VISIT FLORIDA Beaches Expert, David McRee, heads inland to explore natural treasures on Honeymoon Island’s beaches.
This is David McCree with visitflorida.com. You know, when I go to the beach, a lot of times I want to get as far away as I can from all the noise and the traffic and commerce. Florida State Park beaches provide some of the best opportunities to get away from it all. Today, we're gonna explore Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park. Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands used to be 1 island until a 1921 hurricane split it in two. So now, we have Honeymoon Island State Park to the north and Caladesi Island State Park to the south. Can you tell us a little bit about the origins of Honeymoon Island, how it got its name, and how it became what it is today? The 1st name was Sand Island. The 2nd name was Hog Island. And some very entrepreneuring people thought, "Hmm. Let me buy some offshore property." Hog Island wasn't very marketable. So duh, they came up with Honeymoon Island. And this was just prior to World War II when America was very much at play. It was an innocent age and you'll see that depicted in the various photos here and then on other panels here in the Nature Center. It said that all the couples that were married and spent honeymoons here, out of all of them, there were no divorces. We're gonna ride the Caladesi Connection, which provides ferry service from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi. We took a 20-minute ride over to the bay side of Caladesi Island. And we docked at the marina and now we're gonna walk across to the beach. There's 3 miles of undeveloped beaches. There's a nature trail. There's a snack bar. There's kayak rentals. Lots of stuff to do here and we're gonna check it all out and have a great time today. It's very natural and I just, it's beautiful. It's peaceful. There's no, it's not commercialized. There's no shops. It's very relaxing. And the sand is so nice. The water temperature is so warm. It's a beautiful beach. We love it. Just because you're on a state park beach, it's remote and quite, it doesn't mean there's nothing to do except sit around and stare at the sand. There's plenty to do here including renting a kayak and going on a trip to the mangrove forest or enjoying the nature trail and observing the wildlife. A lot of people don't take the time to explore the inland part of Caladesi Island. We have 650 upland acres, about 1800 submerged acres, submerged mangrove forests and grasslands. We have a 3-mile nature trail, which is what we're hiking on right now. And as you go along, you'll see that the terrain kind of rolling and undulating and that's because those are ancient dune lines, some of them going back thousands of years. When I'm paddling though the mangrove tunnels here on Caladesi Island State Park, the mangroves grow very densely here along the bay and they provide a very quiet canoe trail and it's shady in most places with the branches of the mango trees. There's a lot of wildlife back here, a lot of birds, and it provides a little nursery for fish and crustaceans to grow to adulthood. So it's a very sheltered area. It's a very peaceful, very quiet place to canoe or kayak and really relaxed. Some of the other great nature beaches in Florida that you can enjoy would be Henderson Beach State Park, St. Andrews State Park, Guana River State Park, and also Canaveral National Seashore. And also, I highly recommend that you take the ferry out to Cayo Costa Island State Park. And that is an absolutely beautiful park that's very much like Florida was when the 1st explorers came here. Sometimes it seems like the beaches that have all the hotels and the restaurants and the shops are the ones that get all the publicity. But nature is really important to us here in Florida. All you have to do is visit some of our beautiful state park beaches to realize that there's still plenty of nature here left in Florida to enjoy. So come on and see the real Florida. This is David McCree, Florida beaches expert for visitflorida.com. I'll see you at the beach!
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