How to Hike from North Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island State Park

An amazing hike in the Tampa Bay area is from North Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island State Park! This hike is around 7 miles round trip and I highly recommend it, but it does take some advanced planning. Caladesi Island is one of many Florida State Parks near Clearwater. Keep reading for everything you need to know to ensure a successful hike!

Sunrise on North Clearwater beach.

How can I get to Caladesi Island State Park?

There are 4 ways you can reach Caladesi Island. The first is via a private boat, but this may not be an option for many people. A more common way to reach Caladesi Island State Park is to take the ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park. The ferry ride takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes and is a great option if you are looking to spend the day on Caladesi. Another option is to kayak from Honeymooon Island to Caladesi. The last way (and the best way in my opinion) is to walk from North Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island! This blog post is going to focus on how to complete the hike.

Me standing by the Caladesi Isalnd State Park entrance sign.

How long is the walk from Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island?

The walk is a minimum of 7 miles round trip, but will vary depending on where you start your walk at Clearwater Beach. When I did it, I started from North Clearwater Beach and did not walk on any of the trails at Caladesi and the total distance was 7 miles. If you start closer to the pier in Clearwater expect a total distance close to 8 miles or more.

View of the beach walk from Clearwater to Caladesi Island.

Can this walk only be done at low tide?

Yes, it is recommended to only plan your walk around low tide at Clearwater Beach. Walking from North Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island is only possibly during low tide, and even then you may still need to walk through some water. The island is inaccessible to walkers during high tide, and you do not walk to get stuck on the island so timing is key!

On my recent visit the walk was timed to start around 1 hour after low tide and there was plenty of clearance to reach the island. However, when walking back to Clearwater Beach the tide had rose significantly. There was one spot where the tide was starting to reach the mangroves, but I was able to stay dry. This walk took us approximately 2.5 hours and we did not spend too much time exploring Caladesi Island. However, I was walking with others who had previously completed the hike and mentioned they were in knee deep water at times.

Mangroves lining the short with the ocean tide coming in.

Where do I park?

Street parking is available on Mandalay Avenue. Make sure you download the park mobile app before you arrive to pay the parking fee. The parking fee is $3.50 per hour and I recommend paying for 3 hours to cover your hike to Caladesi. As long as you have the app you can always add additional time to your cover your parking if needed.

Where does the hike start?

The hike can start from anywhere on Clearwater Beach, but I recommend starting from North Clearwater beach following these directions. After you park on Mandalay Avenue head north until you can take a left on Acacia Street which quickly turns into Eldorado Avenue. From Eldorado you can use any of the public beach access points. We choose to enter at access point 5 to take advantage of what pavement we had. From there you just continue heading north up the beach until you see the signs for Caladesi Island! A common turn around spot on the island is at the restrooms. There are no public restrooms available at the beginning of the hike.

Beach entrance sign.

What should I wear?

This will depend on the time of year and the weather, but I recommend comfortable hiking clothes and some type of closed toed shoes. I completed this hike with a group and people wore hiking shoes, tennis shoes, water shoes, and some walked barefoot. It is truly whatever you are comfortable in, but I personally chose to wear my Soloman hiking shoes and they were perfect. I also brought by Teva sandals incase the water levels were high, but I left them in my backpack. Don’t forget to wear a hat!

What should I bring with me?

I recommend bringing a hiking backpack where you can keep plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and a pair of water shoes. I also recommend bringing the 10 essentials on any hike! You may also want to consider bringing a change of clothes and/or shoes in the car from the drive home in case you get wet on the hike.

Lastly, you will want to bring the park entrance fee for Caladesi Island State Park. If you have a Florida State Park pass you are covered. Otherwise, you can pay the $2 fee per person ahead of time online, use the QR code on the park sign, or pay at the rangers station.

How do I know when I’ve reached Caladesi Island?

I recommend using the All Trails app to track your walk, but you will also see a park sign when you’ve reached the island. Additionally, you will see beach chairs and umbrellas as well as a walkway that leads you to the restrooms on the island.

Caladesi Island State Park entrance sign on the beach.

What can I do at Caladesi Island State Park?

If you are walking from North Clearwter Beach to Caladesi Island State Park, you will want to consider your time on the island carefully based on the tides. However, if you have the time there are plenty of things to do in the island.

  • Relax on the beach
  • Swim in the ocean
  • Collect seashells
  • Kayak around the island
  • Walk the nature trails
  • Visit the gift shop
  • Grab a bite to eat at Cafe Caladesi

Florida Beach Services provides beach chair, beach umbrella, and kayak rentals from 10:30 AM to 4 PM. Cafe Caladesi hours are 10:39 AM to 5 PM. If you plan to walk on the nature trails, bring bug spray!

Caladesi Island State Park sign with a map of the island.
Wooden swing, picnic pavilion, and palm trees.
Beach access and nature trail sign at Caladesi Island State Park.

Are you ready to hike from North Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island?

This hike was on my Florida bucket list for awhile, but I am so glad I finally completed it! Even though it was a longer walk, the scenery was beautiful and the time went by so quickly. Experiencing the walk at sunrise was particularly special and we were rewarded with several dolphin sightings and various sea shells! Is this hike on your Florida bucket list? Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below!

Boardwalk leading to the beach with palm trees in the distance and a blue sky.

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