Build sandcastles beneath blue skies, scan the sands for shells or sharks’ teeth, cast a line out in the surf and complete the day with a romantic evening stroll while watching the sun sink beneath the Gulf of Mexico. If any of this sounds tempting, check out these area beaches.
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Accessible by private boat or by the Caladesi Connection ferry service from Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi is one of the few unspoiled natural islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast. In addition to swimming, sunbathing and shelling, visitors can enjoy a three-mile nature trail or a glide through mangroves along the three-mile kayak trail.
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This 95-acre park rests on a barrier island just south of Clearwater Pass. More tranquil than neighboring Clearwater Beach, visitors will find cabana rentals, two beach wheel-chairs, nine outdoor shower towers and two bath houses. Lifeguards are on duty from March through September.
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Named No. 1 Beach by Dr. Beach in 2005 and America’s Top Beach by TripAdvisor in 2008, Fort De Soto County Park’s pristine North Beach features soft white sand, clear waters and great shelling. Nearby picnic shelters, grills and playground equipment make it a favorite destination with residents and tourists.
Egmont Key State Park is first and foremost a wildlife refuge, but the island offers excellent shelling opportunities and a chance to wander along secluded stretches of beach. Accessible only by boat, Egmont Key also is home to the ruins of Fort Dade and features nature trails, picnic areas and fishing.
Located on the west side of Gulf Drive just south of the Longboat Key Bridge on Longboat Key, this beach offers no amenities other than beautiful beaches and fishing … and that’s precisely what makes it special. With the crowded Coquina Beach just the other side of the inlet, this lesser-known destination is a perfect place for a romantic stroll at sunset.
Recognized at 1987’s Great International White Sand Beach Challenge for having the “whitest and finest sand in the world,” Siesta Beach offers 2,400 linear feet of gulf beach frontage along with ball fields, concessions, a fitness trail, playground equipment, tennis and volleyball courts and special events scheduled throughout the year. Lifeguards are on duty year-round.
Internationally known for a high concentration of prehistoric sharks’ teeth, Caspersen Beach boasts 177 acres of land and 9,150 linear feet of gulf beach frontage. Amenities include a boardwalk and nature trail, fishing, picnic area and exceptional shelling.
Found on Manasota Key Road, Blind Pass Beach is a little more laid-back than some of its neighbors to the north. With 2,940 linear feet of gulf beach frontage, it features a canoe launch, dune wildflowers, fishing, a nature trail and a large picnic shelter.