honeymoon island florida state park
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9 Things to do on Honeymoon Island State Park in Florida

One of Florida’s most-loved state parks and one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida is Honeymoon Island State Park. Honeymoon Island has four miles of beach, three miles of trails, and a chance to see plenty of wildlife. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone busy with swimming, birdwatching, fishing, shelling hiking, biking, relaxing on the beach, and more. There are also many picnic areas with grills available for use at no cost by visitors. Plus, it’s not uncommon to see dolphins!  

Where to Stay on Honeymoon Island

There are no accommodations on Honeymoon Island since it is a state park. However, there are plenty of options nearby in Dunedin. Honeymoon Island is also under 30 minutes to Clearwater Beach.

If you want to stay in Clearwater Beach, I recommend the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa or the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach.

If you want to stay in Dunedin, I recommend The Fenway Hotel.

Where is Honeymoon Island?

Honeymoon Island is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast just outside of Dunedin. There is a causeway connecting Honeymoon Island to Dunedin that you can drive, bike, or walk. It’s a great day trip from Tampa or St. Petersburg. It’s around 20 minutes from Clearwater and about 2 hours from Orlando.

The address to Honeymoon Island is 1 Causeway Blvd; Dunedin, FL 34698. However, once you get to the causeway, it’s pretty easy to figure out since you’ll eventually run right into the island.

How to Spend the Day at Honeymoon Island State Park

Since you can’t directly stay on Honeymoon Island, you’re going to be traveling there from somewhere. With so many different places to see and explore in Florida, you want to make sure it’s worth the trip. Here are some of the best things to do in Honeymoon Island State Park.

Spend time at the beach 

Even though there is so much to do, most people visit Honeymoon Island for the beach. You can rent umbrellas and chairs if you don’t have your own. The best time to visit the beach is during low tide, when you can go on a walking exploration or play on the sand and in the shallow water. While they are all connected, there are 5 different areas of beach.

North Beach – This part of the beach seems never-ending. It’s narrow with a lot of rocks and seashells but from here, you can walk the beach for an impressive 2.5 miles one way. See the hiking section below for more details on how to “hike” North Beach.

Oasis Beach – Located just south of North Beach. The beach here is very similar to North Beach, but a longer walk from the Oasis Beach parking lot to the North Beach hike.

Main Beach – Has Cafe Honeymoon, which has similar items as a convenience store and also a some simple food options, such as fried fish and hamburgers. The main Beach is rockier and a skinnier stretch of beach than some other areas.

South Beach – This is the closest beach to the entrance and located near the Pet Beach.

Pet Beach – This is where dogs are allowed. Unlike some other dog beaches, they do need to be on a leash here. You’ll be facing Hurricane Pass from the dog beach. This is also a good place for fishing. It’s not great for swimming as the conditions can be hazardous at times. Hurricane Pass is what separates Honeymoon Island from Caladesi Island.

florida state park beaches

Go “Hiking”

Honeymoon Island State Park also offers opportunities for hiking on its trails. To be fair, it’s a lot more like walking, but if you enjoy scenic trails, nature, and wildlife, you’ll love it. There are three trails on the island.

Nature Center Trail – An easy hike located right by the Rotary Centennial Nature Center. It’s more of an educational hike where you can learn more about the area and it’s a short, easy walk at around a quarter of a mile.

Osprey Trail – This is the most popular trail in the park. It is a shaded 1.1 mile trail to the northern end of the island. Then it loops back on a parallel trail for an additional 1.2 miles. You can easily make it a shorter distance by turning around or using one of the trail’s u-turns. One section of the trail is closed from October to May for an eagle’s nest. There is a restroom at the trailhead, but not on the trail. Mosquitos are common in the summer, so you’ll want to bring plenty of bug spray with you. The Osprey Trail is great for seeing wildlife. Eagles, osprey, pelicans, and owls tend to nest here. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail.

North Beach Trail – You’ll start this hike from the North Beach parking lot and will be walking the beach for this trail. You’ll want to watch the tide, low tide is best because the mangroves can hug the waterline during higher tides. At the start of your hike, you may encounter periods of rockiness, but this eventually gives way to a smooth, wide beach. If you go the whole way, it’s 5 miles roundtrip. Dogs are not allowed on this hike and you’ll want to make sure you bring enough water.

South Beach Trail – This is a 1.2 mile walk that will take you to the beach. Along the way, you’ll see some cactus, mangroves, and other foliage. You’ll park at the South Beach parking lot and the trailhead is located at the south beach pavilion cafe. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail.

honeymoon island florida state park

Go Biking

There are around 4.5 miles of paved trails around the island. If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent bikes on Honeymoon Island. Note that bikes are not allowed on beaches or the beach trails.

See Wildlife

A lot of different wildlife calls Honeymoon Island home. While you are exploring, you might see any of the following:

  • Bald eagles
  • Osprey
  • Roseate spoonbills
  • Great Horned Owls
  • Gopher Tortoises
  • Armadillos
  • Raccoons
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Dolphins
  • Manatees
  • Horseshoe crabs
  • Loggerhead Turtles
  • Green Sea Turtles

Kayaking

Honeymoon Island is one of the best spots in Tampa Bay to go kayaking. If you have your own kayak, you can bring it. You can also rent from Sail Honeymoon which is actually located on the Dunedin Causeway just before you get to Honeymoon Island. Once on Honeymoon Island, you can rent kayaks near the south beach pavilion. While you can paddle around the island, the most popular destination is Caladesi Island State Park.

Caladesi Island is another Florida State Park that’s accessible by boat only. You can kayak there or take the ferry (more information on the ferry below). If you choose to kayak, it will take around 20-30 minutes if you launch from the causeway depending on your skill level. There is a 3 mile hiking trail there as well as a trail that winds through the mangroves. It truly is a taste of “old” Florida.

kayaking in dunedin florida

Enjoy a picnic

There are several shelters and picnic tables throughout Honeymoon Island State Park that you can use for free. No reservations are required. There is a concession stand on the island that serves things like hot dogs and hamburgers, but nothing fancy. If you want to bring your own food, here my local’s tip is to grab a pub sub. If you have never heard of a pub sub, it’s a sub sandwich from Publix. Their chicken tender sub is arguably their most raved about sub, but they’re all good!

Rotary Centennial Nature Center

The Honeymoon Island Rotary Centennial Nature Center opened in 2007 and features the history of the local barrier islands. It’s also a great place to learn more about the wildlife that inhabits the area. There is a lookout with free telescope to see eagles’ nests. Volunteers who run the center are knowledgable and friendly. They’re also up to date on where you might have the best chances to spot wildlife. When we visited, they informed us where we could spot an owl’s nest! There is also a gift shop inside with books, mugs, photos, and similar souvenirs for purchase.

Let Your Dog Enjoy the Beach

Before moving to Florida, I kind of assumed you could just bring your dog to the beach but dogs actually are not allowed on most Florida beaches. The southernmost tip of Honeymoon Island is one of the places that allows dogs at their pet beach. The other two beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast that have dog beaches are in Pass-a-Grille and Fort DeSoto. The water at Honeymoon Island is clear and shallow, making it perfect for dogs to wade in and cool off.

Dogs do need to be kept on a six foot handheld (not retractable) leash here. Dogs are also allowed on the nature trail and need to stay on a leash on the trail as well.

Take the Ferry to Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island is accessible only by boat. You can take your own boat, kayak or paddle board, or take the ferry. The ferry to Caladesi Island State Park is only available from Honeymoon Island State Park. Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island were once one large island until separated by a hurricane. The pass that separates them is appropriately named Hurricane Pass.

Quick Facts About Honeymoon Island

The park is open from 8:00 A.M. until sunset each day and the gates are locked at closing time. Pets on leashes, picnics and fishing are allowed but swimming and alcohol (except on the beach) are prohibited in order to protect visitors, animals and local plants. 

Tips: If you are coming on a weekend, the best time to arrive is early in the day. This way, you can get a parking space closer to the area you want to visit (beach, trails, etc.) and there tend to be less people than later in the day.

There is a $4 per vehicle charge to enter the park.

When is the best time of year to visit Honeymoon Island?

That depends a little on what you are looking for. While Florida weather is warm year-round (well, warm in the winter and scorching hot in the summer, in my opinion!), different seasons bring different things. Here is what to expect at Honeymoon Island in the different seasons.

Summer – It will be hot. The plus side is that you won’t have to worry about the water being warm enough to swim, and hopefully the water is a nice reprieve from the temperatures. Summer is also when the mosquitos tend to be the worst, so hiking the trails might not be very pleasant. You’ll want to bring sunscreen no matter when you visit, but make sure you bring bug spray if you’re visiting in summer and planning to hike the trails, too.

Fall often has beautiful weather. Fall is a popular time for weddings, which can sometimes bring crowds.

Winter – You are going to be more likely to see wildlife such as owls, osprey, and manatees in the winter months. You may notice less crowds but the water will likely be too cold to get in.

Spring – Spring Break can make Honeymoon Island pretty busy with school breaks and wedding season. The weather tends to be better with warm days and very little rain. You’ll also want to watch out for stingrays in the spring (remember the stingray shuffle!)

How to Get to Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State Park is located at 11938 Gulf Boulevard in Dunedin, FL 34698.

Hopefully this blog post helped you plan your trip and fun things to do in Honeymoon Island. It truly is a little slice of paradise and worth visiting.

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