There’s a big hint in the name when it comes to Clearwater: picture crystalline seas lapping gently against mile upon mile of white sand, and that’s not just a dream – it’s reality. And you needn’t just take our word for it, either. Maybe the fact that time and again it’s voted one of America’s best beaches will be enough to persuade you Clearwater holidays are the absolute tops for all kinds of beach lovers.
Neither is the weather half bad. 360 days of sunshine a year – hot in Summer, mild in Winter – mean there’s ample opportunity to make the most of those endless powder-soft sands. On the main beach there’s always plenty going on, with boats bobbing to and fro, and action fans making the most of the abundant watersports. There’s beachside restaurants to grab a grouper sandwich (the local speciality) at too, and stacks of family fun on local landmark Pier 60.
But anyone in search of a more laid-back stretch of sand can simply head over to nearby Sand Key Park, where the loudest noises are sighs of contentment and the sound of the breeze caressing the palm trees. If you want to get even more off the beaten track, then there’s Caladesi Island, which you can only get to by ferry, or by foot at low tide. Who cares if you get cut off when you’re surrounded by an island paradise?
Clearwater holidays have plenty more to offer, too. There’s superb fishing, both off the pier and by boat if you fancy going the deep sea route. There’s abundant wildlife – who doesn’t love dolphins and pelicans? There’s top-class golf. There’s museums and concert halls. There are countless options for fans of shopping and fine food. And don’t forget – there’s sun, sun, sun.
Meet Winter, the bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail to a crab trap and later starred in the blockbuster Dolphin Tail. She’s just one of the animals at The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rescue centre where you can get up close and personal with loggerhead turtles, river otters, sting rays and all sorts of other underwater creatures.
If it’s family fun you’re after, there’s no better place than Pier 60. The covered playground will keep the kids amused by day, plus there’s shopping, eating and fishing to enjoy. But it’s in the evening that the Pier really comes alive, with magicians, balloon artists, fire breathers and a long string of stalls run nightly by local artisans.
Clearwater is renowned for its astonishing sunsets, when the pink fireball of the sun sinks into the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf. Take a picnic over to Sand Key Park for peace and solitude; join the party at Pier 60; down a cocktail in one of the beachside bars; or take a cruise to enjoy the spectacle from the water.
With State parks all around, there’s plenty of places you can escape back to nature and enjoy a bit more seclusion on the beach. Sand Key Park is easily reached; but if you fancy exploring slightly further afield, head for Caladesi Island or Honeymoon Island for nature trails, mangrove swamps, snorkelling, bird-watching and more.
Home to the Clearwater Threshers, family-friendly Bright House Field is a great place to get a taste of America’s national sport – baseball. Plus there’s an added bonus in March/April, when the Phillies come to town and use Bright House as their base to play a series of pre-season warm-up matches.