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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Insider’s guide to Honeymoon Island: About the beach, planning your trip, where to park

Honeymoon Islandís popular beach features a glimpse of relatively development-free Florida, while being only a short jaunt from suburban amenities.The land actually was part of Caladesi Island immediately to the south until a 1921 hurricane sheared the northern end into its own barrier island. The inlet there is now called, appropriately enough, Hurricane Pass.

Locals referred to the area first as Sand Island and then Hog Island until a developer set up thatched huts in 1939 and billed it as a destination for newlyweds. No one lives on the Gulf beach now, but Honeymoon Island currently enjoys its designation as a state park (there are some condo buildings before the entrance to the park). The island drew about 1.5 million visitors in the last year, making it a perennial favorite to top state park attendance lists.

The park includes places to eat and resupply your beach gear, plus some eco-lessons for curious visitors, but also features great hiking and paddling opportunities. There's also a dog-friendly beach on the south end of the island, for people willing to hit the trails.

With no chain stores or surf shops, the beaches are low key but still provide amenities. There’s also a ferry to Caladesi, which has one of America’s best beaches, and the mainland city of Dunedin is just over the causeway. Even with an entry fee — it’s a state park, after all — it remains a bargain.

Plan your trip

Tampa Bay is served by two airports, Tampa International Airport (TPA) in Hillsborough County and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) in Pinellas County. Multiple carriers service TPA, while most flights to and from PIE are run by Allegiant. There are many ground transportation options at both airports.

You’ll need a rental car to get to Honeymoon Island, which is at the western terminus of State Road 586, known as Curlew Road in Pinellas County. You can access the islands by taking Interstate 275 or U.S. Hwy 19 into Pinellas County, then heading west on Curlew.

You could conceivably use a ride-sharing service and be dropped off at the admission gate, but distances are far and pickup would require some coordination.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority does not offer service across the Dunedin Causeway, but does maintain a route along Bayshore Boulevard in Dunedin on the mainland. The Jolley Trolley, which helps cart people between Tarpon Springs and Clearwater, also runs along Bayshore. A schedule and details are here.

Parking

This is one destination where this is the easy part, because the island has ample parking once you get inside the gate. There are hundreds of spaces for both the northern and southern ends of the beach. Since you already paid an entrance fee, there are no meters. There also is parking near the pavilions, plus several places to park along the road in case the park is really busy.

The one caveat is that if the park is especially busy, traffic backs up a fair distance along the causeway. This happens much more on holidays and weekend sunsets, so check that you’ve packed a little patience. Turning around once you’ve passed the Royal Stewart Arms condos only makes the problem worse.

More information about Honeymoon Island

The beach scene, beach access, the Caladesi Island ferry

Where to stay, places to go and events

Watersports and fitness, shopping and places to eat and drink

Local microbreweries and tips from townies

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