Honeymoon Island State Park has an interesting history that dates back to the 1930s. Originally named Hog Island, the island underwent a transformation when a New York developer, Clinton Washburn, purchased it in the early 1930s.
He built 50 thatched-roof bungalows to accommodate honeymooners, renamed the island “Honeymoon Isle,” and began marketing it as a romantic getaway destination. Newlyweds would win trips to the island through a newspaper promotion, hence the name “Honeymoon Island.”
During World War II, the island was used for military training, and the honeymoon bungalows fell into disrepair. The island was eventually acquired by the state of Florida in 1964, and in 1981, it officially became Honeymoon Island State Park.
Today, the park is a popular destination for couples, families, and nature enthusiasts, attracting over one million visitors annually.
Honeymoon Island beaches
Honeymoon Island State Park is home to several stunning beaches that cater to different interests and activities. With over four miles of sandy shores and crystal-clear waters, the beaches on Honeymoon Island provide a perfect retreat for sunbathing, swimming, and shell collecting.
Honeymoon Island’s pet-friendly beach
One of the unique features of Honeymoon Island State Park is its pet-friendly beach, which allows visitors to enjoy a day at the beach with their four-legged friends. This special section of the beach is dedicated to dogs and their owners, ensuring that everyone can have a fun and safe experience.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the pet-friendly beach:
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times, with a maximum length of six feet.
- Make sure your dog is under your control and well-behaved to ensure a pleasant experience for all visitors.
- Bring waste bags and clean up after your pet. There are disposal stations provided along the beach for your convenience.
- Be aware of other dogs and their owners, giving them space and respecting their boundaries.
- Bring fresh water and a portable bowl for your dog to drink, as the saltwater is not suitable for their consumption.
Things to do at Honeymoon Island State Park
- Kayaking and paddleboarding: Explore the serene waters around Honeymoon Island by gliding through the mangroves and estuaries on a kayak or paddleboard. You can rent these from Sail Honeymoon, a company located near the park entrance that offers single and tandem kayaks, as well as paddleboards for a fun-filled day on the water.
- Biking: Cycling around Honeymoon Island is a delightful way to take in the park’s natural beauty. Wheel Fun Rentals, located within the park, offers a variety of bikes for rent, including Double Surrey, Cruiser Bike, and Kids Bike with Surrey. Enjoy a leisurely ride along the park’s paved paths or explore the nearby Pinellas Trail.
- Fishing: Cast your line and enjoy a relaxing day of fishing from the park’s shoreline or fishing pier. Common catches include snook, redfish, sea trout, and sheepshead. Don’t forget to follow Florida’s fishing regulations and obtain a license if needed.
- Picnicking: Honeymoon Island offers several picnic areas with tables and grills, perfect for a family gathering or a romantic lunch. Pack a basket, bring a blanket, and enjoy a meal surrounded by the park’s natural beauty.
- Swimming: The park’s pristine beaches provide an excellent opportunity for swimming in the calm Gulf waters. Lifeguards are typically on duty during peak season, but always exercise caution and pay attention to posted signs and flags.
- Jet Skiing: For those looking for a more thrilling water adventure, jet ski rentals are available from nearby vendors like Coastal Cruise Adventure. They offer a range of options, from hourly rentals to 6-hour excursions. Explore the waters around Honeymoon Island, but remember to adhere to safety guidelines and respect the park’s designated zones.
- Hiking Nature Trails: Honeymoon Island features several scenic nature trails, including the Osprey Trail and Pelican Cove Trail. These trails offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s diverse ecosystems, observe native wildlife, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring water, and follow the trail markers.
- Visit Caladesi Island: Accessible by ferry from Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island State Park is another unspoiled gem offering pristine beaches, nature trails, and excellent opportunities for birdwatching. Spend a day exploring this tranquil island, which is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the United States.
Opening hours and entrance fee
Honeymoon Island State Park is open 365 days a year, including holidays. The park hours are typically from 8:00 AM to sunset. However, it’s always a good idea to check the official website or contact the park for any updates or changes in hours before your visit.
The entrance fees for Honeymoon Island State Park are as follows:
- $8 per vehicle (2-8 people)
- $4 for a single occupant vehicle or motorcycle
- $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, or passengers in a vehicle with a holder of an Annual Individual Entrance Pass
Note that these fees are subject to change, so it’s wise to confirm the current rates on the official Florida State Parks website before your visit.
Where to eat near the state park?
While Honeymoon Island State Park offers a few picnic areas and a café within the park, there are several dining options nearby in Dunedin and Palm Harbor. Here are a few recommendations:
- Frenchy’s Outpost Bar & Grill – Located just across the Dunedin Causeway, Frenchy’s offers a casual dining experience with a variety of seafood dishes, burgers, and tropical drinks.
- Casa Tina – A popular Mexican restaurant in downtown Dunedin, offering authentic Mexican cuisine made from fresh ingredients, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.
- Olde Bay Cafe & Dunedin Fish Market – Located on Dunedin Marina, this café offers fresh seafood, sandwiches, and salads with a beautiful view of the waterfront.
- The Black Pearl – A fine dining option in downtown Dunedin, The Black Pearl offers an elegant atmosphere and a menu featuring seafood, steaks, and a variety of creative dishes.
- Kelly’s – The Chic A Boom Room – Also located in downtown Dunedin, Kelly’s offers a diverse menu ranging from sandwiches and burgers to seafood and steaks, with a lively atmosphere and occasional live music.
How to get to Honeymoon Island?
Getting to Honeymoon Island State Park is relatively simple, whether you’re driving or using public transportation. The park is located in Dunedin, Florida, on the Gulf Coast, just a short drive from Tampa and St. Petersburg.
- By public transportation
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) operates a bus service that connects to Honeymoon Island State Park. You can take the Route 66 bus (Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector) from various points in Clearwater, Dunedin, and Palm Harbor, which stops at Honeymoon Island. For more detailed route and schedule information, visit the PSTA website (www.psta.net).
As the sun sets over the azure waters, casting a warm golden glow on Honeymoon Island State Park, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of enchantment.
This idyllic oasis has been weaving its spell on visitors for decades, providing a magical escape for couples seeking romance and nature enthusiasts chasing their next adventure.
From the sun-kissed shores that invite relaxation to the winding trails teeming with wildlife, this park is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. So, why not pack your bags, grab your loved ones (furry friends included), and set sail for Honeymoon Island – the perfect getaway where memories are made and love blossoms.