Picture a pristine island beach complete with mangroves, sand dunes, palm trees and—most remarkably—no development. Such a place exists off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of the town of Dunedin and near the city of Clearwater: it’s Caladesi Island. One of the few completely natural islands on the Gulf Coast, Caladesi Island is part of Florida’s park system and is home to a wide variety of activities.
Bask in the sun on the white sand beaches, or search for shells along the water’s edge. Fishing is plentiful, either by boat or off of the shore. Explore the three mile nature trail across the interior and keep an eye out for some of the island’s aviary denizens like sandpipers, blue herons and black skimmers. Paddlers will enjoy the three mile kayak trail through the mangroves and the bay. There is a snack bar and gift shop, plus a few picnic tables and shelters, but despite the modern conveniences, Caladesi Island retains its wild and unspoiled allure.
The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown, year-round. You can access Caladesi Island by boat or by ferry from Honeymoon Island, which travel to the island for a four-hour stay. Ferry fees are $14 for adults and $7 for children ages 6 to 12. Children ages 5 years or younger ride for free. The entry fee for boats is $6 per boat for up to eight people and $2 each additional person. Kayakers are $2 apiece.