Serenity and sweeping natural beauty make Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida a treasure. At this 2,810-acre park the natural splendors of Florida’s Gulf coast are the main attraction. The Parks Departments mission to preserve the natural wildlife, shoreline and vegetation is tantamount to insuring both the enjoyment of visitors and, more importantly, the delicate ecosystem that sustains shorebirds, sea turtles, Ospreys, Horned Owls and more. Along the soft sandy beaches are concession stands and outbuildings with showers, changing rooms and bathrooms. For me, the beauty of Honeymoon Island is at the northern end of this barrier island. On the lush and winding Osprey Trail walkers traverse through one of the few remaining slash pine forests in Southern Florida until the waters of St. Josephs sound become visible. The trail continues through dense Mangroves and near the waters edge. The well-preserved nature path is often shaded by tall pine trees and graced with only the sound of the rustling natural palms that catch the sea breeze and the calls of the wildlife and birds that make this island their home or breeding grounds. Of immense beauty, the nature trail is a second attraction to the ever-changing natural coastline and beach on the island’s northern tip.
For many years I have driven to the northern most parking lot and walked, away from the concession houses and beach outbuildings along an ever-changing coastline on Honeymoon Island. I have seen the wide beaches narrow and re-widen, sandbars appear, disappear, connect, and expand, all with the rages of weather and changing tides. Wind-swept Palms and bushes that attempt to grow closer to the shore sometimes interrupt the wide beach and their gnarled struggle to survive is both beautiful and beguiling. I have watches schools of dolphins swim and frolic near me while sunbathing on a shallow sandbar 50-yards off the shore. The days that I see more dolphins and birds then people on the beach are my happiest days at Honeymoon Island. Luckily for me that is most of the time. It is spectacular to watch white clouds over the endless Gulf of Mexico and to see storms to the south over Clearwater or thunder and lighting in the distance over Dunedin and Palm Harbor. At the far most tip of the island the waters of the gulf wash over and around delicate and isolated sandbars during the tidal changes. Devoid of vegetation these sandbars are islands of quiet purity and timelessness. The sky and shoreline seem endless on Honeymoon Island where pristine beauty is truly immersive and awe-inspiring.
To best experience the beauty of natural Florida and Honeymoon Island State Park I recommend that you stay in the quaint “old Florida” town of Dunedin. We made the new Fenway Hotel our home and the nightly social scene was a cosmopolitan respite to our days spent in the Florida’s natural splendor. In the mornings we loaded up the Hyundai Santa Fe with everything needed for a full day and made our way to Honeymoon Island.
Visit Florida for more information on the multitude of Florida attractions.
Story and photography by David Lewis Taylor.
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