Honeymoon Beach

The name alone suggests perhaps I should try to find a date for this day trip. 

Oh, silly me, I’ve got this covered.  This is a dog friendly beach, and Buddy really is my best friend, hunting “buddy” and a fun date.  What more could I ask for?

So we head north to the highly acclaimed Honeymoon Island State Park.  Wow, it is so close to Clearwater, yet, it’s literally an island at the end of the road, floating out there in the Gulf of Mexico. An amazing 2800 acre park at the top of Florida’s Barrier Reef.  It is known as a haven for shorebirds to nest. 

On the way there, we see signs for Caladesi Island State Park, named the best beach in North America in 2008. What an interesting piece of history there!  Caladesi Island is only accessible by private boat or via the Caladesi Connection ferry service.  Back in the late 1800s one guy, his wife, and daughter homesteaded on the barrier island.  When the wife passed, it was just the father and daughter left.  Years later, Myrtle Scharrer Betz, the daughter, wrote a book about her life on the island, called Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise. 

Now, no one actually lives there.  Today, visitors are allowed on the island for four hours when they arrive on the ferry.  For visitors coming on their own boat, they are allowed to stay docked overnight.  Either way, no dogs are allowed on the island, ever.  That pretty much summed things up for me.

But swimming, shelling and fishing are popular activities there year-round.  You can see Stingray, Osprey, Gopher Tortoise or explore a mangrove-covered kayak trail, which winds from the marina to St. Joseph Sound and back. 

Honeymoon Beach offers hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, picknick and playgrounds, and special areas for beachside events, complete with event planners that can coordinate an entire large scale party down to music food and flowers!  All this, but no camping.  What a shame. With its dog beach, it wins the coin toss for where to spend the day.

The sun is hot, and there is a pretty good wind kicking up.  My arms are full of bags and towels and dog leashes and a big beach umbrella. I’m talking packing gymnastics to pull it all together and head to the water.  The walk is at least a quarter mile of dog chaos.  We get there to discover the dog beach is not remotely similar to the highly acclaimed beautiful beach the park is known for. It’s really somewhat rugged-ugly.  And smelly.  Perhaps we are there at the wrong time of the year?  But, we made the drive, survived the walk, we are here, and we will make a day of it and have fun anyway. 

What a kick to think this island was the result of a contest for newlyweds.  Back in the 1930’s, a developer teamed up with LIFE magazine to launch a contest for newly married couples. Not sure what the contest was about, but winners would be sent to the island for their honeymoon, and be lodged in thatch roof bungalows for a couple weeks.  Eventually the island was named Honeymoon Island.  Ya know, it seems there were a lot of babies born back then….hmmm, what can two young, horny, love struck newlyweds do on a relatively deserted island in a thatch hut for two weeks…..?

Ok, enough of that now…

The kids and I lay around like lazy butts all day, watching people and dogs go by until the sun starts its quick descent toward the water.   Then we get up, pack up and make the long walk back to the car.  Curious about what’s further down the road, I delay leaving the park.  Instead, I find the event building, and café.  With the dogs guarding the truck, I head to the building and grab a beer and an ocean side table on the upper deck.  Ohhh, so HERE is the pristine white sand beach everyone raves about!  Simply stunning beach and view.  Within minutes, I see dolphins jumping and playing in the water right out in front of me and the beach, and the big yellow fireball sun sinking into the ocean. 

What an amazing sight.  How many of the people still roaming the beach down there are on their honeymoon?  Hopefully, many. It’s the perfect ending to a great day.

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