We pride ourselves on our award-winning state parks – think white swathes of sugar sand beaches and aquamarine water. And while Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island both deserve a full day each for maximum exploration, we’ve included an optional island-hop for you so you can tick off both in one day if you want!
The oasis-like Honeymoon Island offers 2.5 miles of scenic nature trails with loads of outdoorsy activities combined with top-notch facilities. It is equally popular for its wildlife as well as for sunbathing along with some dreamy sunsets. There’s also a dog-friendly beach here.
When arriving, you want to make sure to park on the northern point of Honeymoon Island – aptly called North Beach. This is the best area to go when you are visiting Honeymoon Island, ideal for trawling the beach for exotic shells.
The pristine Caladesi Island makes for a more secluded – and less rocky – beach destination in comparison, and is consistently voted among the top beaches in the U.S. (no.1 in 2008 in fact). Here, you can get a taste of shipwrecked life in a completely natural environment (with access to some modern amenities, including public restrooms and a small snack bar).
If shelling is your forte, Caladesi has more than 40 shells to discover. Away from the beach, you can also kayak through the mystical mangroves.
A quick recap: Honeymoon Island is easily accessible by car or bike via Dunedin Causeway.
Caladesi Island, on the other hand, is only accessible by ferry, private boat, kayak or by foot. The ferry is the most comfortable way to reach the island. It departs from Honeymoon Island and takes 20 minutes. A round trip is $16/person and includes a 4-hour stay on Caladesi. Keep a lookout for dolphins as you cruise across!
If you don’t mind a bit of a trek, you can also walk it from Clearwater Beach. It is about 2.2 miles from the most northern part of Clearwater Beach. (Just follow Eldorado Ave until it ends and keep walking north.)
Car or bike?
Before getting stuck into it, you want to go ahead and choose your preferred mode of transportation to Honeymoon Island. Are you a beach bum looking forward to spread eagle in the sand with some leisurely strolls tops? Or, are you a nature lover who prefers to pedal around the trails and explore its wildlife? If you are on the fence about this one, you can also just get an electric bike, which is far less sweaty.
What do I need to bring?
Bring along some water, snacks and optional packed lunch. If you run out, there are some food options (sandwiches, fries and beverages) available on either island. You can also rent umbrellas and beach chairs on-site if you don’t have your own. Don’t forget bug spray and sunblock.
Both parks are open daily from 8am to sundown. Ferries run between the islands regularly from 10am to sunset.
Breakfast at Clear Sky Draught Haus (8:30 – 10am)
You’ll start your day in Dunedin with breakfast over at Clear Sky Draught Haus (or just Haus for short). Go for their scrumptious square meal – which is anything but square (two eggs, two pancakes/French toast, one sausage, one bacon, haus potatoes/grits and toast) – choose between a long list of bennies and Mexican breakfast fare, or opt for some crepe-action.
Have you decided to bike it? Head over to Kafe Racer after breakfast, where you will rent bikes for the day.
All set? Hit the Pinellas Trail direction Publix to pick up some subs, water and other sustenance of choice for the day. Then continue on Dunedin Causeway to Honeymoon Island.
Option 1: Honeymoon Island for the day (11am – sundown)
If you are set on Honeymoon Island for the day, you’ll be spoiled for choice with pastimes. You could
- Rent some chairs and umbrellas and set up camp to relax on the beach
- Pick up a kayak at Café Honeymoon to explore the island inlets
- Embark on a scenic nature walk
- Do some birdwatching and keep a lookout for herons, egrets, brown pelicans and bald eagles
- Go casual shelling
- Ride the Osprey and Pelican trails and keep a lookout for sea turtles, armadillos and rattlesnakes. (Don’t worry if you didn’t bring a bike to the island, you can always change your mind and rent one on the spot at The South Beach Pavilion!)
Pick a few activities of your choice and tuck into your Publix sub come lunchtime. Enjoy the salt-spray on your face and a gaze towards the horizon to catch some dolphins off the beach swimming down the shoreline. If you are contemplating the trails, you want to hit them first thing before it gets too hot. We recommend sticking around for sunset, too, for a grand finale!
Option 2: Caladesi Island 4-hour visit & Honeymoon Island sunset
Caladesi Island (11 – 3pm)
If you want to visit Caladesi Island today, it makes sense to start the day there! Upon arrival at Honeymoon Island, catch the relaxing 20-minute ferry over to Caladesi Island straight away. Spend four hours beach-combing, relaxing on the stunning white sand, or rent a kayak to explore the mangroves. Grab for the Publix sub when needed.
Honeymoon Island (3pm – sundown)
Catch the ferry back to Honeymoon Island and spend the rest of your time there until sunset.
Dinner and Drinks at Frenchy’s Outpost (7:30pm – end)
Frenchy’s Output is strategically positioned for anyone returning ravenous after a full day on Honeymoon Island/Caladesi Island, and is the perfect spot to unwind in a casual Key West-style atmosphere accompanied by live music. Sample some local brews and ciders, or hit the rum runner running to cool off at the tiki bar. Tuck into ceviche, coconut shrimp and crabby fries and top it all off with their delicious Key Lime Pie. Game over.
Dinner and Drinks at Lucky Lobster (7:30pm – end)
On your way back home, stop over at Lucky Lobster for some dinner fare. Here you can expect the best of New England style dining – think freshly baked clams, succulent oysters, meaty crab cakes and their famous lobster roll. But there’s also a great selection of non-seafood as well, such as wings, meat and pizza. Top it all off with some fluffy, home-made coconut cream pie. Game over.