon Island, and you can buy food and beverage. If you are looking for a nice dinner or a full meal, I have made some recommendations on my favorite restaurants and a close distance from Honeymoon Island:

  • The Cafe Honeymoon – Located directly on the man beach are, inside Honeymoon Island.
  • South Beach Pavillion Cafe – Located south of the main beach and adjacent to the Pet Beach. 
  • Frenchy’s outpost – Outside the Island, but located on the Dunedin Causeway, has great food and atmosphere, with a full bar and the famous Grouper sandwich is to die for. 
  • Casa Tina Mexican – Located in downtown Dunedin, this very authentic Mexican restaurant is one of my favorites, whatever you are a meat lover, vegetarian, or vegan the menu has great options. 
Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi State Park in Florida

Caladesi Island State Park Nearby Things to do

There are plenty of awesome activities to explore around Caladesi Island. You can find great options for a trip with a family, a couple, or solo – there is an adventure for everyone.

Honeymoon Island: It is a must-do if you are visiting Caladesi island, is to spend some time at the next door Honeymoon Island, just kayak there or take the ferry.

Dunedin: It is my favorite town in Tampa Bay Area, and I am sure you will also love this very unique and quaint town featuring Florida’s oldest microbrewery, such as the Dunedin Brewery, and lots of options for great restaurants such as The Living Room, bars, ice cream, and local shops.

Pinellas Trail: With over 25 miles of the rails-to-trails asphalt bike trail covering the entire Pinellas Peninsula runs through Dunedin and closes the Causeway.

Clearwater Beach: The famous white sand and crystal water beach, with great options for restaurants, bars, a waterfront park for the kids, and tons of local shops.

Top Tours for you: In case you are looking for more fun things to do, here are the TOP TOURS I have selected for you:

Clearwater Sunset Celebration Cruise – I have been a couple of times and really enjoyed it. You can sail the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico while enjoying the magnificent sunset. 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium – I just love this place and the rescue work they do, visit some of the famous residents, Winter the dolphin star of the Dolphin Tales.

Tampa Bay CityPass: With this card, you can see Tampa Bay’s top attractions for 9 consecutive days. 

Travel Insurance for your trip

I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance. 

World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers.

Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!

Caladesi Island State Park, FL Conclusion

What a great place I chose to call “home”- the Caladesi Island in Florida is among one of the best State Parks in the U.S. 

If you love nature and are looking for a pristine beach area with options for plenty of other activities to keep everyone happy, I really recommend visiting Caladesi Island State Park and enjoy this hidden-paradise in Florida.  

Don’t forget to include a visit to Honeymoon Island while you are here, you will love your adventure in this piece of paradise.

Here are some further articles you may enjoy:

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