Dr. Rob Norman
Do you want an incredible place to hike, bike, take photos, boat, swim, or just sit and relax? Here it is–Honeymoon Island State Park. This amazing Florida State Park with 385 acres in land area and four miles of beach is located on Honeymoon Island.
Honeymoon Island was introduced to the American public in the early 1940s through newsreels and magazines, all advertising the pleasures of the island for newlyweds. Honeymoon and the neighboring Caladesi Island were originally part of a large barrier island that split in half during a major hurricane in 1921. The waterway between the islands is known as Hurricane Pass.
Honeymoon Island was formerly known as Hog Island, not exactly a magnetic name to draw newlyweds. Honeymoon-type huts were built on the island for vacationing and resulted in a name change. When World War II began, the huts were rarely used and eventually were torn down. Honeymoon Island was turned into a state park and a causeway leading to the island was constructed in 1964 (Dunedin Causeway, north of Clearwater).
During a reason visit, I noted the enormous amount of ospreys with nests scattered all over and was able to get several photos of the birds feeding on freshly caught fish. Along with various species of tern, plover, and wading birds, I photographed owls and eagles that regularly return to the nests each year. A pair of bald eagles made a nest on Osprey Trail in the autumn of 2008. Although visitors must stay back 300 ft., the location is well marked and easily observed with binoculars.
The barrier island park is a refuge for a number of species of trees and plants including south Florida slash pines, palms, and mangroves. I witnessed a gopher tortoise beginning to dig a new tunnel; each eco-engineering turtle may dig thirty or more tunnels often more than ten ft. deep and thirty ft. long, and each tunnel also provides refuge for dozens of other species.
A ferry from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island State Park takes passengers across Hurricane Pass, although Caladesi Island is easily accessible by walking from Clearwater Beach. Dolphin pods are often sighted on the trip and also while walking along the Honeymoon Island beach.
The Rotary Centennial Nature Center includes exhibits about the natural and cultural history of Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands and an elevated observation deck.
The Honeymoon Island State Park is on a barrier island across St. Joseph’s Sound from Palm Harbor, Ozona, and Crystal Beach, at the western end of Causeway Blvd., which becomes Curlew Rd. east of Alternate US 19. The address is 1 Causeway Blvd. Florida state parks are open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays).
Get out to Honeymoon Island and enjoy The Great Florida Outdoors!
Dr. Rob Norman 813-880-7546