palmetto trees on the water

Last Updated on December 7, 2023 by Dr. Shannon Barrett

Thinking of heading to Florida for a visit?

Craving an island experience that offers more than just lazing around under the sun?

Well, you’re in luck because I’ve uncovered a hidden gem for you. Honeymoon Island State Park – it’s not your average beach destination.

This place showcases over four miles of sandy beaches paired with hiking trails through one of Florida’s last virgin pine forests.

Consider this blog as your personal guide to navigating every nook and cranny of this stunning island park, from its untouched shores to picturesque hiking paths.

Key Takeaways

  • Honeymoon Island State Park in Florida welcomes visitors with clean beaches, fun activities, and amazing wildlife.
  • You can easily reach the park by car or boat and discover miles of sandy coastline, clear waters for swimming, and nature trails for hiking.
  • The island is pet – friendly with a special beach area where dogs can play freely.
  • Don’t forget to visit the Rotary Centennial Nature Center to learn about the local ecosystem or hop on a ferry ride to nearby Caladesi Island.

Overview of Honeymoon Island State Park

Blue water and white sand dune
Photo courtesy: Tripadvisor

Honeymoon Island State Park, situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.

Covering a sprawling 385 acres, the park features miles of pristine beaches and unspoiled natural beauty.

Here, visitors can immerse themselves in a wealth of activities such as sunbathing, swimming or exploring nature trails.

The park’s unique characteristic lies in its virgin pine forests – one of the few remaining in Florida.

Whether by car, bike or paddle board; accessing Honeymoon Island is easy and convenient.

Location and Size

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Honeymoon Island State Park is a nature lover’s paradise.

A short 1.5-mile causeway from the city of Dunedin connects you to this idyllic getaway.

This charming oasis boasts an impressive size with a unique landmass that stretches out to four miles of white sandy beach.

Each year, it magnetizes over 1,250,000 visitors making it one of the most frequented destinations in the Tampa metro area.

With ample space for relaxation and recreation activities, its immense size does not compromise on offering secluded spots for those seeking tranquility amidst their adventure-packed holiday.

Popular Activities

Starfish and other shells on sand

Honeymoon Island State Park offers a diverse range of activities that appeal to all sorts of travelers.

Let’s delve into the popular things you can do here.

  1. Go for a refreshing swim at any of the park’s pristine beaches.
  2. Cast your fishing rod in search of local fish species from the beach or causeway.
  3. Discover the wealth of seashells that Honeymoon Island is famous for while shelling along the four miles of sandy coastline.
  4. Strap on your hiking boots and explore 2.5 miles of nature trails winding through captivating pine flatwoods.
  5. Unleash your inner cyclist with bike rentals from Wheel Fun Rentals and pedal around this beautiful island.
  6. Pack a picnic and relish it on the sunny beach, under the shade of charming picnic tables.

Unique Features

Sandy trail on beach with beach dunes
Beautiful sunsets at Honeymoon State Park

Honeymoon Island is the perfect location for nature lovers.

The park houses over four miles of beach that are distinct in their offerings – a space for sunbathers, a pet beach and an area dedicated to shorebirds.

These beaches boast fantastic shelling opportunities due to regular Gulf currents depositing a variety of seashells on the white sand.

But what sets Honeymoon Island apart is its Rotary Centennial Nature Center.

Here, you can learn about the island’s diverse wildlife and ecosystem through its numerous exhibits.

On top of that, there’s Osprey Trail, where you’re almost guaranteed to spot one of Florida’s famous ospreys in their natural habitat with undeveloped coastline views stretching out as far as your eyes can see!

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Beaches at Honeymoon Island

empty beach at sunet
Photo courtesy: Tripadvisor

Covering a span of four miles, Honeymoon Island boasts pristine beaches that are a delight for sunbathers and swimmers alike.

The island also offers a pet-friendly area, welcoming your furry friends to enjoy the beach fun.

Additionally, you can hop on the ferry service to visit nearby Caladesi Island and expand your beachfront exploration.

Four Miles of Beaches

The beautiful beach front extends as far as the eyes can see, coming alive with sunbathing visitors and children making sandcastles.

For those who prefer solitude, strolling along this long stretch offers quieter spots away from crowd.

The beauty of these unspoiled shores is undoubtedly one reason why Honeymoon Island is such an appealing destination.

Dog-Friendly Beach Area

Honeymoon Island State Park stands out as a superb location for pet lovers.

The park boasts a spacious dog-friendly beach area at the southern tip of the island.

This spot is perfect for furry companions to roam freely, splash in the water, and even make new canine friends.

Ferry to Caladesi Island

From Honeymoon Island State Park, you can hop on a ferry for a quick 20-minute ride to the Caladesi Island state park.

This is the most convenient and popular route to reach this spectacular piece of paradise.

Arriving there by private boat is an option as well but nothing beats the sheer joy and anticipation of the scenic ferry journey.

It’s noteworthy that access to Caladesi Island operates only through Honeymoon Island State Park, making it an important gateway for eager visitors yearning for more exploration!

Hiking Trails at Honeymoon Island

There are 5 main hiking trails on Honeymoon Island.

They vary on length and location.

We like the Osprey trail the most.

It links up with the Pelican trail.

Here are the trail summaries with the recommended time added:

Osprey Trail

Trail head with osprey and pelican trail written on sign

Distance: 2.3 mile loop

Approximate Time: 1.5 hours

This shaded loop trail meanders through slash pine forests and is ideal for spotting ospreys, owls, tortoises, and other wildlife.

Portions may flood after storms.

Biking not recommended due to sandy areas.

You can access the Pelican trail from the Osprey trail.

North Beach Trek

Distance: 5 mile roundtrip

Approximate Time: 2.5 hours

Hike the natural, undeveloped north beach for shells, birds, and coastal wildlife.

Best at low tide.

Long, flat, sandy hike to the northern tip of the island.

Prepare for sun and heat.

Nature Center Trail

Distance: 1⁄4 mile loop

Approximate Time: 15 minutes

Easy forest loop behind the nature center featuring palms, cedars, mangroves.

Spot birds on the seawall overlook.

Short hike good for limited time.

Pelican Cove Trail

Distance: 3⁄4 mile

Sandy trail through secluded area with open water views.

Spot birds, dolphins, manatees.

Mostly unshaded, so bring sun protection.

South Beach Trails

Distance: 1.2 miles

Approximate Time: 45 minutes

Beach and inland loop trails with shells, wildlife burrows, cacti.

Pet-friendly beach popular for dogs and fishing.

You can download the trail map from the Honeymoon Island Nature Center.

Scenic Views of the Island’s Flora and Fauna

Nature trail Honeymoon Island

The Osprey trail takes you right into the heart of Honeymoon Island’s wilderness.

When we walked this trail, we saw several osprey’s in their nests.

The flora is equally enchanting with rare plants flourishing throughout the island.

Tips for Hiking

Hiking at Honeymoon Island State Park is an experience one simply cannot miss.

  1. Start early: Fresh mornings are the best times to explore hiking trails on this island.
  2. Wear appropriate gear: Good hiking shoes and comfortable clothing are essential for a safe and enjoyable hike.
  3. Stay hydrated: Florida’s sunny weather makes it paramount to carry sufficient water.
  4. Follow marked trails: Stick to the three great hiking trails listed by AllTrails, including the popular Osprey Trail.
  5. Respect wildlife: Remember that you’re stepping into their home when exploring the park’s 3.5 miles of wooded trails.
  6. Visit nature center: After your hike, make sure to visit the park’s nature center with a gift shop for some rest and souvenir hunting.
  7. Carry bug spray: It keeps away biting insects and ensures a more comfortable hike.
  8. Take recovery breaks if needed: Regular pauses allow you enjoy scenic views while regaining energy on longer trails.
  9. Bring binoculars for birdwatching: You might spot ospreys in the pines along your journey.
  10. Keep track of time: Be aware of park operating hours to ensure you have enough daylight for both your hike and return trip.

Wildlife at Honeymoon Island

Gopher Tortoise sitting on ground
Gopher Tortoise on Honeymoon Island

From nesting sea turtles to a plethora of shorebirds, Honeymoon Island offers a great place for a fascinating encounter with Florida’s diverse wildlife.

Be mindful of your surroundings; you’re sharing the beach with these creatures.

We were lucky enough to come across a Gopher Tortoise while walking the trails.

They are considered the parks resident burrower. There are at least 200 of them on Honeymoon Island.

Nesting Sea Turtles and Shorebirds

Egret on the Beach
Egret on Honeymoon Island, Photo: Tripadvisor

Honeymoon Island State Park serves as a sanctuary for nesting sea turtles and shorebirds.

It’s not uncommon to spot loggerhead sea turtles laying their eggs along the beach, creating an unforgettable sight.

Shorebirds such as herons, egrets, and ospreys also claim the park as their breeding grounds.

A management plan is actively in place to preserve these nurturing habitats and protect all wildlife that call this remarkable park home.

Sharing the Beach with Wildlife

osprey on tree
Osprey can be seen throughout Honeymoon Island

A wide variety of shorebirds, from snowy egrets to great horned owls, call this island home and can be seen near shoreline throughout different parts of the year.

While it’s exciting to encounter these creatures up close, it’s equally critical to respect their space for their safety and ours.

This means keeping a respectful distance from nesting sites and feeding areas; remember not to feed or touch any wild animals you come across.

Responsible Beach Behavior

Helping to maintain the park’s natural beauty starts with each one of us.

While enjoying our stroll on the beach, we should always ensure we don’t disturb wildlife or their habitats.

Grabbing your reusable bags to collect trash ensures that no litter is left behind, thus protecting animals from harmful substances they could ingest.

Avoid feeding any wildlife you might encounter; it’s not good for them and is prohibited in most locations.

Lastly, abide by all posted signs regarding nesting areas and do careful stepping around dune vegetation while exploring.

These are simple steps that can have a substantial impact on preserving Honeymoon Island State Park for future generations!

Amenities at Honeymoon Island

Restroom building with mens and womens sides
Restrooms on Honeymoon Island

The park offers a variety of amenities, including food service and ferry to Caladesi Island.

There are also several public restrooms next to the parking lots.

You can also refill your water bottles to ensure you stay hydrated.

Food Service and Ferry

Exterior of South Beach Pavillon Cafe
Beach Snacks and Food can be found at 2 Cafes, Photo: Tripadvisor

The park visitors don’t have to worry about packing their lunches, Florida Beach Services takes care of that.

They offer beach-friendly food items along with beverages and snacks at two scenic café locations:

Cafe Honeymoon and South Beach Pavilion Cafe.

In between the sunbathing and shell collecting, you can grab a quick bite to savor as you enjoy the beauty around.

Aside from satiating your taste buds, the park also provides an exciting opportunity to explore its stunning neighboring island – Caladesi Island via a ferry service.

This allows for adding diverse experiences into your visit without having to venture far off from the Honeymoon Island State Park territory!

Slipp’s Ice Carts

2 girls standing behind ice cream cart
Photo: Florida State Parks

Slipp’s Ice Carts is a go-to spot for the best cold treats on Honeymoon Island.

This small, mobile business offers a range of frosty delights to help visitors beat the Florida heat.

From classic ice pops in a plethora of flavors to refreshing shaved ice with fun toppings, there are options for every sweet tooth.

They set up at different spots in the park throughout the day, so it’s easy to grab an icy treat no matter where you are exploring.

Nature Center and Gift Shop

Make sure to stop by the Rotary Centennial Nature Center. They showcase a captivating range of native Florida plants and animals – it’s an educational experience that even leaves local residents amazed.

They also sell lots of fun souveniers such as mugs, jewelry, totes and puzzles.

Plan Your Visit: Tips and Resources

Discover when to visit, the cost details, and neighboring cities worth exploring.

Hours and Fees

Here’s some key information about the hours and fees for visiting Honeymoon Island State Park.

This will assist you in planning your visit.

Open from 8 a.m. until sundown$8 per vehicle (up to eight people)
Open 365 days a year$4 for single-occupant vehicles

These fees provide free parking and access to all the park’s facilities and amenities.

Plan your day well to maximize your time and enjoy the beauty of Honeymoon Island.

Nearby Cities

brick warehouse building with Arturo Fuente cigars sign on side
Arturso Fuente Cigars in Ybor City

Tampa is a bustling city that’s just over an hour’s drive from Honeymoon Island State Park.

It boasts renowned attractions like the historic Ybor City, the Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens – all of which provide thrilling escapes for both children and adults.

On your way back to the north end of the island, be sure to take a detour through Dunedin, located on Florida’s west coast.

Dunedin exudes an old-fashioned charm with its quaint downtown area filled with unique shops and delicious eateries.

It also has some of the best Scottish heritage events in the state.

Just south of Dunedin lies Clearwater Beach, home to miles of soft white sand and crystal-clear waters where dolphins often frolic at sunset.

The nightly ‘Sunsets at Pier 60’ event offers crafts, music, street performances and stunning views that you can’t afford to miss out on!

Don’t forget St.Petersburg; it’s just across Tampa Bay known for Salvador Dali Museum housing largest collection outside Europe.

There are so many great areas vacation spots along the West Coast of Florida, you’ll never run out of things to do!

Things to Do and Places to Stay

Ocean view with umbrellas on beach
Photo courtesy: Tripadvisor

We’ve got plenty of fun-filled activities and cozy accommodations for your stay at Honeymoon Island.

  1. Rent a multi – passenger Surrey or beach cruiser to explore the island’s scenic trails.
  2. Relax on one of the many beautiful beaches, and take some time to sunbathe or swim in the Gulf of Mexico.
  3. Plan out a picnic lunch at one of the many tables scattered throughout the park; don’t forget to grab some treats from Slipp’s Ice Cart!
  4. Dive into wildlife spotting – sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and bird species like osprey and egret call this island home.
  5. For overnight stays, check out local options ranging from budget friendly Airbnb rentals to luxury waterfront resorts in nearby cities such as Dunedin and Clearwater Beach.

Links to Popular Content on Honeymoon Island

You can easily find the trending and informative content about Honeymoon Island online.

Tripadvisor offers extensive traveler reviews and photos of all activities on the island.

The official Florida State Parks page gives detailed information about amenities, park rules, and upcoming events at Honeymoon Island.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the Rotary Centennial Nature Center’s webpage provides intriguing insights into the local flora and fauna.

Final Thoughts

Honeymoon Island State Park offers an extraordinary blend of natural beauty and fun activities.

Its sandy beaches, hiking trails, and unique wildlife transform a simple day trip into an unforgettable experience.

Don’t miss out on this charming Florida park!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What makes the Honeymoon Island beach special?

Honeymoon Island Beach, located at 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin FL 34698, is a popular beach on a barrier island known for its great shelling opportunities and scenic views from the elevated observation deck.

Can I bring my own food to Honeymoon Island?

Yes, there are many picnic tables and areas with barbecue grills available on the island. If you prefer not to cook yourself, there’s also a concession stand where you can buy meals.

Is there any connection between Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands?

Previously joined as one Hog Island before a hurricane pass split them into two islands: Honeymoon and Caladesi, these destinations are now renowned parts of Florida’s state park system.

How do I get around in Honeymoon Island State Park?

You can explore the park by hiking various trails or using beach wheelchairs available at North Beach for easy mobility along the sandy beaches.

What does Dunedin Causeway offer visitors heading towards Honeymoon Island State Park?

The journey via Dunedin Causeway offers scenic views of St Joseph Sound while connecting mainland’s Pinellas Trail to the western end of main beach on this tranquil island paradise.

Are other amenities besides beaches offered in this state park?

Yes! In addition to beautiful beaches like North Beach and Main Beach,on your visit to Florida don’t miss out experiencing heartwarming sunsets or spotting wildlife from elevated boardwalks near sand spit and picnic area at park’s north end.

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Veterinarian/Travel Writer/Digital Nomad

Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and digital nomad. She owned a housecall practice, Island Veterinary Care, for over a decade and now travels full time. She lives in different beach towns and then writes travel guides based on her time there. If you’re looking for resources on travel destinations or how to become a digital nomad, then you’ve come to the right place! Love to bring your pets with you? Even better!

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