Caladesi Island Hiking

5 Things to do at Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park in Florida in Clearwater is a gem of a state park in Clearwater. If you are in the Clearwater or Tampa area, make sure to visit and enjoy what it has to offer!

To get to Caladesi by ferry, you first need to go to Honeymoon Island State Park. Take 586 through Dunedin - you will cross a beautiful causeway that has free beaches on both sides.

Once you pass a few large condos on the right, you will come to the entrance at Honeymoon Island state park.

It costs $8 per vehicle to enter unless you have a Florida annual state park pass (we have one, and it cost $120).

Once in the park, it's just a short drive to the Ferry launch parking lot. When we went, we had to wait about 90 minutes for the noon ferry (the 11 had just sold out). This was in February - the crowds can vary widely throughout the year.

Once you board the ferry, it's a pretty 15-20 minute ride into the harbor at Caladesi Island. Sit back and enjoy the view!


5 Things to do at Caladesi State Park

Take the Ferry to Caladesi State Park

Caladesi Island state park is a little different than many state parks - you cannot reach it by car. So while it's a little more trouble to get there, this also means it will likely be less crowded than most state parks. The only way to the island is by boat. So your options are:

  • Take your own boat - Caladesi has a 108 slip marina that you can use to enjoy the island. When we were there, it was almost empty!
  • Rent a Kayak - Multiple places inside and outside the park are good for renting a kayak, which you can then paddle over to the island. Here is one good one.
  • Take the ferry - This is what we did! You have to enter Honeymoon Island state park, which will cost you $8 unless you have a Florida annual state park pass. The ferry area has ample parking, and run ferries either every 30 minutes or hour depending on the time of day. When we were there the cost was $16 per person, but there is a coupon for a dollar off.

Kayak the Mangroves

You can rent a kayak at the Marina/Cafe for $25 per person. We didn't get a chance to do this yet, but it sounds amazing! Another option is to rent from Sail Honeymoon and paddle over to the island. As of this writing, you can get a 2-man kayak for $60 for all day! If you do go south of the marina, plan to be sitting in the kayak for awhile - there are no areas to beach (it's all mangroves) and some of the currents and waves can get a bit dicey.

Hiking Caladesi Island

The island has a 3.5 mile loop of trails that have a nice mix of mangroves, virgin pines and other flora and fauna native to Florida. When we went in February the hiking conditions were perfect! The trail has a mix of sandy areas and pine needles, and we would rate as very easy (and flat). The trail has routes that dump you out onto the 4 miles of undeveloped beach.


Caladesi Island Hiking

Hang out on the Beach at Caladesi Island State Park

The beach is one of the few in Florida that is truly unspoiled. There is no development anywhere to be seen - just 4 miles of sand and water. There is plenty of seaweed and other ocean stuff that washes up on shore, so don't expect it to look like a groomed resort beach (which is fine by us!).

Most of the people stay near the marina beach, were you can rent umbrellas and beach chairs. Bathroom facilities are also close by on the main beach.

If you go further south, you will easily find areas that have very few people around. Just the perfect place for a quiet day at the beach!

Currently you can walk from Clearwater beach to Caladesi - but it will take you quite a long time, so plan accordingly.

The only downside is it is relatively pricey day - count on $20 per person (before any discount) in fees to get to this beach using the ferry through Honeymoon Island. A decent amount of restrooms are available close to the beach and the marina.

After a long day on Caladesi Island, we suggest you park on the causeway beach right outside of Honeymoon Island. On the south side of the beach you will face Caladesi, right on the water's edge.  From here you can enjoy a beautiful  sunset over Caladesi Island - a great way to end a beautiful day.

Hang out at the Caladesi Island State Park Marina

Not as fun as the beach or hiking, but the marina provides amenities like a gift shop, a ranger station and a small restaurant that serves bar food like chicken fingers and hamburgers. If you have lunch here plan to spend at least $50 for a couple! They do have 108 slips in the marina, so plenty of place if you show up in your boat.


10 Things to do at Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park should be on the top of your list to visit if you're in the Tampa/Clearwater area. The beaches are beautiful, the crowds aren't nearly as bad as the main Clearwater beaches, and there is plenty to do. Probably the best $8 per carload you can spend (or $120 if you want the one year Florida State Park pass).

We have spent a lot of time at this park, so without further ado, here is our:

10 Things to do at Honeymoon Island State Park

Sit on the Honeymoon Island State Park Beach

Clearwater beaches are known for their beauty, and Honeymoon Island delivers. You will love the white fine sand and the deep blue waters. Although not the biggest beach, and some parts are a bit rocky (depending on the tide and how bad the storms have beat it up), it is still a pleasure for chilling on. 

Of course, like most Florida beaches, the crowds are very dependent on the weather and the time of year. For most of the winter, we enjoyed a lot of quiet time on the beach - very few people come to the state park, especially during the week. But once the weather warms up, it can get VERY crowded and a bit crazy. We went on a Sunday at the end of February (first day in the low 80's) and the park was absolutely packed. I guarantee that the main Clearwater beach was even worse!

Walk the Trails

The trails at Honeymoon Island State Park aren't particularly long, but you are rewarded with a tropical environment that is pretty unique. Hitting all the trails on the north side of the island gets you about 3 miles of hiking. One has a loop and goes through the center of the island. The other runs closer to the beach. At the northernmost point of the trail they both dump onto the north side of the beach. The terrain is very flat, and is mostly dirt or sand. It can get pretty muddy if it has been raining, and some areas are tough to pass on a mountain bike due to deep sand.

One thing to absolutely bring is mosquito repellent. We ran into certain areas that were absolutely infested - our legs were covered with more mosquitoes than we ever had seen in our lives! 


north beach access at Honeymoon Island State Park

Eat at the Restaurant

There are actually two small restaurants at Honeymoon Island - pretty basic grills with burgers, hot dogs and chicken fingers. Expect to pay above average prices for this luxury! We would always pack our lunch. Both healthier, and easier on the wallet!

Take the Ferry to Caladesi Island State Park

The only way to Caladesi Island is via the ferry crossing at Honeymoon (unless you have a boat or jet ski!). Check out our article on Caladesi or our video!

Ride a Bike on Honeymoon Island State Park

The park isn't huge, but it has a surprisingly nice paved bike trail throughout. Smooth, wide and well-marked. And if you have a mountain bike, the 3 miles of trails are also accessible by bike. We would rate it as an easy mountain bike trail, with the only challenge being some sandy sections that you might have to walk unless you have fat tires. The trail is smooth enough for rollerblades or roller skates - they did a good job on building it out!

Rent a Kayak

Although not available directly in the state park on the south side of the Island. Also,  just outside of the park is a Kayak rental store called Sail Honeymoon. for about $60 per day you can explore the island from the water! 

Explore the Visitor/Nature Center

The visitor center has a lot of interesting information and is worth the visit. Make sure you go out back and take in the view of the gulf! They maintain a garden of native plants just outside the visitor center, which is a quick informative tour.

Enjoy the Wildlife

A variety of wildlife exists on the island - plan to see a ton of turtles, armadillos, birds and the occasional rattlesnake. Schools of dolphins are often playing right next to the beach.

Bring Your Pet on the Beach

The first section of the beach actually allows pets, which is great for dog lovers!

Watch the Sunset at Honeymoon Island State Park

Almost the entire beach is west-facing, offering some of the best sunsets in Florida! The best ones are when the sky is partly cloudy. The clouds just really make for an amazing show. In our opinion, one of the best places to hang out for the sunset is actually just outside of Honeymoon Island - you can park on the causeway beach right next to the water and put your chair out. Makes it a lot easier to get out of traffic once the sun sets!