"Dr. Beach" Ranks Caladesi Island Among Best Beaches of 2007
Pristine Gulf island takes #2 spot two years running
ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER- For the second consecutive year, Caladesi Island, one of the last untouched barrier islands on Florida's Gulf Coast, was named the country's #2 beach by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University coastal geologist better known as "Dr. Beach." Leatherman unveiled his list of America's Best Beaches for 2007 on NBC's Today Show.
"Dr. Beach recognizes that the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area consistently has some of the best beaches in the United States," said DT Minich, executive director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Caladesi Island State Park is a treasure that everyone should experience."
Accessible only by boat, Caladesi Island State Park sits out in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a mile offshore from Dunedin, one of 24 Pinellas County communities that make up the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. Rated among the country's top five beaches for the last four years and a recipient of the Blue Wave Award for environmental beach management, the park offers a dune-fringed, sandy expanse on the Gulf side and mangrove bays on its east side, where kayak trails wend through labyrinthine mangrove tunnels. Virgin pine flatwoods and live oak hammocks occupy much of the pristine interior, and 375 species of birds---from monk parakeets to eastern brown pelicans---flourish among the vegetation. Visitors can explore nature trails, take ranger-guided tours, or simply take advantage of the location's peerless opportunities for swimming, fishing, shelling, boating and relaxation.
The island offers a 108-slip marina, as well as picnic shelters, bathhouses, a ranger station and concession stand, and boardwalks provide beach access while protecting the fragile ecosystem that thrives in the dunes and sea oats. Caladesi Connection, a ferry service that operates from nearby Honeymoon Island, offers roundtrip tickets for TK. The park is open daily from 8 until sunset.
Leatherman named another local standout, Fort DeSoto Park, America's Best Beach in 2005.
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