Honeymoon Island State Park

When most people think of the must-see destinations in Florida, cities such as Miami, Orlando, Daytona and Jacksonville come to mind.  And while each of those locations has plenty to offer and will contribute to a fun, exciting trip through the state, there are plenty of other places that are relatively unknown but just as significant.  Take, for example, Dunedin, which lies on the western coast, a short drive from Tampa.  With fewer than 40,000 residents and few tall buildings, Dunedin doesn’t seem like much.  But looks can be deceiving, as Dunedin has plenty to offer; one highlight is that the town is home to the spring training camp of the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays.

Another, arguably more enjoyable attraction in Dunedin, though, is Honeymoon Island State Park.  Originally named Hog Island, the area was (thankfully) renamed Honeymoon Isle in 1939 after the construction of a number of beach houses aimed at luring newlyweds for a scenic stay.  But you don’t need to be on your honeymoon to visit this state park, although the scenic views, dazzling nature and entertaining activities will certainly put that newlywed spark back in any marriage.

As with all Florida state parks, Honeymoon Island State Park is open from 8am until dusk, every day of the year.  Admission to the park costs $8 for any vehicle with between two and eight passengers; single occupant vehicles are charged $4; and admission for bicyclists, pedestrians and passengers beyond the eight-passenger limit is $2.  Of course, the experience itself is priceless, with Honeymoon Island State Park offering fun for the whole family.

First and foremost is the beach – what’s a trip to Florida without kicking around some sand and taking in a view of the ocean?  Luckily, you won’t have to find out, as Honeymoon Island State Park has four miles of shore to explore.  In addition to the park’s main beach, there is also a pet beach on the south end of the park and a sand spit to the north.  The vast expanse provides plenty of space for swimming, sunbathing hunting for seashells, building sand castles and playing beach sports and games. And in case you work up a sweat or just need to shed some sand, there are showers located by the boardwalk at the main beach.

Of course, the ocean still has plenty more to offer, including great fishing.  Visitors to Honeymoon Island State Park can catch one of the many species in the surrounding waters, such as whiting, flounder, snapper, mackerel, ladyfish and many more.  Wildlife abounds both above and below the surface, as awe-inspiring birds such as ospreys, terns, egrets and Great Blue Herons also call the park home.  And there may be a few more domestic representatives of the animal kingdom on hand as well, as Honeymoon Island State Park does allow pets.

For the adventurous visitors, a kayaking expedition to Pelican Cove or a hike along the 2.5 mile nature trail may be in order.  Honeymoon Island State Park is also a great place to surf, with the northern end of the beach providing the best conditions.  Also on the northern end is a playground for those too young to brave the waves.

Undoubtedly, all of that activity will work up a serious appetite, which is why Honeymoon Island State Park offers dining options.  Picnic pavilions with grills are available for ambitious visitors, while those preferring not to cook can head over to the park concession stand for food and drinks as well as souvenirs and beach gear.  And even though the visit must draw to a close at some point, the memories from this honeymoon will last forever.