Regionally, Tampa Bay encompasses four cities—Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Brandenton—but Tampa Bay is actually a body of water, the largest open-water estuary in Florida, covering nearly 400 square miles. Situated on Florida's Gulf Coast, it encompasses some of the best, award-winning beaches in the state.
If relaxing on sugar white sand under sunny skies sounds appealing, if nearly unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities sound like fun, and simply spectacular sunsets sound romantic, then these Tampa Bay beaches are for you.
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Accessible only by private boat or ferry service from Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island State Park is reportedly one of the favorite getaways for Dr. Beach, and he ranks it consistently among America's top beaches year after year.
Caladesi's beach features nearly four miles of white glistening sand with modern shower and restroom facilities located along the boardwalks that span the protected sand dunes. Outdoor enthusiasts have over an hour of hiking trails and other outdoor recreational opportunities include swimming, fishing, boating, birding, picnicking and shelling. One of the more popular activities is renting a kayak to enjoy the 3-mile, mangrove-shaded kayak trail.
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While just a mile-long, Clearwater Beach provides an array of recreational opportunities for the public and enough parking for easy access. Lifeguards are on duty year-round; and, near the pier entrance are well-maintained picnic shelters, shaded playground equipment, open-air restrooms, and concessions.
While the other beaches have equally spectacular sunsets, this is the beach community that celebrates each sunset nightly.
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Award-winning Fort DeSoto Park is the centerpiece in a crown of park jewels in Pinellas County. It's nearly three miles of beaches are among the best in the nation—with North Beach garnering No. 1 in Dr. Beach's Top 10 list of America's Best Beaches in 2005.
Headlining the outdoor recreational opportunities at Fort DeSoto Park is the historically significant fort that is open for self-guided tours. Other recreational opportunities include miles of bike paths, hiking trails, a boat launch facility, two fishing piers, a campground, and a dog park with beach access.
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Fred H. Howard Park, located near Tarpon Springs, is a popular destination for locals and those in the know. The recently refurbished beach is linked to the park by a one-mile causeway. Most weekends the causeway is crowded with outdoor enthusiasts that turn out to fish, windsurf, and launch canoes and kayaks.
The white sandy beach with its small dunes and swaying palms is a slice of paradise for sun seekers, and the salty turquoise blue water of the Gulf of Mexico lures swimmers year round. Lifeguards are on duty. Beach facilities include showers and restrooms and special beach wheelchairs are available for the disabled.
Playgrounds, picnic areas, a ball field, walking and running trails all provide additional outdoor recreational opportunities.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Honeymoon Island State Park feels secluded but is actually very convenient to the mainland. While its beaches are not as wide, nor pristine as the neighboring Caladesi Island, it is still a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
Those seeking a place that welcomes fido will find a designated doggie beach. Other outdoor recreational opportunities include picnicking, hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and shelling.
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