Florida Kayaking: Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island
Our travels along the west coast of Florida have yielded some incredibly beautiful and diverse locations for enjoying a day of kayaking. Our latest search has resulted in yet another wonderful setting just to the north of Tampa. We recently spent a morning traversing the gulf waters from Honeymoon Island over to nearby Caladesi Island. This is a particularly scenic area of the gulf coast and offers great opportunities for island exploring, beachcombing and spotting wildlife. The water is a beautiful shade of turquoise and makes for great photo opportunities.
Honeymoon Island is located in Dunedin and is sandwiched between the communities of Tarpon Springs to the north and Clearwater to the south. Access to the island is by Causeway Boulevard and can be reached via Route 19, Route 1, or Alternate 19. A good portion of the mile long causeway is bordered on both sides by beach with plenty of parking. If you plan on heading out to Caladesi Island you will want to park on the left side of the causeway. We parked when we came to Sail Honeymoon, an outfitter that rents kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and small sailboats. If you are coming with your own kayaks you can still park here and it makes for very easy access to the gulf. There is no fee to park along the causeway. The other great thing about this particular location is that there are bathroom facilities here, which always come in handy.
Once in the water you have about a half mile of gulf to cross before reaching the sandy tip of Caladesi Island. You are crossing Hurricane Pass here, appropriately named after the great hurricane of 1921 split the once single island (Hog Island) into two entities (Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands). Mother Nature has a way of playing give and take and today the pass is gradually narrowing. Perhaps one day the two islands will once again become one? As you cross Hurricane Pass beware of boaters coming through the strait. For the most part the water depth is quite shallow here but there is a channel for boaters so the depth will vary as you make your way to Caladesi Island.
Caladesi Island - Honeymoon Island
Once you reach Caladesi Island you have two choices for which way to explore. The Gulf side of Caladesi Island is a beautiful white sandy beach while the bay side is dotted with inlets of mangrove forest. There is a marked kayak trail you can follow through the mangrove forest, which sounds interesting (next trip), or you can do as we did and head to the sandy beach side of the island. If you have sufficient time you can even choose to explore both sides of the island. As Caladesi Island Beach was recently voted one of the top ten beaches in America and in 2008 was voted America’s best beach we decided to explore the beach side. In addition to its fine white sand the beach is teeming with shells of all sizes and shapes. Once we arrived at the island we simply pulled the kayaks up onto the beach and walked the shoreline looking for shells, taking pictures, and just enjoying the beautiful coastal scenery.
Caladesi Island is only accessible by boat. You can take a ferry from Honeymoon Island should kayaking not be your thing, and the ferry fare includes the state park entry fee. In addition to being one of the most beautiful beaches in the country there are hiking trails, boat docks, a ranger station, a concession stand and of course abundant wildlife viewing.
Of particular interest to visitors may also be the wide variety of wildlife found in this area. It is not uncommon to spot manatee, eagles, osprey, great blue heron, snowy egret and numerous other species of birds and fish along with the occasional dolphin. In addition to Caladesi Island you can also choose to explore Honeymoon Island or any of the other dozen or so islands in the immediate area. There is an active Bald Eagle nest on Honeymoon Island and also a Great Horned Owl nest, which we have seen on past visits. Seeing these two majestic birds in one location is quite an amazing sight. The large Osprey in the photo below graced us with its presence and this is a fairly common site in the area.
Should you wish to explore this area by kayak and need to rent one you can check out Sail Honeymoon, which is located right on the causeway on the left before you reach Honeymoon Island. They are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Their rates are reasonable and in-line with other outfitters in the area. A single kayak rental will run you $30 for two hours, $40 for four hours and $55 for the entire day. They also rent stand up paddle boards and small sail boats.
It is always a good idea to call ahead to check on availability and they can be reached at 727-734-0392. If you are bringing your own kayak(s) and have a trailer it is no problem to drive right onto the beach and back the trailer to the water for easy unloading and loading.
We travel to the west coast of Florida quite often and on each visit we try to find a new kayaking location to explore and report on. There literally are countless opportunities to get out on the water and the coastal scenery and diverse wildlife make this an ideal area to explore both on foot and by kayak.
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© 2016 Bill De Giulio