Posted by: soniahs | April 11, 2012

Hiking Caladesi Island

Over Spring Break, we took a day trip to Caladesi Island, which is a barrier island just north of Clearwater Beach. The island has a dynamic history- it was originally connected to what is now the further-north Honeymoon Island, but a 1921 hurricane dug a channel between the two islands, separating them. Then a 1985 hurricane created a sandbar connecting Caladesi to Clearwater Beach. So technically, it’s not really an island at the present.

Caladesi Island map, from Note the prominent lack of a sandbar connecting the state park to the beach to the south. I'm sure this helps maintain visitor fee revenue, which I have no problem with in principle.

Both Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands contain state parks– you can drive to Honeymoon, and Caladesi is accessible by ferry from there. We took the ferry over in the morning, and did some hiking and hanging out on the beach before heading back.

Longleaf pines and saw palmetto along the trail.

The trails in the island’s interior go through some scrub areas, as well as longleaf pine forest and mangroves. It was cool enough that we weren’t being blasted in the sun, though the shady forest trail was definitely refreshing. We actually got a bit of rain off and on, which was fine.

Florida’s an interesting place to hike, because you have really dry, sandy soil that supports different vegetation communities with really small changes in elevation. While most of the trail was dry, there were muddy areas with mangroves and wetland plants in places where the ground dipped down only a few feet.

There was prickly pear cactus in the drier parts of the island.

The scrub areas were perfect for gopher tortoises, and sure enough, we saw one munching away on grass near the trail. It seemed pretty used to people- we stopped and mutually stared at one another for a while, then it went on eating away. Maybe it was hungry after the morning’s rain.

Nom, nom, nom.

We also got to see a halo around the sun, which was pretty cool. I wasn’t sure this photo would turn out, but it shows up pretty well. (For more on halos, sun dogs, and other types of atmospheric phenomena, click on that link. That website is a really cool resource.)

All in all, it was a good way to relax and unwind before getting back to work.

22 degree sun halo. (Image: Y. Fernandez)



  1. […] our recent trip to Caladesi Island, I tried to do a better job of taking photos than I usually do. The birding wasn’t great when […]


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