A Guide to Honeymoon Island State Park
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Honeymoon Island State Park is one of the most visited state parks in all of Florida and features a gorgeous beachfront among a variety of other facilities. The state park is located in Dunedin, Florida in the northwest suburbs of the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg metropolitan area. 4 miles of beach access is available to the public via the Honeymoon Island State Park which makes it the perfect getaway destination. Covering a portion of the Gulf of Mexico coastline and the entirety of Honeymoon Island, the state park comprises a wide assortment of activities and adventures you can take part in when visiting the area.
The Hurricane Pass
The Honeymoon Island State Park contains the entirety of a barrier island on Florida’s west coast. Before the arrival of colonists, the area was heavily utilized by Native Americans for the coastline’s enriched sealife. Nearby, the modern-day Caladesi Island State Park encompasses the barrier island directly south of Honeymoon Island. These two now separate state parks were once one large barrier island named Hog Island. In 1921, a devastating hurricane passed directly over the barrier island and created a channel in the middle, thus splitting the island in two.
Happily Never After
Beginning in the 1930s, a businessman purchased the island and ran a Life Magazine article promoting the island as the perfect honeymoon location for newlyweds. This advertising campaign led to the creation of over fifty “Honeymoon Cottages” and resulted in the name change from Hog Island to Honeymoon Island. During World War II, the island was used by a defense contractor and the island fell to disuse following the war. Beginning in the 60s, a developer began the process of land reclamation surrounding the islands constructing a massive residential complex. However, the development went sour after poor soil reclamation and increased scrutiny from environmental activists. Construction was forced to halt in 1969 with just a land bridge connecting to the mainland to show for it.
State Park Era
Following its many past private uses, Honeymoon Island State Park was created in the 1970s. First, only a partial area of the island was owned by the state but the rest soon followed. The State of Florida has pursued many environmental restoration programs in the park including the eradication of invasive species, beach renovations, and the construction of tourist facilities on the island.
The Destination: Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon State park can be reached anywhere in the Tampa Bay area by taking Florida State Road 580 west to Dunedin. The Dunedin Causeway is the bridge linking the island to Florida’s mainland. US Highway 19, running north to south, crosses with Dunedin Causeway perpendicularly. Access to the park can also be granted by boat through the on-site marina. The Intracoastal Waterway passes through the area so there is significant boat traffic. Therefore, it is relatively simple for private boats to dock in the marina for a fee.
As the site is a part of the Florida State Park system, it follows state regulations in opening daily between 8 am and sunset regardless of the season. There is also an entrance fee into the park of $8 per vehicle and includes parking for the day. If you intend to visit the island often You can also purchase an annual pass.
The 200-acre state park features a plethora of amenities for visitors to enjoy from sunbathing at the beach to kayak rentals. On the beach, visitors can go fishing, boating, canoeing, and other activities. Beach access is wheelchair accessible and the entire family can enjoy the day with a nearby children’s playground. Dogs are allowed inside the park and there is even a special beach for dogs to enjoy the ocean as well.
Outside of the beach areas, there are nature trails that run along the edge of the park and through the center of the island. The Osprey Trail and Pelican Cove trail range from three-quarters of a mile to two miles in length. On these trails, visitors can view an abundance of wildlife including bald eagles, palmetto trees, mangroves, and remarkable sea life. At times, dolphin pods appear near the shore and it is possible to catch a glimpse of these intelligent animals. Caution should be taken when hiking and enjoying the nature trails in the park as rattlesnakes have been found in the area.
If you do not wish to spend your time hiking trails, riding a bike throughout the park mat suit you. Honeymoon Island State Park offers bike rentals for you to ride along and explore the paved portions of the island.
Another popular activity nearby is the Circle of Heroes 10 miles off the coast of Honeymoon State Park. The Circle of Heroes is a protected collection of military statues commemorating veterans that has become an increasingly popular dive spot in the region. Currently, there are twelve statues that can be visited with another twelve in the works of being added to the collection.
Facilities located within Honeymoon State Park include access to public restrooms with shower stations and a picnic area for communal gatherings. If you have any hankering for a snack, there are public concessions and a small coffee shop located on state park property. The park concession also sells beach necessities and souvenirs. So if you accidentally forget your sunscreen at home, Honeymoon Island has it for your convenience.
What is the weather at Honeymoon State Park?
Honeymoon State Park is located in the transitional region between subtropical and tropical climate zones. Therefore, it is hot and humid nearly year-round with only a couple nights below freezing in the winter months. Instead of a traditional summer/winter seasonal pattern, the primary climatic changes occur between the wet and dry season. Hurricanes can occur in the wet season from June to September which may be a consideration if you plan to visit the Dunedin area during this time.
Things To Do
If you do not wish to pay for entry into the state park and instead are looking simply for a public beach, the Dunedin Causeway that connects the island to the mainland has a strip of beach on either side of the road. There are entry points to the beach along the causeway which make for easy access. This setup is ideal for those just pining for an escape to paradise without access to park facilities. Cars can drive on the beach as it is wide enough to support a lane of traffic and free parking. However, since beach entry is free and it is not located within the state park, the quality of the beach is much lacking.
Caladesi Island State Park comprises the barrier island directly south Of Honeymoon Island and is accessible via a ferry which operates between the two state parks. For $14 per rider, you can enjoy a ferry ride across Hurricane Pass to the opposite island’s state park. You can also access the park on foot by walking north through Clearwater Beach. Caladesi Island State Park has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States.
Facilities in the park include a 3-mile nature trail, a marina, public bathrooms, and a food stand names Caladesi Cafe. Many of the same water-based activities can be found here as in Honeymoon Island State Park including fishing, swimming, kayaking, and hiking.
Tarpon Springs is a city located a few miles north of Honeymoon Island State Park. Massive immigration to Tarpon Springs from Greece has resulted in it becoming the city with the highest density of Greek Americans in the United States. Downtown Tarpon Springs is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in the nearby area. Sea sponges became the primary industry in the area which attracted immigrants from the Greek Islands to work in sponge farming. There are still attractions and stores in the area teaching tourists about the local economy’s sponge history. You can peruse the
Other Greek influences permeate the core of the city’s culture including the main thoroughfare, Dodecanese Avenue, which boasts incredible Greek restaurants and seafood. In June, Opa Palooza! Tarpon Springs festival brings in delicious Mediterranean cuisine, arts, and music to the region. Tarpon Springs is a unique enclave of Greek influences that offers visitors an interesting escape to the Aegean Sea and to the likes of Symi or Lesbos.
Just a short 45-minute drive from Honeymoon Island State Park, Tampa, Florida is another nearby tourist haven. Boundless activities, restaurants, and lodging exist in the city, which makes it a popular attraction for visitors to the Tampa Bay Area. You can enjoy a fun night out at some of the popular clubs, dine at delicious seafood and Cuban inspired restaurants, or spend the day at Big Cat Rescue, the largest sanctuary for abused big cats. Food trucks are a staple of the city with record-breaking numbers during the annual Food Truck Rally.
Catch a game during any season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), and Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) all located in the area. Busch Gardens Tampa is a thrill for the entire family. The African and animal-themed amusement park comprises of many roller coasters and exciting exhibits of animals from around the world. Likewise, the Florida Aquarium is located within the metro area and displays aquatic animals in their natural habitats. Bountiful shopping exists in Tampa as well with everything from opulent malls to souvenir shops. Many visitors to Honeymoon Island State Park stay overnight in Tampa or the surrounding area and travel to the park for a relaxing day at the beach.
Where to Stay
There is neither accommodation available nor overnight camping allowed inside the state park. If you wish to stay within reach of Honeymoon State Park you must stay in the neighboring cities of Clearwater, Dunedin, or elsewhere in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. There is a wide range of places for tourists to lodge from condominiums to beach houses. There are a few villas near the origin of the Dunedin Causeway. You may be able to find accommodation closer to the park with Airbnb or similar rental companies.
How was your adventure to Honeymoon Island State Park? Do you have any tips or recommendations for future visitors?
1 Causeway Blvd. Dunedin, Florida 34698