Transport to and around the area
There are a plethora of ways to get around our small, heavenly island and everything is within easy reach. We’ve listed the best ways to get to and around the Clearwater Beach area below.
Arriving by plane
Clearwater Beach is incredibly well-connected, conveniently served by two international airports.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) is the closest, located in the heart of Tampa Bay just 12 miles (less than 20 km) from Clearwater Beach. This small airport only serves a handful of airlines however, including Allegiant, Sun Country and Sunwing, but don’t let that deter you. If your city doesn’t fly here, your best is to fly into Tampa International Airport (TPA).
This also goes for international travelers flying in from Europe and beyond. There are several carriers flying non-stop from London, and in-direct from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow at very affordable rates. The same goes for Germany, with direct flights from Frankfurt, and in-direct from a multitude of German airports.
Tampa Airport is situated about a 30-minute drive from Clearwater Beach and what a beautiful ride it is.
Further afield, there is of course Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is about 1h 50 minutes’ drive from Clearwater Beach.
If you are planning to hit the parks with your family, a top tip is to book a twin center vacation (or if you are DIY-ing it, an open-jaw plane ticket) where you fly into Orlando International Airport and return from Tampa International Airport.
It is the perfect vacation itinerary. Once the kids have let off some steam in Orlando, you round off your vacation with some well-deserved beach time on the best beach in the U.S. – and one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world – Clearwater Beach.
Getting from/to the airport
Cruise in a convertible
If you are arriving into Tampa Airport, one of our favorite means of transportation is to pick up a convertible and embark on the 30-minute epic ride across not one, but two magnificent bridges. Nothing builds up giddy anticipation like the breezy drive with warm salty air ruffling your hair, flanked by stupefying water vistas on each side. It’s a surefire way to get into vacay mode.
It is worth underscoring that traffic builds up during rush hours and in peak season, particularly during Spring Break, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, and pretty much anytime there is an event happening on the beach. Just allocate some more time for your drive during these times and be patient. You could get a car starting from as little as $57/day over on Kayak.com.
Let someone else drive
If you prefer letting someone else drive (and don’t want to worry about finding a parking spot), grab an Uber. Rides start from around $30 one-way, and is a convenient and hassle-free way of getting from/to the airport coupled with awe-inspiring views.
Getting around Clearwater Beach
Walk (almost) everywhere
Truth is, you don’t really need a car once on Clearwater Beach as everything is so close. The island is only three and a half miles long, and it is highly walkable. Especially the tourist hub, which is centered around the bustling boardwalk, pier and marina.
You can easily reach some of the best restaurants and bars, along with many of the local attractions and gift shops on foot. In fact, a walking-only beach vacation is totally doable, if you don’t plan on venturing to neighboring towns. What’s more, you can actually walk to Caladesi Island State Park from Clearwater Beach.
Plan a day-trip on the Trolley
The San Fran-styled vintage Jolley Trolley is a fun, memorable and hassle-free way to travel around Clearwater Beach, Sand Key and its surrounding areas. It is definitely not the fastest way to get around, but hey, why stress when you are on vacation? The trolley enables you to take in all the sights, (it stops right outside the aquarium for example), and even locals take the occasional trolley.
Take a day-trip into Downtown Clearwater, the charming Dunedin (pronounced Done-E-din) home to loads of artisan breweries, Palm Harbor with its springs and championship golfing, and the curious Greek sponge-enclave of Tarpon Springs. Be sure to check out our local inspired itineraries for the best things to do when visiting any of these destinations.
And if you want to tour the beach communities further south, just jump on the Suncoast Beach Trolley (the shuttle bus equivalent of the Jolley Trolley). It navigates through Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Redington Shores, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach all the way to Pass-a-Grille.
Dodge the traffic and enjoy a ferry-ride
Avoid traffic altogether by grabbing the scenic 10-minute Clearwater Ferry across the bay from Downtown to Clearwater Beach. You’ll arrive relaxed on the island, with the chance of sighting some dolphins along the way. Oh, and you can also park your car free of charge in Downtown.
Rent a boat to enjoy Salt Life
With much of local life centered on or in the water, as an avid boating community with a chock-full selection of water sports available, you’ll be missing out if you don’t rent a boat yourself. Stock your cooler, grab a Pub Sub, and glide peacefully along the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, up to the serene Caladesi, Honeymoon and Three Rooker islands – each a stunning natural treasure in its own right. (The latter of the bunch mainly attracting locals, making for an authentic Salt Life experience.)
Pedal on the stunning trails
Clearwater Beach and its surroundings are extremely bike-friendly, with lots of sidewalks and beautiful trails. A paved bicycle trail lined by mangrove trees runs parallel with the Clearwater Memorial Causeway taking you into Downtown. Here you’ll come across the Pinellas Trail, which stretches from St. Petersburg in the south to Tarpon Springs in the north and is loved by sauntering pedestrians, joggers, bikers and skaters alike.
Our top tip is to rent an electric bike setting out from Dunedin along the trail, heading west onto the Causeway Blvd toward Honeymoon Island. Here you can continue along the Osprey or Pelican Cove Trails and marvel at breathtaking scenery and wildlife sightings.
Get a free local ride
The award-winning Free Beach Ride service has been around since 2009, and is just what it says it is. A free ride to the beach! Serving all Pinellas’ beaches from Clearwater to St. Pete, including some non-local rides, the drivers work for tips only. The ride itself is free. Just call when you are ready to go.
Scoot along in a trike
You’d be forgiven for thinking that these beetle-green, bumper car-like Scoot Coupes are for kids, but you do need a driving license to drive one. These two-person moped trikes are light, easy to navigate and incredibly fun to drive. (Just please resist the urge to bump into other cars.)
You can pick one up from Fun Ride Rentals over at the Hyatt Regency or The Edge Hotel, who also offer Segway-type, self-balancing gliders.
Whiz the tribe around in a golf cart
For those who don’t need to live life in the fast lane, you can also pick up a golf cart over at Fun Ride Rentals. To say that they are fun to drive is a bit of an understatement, and they are loved by both small and big kids.