Yes, you really can walk from Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island. If you love taking long walks on the beach and just happen to be in the Clearwater area, this is the walk for you. It is long (appox. 9 miles round trip) but it is one of the most beautiful, peaceful walks you’ll take on the beach. Just ask Dr. Beach. He ranked Caladesi Island #1 in 2008 and Clearwater Beach was ranked #1 in 2016 by TripAdvisor.
I take this walk a few times a year when I need a “hike”. It’s a workout but well worth it. Be sure to check the tide before heading out. You want to make sure you’re not doing this when it could be high tide. If you’ve never done this walk before you don’t want to have to walk through the “jungle” to avoid the tide. There are rattlesnakes, raccoons, rats and armadillos on the island and if you’re like me you don’t want to run into any one of those so, stay out of the jungle. Besides, you’ll find more shells if you go at low tide.
Where to start: When you’re at Clearwater Beach head north on Mandalay Ave. I like to park in the lot a couple streets north of Palm Pavilion. From this location the walk is about 9 miles round trip. If you start at Pier 60 it’s just over 10 miles round trip.
Tip #1: Do this early for two reasons; so that you can make sure you get parking in a lot at the beach; parking is $1.25/hr., and because heat. You want to have this walk done by noon.
Tip #2: Sunscreen. Have it on before you go and take more with you to reapply. There is no shade on this trip. See my favorite sunscreen here.
Tip #3: Water. I’m saying this from experience. Take more than one little bottle of water; it will NOT be enough. You will be baking in the sun for up to 3-4 hours. You don’t want to get dehydrated on this walk. There are areas of this walk where you will not see anyone for long periods of time and you don’t want to get stuck. Take at least a litre of water.
Tip #4: A container for shells. If shelling is your thing bring something to put your shells in. The closer you get to Caladesi from Clearwater the more unique shells you’ll start to see. Shelling here isn’t as good as Sanibel or, even Honeymoon Island in my opinion, but you will find some cool pieces here. Please leave live shells on the beach where they belong.
Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started. From the dunes at Clearwater Beach just keep heading north. You’ll pass a row of beach mansions and once those disappear the adventure begins. You’ll start seeing less people, more shells and maybe even a dolphin or two playing in the Gulf.
As you get closer to Caladesi you’ll come to this unique spot. I call it the “shell trees”. People passing by add a shell to one of the trees here. So find a shell and add it to the tree. Think of it as your ticket to continue onto the island. This is one of my favorite parts of the walk.
Now is the time you’ll start to really notice the difference in shells from Clearwater Beach. If you’re lucky you might even seen some starfish.
A couple more miles and you’ll see the flags for the Caladesi Island Park area. Here you can take the boardwalk back to the snack shop and restroom area or, you can keep walking to the end of Caladesi where Hurricane Pass separates Caladesi Island from Honeymoon Island. A hurricane in 1921 came through and separated the two islands. Of course, you don’t have to walk this far to say you’ve made it to Caladesi Island but you’ve made it this far so, why not?
Now is a good time to sit down and relax a bit before heading back. Take in the views of the turquoise water, the native birds and enjoy the sound of the small waves splashing on the shore. This truly is paradise.
If making this long walk isn’t your thing you can always hop on the ferry from Honeymoon Island to get to Caladesi Island. Check out pricing and schedules here. Whether you get to Caladesi Island by foot or ferry there is no doubt it will be a place you will never forget.
See you on the beach!