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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

Kayaking to Caladesi Island State Park

Updated: Apr 27

A kayaking adventure to Caladesi Island off the gulf coast in Florida!

One of the top things I’ve wanted to do in Florida was go to Caladesi Island State Park. I thought it would be so cool to go to an island and I read there are lots of seashells scattered on the beach. I love beach combing. There’s something so relaxing about focusing on something so simple and exciting.

We woke up pretty early and after packing our bags started our drive to Honeymoon Island where we could take a ferry to Caladesi Island State Park. I didn’t plan on getting wet, so I didn’t bring a swimsuit or towel or my GoPro. I only had the clothes I was wearing: tank top, sweat pants and flip flops.

As we were driving across the causeway to Honeymoon Island I was telling my mom about the different ways people access the island, such as, ferry, boat, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. We both agreed that kayaking there sounded like a lot of fun. So I looked up kayak rentals and prices just to see how much it was. The more we talked about it the more we were like, why not? On a whim we decided to to rent a two person kayak and get to Caladesi Island by kayaking instead of taking the ferry like we originally planned. I hadn’t kayaked in a long time. It was something my Papa and I used to do together.

We kayaked to the island and found a small little beach in an inlet on the bayside where we stopped and got out of the kayak. We saw these shell looking shapes on the beach that looked like they might be turtles. When we got closer they weren’t turtles, but skeletons of stingrays. There were three of them on that section of beach, and we saw more on other beaches around the island. There were a lot of small crabs, the kind that walk sideways. Tons of holes dotted the sandy beach and when there was no movement the crabs would all come out. They reminded me of the meerkats in the Lion King. Popping in and out of their holes.

We decided to continue exploring the island by kayak so we left the little beach and kayaked around the bayside of the island. There weren’t many beaches just bushes with huge roots that came out of the water that covered the shoreline. It was like kayaking in a bayou. There were tons of birds in the shrubs and trees. We saw quite a few fish every now and then that would jump out of the water. It was so peaceful and relaxing.

We kayaked for a while and then decided to turn back and head toward the beach area we had previously been at. I stupidly left my larger lens in the car because I didn’t think I would need it, UGH. Note to self: always bring all of your camera gear, whether you think you’ll need it or not. And a swimsuit. And a snack.

We went back to the beach and enjoyed laying in the sun. I also went exploring along the beach and in the shallows of the water. I found a lot of shells that were still alive and even a few shell crab things. There were a lot of little fish in the shallows of the water, but they were rather skiddish. I found some really cool shells that didn’t have anything living in them.

We decided we wanted to see the ocean side of the island, but didn’t want to kayak there since the tide was going out. We left our kayak on the beach and trekked in the shallows of the water around the tip of the island. Along the way we found more shells and enjoyed seeing the beaches. When we reached the last corner where we could begin walking on the beach, we had to wade in the water around shrubs. It was deeper than we expected and came clear up to our waists. There were a lot more people on the tip of the island where it met the ocean. We walked a ways until we could see down the ocean side beach. It was beautiful, the sand was so light and fine. A myriad of small shells decorated the top of the sand.

We had to head back to the kayak so we would have time to paddle over to Honeymoon Island and return the kayak before our rental time was up. Instead of wading in the water around the corner with shrubs we decided to walk through the grass to the beach on the other side. Bad idea. As I was walking through the grass I accidentally stepped in some barbed-like thorns that went into my feet. I had to stop and pull them out, after that I piggy-backed on my mom’s back and she carried me to the beach (yes, I’m that lame).

We made our way back to the kayak and started our journey back to Honeymoon Island. Most of the water was so shallow we could have walked our way back. Since the tide was going out it really created a strong current which made it quite challenging to kayak across. It was like trying to kayak across a strong river. We made it back to the island tired and hungry. I had sunburns and the most awful tan line on my legs from where I had pulled my sweat pants up to my knees. It looked like I had tan socks. (I still have the awful sock tan lines).

I really loved the whole experience of getting to Caladesi Island and exploring it. It felt so refreshing and was the perfect place to relax. If you are ever near Caladesi Island you should totally make the time to visit it.

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