Honeymoon Island State Park Florida, located in Dunedin, is a short drive from Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater and offers white sandy beaches, stunning sunsets, and a bird watcher’s paradise. Swimming, fishing, shelling, hiking, and bicycling are all popular island activities. We’ve spent a lot of time on Honeymoon Island and love sitting on the beach, riding our bikes on the paved trails, and hiking on the hiking trails. Depending on the time of day, you can walk the entire beach to the north end of the island if the water is out. Packing a lunch and relaxing on the beach with a podcast or music is one of our favorite things to do.
Honeymoon Island’s popular beach features a glimpse of relatively development-free Florida, while being only a short jaunt from suburban amenities.
Honeymoon Island State Park is a Florida State Park located on Honeymoon Island, a barrier island between Palm Harbor, Ozona, and Crystal Beach across St. Joseph’s Sound. The park encompasses 385 acres of land, 2,400 acres of which are submerged, and 4 miles of beach.
The land actually was part of Caladesi Island immediately to the south until a 1921 hurricane sheared the northern end into its own barrier island. The inlet there is now called, appropriately enough, Hurricane Pass.
Locals referred to the area first as Sand Island and then Hog Island until a developer set up thatched huts in 1939 and billed it as a destination for newlyweds. No one lives on the Gulf beach now, but Honeymoon Island currently enjoys its designation as a state park (there are some condo buildings before the entrance to the park). The island drew about 1.5 million visitors in the last year, making it a perennial favorite to top state park attendance lists.
The park includes places to eat and resupply your beach gear, plus some eco-lessons for curious visitors, but also features great hiking and paddling opportunities. There’s also a dog-friendly beach on the south end of the island, for people willing to hit the trails.
With no chain stores or surf shops, the beaches are low key but still provide amenities. There’s also a ferry to Caladesi, which has one of America’s best beaches, and the mainland city of Dunedin is just over the causeway. Even with an entry fee — it’s a state park, after all — it remains a bargain.
Honeymoon Island Beaches
Most beachgoers here are laid back, with lots of locals and families, although you can still find the odd Bluetooth speaker blaring across the sand.
Keep in mind that the beach itself can be quite thin and rocky, with lots of limestone rocks covering the sand, a leftover of past dredging. The beach gets nourished with sand pumped in from the pass, but it routinely washes away and has to be redone.
The park is essentially divided in half, with the southern end open for sunbathing and picnics, and the northern end reserved primarily for hiking and other outdoorsy pursuits.
Be aware that alcohol is only allowed in designated areas, and not on the beaches themselves.
The northern part of the island has plenty of sand, but conservation is the keyword here.
There are multiple hiking trails and mangroves for paddling, but no parking or services. The Osprey trailhead north of the playground goes on for 2 ½ miles, offering views of virgin slash pine stands and wildlife.
Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails. Be sure to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, which do live on the island.
If you make it to the northernmost end of the island along the beach, the rocks thin out considerably. Not everyone is up to hiking their beach gear for 3 miles, however, and there are no services up there.
The waterfront-oriented southern end offers both a north beach and a south beach, each with their own parking lots.
Driving past these lots from the entrance leads you to a playground and picnic area, where pavilions are available to rent for $30 per day.
Surfers congregate at the north beach, which has its own bathhouse. The south beach, catering more to people content to stay on land, offers bathrooms and two concessions areas.
Dog owners particularly benefit from the pet beach at the far southern end of the island. There’s a turnout past the southern parking lot for pet owners to park and walk the half-mile to the sand. Dogs must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times, including on the trail and on the beach. Fishing is good at this end, as well.
You may have noticed on the way to the park that Dunedin Causeway is lined with a beach of its own, before you even get to the island. This strip of sand on each side of the road is known on some maps as Jetski Beach or Causeway Community Park, but most people refer to it simply as Causeway Beach or just the Causeway. It’s popular with locals and offers some of its own amenities.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks to experience St. Joseph Sound and don’t mind the steady hum of traffic, you can try stopping here. There’s no admission fee and parking is free, when available. Sunbathing is not the focus here, where the beach caters to the boating and fishing crowd.
The beachfront is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., and has designated areas for launching motorized and non-motorized watercraft. You can get permission to fish after 11 p.m. by contacting the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and can park a boat overnight with a $10 permit. More details are here.
Getting to Honeymoon Island
There’s only one entrance to the park, which is open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day of the year.
Rangers collect an entry fee at a tollbooth on the south end of the island before you’re allowed in. The cost is $8 per car with up to eight people, or $4 for a vehicle with only one occupant. Pedestrians, bicyclists or passengers over the eight-person limit are $2 apiece.
A nature center with interpretive exhibits is to the right once you’re inside the park.
There is no camping on the island, but a popular pastime is driving out to the island to watch the sunset. Starting an hour before sunset, the park reduces the entrance fee to $4 per car, but you have to leave when it gets dark.
There are 10 beach access points spread across the available parking lots.