Take the perfect, stress-free break and be at one with nature at one of the most visited state parks in Florida, Honeymoon Island State Park. It’s one of the two northernmost barrier islands in the Tampa Bay area and is gorgeously wild and unspoiled, miles away from bustling cities.
Honeymoon Island State Park is located just north out of Tampa off the Gulf Coast of Dunedin. The Florida state park prides itself on its pristine, beautiful beaches and natural wildlife – perfect for adventurous thrill-seekers.
Ready to swim, hike, or simply take a well-deserved vacay and be lazy on the beach? Plan your getaway with this complete guide to Honeymoon Island State Park.
What to see & do
Since you’re already in Honeymoon Island State Park, you shouldn’t miss another unspoiled island park that’s close by, the Caladesi Island State Park. These two islands were once part of one large island known as the Hog Island before the hurricane of 1921 split the island in half and created the Hurricane Pass.
Caladesi Island State Park is only accessible through the ferry terminal at Honeymoon Island, so enjoy the wild and remote scenery during the 20 minutes to travel from island to island.
For the adventurers among you, the islands offer amazing beaches and also have their own hiking trails. If taking to the water is more your thing, you can rent a kayak and paddle yourself to Caladesi instead of taking the ferry. As always, check the tides, winds, and let someone know of your kayaking plans!
Whether you want to laze on the beach, go wildlife spotting or take an active hike, Honeymoon Island State Park has something for everyone – whatever floats your boat!
Relax on the beach
The first beach you’ll see on Honeymoon Island, dubbed as the Main Beach, is a deep, wide, white-sand beach. There are plenty of parking spaces and well-kept bathrooms, as well as a café.
A three-mile hike takes you to the North Beach of Honeymoon Island State Park, where you can walk to a sand spit that extends into the Gulf of Mexico.
The island boasts various impressive natural beaches that are also animal friendly, so bring your furry best friend with you! Check which ones are right for you as there are designated beaches like Dog Beach that allow dogs on a six-foot leash.
Go for a hike
If you’ve already had enough relaxation at one of the many pristine beaches, put on your adventurer’s cap and explore the park’s many nature trails.
Honeymoon Island does not only have miles of beaches to explore, but it also has a three-mile trail through one of the last untouched virgin slash pine forests. Get away from city life and be at one with nature again!
As you breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the area around you, keep your eyes peeled for wild animals as you go along the Osprey Trail and Pelican Trail that also offer great panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.
The trails are formed in two stacked loops that go through the northern peninsular of the island, giving you a 2.5-mile hiking route, perfect for de-stressing as you explore and discover mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, salt marshes, and tidal flats.
You can also rent a bike or some roller skates to travel around the island. Hit up the park’s numerous trails to reach other points on the island such as the Pelican Cove.
Head out on the water for some paddling fun
Done with hiking or chilling on the beach? Why not try out fun and exciting activities like fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding?
Honeymoon Island offers numerous opportunities to explore its beautiful waters. As well as kayaking yourself to Caladesi Island, you can also try riding the waves with the island’s easy beach breaks that are perfect for beginner surfers.
Go wildlife spotting
Honeymoon Island is a nature lovers’ paradise, so grab a pair of binoculars and head into the park.
As you explore more of the island, you’ll notice it’s teeming with abundant wildlife and diverse species of animals such as roseate spoonbills, great blue herons, snowy egrets, great horned owls, snowy plovers, seagulls, pelicans, and ospreys – also known as the sea, river, or fish hawk.
Visitors can learn about the park’s natural history by visiting the Rotary Centennial Nature Center and Saint Joseph Sound, where you can find more wild animals such as gopher tortoises, armadillos, raccoons, and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes – best to avoid the latter though, we wouldn’t want to ruin the fun with a nasty bite!
How to get there
There are various ways to reach Honeymoon Island. You can use a private boat to get there on the water or if you’re sticking to four wheels, you can drive to Honeymoon Island State Park from Dunedin by crossing the Dunedin Causeway. The causeway is a land bridge bordered by a few beaches where visitors may set up camp for the day.
Bicycles are also another way to get to the island. Why not try cycling your way across the 2.5-mile causeway near Clearwater Beach, or use the Pinellas Trail, widely used by cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians, providing spectacular views of Saint Joseph Sound.
The park’s gates open at 8:00 am and close at sunset (which varies between 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm throughout the year).
The entrance fee is $8 per vehicle (for 2 to 8 people) or $4 per car (for one person). Pedestrians and cyclists are charged $2.