Monday, December 5, 2022

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Honeymoon Island!  Ahhh!

By:  Sylvie Rietman

Honeymoon Island State Park may give the impression of a place to “honeymoon”, but really it’s for nature lovers.  The Island is filled with the best beaches, nature walks, fishing, swimming, walking, cycling, and with many areas for those family picnics that live in our memories forever.

There is something for everyone, including bird watching with the Osprey nests in the top of slash pines that line the nature trails that loop the northern portion of the Island.  The slash pines are very tall, green with misty blue blown in by the gentle breezes from the Gulf of Mexico.

The park is located on an island accessed by two bridges, and remains in its original nature setting.  What you see is what you would have seen a hundred years ago.  Not many of those places left.

A look at some of the photos will give you a feeling of the island’s rare and untouched beauty:

There are three main restrooms, many rest benches to set and view the Gulf’s waves rolling in, birds everywhere, and all this runs for five miles.

At the north end of the Island you will find a bird sanctuary with thousands of birds sunning on a sand bar finger that they have marked as their own – no humans are welcome.

If you get a little hungry there is a nice small café in the middle of the Island; no alcohol is allowed in the park.  The restrooms are kept clean, and most of all, the Park Police patrol the park to insure everyone’s safety.  The park is well maintained with workers everywhere keeping the trash picked-up.

There are beaches for everyone; even pets have their own beach located at the southern end of the Island.  Actually, they have the best beach which because of the view.  If you wish to be alone, there is a beach at the north end that you will love, but it’s a long walk, so take some water along.

Many come just to collect seashells along the beach, or soak up the sun.  Better have some sunscreen for it takes only about 20 minutes to get a burn!

There are many benches to rest on along the beaches, and also along the nature trails.  Many in wheelchairs roll down the parking lots, sidewalks, and trails that are wide and solid enough to navigate.  The bathrooms accommodate wheelchairs as well.

If you would like to see more photos here are some albums you can look at:

The Island is unusual with four small fresh water lakes.  This lake is located at the southern tip of the Island next to hurricane pass.  In the distance you can see Caladesi Island that has the top beaches in the US – listed as number 5 in the country.

Often these small lakes are the watering hole for the birds and animals.  So it’s great for the bird watchers with their binoculars. Many times you will see the kids with their water-boards sliding along the edge of the lake.

This area is also for the pets.  So pack a picnic lunch, grab the kids and pets and set out for a day of fun and sun. You will see many families enjoying their day at the beach along with their pets.  Such days create memories of a lifetime.

Sailing is popular around the islands.  As you come across the “Dunedin Causeway” there are places to rent canoes, kayaks, as well as sailboats.

There are many canoe around and through hurricane pass with Caladesi Island to the south and Honeymoon Island to the North.  This little jaunt will produce some of the best beaches in the world, along with a bird hang-out at the north end of Caladesi Island.

There are some photos of Caladesi Island below that will make you want to pack your bags.  No hurry though, the Islands have been here for about 7,000 years, and the only changes are the hurricanes that carve their way through the Islands every so often.

Actually the two Islands were one until a hurricane came through and divided them.

Small lake at south end of island.  This lake is a favorite hang-out for pelicans and other shore birds.

The condos in the distance are located just off the park, by the gate entrance.  Most are retirees and enjoy long walks in the park.

Around the lake are very long auburn hairgrass that changes with the seasons.  At certain times of the year it turns bright gold, and glistens in the sun with such force that you feel God reached down and touched it.  Oh, by the way just to the left are nice, covered picnic tables.  What a great place for family picnics.  To the right is another small lake and the Gulf, beaches, and Caladesi Island.

Bridge crossing over to Honeymoon Island.  You can see the finger that shoots out from the Island along which are located beaches, fishing sites, and places to rent canoes, kayaks, and sailboats.  There are two bridges; this is the first one as you cross onto the Island.

There is a small island off the causeway.  The drive over to the Island down SR 586 is a joy in itself.  Lined on both sides of the road are beaches, small Islands, sailboats, and activities of all kinds.

Also lined alongside the road are flowers, palm trees, and pelicans swooping down for their dinner.  The drive puts you into a relaxed state preparing you for what’s to come when you enter the park.

On the south side of the road are the wide beaches for those who would like to swim, and sun.  On the north side is where the fishing is done, and the retirees park their motor homes and lay alongside the shore soaking up the sun.  That’s what retirement is all about.

Swings are located along the beach for a nice view.  Swings and benches line the beaches and nature trails in the park.  The heat and humidity will push you into one within a short period of time.

The nature trail is filled with large trees giving the feeling of one with nature.  The trail starts at a large picnic area, loops around the northern portion of the Island.  The walk is about 5 miles if you take each trail.

On the west trail, there is an inlet carved out by the hurricanes that will take your breath away.  At the northern tip you will find some of the precious tall slash pines that are plentiful on the Island.  At the top of the pines are the rare Osprey nests.

By the time you get back you will be ready for lunch so bring a large lunch and enjoy the nice picnic area.  There are also restrooms at the beginning of the nature trail, and picnic areas.

The island has a feeling all its own, and because it’s out of the way, most visitors never see this part of Florida.  On the island you can also hitch a 15 minute ride over to Caladesi Island located south about a mile.  A small platoon boat takes you over for $7.00 per person, and also brings you back.  Caladesi Island has the most beautiful beaches in the US where you can be with others, or by your self.

Caladesi Island with view of the beautiful beaches, and Honeymoon Island in the distance.

If this doesn’t make you want to spread your blanket out, I don’t know what does.  This photo reminds me immediately of what is around the corner just ahead.  There is a stretch of beach at the end of which is about 3,000 birds all setting at the very end of the sand bar.

Many canoe or sail over to Caladesi to spread out their blankets for a day in the sun, or collect shells off the beach.

What a beautiful untouched beach on the north shore of Caladesi Island.

You can see in the distance the shore wraps around to produce such a beautiful cove where the beaches are just marvelous.   On the weekend the shore is a favorite hangout for those sailing and canoeing.

The beauty and serenity of this area is phenomenal.

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