Clearwater, FL. Destination for Your Outward-bound Vacation.

I originally wrote this article for Bucketlistpublications.com where it was published on January 13. It’s a little different from my usual posts, but I have edited it slightly and added many more pictures for your enjoyment. See you in Florida soon 😉 Tiny

——

After having lived on three continents, and traveled the world for more than two decades for work and pleasure, I finally found my own little piece of paradise here on Sand Key, a barrier island on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast.

large trees in Sand key park at clearwater pass
Northern end of Sand Key at Clearwater Pass

Don’t get me wrong, I still travel, but I no longer feel I have to get away. Simply because there’s so much to explore right here in my backyard.  Outdoor activities for every taste, every age and ability.

I’m not going to tell you about all the excellent hotels, restaurants and bars that cater for visitors here. There’s an app or two for that. Instead, I’ve chosen to talk about a few activities and adventures for those who want an active, outdoorsy vacation.

sunset over the Gulf on Sand Key Clearwater FL
Sunset on Sand Key

Beaches. Beaches are of course the main attraction around here. Clearwater Beach offers everything beachgoers could ask for, a beautiful beach and lots of water related activities at the marina across the road – and throngs of company. Shopping and activities on Pier 60 every night at sunset, and lots of watering holes nearby.

Pier 60 Clearwater Beach Florida
Pier 60 and Clearwater Beach

For those who prefer a bit more quiet and space for their beach day, or maybe want to catch a fresh grouper for dinner, the Sand Key Park and beach just over the bridge from Clearwater Beach, will be ideal. It has all the necessary amenities, including food at nearby establishments.

Sand Key beach clearwater florida
Sand Key public beach on a busy day
Miles long Sand Key Beach clearwater fl
Miles of white sandy beach on Sand Key, south of the park

Water sports. Jet skiing is probably the most popular water sport among visitors, and is available both on Clearwater Beach and on Sand key.

summer fun on jet ski clearwater fl
Jet skiing is popular

Kayaking, sailing and  paddle boarding are available at the Community Sailing Center just opposite the Sand Key Park and the beach. They also offer summer camps  and instructional courses where you can learn the basics of sailing or paddle boarding.

summer fun at sailing center sand key clearwater fl
Sailing school
summer fun canoeing 2 720
Kayaking
summer fun 3 at sailing school 712
Paddle boarding

Kite surfing is popular on Sand Key when the winds are right. Parasailing and “sky-surfing” are also on offer for those who have a higher calling, or just seek the big picture.

parasailing in clearwater fl
Parasailing
skysurfing above sand key tinylessonsblog
Skysurfing

Excursions on the water. Clearwater Beach marina is a busy place. That’s where you can book trips on the water. Again, the items on the menu are many. Anything from a Pirate Ship rides with kids, to dolphin tours, dinner cruises or sunset sails.  Going slow or fast.  Your choice.

pirate ship clearwater fl
A pirate ship, fun for kids
summer fun tour boat clearwater fl
Dolphin tours
dinner cruises at sunset from clearwater fl
Dinner cruises
sailboat at sunset clearwater fl
Sunset sailing
Speed boating in clearwater fl
Speed boating

But I’d like to mention one particular experience that all my guests regardless of age have loved, Captain Mike’s Dreamcatcher Explorations. Most tours (private or split between 5-6 people) go to the Three Rooker Bar, a small Barrier Island.

3 rooker bar barrier island
3 Rooker Bar

There is no better way to spend a morning or an afternoon. You can do tube riding and dolphin watching on your way there, fantastic shelling and snorkeling once you reach the island. It’s an untouched paradise, and if you’re lucky a dolphin might come to swim with you there.

tube ride in clearwater fl
Tube rides
anchored on the three rooker bar barrier island off dunedin fl
Anchored at 3 Rooker bar

Three Rooker Bar is also a protected nature preserve, which brings me to my final theme.

Wildlife and hiking. Many visitors enjoy the birds found on Florida shores. And you can watch/photograph many species right in the salt marsh of Sand Key Park, on the beach and on the bay side. I’ve photographed at least 40 different species there, maybe around 10-15 on any given day.

papa osprey is wet after a bath sand key park clearwater fl
A female osprey, wet after a dive
reddish egret sand key park salt marsh clearwater fl
A Reddish Egret

If you want to experience untouched Florida nature and are up for a hike, then I can recommend a visit to Honeymoon Island about 30 minutes north of Clearwater.

Great Egret on Honeymoon island
A Great Egret on Honeymoon Island

And if you are up for a really long hike and the weather is nice, you can walk to Caldesi, a pristine barrier island, on a sand bar all the way from Clearwater. Those who want to just enjoy the beach or hike the nature trail can also reach Caldesi Island by boat from Honeymoon Island.

caladesi island nature trail dunedin florida
Nature trail on Caladesi Island
Beach on Caladesi Island, voted America's best beach a few years ago
Caladesi Island beach, voted America’s best beach a few years ago

Other nature related adventures are offered by Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is the home of Winter, the dolphin from two movies, Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2.  The Aquarium, which is actually a hospital and rehabilitation center for marine animals, also offers excursions on the bay to examine the interesting marine life there.

Here’s to an outdoorsy vacation in the Clearwater area!

48 thoughts on “Clearwater, FL. Destination for Your Outward-bound Vacation.”

    1. Thanks Cindy! We love it here…and I thought I might entice a few more blogging friends to visit, it would be lovely to meet in person 🙂 And yes, the birds are the best!

  1. I loved the photos and suggestions for visiting. I find the same thing with Richmond, Virginia. I may live here, but a lot of people come here to visit. It’s encouraged me to write up my own “backyard” to share with others. They’re interested in it, just like I am in your backyard.

    Nancy

    1. Thanks Nancy. It is so true that we all have interesting things in our backyards. I’ve been visiting with family in the Richmond area a couple of times when we lived up in MD. Very nice!

  2. We vacationed in the Clearwater/St. Petes area many times in my teens. I wish I had known about the nature preserve. Then again, I’m not sure my 16 year old self was as much into nature as current self is. 🙂

    1. I’m sure you are right, 16 olds usually have some other priorities. I had to laugh when I remembered the “I’m totally bored” expression on the face of a girl about that age on Honeymoon Island. She had just arrived with family in the parking lot when I was leaving. She was not particularly looking fwd to seeing the ospreys on the trail…but I hope the birds eventually changed her mind 🙂

    1. This is a good ‘bucket list’ item! The sunsets are gorgeous most days, sometimes deep red, other times orange/golden (like yesterday) and yet other days pink/purple. Please let me know when you come and I’ll take you around ❤

  3. Fantastic post, Tiny. The Gulf Coast is such a mecca for water sports and aerial views.

    One quick fix needed: “After having lived on three continents, and traved the world . . .”

    1. Thanks for the fix Nancy! That was one of my quick edits last night. Took me 3 reads before I saw it 🙂 I think Florida’s west side is somehow less known than the east side (at least among many friends from up north) so I thought I’d write an article that could be seen by people outside the blogging circles too.

  4. Happy you enjoyed my little ‘tour’. A few days here would be an antidote to stress even before retirement 🙂 that’s how I first came here too…xoxo

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