Where is Honeymoon Island State Park
Located on the western coast of Florida’s peninsula, Honeymoon Island State Park resides on the barrier island of the same name: Honeymoon Island. The island lies across St. Joseph’s Sound from popular tourist destinations such as Palm Harbor and Crystal Beach. Honeymoon Island State Park is mostly visited for the miles of beach it contains. However, the state park also contains hiking trails, a nature center, several bird observation areas, and a passenger ferry that takes visitors to and from Caladesi Island State Park. The two State Parks are only separated by a stretch of water named Hurricane Pass. Honeymoon Island State Park is located 30 miles west of Tampa, 112 miles west of Orlando, and 291 miles north of Miami.
How Large is Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island US State Park covers a total of 2,785 acres. However, 2,400 of those acres are submerged under water. Of the park’s 385 land acres, 4 miles are covered by beaches. The rest of the park’s land covering is made up of mangrove swamps, one of the last slash pine forests in the country, and several different intertidal zones. The park is the most visited state park in the state of Florida, and consistently sees over one million visitors per year. The park’s two hiking trails total roughly three miles in total distance and are a great place for visitors to be acquainted with the flora and fauna of Honeymoon Island State Park.
Honeymoon Island State Park Weather
The weather of Honeymoon Island remains sunny and hot through most of the year. However, hurricane activity is common in Honeymoon Island State Park and the surrounding area. In summer, temperatures in the park average between 75- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park cool slightly and average between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest days in the park arrive in June, July, and August. The coldest days arrive in January and February. On average, Honeymoon Island sees about 80 days of rain per year. Most of this rain occurs in the summer. From June to September the park sees about 44 days of rain and receives about 31 inches of rain. The total yearly rainfall for the park accumulates to around 53 inches.
When did Honeymoon Island First Become a State Park
Honeymoon Island was first introduced to the American public in the 1940’s as a romantic getaway. However, the state did not control or designate the area as Honeymoon Island State Park until December 7, 1981. The stretch of water none as Hurricane Pass that connects Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island state parks used to not exist. The barrier island Honeymoon Island sits on used to connect all the way to Caladesi Island. A major hurricane that hit the Florida coast in 1921 split the island into the two smaller islands and created Hurricane Pass.
Things to do in Honeymoon Island State Park
Visitors traveling to Honeymoon Island State Park will find a variety of activities waiting for them when they arrive. List of Parks outlines the most popular adventures the park provides access to below:
Take a Beach Day (or a few)
Most visitors plan a trip to Honeymoon Island State Park in order to soak up a few rays on the park’s beach. While on the beach visitors can sunbathe, swim in the ocean, recreate in the sand, and spend time with family and friends. With average summer temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s, Honeymoon Island State Park is the perfect place to enjoy a beach day. In fact, visitors normally enjoy more than one.
Hike the Osprey Trail
The Osprey Trail at Honeymoon Island State Park is a great trail that visitors can hike to become familiar with the park’s several ecosystems. The Osprey Trail is also a popular place where visitors can spot various birds of prey and wildlife. In fact, some years visitors have gotten lucky enough to spot a pair of Bald Eagles perched in their nest near the trail. The Osprey Trail is rated as easy and is two miles long.
Hike the Pelican Cove Trail
The Pelican Cove Trail at Honeymoon Island State Park takes visitors across the eastern side of the island. This portion of the island is covered in mangrove and slash pine forests that host a variety of flora and fauna. Visitors commonly spot migratory marine birds, sea stars, and other marine life on the Pelican Cove Trail. The trail is three quarters of a mile long and also rated as the easiest difficulty.
Cast a Fishing Lure
Honeymoon Island State Park is not only coveted by beach goers, but every year schools of avid fisherman descend upon the park to cast a few lines into the ocean and surrounding waters. Individuals casting into the surf and pass can target species like flounder, snook, trout, redfish, snapper, whiting, pompano, ladyfish, and several other species. All visitors fishing in Honeymoon Island State Park are required to follow state fishing regulations and purchase a state fishing license.
Visit the Rotary Centennial Nature Center
A visit to the Rotary Centennial Nature Center will educate visitors about Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park. The nature center features several exhibits that discuss the two park’s cultural, ecological, and historical ties to each other and their surrounding areas. The nature center also contains an elevated observation deck that visitors can utilize.
Go Bird Watching
Due to its coastal location, Honeymoon Island State Park is a haven for several different avian species. The bird species present in the park include marine, coastal, and inland species as well as several birds of prey. Ospreys, least terns, royal terns, plovers, herons, and several other wading birds are commonly spotted in the park.
Look for Other Wildlife
Honeymoon Island State Park and the water surrounding it are also home to a variety of other wildlife species. Spotting dolphins off the shores of Honeymoon Island and in Hurricane Pass is a popular activity among visitors. Gopher tortoises and armadillos are also commonly spotted by visitors at Honeymoon Island State Park.
Take the Ferry to Caladesi Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park offers its visitors the ability to take a direct ferry from the park to Caladesi Island State Park. While on the ferry visitors may spot dolphins and other marine wildlife.
When to Visit Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park can be visited year-round. However, visitors looking to visit the park during June through September should keep an eye on the weather forecast. During these months, hurricanes commonly make landfall in Honeymoon Island State Park and the surrounding area. Spring, fall, and winter are also great times to visit Honeymoon Island State Park. Each season the park offers visitors warm temperatures, endless rays of sunshine, and a bountiful amount of outdoor recreation opportunities.
Must Have Items to Bring to Honeymoon Island State Park
Every trip outdoors requires a bit of packing and planning, and a successful trip to Honeymoon Island State Park is no exception. Below is a list of essential equipment every visitor should consider bringing with them to the park.
Water and Snacks
Two of the most essential items for any trip outdoors are water and high energy snacks. Our State Park Visitors Guide suggests visitors looking to spend a day at the beach should bring water in addition to any other drinks they bring. The Florida sun can dehydrate visitors rather quickly, and on the beach this dehydration is escalated.
Swimsuit, Sunscreen and Sunglasses
A swimsuit, sunscreen, and a pair of sunglasses will come in handy when spending all day in the park and at the beach. These items will provide comfort and protection from the sun. Visitors looking to wear their sunglasses in the water should bring a cheap pair with them in case a rogue wave takes them away.
Anglers visiting Honeymoon Island State Park will want to bring all of their saltwater fishing tackle along with them. Anglers will also want to obtain a Florida state saltwater fishing license before they arrive at the park. These licenses can be purchased online or from a variety of local establishments.
Hiking Boots and Water Shoes
Honeymoon Island State Park is best travelled through the use of two separate types of footwear. A sturdy pair of hiking boots will allow visitors to traverse the Osprey Trail and the Pelican Cove Trail, and a pair of water shoes or flip flops will be better suited for the beach and ocean.
Lightweight Rain Jacket
In case of a sudden rain shower or storm, visitors should arrive at Honeymoon Island State Park with a lightweight rain jacket handy. Visitors should look to invest in a completely waterproof jacket instead of one that is just water resistant.
Where to Stay Near Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park does not offer its visitors the ability to stay within the park. However, several privately-owned establishments that offer park visitors lodging can be contacted to obtain reservations. Visitors looking to stay in a large city should make the thirty-minute drive to Tampa.
Food Near Honeymoon Island State Park
The closest food to Honeymoon Island sits just outside the park’s gates. There are various restaurants and bars located throughout Honeymoon Island and the surrounding area. Visitors looking for more options or a large culinary scene should visit Tampa. The city is 30 miles and a 30-minute drive away from Honeymoon Island State Park.
Airports Near Honeymoon Island State Park
The closest airport to Honeymoon Island State Park is located in Tampa. The Tampa International Airport is 32 miles and about a 30-minute drive away from the park. Other international airports located in Florida include the Orlando International Airport, the Miami International Airport, and the Pensacola International Airport.