Florida is packed with must-visit vacation destinations—from its abundance of lovely beaches and resort towns to its epic hubs of fun and adventure like Orlando and dynamic cities like Miami, the warm sun, and ocean breezes make the Sunshine State a truly special place to visit.
However there are other natural attractions in Florida that are somewhat off the beaten path; while known and loved by both locals and tourists, they tend to fly under the radar when other, more popular FL spots like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa enter the conversation. And Honeymoon Island is one such place—a beloved state park and bastion for outdoor recreation; scenic beauty; and amazing wildlife viewing that rivals any of Florida’s other exciting and diverse state parks.
About Honeymoon Island
Located less than an hour from Tampa in Dunedin, Florida, Honeymoon Island got its name from a LIFE magazine contest in 1939 for newlyweds—the lucky couple then won a two-week vacation on the island. Accessible via the Dunedin Causeway, Honeymoon is a barrier island and state park with four miles of lovely beaches and plenty of nature trails. The park is also known for its abundance of wildlife; birdwatchers especially flock to Honeymoon Island to scope out a variety of species including eagles and great horned owls. While a popular and much-loved tourist destination, Honeymoon Island is still a peaceful and relaxing spot to soak up the scenery and the warm Florida sun.
- Address: #1 Causeway Blvd. Dunedin, Florida
- Admission Fees: $4/single person vehicle; $8/per vehicle up to 8 people; $2/pedestrians, cyclists. and passengers with Annual Individual Entrance Pass. One hour prior to park closing there is a sunset fee that drops to $4/vehicle
- Hours: 8 AM to sundown, 365 days/year
- Contact: (727)-241-6106
- Dog Friendly: Yes, there is a beach specifically designated as a dog beach; pets must be leashed at all times
- Must-See Attractions: Anclote Key Preserve State Park; Caladesi Island State Park; the Osprey Trail; the Rotary Centennial Nature Center
Outdoor Recreation At Honeymoon Island
Almost 1 million people visit Honeymoon Island annually because of its lovely white sand beaches and its numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. Whether it’s simply sitting back and watching clear blue waves and soaking up the sun, or setting out in a kayak to beautiful St. Joseph sound, there’s something for everyone at this popular and incredibly scenic state park.
- Grab a rod and head to Hurricane Pass, a popular fishing spot on the southern end of the island where visitors can cast their line and reel in snook, trout, redfish, and even sharks
- Take a walk on the two and a half mile Osprey Trail, home to many of the island’s wildlife population; stroll through the undisturbed pine flatwoods and be on the lookout for species like gopher tortoises, raccoons, armadillos, and raccoons. And don't forget those binoculars: Honeymoon Island is home to several species of nesting birds, and many other species also come to feed in the bay and surrounding estuaries
- Get in the water and swim, surf, or kayak
- Pedal around the park on its many paved trails that are perfect for cycling
Head To Caladesi Island State Park
The lovely Caladesi Island State Park is just a ferry ride away and offers visitors additional opportunities for outdoor recreation. One of just a few untouched islands along the Gulf Coast, Caladesi Island is home to a mangrove forest, perfect beaches, and awe-inspiring scenery that’s both peaceful and relaxing. Visitors can also access Caladesi Island with their own boats and kayaks, too. Fees are $6/boat up to 8 people, $2/kayaker. Ferry fees are $16/adult and $8 for children ages 6-12 for a four-hour visit. No pets are allowed on the Caladesi Connection ferry, or on the beach at Caladesi Island
- Caladesi Island is home to a bayside marina ideal for boaters to dock for the day, or anchor for the night at one of their floating docks with electric service and water hookups for campers
- Enjoy the numerous outdoor opportunities at Caladesi including fishing, paddling, shelling, swimming, and picnicking
- Take a hike on one of the island’s many nature trails—the Beach Loop and the Hammock Loop are especially scenic and provide visitors with the opportunity for exploring the park’s diverse flora and fauna
- Head out to the historic Scharrer Homestead. The preserved ruins on this site were once home to Henry Scharrer, who settled here and made Caladesi Island his home for over 40 years
- Grab a bite at Cafe Caladesi, a small restaurant near the ferry dock that serves up casual fare such as burgers and smoothies. There’s also a gift shop nearby for those who want a keepsake of their island trip
- The three-story Caladesi Discovery Center is coming soon and will offer visitors the chance to scope out some amazing views of the surrounding bay from its open-air observation tower; there will also be exhibits where visitors can learn more about the island’s history, diverse wildlife, and many plant species
Florida is home to a number of state parks that are worth checking out on a visit to the Sunshine State—and Honeymoon Island is one of the most beautiful ones around. With more than four miles of pristine beaches; outdoor recreation a-plenty; ferry access to lovely Caladesi Island, and a diverse wildlife population, Honeymoon Island remains, despite its popularity, one of Florida’s most unspoiled gems—a true paradise on the Gulf Coast.