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For serenity and seclusion, Caladesi Island State Park is ideal. Shore birds and sea turtles build their nests undisturbed among the dunes. Gulf breezes ruffle the tresses of auburn hairgrass. A beautiful island showcase, it is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in the state.

The park is comprised of six islands with a total of approximately 668 upland acres and more than2,500 acres of surrounding mangroves and tidal flats and sea grass beds. Officials finalized acquisition plans in 1968, then was opened to the public in 1972. Caladesi Island was created in 1921 after a savage storm created Hurricane Pass and separated it from what was then Hog Island. The origin of the name is uncertain, however, it first appeared in print in the early '30's.

Along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, sand dunes line the open beach. Only the hardiest plants can survive there -- sea oats, beach morning glory and sea purslane. Turtles and birds find it an ideal location for nesting areas. The coastal strand is host to several species of grasses and trees such as palmetto, hercules club and sea grape. Periodic storm tides cover the area, limiting the plant community's diversity. Flood and fire are constant threats; however, two species call the coastal strand home -- the burrowing gopher tortoise and its occasional roommate, the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

Farther in is the maritime hammock, which provides a more stable environment because of higher elevation and a relatively closed canopy. Live oak, red bay, sabal palm and Southern red cedar thrive here, protected from salt spray and increased water evaporation. The "high ground" of Caladesi is free from floods except under extreme storm conditions. Slash pines dominate the open canopy forest that contains an understory of wax myrtle and palmetto. Park staff keep growth under control with ecological burns during the lightning season, providing maintenance while minimizing danger.

Mangrove forests prevail on Caladesi's eastern coast. One of the few trees that thrives in salt water, there are three species that shelter the island and nurture many of its animal residents. Given time, the mangrove roots trap additional soil and actually add to the island's size.

Overnight docking is permitted in the bayside
marina, but boaters must register before sundown.
Fishing, shelling and nature studies are ways to enjoy a visit to Caladesi. Boaters can enjoy day use or overnight stays in the 108 slip bayside marina, or in calm weather, anchor offshore. There is no camping on the island.

Picnic pavilions, bath houses and a park concession provide additional amenities that make a visit to Caladesi more enjoyable. Some facilities and activities are accessible to the handicapped. Beach wheel chairs are available for visitors with physical limitations.

Ferry service is available from the mainland, weather permitting. The ferry departs hourly. For additional ferry information call (727) 734-5263.


For more information on Caladesi Island State Park, write to:

Caladesi Island State Park
c/o Honeymoon Island Administration
# 1 Causeway Blvd.
Dunedin, FL 34698

or call (727) 469-5918

or visit www.floridastateparks.org/caladesiisland/default.asp

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