Living in Citrus County gives you access to dozens of great beaches up and down the Gulf Coast. While this sounds great in theory, it can actually create a difficult situation when you begin trying to figure out which beaches you really need to visit and enjoy.
One of the beaches that is definitely worth going out of your way to visit is Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin.
Because it is a state park, the beach here is well maintained; and because it is a beach along the Gulf Coast of Florida, the views are absolutely stunning.
Regardless of the type of activities you like to pursue at the beach, they are all possible at Honeymoon Island, which is why this is the beach that many locals prefer.
About Honeymoon Island
Honeymoon Island is located less than two hours south of the Villages of Citrus Hills. It is just to the northwest of Tampa. The best path is to take Florida State Route 589 South, but you can also get there by heading south along US Route 19.
Back in the early 1900s, Honeymoon Island and its neighbor, Caladesi Island were actually one large barrier island. That larger island was separated by a major hurricane in 1921. After the islands were split, they were known as Hog Island and Caladesi Island and the newly created waterway that separated them was called Hurricane Pass.
In 1939, a developer built 50 thatched huts on Hog Island and officially changed its name to Honeymoon Island in order to attract tourists. In those days, visitors had to be flown out to the island in seaplanes. The island was a very popular romantic destination for a few years up until the start of World War II. After that, the thatched honeymoon huts were abandoned.
Since that time, the thatched huts have been torn down and the island has become a state park. In 1964, a causeway was built to allow visitors to drive right to the park, eliminating the necessity of seaplanes. While all of the honeymoon huts were gone and the seaplanes weren’t needed, the name stuck with the island and the park became Honeymoon Island State Park.
Activities at Honeymoon Island
Today, Honeymoon Island is a first-class state park that features four-miles of beautiful Gulf Coast beach and all of the amenities you would expect from a modern state park. The most popular activities at the park are swimming, collecting seashells and sand dollars, or just sitting at the beach and looking at the beautiful views. If you are looking for more active things to do, the park has a facility that rents bicycles, kayaks, and canoes. This is also a great place for surf fishing, and you will even find surfers hitting the waves at the north end of the park.
If you are a dog owner, you will be pleased to hear that the park has designated areas where pets are welcome. There is a dog beach at the southern end of the island, and dogs are also welcome on the nature trail.
Of course, the best aspect of Honeymoon Island is the exact same thing that made it a popular honeymoon destination back in the 1940s, the view.
This is one of the most romantic places in all of Florida to watch a dramatic Gulf Coast sunset.
Great Restaurants in Dunedin
After making the drive down to Dunedin and spending the day at the beach, you are sure to be pretty hungry. Depending on what type of meal you are looking for, there are some really great places to eat in Dunedin.
If you are still in your beach clothes and just looking for something quick and casual, Delco’s Original Steak & Hoagie is a great place to grab a really good cheesesteak and fries. Many people, even those from Philadelphia, rate Delco’s as one of the best cheese steaks they have ever had!
Another casual option is the Dunedin Brewery, which serves some great tacos, burritos, wraps, and sandwiches. While you are there, you can also enjoy some of their great craft beer and perhaps even take a tour of Florida’s Oldest Craft Brewery.
If you brought a change of clothes, you might want to try The Black Pearl for a more high-end dinner. This highly regarded restaurant serves a creative combination of French and New American cuisine that includes dishes like White Truffle Maine Lobster Risotto and Twice Cooked Long Island Duckling.
Perhaps the reason that Honeymoon Island makes such a great beach trip is that it is extremely versatile. You can have a blast spending the day swimming and collecting shells with the entire family followed by great cheese steaks for dinner, or you can enjoy a romantic sunset before dinner at The Black Pearl.