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Honeymoon Island State Park

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Honeymoon Island View

Aerial view of Honeymoon Island from Nature Center

© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com

Unblemished nature is short drive away:

Isolated and secluded are both words that describe Honeymoon Island State Park, but so does convenient. This beautiful 2,810-acre park, located on the northernmost barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, is just a short drive across the causeway linking the island to the crowded mainland. Development has crept ever closer over the years, with retirement condos nearly casting a shadow over its entrance, but the park stands unspoiled and as a testament that man can enjoy nature without destroying it.

History includes what else… honeymooners:

In 1939, a New York developer, Clinton Washburn, purchased the island. He built 50 palm-thatched bungalows and together with Life magazine, held a contest for newly married couples. The contest winners were awarded a two-week “honeymoon” in the sunny Florida bungalows, giving the island its name.

Today the pine flatwoods and sandy beach dunes bring visitors of a different sort, but it is still an important location for shorebirds and the other animals that inhabit the island — gopher tortoises, raccoons, diamondback rattlesnakes, great horned owls and ospreys, to name a few.

Nature Center:

The Honeymoon Island Nature Center opened May 10, 2007 and features a number of exhibits and interactive, hands-on displays giving visitors a look at the island’s natural habitat. Children will particularly enjoy the “Scavenger Hunt” designed to help them have fun learning about all the different species that inhabit the island and the viewing deck provides an opportunity for visitors to get a birds-eye-view of the island’s natural beauty. The center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Beaches:

Honeymoon Island boasts miles of sandy beach where you can soak up the sun. Charming wooden swings located along the edge of the natural shoreline lure visitors to sit and enjoy the Florida sun, Gulf breezes and amazing sunsets.

Bring your faithful companion and enjoy the beach together at the designated Pet Beach on Honeymoon Island. It is one of the few places in Pinellas County that allows pets on the beach. Of course, for the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet and under your control at all times.

Concession and Honeymoon Cafe:

The small café, aptly named the Honeymoon Café is located on the main beach. If weather permits, enjoy sandwiches and snacks on the covered wooden deck facing the Gulf of Mexico. The food is cooked to order, so you might experience a slight wait, but our overall experience has been good and so was the food. The very small gift shop offers a few souvenirs and some of those “must haves” that you may have forgotten to pack — sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, etc. Kayaks, umbrellas and beach chairs are also available for rent.

Getting back to nature can be fun:

Honeymoon Island provides an array of activities for the outdoor lover. The Osprey Trail provides visitors a chance to observe one of the few remaining virgin slash pine stands in South Florida and over two miles of hiking.

Bring your own or rent a kayak at the concession and explore Pelican Cove which lies between the sand spit and nature trail. Swimming, surfing and shelling are all favorite pastimes at Honeymoon Island. Swimming is designated on the main beach. Shelling and surfing are the best on the north end of the island.

Information:

Honeymoon Island State Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 a.m. until sundown. There is a $5.00 per vehicle entrance fee (for up to 8 people per car), or a charge of $3.00 for single-occupant vehicles. A sunset fee of $3.00 per vehicle is applicable starting one hour prior to sunset. Picnic tables, two covered pavilions and barbecue grills are located on the northern end of the island. Pavilion rentals may be reserved in advance by calling 727-469-5942.

Several of the restroom facilities are ADA accessible. Florida's state parks are committed to providing equal access to all facilities and programs. If you should need assistance to participate in any activity at the park, please contact the ranger station in advance by calling 727-469-5942.

Directions:

Honeymoon Island State Park is located at the extreme west end of S.R. 586, north of Dunedin.

From I-75 (north of Tampa): Travel I-75 South to I-275 South towards Tampa. Exit onto Hillsborough Avenue West (Exit 47B – U.S. Hwy 92 – S.R. 580) and follow S.R. 586 at fork and continue westward until you come to the park.

From I-75 (south of Tampa): Travel I-75 North to I-4 (Exit 261) toward Tampa to I-275 North to Hillsborough Avenue West (Exit 47B) – U.S. Hwy 92 – S.R. 580) and follow S.R. 586 at fork and continue westward until you come to the park.

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