Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Caladesi Island

Saturday, December 29, 2007 I visited Caladesi Island State Park. The barrier island is located off the city of Dunedin, just north of Tampa, Bay and city. A causeway links Dunedin to another State Park, Honeymoon Island. Caladesi is reasonably accessible only by water. "Reasonably" as it has been possible, since Hurricane Elena in 1985, to walk from Clearwater Beach to Caladesi. But, I have read, it is a trek. I parked the car on the south side of the causeway, between public restrooms and a rental concession, 'Sail Honeymoon'. Sail Honeymoon also rents kayaks.

I had to drag the yak about 40 yards to get it in floatable water. Low tide. The waters of St Joseph Sound were clear and shallow. And crowded. Powerboats, jet skis, sailboats, kayaks. I had never seen it so crowded. Then I realized my four previous visits were on weekdays. Caladesi is less then a mile from the causeway, but the main Park area, with dockage, coon conessions, ect., is a 2.5 mile paddle. The north tip of the island is low, sandy with the low tide. Pelicans, cormorants and gulls gathered in the shallows. More pelicans swam and soared in deeper water. When I see feeding pelicans, I keep my eyes open for feeding dolphins. I found some.

Two, dining on the delights in the sea grass beds. I was able to watch them for several minutes before they moved to deeper water.
I moved closer to the channel leading to the docking area of Caladesi State Park, easy to identify by the boats headed that way.

On shore, more birds, including rosette spoonbills.
I named the one one the left "Dizzy"

I entered the channel leading to the dock area. There are areas off the channel
where combustion motors are excluded. This is to protect sea grass beds. Past visits in these area have provided varied bird life. This trip, it was too shallow. I arrived at the dock area, 99 slips, almost all occupied this holiday weekend, and pulled up to the floating canoe/kayak dock and disembarked. Because of the low tide, I decided to walk the 3 mile trail through the interior of the park before paddling the 3 mile trail through the mangroves.

The "Twin Pine" has been photographed for over 100 years. Some old photos are on the kiosk to the left of the tree. I saw a hawk as I walked through the hammock in the interior. Approaching the Gulf side, egrets fed in shallow water
I then stepped out on to the Gulf side and a beach that is consistently rated as one of the nation's best. You can judge from the first picture on the post, and this one I think it is a special place. I know many of my readers have been to Sanibel Island. Caladesi is Sanibel without condos, hotels and restaurants- just beach and a wild interior.

After lunch, I explored more of the interior by kayak. A 3.25 mile, marked trail winds thorough the mangroves.

A paddle that can be take apart comes in handy in narrow passages. I saw a couple blue herons in the roots. The tunnels offer protection from the sun, which was warm. I heard the temp reached 84 in Orlando, a record. Yet, on the coast, things can change quickly. I exited the mangroves at the north end of the island, into a fog bank. The fog was soon gone, and I paddle along the east side of Caladsesi, fish jumping everywhere. Prime time for dolphins, but none appeared. I saw blue herons, Great Blue, osprey, belted kingfishers, in addition to the birds previously mentioned. These ibis were on the north east edge of the island, just before I rounded the tip and rode the Gulf surf for a while.
The time was 4:45, there would not be enough light to explore the scenic parts of Honeymoon Island, so I made my way back to the causeway. The walk from water to car was much shorter than it had been at 10:30.


Sean Carolan said...

Excellent account of the island. I had been there once before on a group kayak trip and decided to return and do the mangroves. I made a big mistake and went at low tide. I won't do that again. Almost got stuck in the muck trying to get to the intercoaster. One other point is that the exit from the mangroves is miles from the putin (beach) so plan accordingly.

Dave said...

Thank you Sean. Re reading my Tale, I also arrived at low tide, so i spent time on the Island until it was deep enough to paddle the mangrove trail