Fun, food, and adventure on Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands
Honeymoon Island is one of three barrier islands on Florida’s Suncoast, between Clearwater and Tarpon Springs. It’s the most visited island due to its convenient road access. Caladesi Island is nearby; visits to Caladesi are made via ferry from Honeymoon Island or by private boat. Both islands have much to offer and the beach services and amenities are exceptional.
Things to do on Honeymoon Island
Depending on how much activity you like, there are a wide variety of options.
- Rent a beach cruiser or surrey (a covered 4-wheeled bike that seats up to 4 people) There are two paved trails to choose from. You can also get to Honeymoon Island on your bike via the causeway.
- Do a little bird watching for osprey, eagles, and great horned owls on Osprey or Pelican Cove trails.
- Paddle around on a kayak. Single and double kayaks are available for rent by the hour. If you’re new to the sport, try a little shallow water kayaking, and be sure someone takes a photo of you. If you don’t have proof, you didn’t really do it, right?
- Hang out on the beach and just chillax. There are umbrellas and chairs to rent. You don’t have to lug anything if you don’t want to; it’s all conveniently close to hand.
- Bring your pooch to Dog Beach. Not many beaches allow dogs but at this one, dogs have their own beach! It’s a designated beach at the southern tip of Honeymoon Island. The walk from the parking lot is about 500 yards. Dog Beach has a shallow water area where dogs can cool off and they are allowed on the pet beach and the nature trail. There are also two dog wash areas to rinse the salt off after water play. One important point, dogs are required to be on a six foot leash at all times and no ‘deposits’ can be left behind if you know what I mean.
Fees to park on Honeymoon for the day are $8. All rentals for bikes, kayaks, beach chairs, and umbrellas are made at the cafes.
Things to do on Caladesi Island
Caladesi Island voted America’s best beach, is about 3 miles from Honeymoon Island. Unless you have your own boat, you’ll be taking a 20-minute ferry ride from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi. On the way there, the ferry captain will share the history of the island, point out dolphins, and tell you about Hurricane Pass and how the islands became two instead of one. If you arrive by ferry, note that you must be back at the dock in time to get the ferry back. Day visitors must leave before sundown. Consult the Honeymoon/Caladesi website for hours of operation for the ferry to Caladesi. Once there, you’ve got plenty of options to enjoy the day.
- Take the Mangrove Trail Adventure on a kayak. This is an approximately three mile self-guided tour through shady mangrove trees. Once you start on the main trail, you can paddle in two directions. The longer route takes 1.5 hours from start to finish and the shorter route is one hour. Both return to the same point. Tandem kayaks are $70 per hour; single is $35 per hour. Your rental includes the kayak and paddle, a life vest and a whistle. There is a short briefing by the park ranger and off you go on your adventure. The start of the mangrove trail is very close to the kayak starting point. There is very little wind at this part of the island where kayaks start off, which makes for an easy kayaking experience.
- Walk the nature trail among the slash pine and live oak trees. There are remains of the Scharrer Homestead, built in the 1880s, on the trail.
- Go shelling on the beach. The sand is soft and white and the current is gentle. It’s a perfect beach for exploring.
- Swim the calm waters. If you’re lucky, you might see a dolphin swimming alongside you! After your swim, relax under a beach chair and umbrella, available for rent from the cafe.
- Have a cold drink and a delicious cooked-to-order meal at the Caladesi cafe. The views are spectacular!
All rentals are transacted at the cafe.
Take a private boat to Caladesi
If you boat up to Caladesi, you will go to the east side of the island, which is sheltered by vegetation and protected from the wind. Overnight docking is permitted but boaters must register to do that at the marina before sundown. You can stay docked on Caladesi for up to 2 weeks, but you must make reservations and payment to the state park for that experience. Docking is inside the island, through the mangrove trees. There is a marina and ranger station there. Note that if you plan to dock your boat for the maximum time, you will also be sleeping on the boat, not on the beach. They are 108 slips at the marina.
Food is good on both islands
Regardless of which island you select, the food at each of the three cafes (two on Honeymoon Island and one on Caladesi Island), is freshly prepared and good! The cheeseburgers are made with high-quality beef and served on a buttered, toasted bun. Sandwiches are also buttered and grilled, even the hotdog bun! All food is made fresh to order. There’s a crispy shrimp basket, chicken nuggets, grilled chicken sandwich, and more. The selection of beverages is impressive, too, and includes a variety of juices, soft drinks, local beers as well as popular favorites. Top your meal off with a chilly ice cream treat from the selection on hand. The menu options are impressive for beach cafes.
Cafe locations are convenient. On Honeymoon Island, you can eat at the Honeymoon Cafe on the north end of the island, or the South Beach Pavilion cafe, which also doubles as a wedding reception spot for the many weddings held at Honeymoon Island. Honeymoon Cafe has covered outdoor dining facing the beach. South Beach Pavilion has views of the beach on one side and is close to parking.
Cafe Caladesi’s cafe has the same menu selection and outstanding views, and is close to the marina.
Oh no, I forgot something!
Don’t worry about what got left behind. Each cafe (on both islands), has a beach store that carries sunblock and t-shirts, performance t-shirts for sun, hoodies, sunglasses, and beach toys. There are souvenirs, of course, to commemorate your visit to the islands and a great selection of Christmas ornaments year-round. Drinks and snacks are available to go and there’s even snorkeling equipment for kids available for purchase.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go to the beach!