Florida: Honeymoon Island the best secret in Florida
Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island are considered among the best-kept secrets and prettiest islands in Florida.
Here is the place I have been calling home for the past 14 years of my life – if you want to meet me, just visit Honey Moon Island on Sunday morning.
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 Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Parks.
Besides the sweet and romantic name, Honeymoon Island is a great place to visit not only for couples but also for families and outdoor adventure lovers, and Caladesi Island is a paradise that was elected the U.S. number beach in 2008.
Honeymoon Island is also the favorite place in the world for Pingo and Cooper, my dogs. Yes! There is an amazing dog beach here!
This paradise in Florida is a natural barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, with 4-miles of pristine beaches with white sand, and it offers natural trails and abundant wildlife.
I am about to share with you some great tips on how to enjoy Honeymoon Island State Park’s beauty, solitude, and nature as the locals do.
I hope you enjoy this guide and safe travels!
BONUS RESOURCES: In this guide you can find all the best tips and practical information you need to visit the Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island in Florida. At the end you can find a bonus section for all the RESOURCES you need to plan and book your trip, and to make your experience as easy, safe and fun as possible.
Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island - PIN IT FOR LATER!
Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island - Orientation and Map
The 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 the Caladesi Island State Park.
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.
Combined, both islands have nearly a thousand acres of coastal wilderness to be explored.
You reach to Honeymoon Island State Park via the 2.5 miles long Dunedin Causeway
To make it easier, Honeymoon 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
How to Explore Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island has access from the mainland, just over the Dunedin Causeway. It is actually my favorite place to enjoy the beaches around the Clearwater area, as it is less touristy and it offers a large variety of activities, besides, of course, amazing and pristine beaches to enjoy. Check it out some of the many activities you can do in Honeymoon Island State Park:
Go hiking on Honeymoon Island State Park
There is a great hiking trail in Honeymoon Island, the Osprey Trail. You can hike for 2.5 miles of walking while observing some of the local nature, such as birds, owls, racoons and also one of the few remaining South Florida virgin slash pine along the way. I highly recommend you to have tons of bug spray with you, as the mosquitoes on this trail are the largest and hungriest I’ve ever seen.
Paddling and explore the sorrundings
You are allowed to bring your own kayak or paddleboard to the Honeymoon Island. Explore the shore of the island, or you can also go to Caladesi Island on a short distance paddling. If you don’t have your own, you can rent it easily at the Dunedin Causeway.
Bicycling in Honeymoon Island
You can explore the Honeymoon Island by bicycle, riding on great paved trails throughout the island. Please note that helmets are highly recommended for cyclists. If you don’t have your own, you can rent a bicycle
There is a picnic area inside the Honeymoon Island State Park, located on the Northern end of the island. You can find picnic tables, 2 covered pavilions, restrooms, and barbecue grills. There is a playground area next to the picnic area.
There are no big waves at all because it is the gulf, but surfing is allowed in the park, and depending on the conditions a good spot is at the North end of the Island, by Bathhouse 3.
Swimming in Honeymoon Island
Honeymoon Island has approximately 4-miles of shoreline and if you are a beach lover, you will find a variety of areas designated for swimming on the main beach, a pet beach on the South end, and a great shelling and walking on the North end, which turns into a sand spit. You will need to pay attention to the Warning flags signs posted at the welcome station and on the beaches, as these flags indicate the swimming conditions at the beach.
Visit the Rotary Centennial Nature Center
The center has a great viewing deck that looks out over Saint Joseph Sound and is a wonderful observation spot to watch the birds at low tide as they come in to feed. The staff on hand at the center are very knowledgeable and can give you whatever information you are looking for on the animal and plant species that are found on the island. Ranger-led walks are also available, and you can inquire in the nature center for availability and schedules.
Walking and Running
One of my favorite outdoor activities is to go for a run, or walk my dogs on the Dundedin Cawsway all the way to the Honeymoon island. You can also run or take your dog on the Osprey Trail and four miles of beach.
Honeymoon Island State Park is home to many actively nesting birds including osprey, oystercatchers, snowy plovers, and least terns. Roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and many other species are often observed feeding in the bay, beaches, and estuaries surrounding the park. Gopher tortoises and armadillos can be found in the picnic area and along the nature trail. It is also common to see dolphins and don’t be surprised if you see a manatee very close to the shore.
Watch the sunset at Honeymoon Island
If you are visiting the area, it is worth it to come to the Honeymoon island to watch the sunset, it is just another fantastic thing to do while you are in the area. The sunsets at Honeymoon Island are as epic as any you’ll find on Florida’s Gulf Coast – pinks, purples, blues, and oranges swell and fade like breathing watercolors as the blazing ball of sun descends.
How to get to Honeymoon Islands
You reach to Honeymoon Island State Park via the 2.5 miles long Dunedin Causeway. The causeway offers scenic views of St. Joseph Sound and there is free parking all long it. It is also a popular place where the locals enjoy fishing, exercise, and to launch a jet-ski or kayaks.
BICYCLE: You can rent a bicycle and take the Pinellas Trail all the way to Honeymoon Island. You can spend the day exploring the Island, riding on paved trails.
WALKING: The Dunedin Causeway is also a very popular place to go for jogging, run or walk your dog
DRIVING: Honeymoon island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and it can be reached by taking SR 586 from Dunedin across the causeway out to the island. Dunedin is located about 25- minutes north of Clearwater Beach in the Tampa Bay area on Florida’s west coast.
Honeymoon Island Beaches
MAIN BEACH: This is the most popular beach on Honeymoon Island and it is very rocky and is popular for shelling. From this beach, you can look across Hurricane pass and see Caladesi Island and Clearwater Beach.
NORTH BEACH: Further north of the island the beach turns to a white sand beach again. The furthest northern beach access is where all the rubble is–leftover from a failed attempt to enlarge the island back in the 1950s. The material that was dredged up and dumped on the shoreline contained large amounts of limestone rubble. They cover up the rubble with sand every now and then, but it soon washes away.
PET BEACH: This is my favorite place in the world – Pingo and Cooper agree with me. They have their own beach at Honeymoon Island, and it sounds like heaven on earth to spend time with my puppies at this gorgeous place. This is the most beautiful beach on Honeymoon Island in my opinion, and it is nearly empty too.
You can also get married at the Honeymoon Island
You can also get married at Honeymoon Island – and what a beautiful place for this to tying the knot!
Weddings are a regular thing on Honeymoon Island; we can see often signs guiding guests to the right ceremony or chairs being set up for the event. You may even catch one in progress during your visit to Honeymoon island!
How to Explore Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island is a wild oasis, with a tranquil shoreline and pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
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, cristal 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 enjoying nature. There is no hotel or restaurants here, but you can find restrooms and even a little place to get snacks.
This well-preserved island has 3-miles of nature trails and 3-miles of kayak trail for you to explore the mangrove forest 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.
How to get to Caladesi Island
There are different ways to get to Caladesi Island, but my favorite, and what I recommend is by kayak.
KAYAK: If you have your own kayak, paddleboard, or boat, you can visit Caladesi Island from Honeymoon Island – it is a 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.
FERRY: Another option is to take a ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park or even wade over the 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.
WALKING: Another alternative to the ferry or kayak is exploring Caladesi Island by walking north on Clearwater Beach. Where Caladesi was once a separate island, a few years ago, sand deposits connected it to Clearwater Beach. 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: 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.
Caladesi Island State Park Guidelines
- First thing first, never forget to be a Responsible Traveler.
- Hours are 8 AM until sunset, 365 days a year.
- No pets are allowed on the beach.
- 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 Kayak rentals are available.
- There is a picnic area, playground, restrooms, a Caladesi Cafe, and showers available on the island.
Final thoughts on a trip to Ten Thousand Islands in Florida
What a great place I chose to call “home”- Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island are 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 Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island and enjoy this paradise in Florida.
I hope you find this guide helpful, and don’t forget to check the Resources section below to make your trip to Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island easy, fun, and safe.
And don’t forget the most important ingredient for any trip through Honeymoon Island and Caladesi island – a spirit of adventure.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT HONEYMOON ISLAND:
- Honeymoon Island State Park location: Causeway Boulevard – Dunedin, Florida 34698 – (727) 469-5942
- Hours: The Honeymoon Island State Park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset, 365 days a year
- Entry Fees: There is a $8 per vehicle or $4 for single occupant vehicle and $2 for bicycle
- Picnic Pavilion Rental: $30 per day, plus tax
- Parking: It has a very ample parking and there is no additional fee
- Asset: Bathrooms and a cafe inside the park, they serve meals from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they offer beer, wine and other beverages. I recommend a pancake breakfast that are served on Saturdays and Sundays from 8-10:30 a.m.
- Alcohol: It is not allowed, but you can purchase at the Cafe Honeymoon
- Pets: It is allowed at the Pet Beach, but dogs must be on a 6-foot leash.
- Showers: Located near the boardwalks leading out to the main beach areas.
- Accessible Amenities: These amenities include elevated boardwalks to the beach and beach wheelchairs available for free.
WHERE TO EAT AT HONEYMOON ISLAND
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 at 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.
FLORIDA GUIDE BOOK
Prepare in advance for your trip. Here are some of the excellent guide books that can help you to helped me to prepare for your trip to Ten Thousand Islands:
WHERE TO STAY AROUND HONEYMOON ISLAND
There is no option for accommodations inside the Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island. But is just a short distance driving from Clearwater or Dunedin. Here are my top choices for accommodations for you:
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR YOUR TRIPS
Considering that anything can go wrong with any trip, we don’t want to risk the fun, right? Risks are of breaking down, loosing your luggage, or even worse, having an accident and get injured.
I recommend and also use reliable insurance through World Nomads. You can just do a quick quote below, and you will be surprised to find out how little it can cost, for the benefit you will get.
If you are planning to rent a car for your road trip in Florida, I recommend to request a quote from a reliable source and compare the prices from different car rentals available.
BEST TOUR OPTIONS AROUND HONEYMOON ISLAND
There are plenty of awesome activities to explore around Honeymoon Island. You can find great options for a trip with a family, a couple, or solo – there is an adventure for everyone. Check my top pick 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 resident, Winter the dolphin star of the Dolphin Tales.
Tampa Bay CityPass: With this card, you can see Tampa Bay top attractions for 9 consecutive days.