Here's your guide to St. Petersburg/Clearwater area beaches and state parks
By VISIT FLORIDA staff
Beaches and parks are listed geographically from north to south.
This area has 35 miles of powder-white barrier island beaches near Clearwater on the Gulf of Mexico.
From undeveloped, isolated island hideaways to wide, soft city beaches, you find exactly what you want in this slice of Florida. Area beaches have won many awards for everything from sand quality to environmental management. Whether you're in town for a quiet respite or can't wait to catch some waves, you're in the right place.
A picturesque 1887 federal lighthouse stands lookout on the southern end of the island's four-mile beach, while ospreys nest in the pines throughout the island. Six distinct biological communities provide habitat for dozens of species of birds, including bald eagles. Anclote Key is an excellent swimming area and provides a perfect area for nature study. The island is accessible only by boat, but you can catch a ride from the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs.
Located in north Pinellas County on the Gulf of Mexico, this 155-acre family park features a 1,000-foot public beach. A mile-long causeway connects the swimming area with the mainland. It's a good spot to go windsurfing or to watch others who are.
This small city-run park in Tarpon Springs features a quiet, sheltered waterway in the north end of Pinellas County. The light surf and constant breeze makes this a perfect area for windsurfing or sunset watching.
Both sandy and rocky shores line this state park. Wildlife is abundant, and two bird observation areas and nature trails offer plenty of opportunities to see osprey and other native Florida wildlife. Sunbathing, shelling, swimming, fishing and picnicking are also popular here.
Named by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman (Dr. Beach) as the second-best beach in the United States in 2006, and as the top beach in 2008, Caladesi is a pristine island accessible only by boat. Enjoy the three-mile nature trail that winds through the island's interior. Ferries depart hourly from nearby Honeymoon Island. Spend your day shelling, picnicking, swimming or scuba diving.
This wide beach of sugar-fine sand draws volleyball players, sun worshippers and swimmers. In other words, this is where the action is. Pier 60 Park features a recreation complex on Clearwater's expansive beach with covered playgrounds, fishing and concessions. Come visit Pier 60 for festivals, concerts, entertainment, and most of all, beautiful Gulf of Mexico sunsets.
With a half-mile of powder-white sand and gorgeous blue water, Sand Key Park is consistently rated among the top beaches in the United States. Hosting mostly families, the 90-acre park includes picnic shelters, restrooms and plenty of parking.
This beach is the beginning of a narrow strip of gulf-side communities surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other. Belleair Beach offers one public beach access point at Morgan Street, the largest beach site. The Belleair Causeway, a popular place to windsurf and kayak, connects Belleair Beach to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area mainland.
Indian Rocks Beach features wide, flat, white-sand beaches near Clearwater and is accessible by a beach access points along Gulf Boulevard. The public access park is conveniently located near several restaurants and shops.
Indian Shores includes access to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. The beachside sanctuary is the largest wild bird hospital in the United States and cares for more than 500 birds at a time. Public beach access is north of Park Boulevard. Tiki Gardens park is the most popular beach access point in the area and features ample parking, restrooms and showers.
Redington Shores, North Redington Beach and Redington Beach are relatively quiet neighborhood beaches near Clearwater known for the Redington Long Pier. Public beach access points are available throughout the area.
A favorite among tourists and locals, this wide, sandy beach is packed on weekends with families and singles, both young and old. At the southern end is John's Pass Village. This cozy, turn-of-the-19th century fishing village is a world apart in rustic charm. There are several beach access points, the largest being at the County Park, which is a 1.5-acre site featuring 450 feet of beach, ample parking, restrooms and showers.
This big, wide, community beach has abundant sea shells on its white shores, which are often jamming with sports, concerts and cooking and crafts shows. A playground and three public boat ramps are also on site. There are six public access points
Set on seven-mile Long Key, which also contains the community of Pass-a-Grille and the renowned Don CeSar Hotel, St. Pete Beach offers wide swaths of shelly sand and usually calm waters, making this a popular family hangout and is an ideal place for a long walk. Water sports abound on these five-miles of soft sand. Public access, restrooms and showers are available at Upham Beach..
The first established town on Florida's West Coast barrier islands, Pass-a-Grille retains its historic charm. The area has no tall buildings and the beach is wide. The one-block-wide peninsula features inns, stores and restaurants. There is parking along the beach, and showers and restrooms are located near the center of town.
This island features dynamic sand dunes and beaches. Shell Key remains one of the last pristine barrier islands in Florida, providing an ideal habitat for more than 100 species of nesting, migrating and wintering seabirds and shorebirds. Its beach offers excellent shelling and sunbathing opportunities. Located near Tierra Verde just north of Fort DeSoto Park, this island is accessible only by boat. You can catch a ride from St. Pete Beach.
TripAdvisor readers named Fort De Soto Park America's Top Beach in 2009. A historic fort built during the Spanish-American War is located on Mullet Key, the largest of the five islands making up this unique area that features fishing piers, kayak rentals, rollerblading and biking trails, camping areas and 900 unspoiled acres including seven miles of wide, white-sand beaches.
This 440-acre island wildlife refuge was once a camp for captured Seminoles and, later, a Civil War Navy base. Accessible only by boat, this island is recognized by its 1858 lighthouse and the ruins of Fort Dade. Daily tours to the island are offered from Fort DeSoto, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and John's Pass.