Located in beautiful Dunedin, Florida, Honeymoon Island State park is indeed the barrier island paradise that it’s slogan advertises. The island really has it all as it’s perfect for a family fun picnic day at the beach and it’s equally perfect for a nature lover seeking a walk in the park. This 2,810 acre park is on the Great Florida Birding trail and has nature trails both by bike and foot. You and your family can enjoy a full days worth of activities by taking advantage of the playgrounds, beaches, a cafe, bike rentals, kayak rentals, a nature center and gift shops.
There are two nature trails and a nature learning center at Honeymoon Island State Park. Trail walkers while strolling through these pine flatwoods, often see osprey, gopher tortoises, raccoons, diamond back rattle snakes and great horned owls. A word of advice for trail hikers, mosquitoes can be plentiful so apply plenty of bug spray.
If you are not in to hiking perhaps a surrey ride on a paved trail would be more suitable for you. Multi passenger Surrey rentals as well as kayak rentals are available on the island.
At the Nature learning center you can learn about the native plants, birds and animals that thrive on this island habitat. Also at the nature center are films about the island’s history, exhibits about Florida’s seashells and fun learning activities for children. You will also find nice gift shop filled with unique items for nature lovers young and not so young.
For beach goers there is plenty of parking near the white sandy beach so you don’t have to lug your beach gear very far to set up for your day of fun by the water. I loved all the swings overlooking the water and thought that maybe I could just sit there for hours listening to the waves and watching the seagulls and pelicans. Those peaceful looking seagulls became a little pesky later when John and I were having lunch on the deck overlooking the water at the Honeymoon Island Cafe, as they were eyeing and diving at our fried shrimp and french fries.
Picnic tables, pavilions and grills are scattered throughout the park and there are more than adequate restroom facilities provided.
Honeymoon Island got it’s name back in the late 1930’s when a businessman bought the island and had 50 honeymoon cottages constructed. His friend, an editor at Life Magazine ran a story about the island and a contest was held where winners received a tropical island honeymoon stay. It didn’t last long though as World War II soon began and the island was leased to a defense contractor as an r&r location for it’s employees and the north end was used to test amphibious vehicles for the war effort. After the war was over the cottages went into despair and in the mid 1970’s the state began purchasing the island. On December 7th, 1981 the Island officially became a state recreation area.
Before the Island became honeymoon Island it was called hog island as it was home to both wild hogs and a hog farm. In 1921 a major hurricane hit Hog Island splitting it in two and creating a waterway between the two halves now named Hurricane Pass. The other half of Hog Island is now the home of Caladesi Island State Park and can only be reached by private boat or for $14 for adults and $7 for children a ferry service from Honeymoon Island State Park is available. 4 miles of pristine beaches and many recreational activities await you at Caladesi Island. With breath taking views of the Gulf of Mexico, it is not unusual to spot dolphins gliding through the surf. If you enjoy kayaking through nature than you will love the 3 mile mangrove shaded kayak trail. If coming by private boat than you should take advantage of the 108 slip marina complete with water and electric hookups for overnight boat stays.
The opportunities for nature viewing and outdoor activities are plenty on Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands. The beaches and facilities are handicap accessible and pets are permitted in designated areas. Entrance fee is a bargain at $8 per car for a whole days worth of enjoyment. Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands are located in Pinellas county on the Central West Coast of Florida.