In need of some R&R? Ready to put your toes in the sand and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the shore? We are so fortunate to live in the sunshine state! We are home to many of the best beaches in the state. In fact, Pinellas County beaches are no strangers to top national awards. Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park and Fort DeSoto named tops by Dr. Beach, USA Today, Trip Advisor, Travel Channel and more.
Pack a picnic and head to one of these fabulous beaches. And don’t miss the extraordinary sunsets as the sun slips slowly into the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
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Known for its 2 1/2 miles of powdery sand and calm, shallow water, Clearwater Beach is a very popular and busy beach. If you are looking for a full-service beach with cabanas, restaurants, water sports and entertainment, then Clearwater Beach is a good choice.
There are always events going on in Clearwater Beach known for its pedestrian-friendly Beach Walk Promenade and lively scene at Pier 60, where sunset is celebrated nightly with live entertainment and a craft market.
Clearwater Beach has garnered many awards in recent years. It was the top ranked US beach according to TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards in 2017 and 2019. This award is based on quantity and quality of traveler reviews and ratings on its site for a 12-month period. Clearwater Beach also cracked the Top 25 beaches in the world list at No. 20. It’s the only beach from Florida to make that list.
Fred Howard Park, Tarpon Springs
Fred Howard Park is a popular beach and nature preserve located on the north end of Tampa Bay’s barrier islands. The park boasts more than a mile of sugary, white sand beaches, picnic areas and grills, walking trails and playgrounds. There is a rental facility that rents paddleboards, kayaks, umbrellas and more.
Nature lovers can look forward to spectacular sunsets as well as occasional dolphin or manatee sightings. The park is also inhabited by other species including gopher tortoises, eagles and several butterfly and shorebird species.
If you’re in the mood for peace and quiet, perhaps a beach without condos and groomed sand, Caladesi Island State Park is a great option. One of the most stunning beaches in an area, shell hunters will appreciate the pickings and nature lovers will find plenty of small critters to watch. There is even a three-mile kayak/canoe trail through the mangroves if you’re feeling adventurous.
Caladesi Island is a nature sanctuary so there are few amenities and it is only reachable by boat. Boats run from the mainland on a daily schedule, check the website for details and fees.
Dr. Beach, one of the world’s top coastal experts, named Caladesi Island the No. 7 beach in the US in 2019.
Located at the southernmost end of St. Pete Beach, Pass-A-Grille is a wide, beautiful beach perfect for sunbathers and sightseers alike. There is ample parking and easy beach access. Fishermen will enjoy the spot to cast a line from the jetties.
Honeymoon Island’s 4-mile expanse of white sand, nature trails and bird observation areas make it popular among families. In fact, the beach area is surrounded by sand bars, so the water never gets too deep, but it’s deep enough to do some snorkeling and splashing. The island offers plenty of amenities including a playground, covered picnic areas, concession stand and the Rotary Nature Center.
Sand Key Park
If you’re searching for a tranquil, family-friendly Tampa Bay beach, explore Sand Key Park just south of Clearwater. This beautiful park is both park and beach offering visitors access to both white sand and a boardwalk and nature trail. If you come at the right time of year, you can observe the sea turtles nesting on the beach. The park offers plenty of parking space, picnic shelters, shower and restroom facilities and a playground for the kids.
St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach truly has something for everyone and was named “One of America’s Top 10 Best Beach Towns for 2013” by Parents magazine. It has white sand beaches and warm Gulf waters. It is more an active beach with beach-side amenities including restaurants, cabana rentals, jet ski rentals and other adventure opportunities.
St. Pete Beach was ranked fourth among US beaches according to TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards in 2017.
Ever wanted to camp on the beach? This is a great spot to do it! Fort De Soto Park, at the tip of Tampa Bay, consists of more than 1,000 acres of preserved land that covers five interconnected islands. The islands are home to wildlife and various eco-systems including beach grasses, mangroves, wetlands, and palm hammocks.
The beaches are consistently listed among the tops in Florida. There is also a calm lagoon protected by sand bars that provides a safe place for little ones to play.
Among the amenities are a historic fort for history buffs, a 7-mile paved trail for biking and walking, two piers where visitors can fish without licenses, a dog park and beach area, a camping area, playgrounds, picnic areas, and kayak and bike rentals.
Ben T Davis
Fronting Tampa Bay and offering one of the first sights of sand for those entering Tampa via Tampa International Airport, this narrow beach is attractively landscaped and stretches along the Courtney Campbell Causeway that connects Tampa with Clearwater. It is one of the few Tampa-side beaches in the area.
This 1,800-acre preserve protects sensitive marine habitats and includes one of the county’s largest undeveloped barrier islands (Shell Key) as well as numerous mangrove islands and expansive sea grass beds. The preserve is only accessible by boat although it is possible to kayak to the island from the Tierra Verde Byway.
Shell Key has been designated as one of the state’s most important areas for shorebird nesting and wintering and it serves as an important study area for these species. Because of this, a central core area for conservation is closed to the public.
There are no restroom facilities on the island.
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