Enjoy the sand at the Caladesi Island State Park by Jules Romero.

Caladesi Island State Park routinely tops lists of the most beautiful beaches in America. Caladesi Island in Florida has a lot to offer. With no limestone rubble and much smaller crowds compared to other beaches, Caladesi Island State Park is perfect for your next beach adventure.

Enjoy the white sand and minimal commercial development of Caladesi. To help you make the most of your next trip, we’ve compiled a travel guide containing everything you need to know about Caladesi Island State Park. Check it out below.

Taking the Caladesi Island Ferry

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Caladesi Island can only be accessed by boat. If you have your boat, this shouldn’t be a problem. If not, your best bet is to sit back and relax on a ferry from Honeymoon Island.

First of all, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with how you’ll get to Honeymoon Island State Park since that’s where you’ll find the ferry. We recommend booking an Uber from your hotel to take you directly to Honeymoon Island State Park. If you’re driving, use Waze for directions.

The road leading to the ferry should be on your left immediately after the Honeymoon Island entrance. There’s a large parking lot located at the pier.

There are two boats with a 50 passenger capacity that depart Honeymoon Island every half hour, starting at 10 A.M. during the peak months of February to September. For the rest of the year, the ferries depart hourly. The boat ride is relatively short, lasting about 15 to 20 minutes on average.

The ferry is the best way to get to Caladesi Island without your boat. Please do note, however, that it is a bit pricey because you have to pay the entrance fee for Honeymoon Island plus the tickets for the ferry. There’s no additional fee once you reach Caladesi Island, though.

As of writing, the fare for the ferry is $14 round trip per adult and $7 for kids aged 6 to 12. Children under five years old get to board the ship for free.

Your ticket will be stamped with a guaranteed return time. This is the time that you will have to take the return ferry if you’d like guaranteed seating. If you’d like to take an earlier or later ferry, there’s no additional cost. However, you may not be guaranteed any seats.

No need to worry about rainy weather or sweltering weather, as waiting areas are covered and shaded on both ends of the trip. The boat is also relatively comfortable and is equipped with enough seats for everyone.

Caladesi Beach Proper

Once you disembark from the ferry, you’ll be met with a marina with a ranger station and a concession stand. From this location, the beach will not be in sight, so you’ll need to do a little walking.

After a short walk west across the island along a few paths, you’ll find a pair of buildings equipped with bathrooms and showers. Look beyond that, and you’ll see an extraordinary stretch of gulf coast beach.

Walking along Caladesi’s shoreline while looking around, makes you feel much farther away from civilization and society than you are. There are no immediate signs of urbanization within the vicinity. At times, the area may feel deserted. This, however, is the beauty of it.

Honeymoon Island is far away to the north, while Clearwater Beach is far away to the south. Because of this, you won’t be able to hear much noise except the crashing of the waves and the voices of the people around you. You can easily trick yourself into thinking that you’re stranded on an island.

The crowds of people tend to gather near the walkways beside the beach shack that rents umbrellas, chairs, and kayaks.

If you’d like to avoid the crowds and get some peace and quiet, all you have to do is claim a spot just a little bit north or a little bit south of the beach shack. 

Unfortunately, your family pets will not be allowed to enjoy the sand and the ocean with you on the beach. Don’t worry; leashed dogs are permitted around the other areas of Caladesi Island State Park. You’ll need to transport them via your private boat, though, as the ferry from Honeymoon Island does not accommodate pets.

With a private boat, you can avail of overnight boat camping at the marina. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to pay an additional fee, payable to the ranger station.

Activities

Although relaxing on the beach is the main attraction, there are many other activities available to you at Caladesi Island State Park.

The canals at Caladesi’s mangroves are large enough for kayaks and canoes to slip through. If you have a little extra time, these routes are worth exploring.

There are miles and miles of nature trails scattered throughout the island. These are ideal for some light hiking. Watch where you step, however, as Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes are known to call Caladesi Island their home.

If you’d like to appreciate the wildlife, you’ll be happy to know that the island is home to sea turtles and nesting shorebirds throughout certain months of the year. Sometimes, certain portions of the beach may be closed to protect the wildlife. So if an area is off-limits, please do not trespass.

As stated earlier, kayaks are available to rent at the marina and the beach. A great place to paddle would be through the previously mentioned mangroves along the St. Joseph’s side of the island.

If you’d like to fish, there are designated fishing areas along the beach. However, you’ll need a fishing license.

Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island, Florida, USA-November, 29, 2019. One of the few untouched islands along the Gulf Coast. Beautiful view of harbour with boats and yachts docked and tourists walking on the deck.

References

Company, T. (n.d.). Caladesi Island Travel Guide. Retrieved June 26, 2020, from https://www.floridabeachinsider.com/beaches/caladesi-island-travel-guide/