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5 Reasons to Visit Caladesi Island State Park

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5 Reasons to Visit Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park

Florida has been a long-time destination favorite among people of all ages and people from all over the world.  With such a diverse choice in beaches it’s no surprise that people flock to the state all year round.  But, if you’re looking for a beach to visit on your next Florida vacation that isn’t overcrowded and overbuilt, then you should definitely check out Caladesi Island State Park.

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island’s beach was named the top beach in the United States in 2008 by Dr. Beach – that’s a pretty amazing title to earn.  The island is a great way to see what Florida was like before all the high-rises, condos, restaurant and shops popped up all over the coastline.  Besides this though, here are 5 reasons to visit Caladesi Island State Park.

1.  Less Crowds

There are only a few ways to get to Caladesi Island – ferry, kayak or private boat – making it not nearly as popular a destination as the nearby Clearwater Beach.

I walked the entire nature trail on the island without even seeing one person and then walked the beach back to the ferry and saw maybe 10 people.  You could easily find your own patch of sand for yourselves.

Caladesi Island State Park

2.  Kayak the Mangroves

One of the things I really wanted to do was the kayak trail on Caladesi Island but I decided I better not sign my grandma up for that.

3.  Easy Hiking on the Nature Trail

Caladesi Island State Park

While most people will hop off the ferry and head straight for the beach, I hopped off and headed straight for the nature trail.  I love the beach, but I’ve never been one that can just lay out on the sand all day.  I have to be moving.

The trail is a very easy 2.5 mile trail that either loops back to the starting point or connects to the beach and you can walk back to the ferry via the beach.  I did the second option and would suggest that as well so you can see a variety of the island.

Caladesi Island State Park

4.  Great Beach for Seashell Hunting

Due to less crowds, Caladesi Island is a great beach to find sea shells.  There really weren’t many patches of sand that didn’t have piles and piles of shells.

5.  Possibility to see Dolphins and other Wildlife

I knew in advance that dolphin sightings were a possibility on the ferry so I had my fingers crossed.  However, after the ferry ride over there and then halfway back showed no signs, I was a bit sad, but then we saw them – three dolphins riding alongside the ferry.

There’s a good possibility of seeing other wildlife on the island including tortoises (which we did!), rattlesnakes, many species of birds and more.

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park

Tips for Visiting Caladesi Island State Park

  • Bring insect repellent! Bring insect repellent! Bring insect repellent! Got it? You won’t need it on the beach, but you WILL need it on the nature trail.
  • You only get four hours on the island if taking the ferry so plan your time wisely.
  • Bring food, drinks, beach equipment, sunscreen, etc.  All is available there but will cost.
  • Beware rattlesnakes on trails (they are common!) and stingrays.

Essential Info for Caladesi Island State Park

  • How to Get Here //
    • Starting from Dunedin, drive north on US 19A to SR 589 (Causeway Blvd); turn left and follow the causeway 2.8 miles to the Honeymoon Island State Park entrance. After you pay your entrance fee, continue along the park road to the first left and park. Take the ferryboat from here.
    • You can also walk to the park, 4 miles north along Clearwater Beach, entering the trail system from the Beach Trail.
    • Or approach on your own by water. Rent a kayak along the causeway and paddle to the docks at Caladesi Island. By boat, from channel marker #14, just west of the Dunedin Causeway Bridge, take an approximate 212 degree heading on your compass for approximately 1 mile and follow the channel markers into the marina.
  • Costs //
    • Entry for Honeymoon Island/Caladesi Island State Parks
      • $8 per car (2-8 passengers).
      • $2 per bicycle, car, or pedestrian.
    • Roundtrip fees for Caladesi Island Ferry.
      • $14 per adult.
      • $7 per child (ages 6-12).
      • Children 5 or under free.
  • Amenities //
    • Cafe, picnic area, playground, showers, restrooms, beach equipment + kayak rentals, nature trail, ranger station.

Have you ever been to Caladesi Island State Park? What are your favorite things to do?

Ashley Hubbard

Ashley Hubbard is a blogger and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. She shares these experiences on her website,

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Pingback: CayPointe Villa - Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

  2. Steph

    Caladesi is my favorite beach! I go as often as I can. Very nice post and great pics. We were just there on Sunday and watched dolphins from the beach! Breathtaking place.

  3. Joe

    Wow, I love little local treasures like these. I’ll put it on the to-do pile.

  4. Timothy

    Caladesi Island State Park was a very relaxing spot with clear water and soft, white beaches. I like the ferry ride from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island a lot, because it was very convenient and enjoyable. The crew on the boat had great personalities and made the trip a lot of fun.

    There is a short walk from the ferry to the beach which passes a snack area, picnic shelters, and restrooms.

    I saw signs warning of rattlesnakes on the island. We did not see any snakes, but we saw lots of birds, dolphins, and even a shark!!

    Great shelling, but didn’t seem to be quite as many shells as the North end of Honeymoon Island.

  5. Marcia

    I visited the island long ago , I loved it not a lot of people on beach, not over crowed, I think I will join. I visit one day again I live in New York.

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