Honeymoon to Caladesi Island Paddle and Hike
It could not have been a more perfect day, the sun was shining and our entire group arrived at Honeymoon Island State Park right on time. Once all the kayaks were set up on the beach Lisa from Good Time Kayaking had everyone grab paddles to warm up their arms and shoulders and get familiar with various strokes.
Soon we were all paddling down the gulf side of Honeymoon Island admiring the beautiful sandy beach. The waves were a little choppy but once we crossed the channel to the bay side of Caladesi Islands the water was smooth as glass! There were shore birds everywhere and very little boat traffic. We had the opportunity to take many photos and just glide down the shoreline along the mangroves at a very comfortable pace towards the marina at Caladesi Island State Park. As we paddled the channel to the dock the first ferry of the day floated by and there was only a couple persons on boards. (Every other ferry that day was packed full!). We all unloaded and tied up our kayaks and checked out the concession stand for a bite of lunch and took a few moments to change and rest up for our hike through the island. There is 2.5 miles of hiking trails on Caladesi Island and the trail takes you through many different environments. We were warned by the rangers on duty that the mosquitoes were hatching so we all slathered on the repellant, grabbed our waters and cameras and headed out for more adventure. Pink Salt Marsh Mallow blooms lines the trail after we passed the remains of the old homestead. There were raccoon tracks on the trail and butterflies, dragonflies and other interesting creatures to observe. It was fun stopping at a big old tree hanging across the trail for a group photo – but we all had to watch out for the poison ivy! Most of the trail was dry but near the furthest point away we got into some ankle deep water from the recent rains. I have to say, it was quite refreshing to walk through! There was a huge Osprey nest in giant old pine overlooking the trail and a bridge taking us past the mangroves back to the beach. Through the brush we got our first peek of the Sea Oats on the dunes and soon the beautiful Gulf of Mexico appeared before us! What a magnificent site, and the sea breeze was quite welcome! We took time for a dip in the warm saltwater and noticed we had a “Hollywood Celebrity” sitting right next to us. Hulk Hogan and a friend had their boat docked right at the trail head where we had just arrived from. After taking a few photos and cooling off in the water we headed up this beautiful beach back to the marina. Caladesi Beach was rated the best beach in the USA not too long ago and it still is, it just can’t be printed in the official list because once a location wins they are removed it from the ability to receive the honor for 10 years!
We arrived back at the marina and took a rest under one of the shelters. Some of us even bought frozen treat from the concession stand! Next, we got back in the kayaks to paddle the mangrove trails on the island. There are approx. 1.5 miles of canoe/kayak trails but at high tide we were only able to paddle a portion of them. It was magical paddling through the mangroves – they were so full of life! Soon we were back out in the bay and heading back to our starting point. The water was no longer smooth as glass but it was not too bad either. We saw Osprey and Brown Pelicans and many other shorebirds. There were dolphins that came over to check out some of the kayakers, that was a real treat! As we approached the channel to cross back to Honeymoon Island we found that the water was more choppy and the current much stronger. The jet ski’s and boats were flying through the channel and the water was much tougher to travel in by kayak. Once back on the gulf side of Honeymoon Island the water was quite choppy and it was challenging the final mile and a half back to where we put in. At the end of the day everyone was well worn out! All had a fantastic time and we can’t wait to spend time with all of our guests again on another adventure!
For anyone concerned about the status of Florida’s beaches, they are beautiful! No oil anywhere off Tampa Bay or Clearwater. Come and visit this wonderful place that will put you at ease and sooth your soul!
Until next time,