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Top Tampa Bay Beaches

Enjoy sun, sand and spectacular sunsets at these area beaches!

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Regionally, Tampa Bay encompasses four cities — Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Brandenton — but Tampa Bay is actually a body of water, the largest open-water estuary in Florida, covering nearly 400 square miles. Situated on Florida's Gulf Coast, it encompasses some of the best, award-winning beaches in the state. If relaxing on sugar white sand under sunny skies sounds appealing, if nearly unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities sounds like fun, and simply spectacular sunsets sounds romantic... then these Tampa Bay beaches are for you!

1. Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island Beach
© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com

Accessible only by private boat or ferry service from Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island is reportedly one of the favorite getaways for Dr. Beach, and he ranks it consistently among America's top beaches year after year.

Caladesi's beach features nearly four miles of white glistening sand with modern shower and restroom facilities located along the boardwalks that span the protected sand dunes. Outdoor enthusiasts have over an hour of hiking trails and other outdoor recreational opportunities include swimming, fishing, boating, birding, picnicking and shelling. One of the more popular activities is renting a kayak to enjoy the three-mile, mangrove-shaded kayak trail.

| Caladesi Island Photo Tour |

2. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Sunset
© Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

While just a mile-long, Clearwater Beach provides an array of recreational opportunities for the public and enough parking for easy access. Lifeguards are on duty year-round; and, near the pier entrance are well-maintained picnic shelters, shaded playground equipment, open-air restrooms and concessions.

While the other beaches have equally spectacular sunsets, this is the beach community that celebrates each sunset... nightly!

| Clearwater Beach Sunset Celebration |

3. Fort DeSoto Park

Fort DeSoto Park Gulf Pier
© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com

Award-winning Fort DeSoto Park is the centerpiece in a crown of park jewels in Pinellas County. It's nearly three miles of beaches are among the best in the nation — with North Beach garnering No. 1 in Dr. Beach's Top 10 list of America's Best Beaches in 2005.

Headlining the outdoor recreational opportunities at Fort DeSoto Park is the historically significant fort that is open for self-guided tours. Other recreational opportunities include, miles of bike paths, hiking trails, a boat launch facility, two fishing piers and a dog park with beach access.

| Fort Desoto Campground |

4. Fred H. Howard Park

Fred H. Howard Park Beach
© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com

This park, located near Tarpon Springs, is a popular destination for locals and those in the know. The recently refurbished beach is linked to the park by a one-mile causeway. Most weekends the causeway is crowded with outdoor enthusiasts that turn out to fish, wind surf and launch canoes and kayaks.

The white sandy beach with its small dunes and swaying palms is a slice of paradise for sun seekers, and the salty turquoise blue water of the Gulf of Mexico lures swimmers year round. Lifeguards are on duty. Beach facilities include showers and restrooms and special beach wheelchairs are available for the disabled.

Playgrounds, picnic areas, a ball field, walking and running trails all provide additional outdoor recreational opportunities.

5. Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island Beach
© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com

Honeymoon Island State Park feels secluded, but is actually very convenient to the mainland. While its beaches are not as wide, nor pristine as the neighboring Caladesi Island, it is still a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Those seeking a place that welcomes fido will find a designated doggie beach. Other outdoor recreational opportunities include picnicking, hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming and shelling.

| Honeymoon Island Photo Tour |

6. Sand Key Park

Sand Key
© Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

While Sand Key itself includes an array of over-developed beaches from John's Pass on the south and Clearwater Pass on the north, Sand Key Park is still a favorite among beach "experts." The shelly, white sand beach is among the widest in the area.

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