Beach Getaways and Places to Paddle on Florida’s Gulf Coast
By Dawn S
Do you desire some fun in the sun? Do you love to be around the water while you’re in Florida? Then here are some perfect beach getaways and places for paddling on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Head Straight For Honeymoon Island In Clearwater
Pick up your Escape campervan at the Orlando depot and begin the 2 hour drive to Honeymoon Island and the Caladesi Island State Park. You will enjoy some awesome paddling, birding, shelling, calm waters, and a couple of the most beautiful white-sand beaches for the perfect getaway and paddling on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Once a single barrier island, a storm separated the Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands in 1921 by a waterway now called “Hurricane Pass.” This channel is a popular spot for fishing. There can be lots of boat traffic on weekends and holidays and strong tidal currents, so be mindful of the tides and weather conditions. Stop and chat with the nice folks at Sail Honeymoon, an outfitter offering stand up paddleboards (SUP), single/tandem kayaks, and small sailboat rentals. They’ll tell you about the best paddling routes!
Paddle Or Take A Ferry Over To Caledesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island is only accessible by boat and has a 3-mile marked paddling trail through mangroves. There is ample free parking and beach access along the causeway, where you can rent kayaks, or you can park and launch from the Honeymoon Island State Park if you have your own boat.
While paddling along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, keep an eye out for turtles, migratory songbirds, wading, and shorebirds. There are plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the sandbars on the island’s shoreline. Look for stingrays, horseshoe crabs, shells, and sand dollars along your way. Don’t miss the Pelican Cove nature trail with its observation decks on Honeymoon Island and the famous Osprey Trail. It’s one of the best places to see the birds and their massive nests while paddling on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Another option is to park your Escape campervan and take the hourly Caladesi Connection ferry from Honeymoon to Caladesi Island.
Spend The Night Camping At Hillsborough River State Park
Hillsborough River State Park is a great place to park in your Escape campervan to rest, enjoy hiking, or do some easy paddling on the quiet shaded river. Ancient cypress trees, limestone rock formations, yellow black-eyed Susans, and giant white and yellow swamp lilies, all line the banks in springtime. Wildlife is abundant here, so look out for wading birds, alligators, raccoons, and “sucker fish,” while peering into the clear water. The class II rapids located upstream are best seen from a walk over the suspension bridge.
This park offers fishing, swimming, and has miles of hiking, biking, and paddling trails, and a campground. It’s only 20-30 minutes from downtown Tampa, and one hour from Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park.
Check Out Nearby Attractions Before Grabbing Something To Eat
While in the area, don’t miss spending an afternoon at Clearwater Beach. Here you can go parasailing, take the kids to the Clearwater Aquarium, visit the Hard Rock Cafe, or tour The Dali – Salvador Dali Museum in St. Pete.
If you get hungry, stop by the Tampa Bay Brewing Company for some outdoor, socially distanced seating, live music, huge portions of good food, and a great beer selection.
Florida is home to some of the best beach getaways and places for paddling on the Gulf Coast. Grab your board, plan your road trip, and book an Escape campervan today.