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Old 12-10-2009, 10:47 PM
 
451 posts, read 813,168 times
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I'm planning on moving to South Tampa in May. I've done plenty of research, visited two times (a third coming up on the 26th), but am curious-- how long will I need to drive for the closest beach? Is Clearwater my best bet, or is there actually a beach in Westshore? I see sandy spots on Google Maps on the coast of Westshore, would love a confirmation from a local. Thanks!
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:50 AM
 
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You want to stay away from the Bay beaches and get out to the Gulf. You can't swim in the Bay. I personally prefer St Pete beach over Clearwater but they're both nice. Also try Honeymoon Island/Caladesi Island. It's another great beach.
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:53 AM
 
Location: South Tampa - Bayside West Neighborhood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethinktank View Post
I'm planning on moving to South Tampa in May. I've done plenty of research, visited two times (a third coming up on the 26th), but am curious-- how long will I need to drive for the closest beach? Is Clearwater my best bet, or is there actually a beach in Westshore? I see sandy spots on Google Maps on the coast of Westshore, would love a confirmation from a local. Thanks!
There are a few City beaches in the Westshore area of South Tampa - Picnic Island Park at the southern most point, and Cypress Point Park at the northern most point. You can swim in the Bay beaches but they are in no comparison to the Gulf beaches, it takes me about 30 minutes to get to Fort DeSoto, Pass-a-Grille beaches - my favortite spots. I go to the Bay beaches to sit on the beach and read, take my kayak out, bring the dogs, toss the frisbee/volleyball.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Clearwater, FL
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I see people swimming in the Bay whenever I drive by those "beaches" along Gandy or the Courtney Campbell Causeway. But as the previous posters indicated, the Gulf beaches are much better. St Pete Beach/Pass-A-Grille is more laid back and idyllic, while Clearwater Beach is more touristy with more stuff happening but both are worth the extra 20 minutes of driving.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Tampa, FL
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There is so much runoff into the Bay that I personally wouldn't want to swim in it, although Bay beaches can still be fun as mentioned above. There are lots of Gulf beaches within a reasonable drive, so you could try different ones to figure out which vibe you like best. If you get tired of Gulf beaches and are willing to make a day of it or perhaps a weekend getaway, you could check out the Atlantic beaches on the central east coast which are a different sort of beach with somewhat higher surf and cooler Atlantic water. I like the cool water in the summer, and enjoy the higher surf, but it isn't for weak swimmers. The warm Gulf temps are nice in the winter and the surf is usually nonexistant - good for new or less confident swimmers to develop their skills. Make sure to learn the Stingray Shuffle before wading in.

As for Clearwater Beach, you should visit it at least once just for the sheer spectacle of it. Try to avoid it during Spring Break, unless you enjoy that sort of insanity. Get there early to try to minimize parking hassles. Bring money for parking. It is usually very crowded and there are tons of little shops and restaurants grouped in easy walking range. You can also go on all sorts of little boat tours from there, like dolphin watching, sightseeing, deep sea fishing, even dining yachts. Sometimes a virtual flock of brides of grooms arrive and settle into little groups all along the beach to conduct their ceremonies at sunset. It is quite the romantic sight.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:21 PM
 
Location: somewhere close to Tampa, but closer to the beach
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Tilli is right on target regarding where the better beaches are in the area and yes, the Atlantic side of the state is different then the Gulf side...And is especially favorable if you enjoy surfing...Still, i enjoy the gulf more..and yes, If you do make the trip to Clearwater Beach,(id estimate roughly a 20-30min drive from downtown area, especially in good traffic)) do get there earlier, esp. on the weekends anytime the sun is shining..otherwise parking can get a little fustrating....and fees run anywhere from $1.50-2.00 an hour depending on the time of week..Ive heard that some of the lots are free after a certain time around sunset, if you happen to venture down there at that time..

As for Honeymoon Island, great place if you want a less crowded enviornment and it is also a great place for collecting seashells..and from experience i can tell you that the dolphins don't shy away from getting pretty close to shore..

Being relatively new to the area, ive only had a chance to check out a few of the beaches nearby...

One beach ive become fond of is Treasure island...i was surprised how wide it was when i took a couple hours a few sundays back to check it out...and yes, keep an eye out for the Stingrays...they will usually avoid people but if you happen to be in the water as some pass by, don't do anything which might frighten them.. Once they know you are there, they quickly move away. I was surprised by how close to shore they wil come. Regardless, it was pretty neat to see the 9 of them glide around the sandbar i was standing on..

The next beach im planning on looking into is Fort Desoto..which wraps around the bottom of St. Pete..and faces both the gulf and the mouth of Tampa Bay...and offers views of the SunShine Skyway bridge which connects the area to Sarasota and Bradenton to the south...

In that area, there is Anna Maria, Holmes, and Bradenton beach..just to name a few along the coast there..
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:42 PM
 
451 posts, read 813,168 times
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Great advice, all-- thanks so much for the solid replies. Before our first visit to South Tampa, my fiance' and I checked out St. Petersburg, and spent that night in a hotel on Clearwater Beach. Save for the kind-of-spooky Scient------- buildings downtown, the beach was totally pristine. It sounds like we won't find anything similar to that in the inner bay. But knowing that its a short drive truly helps.
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