My husband was out jumping waves about 20 feet from shore when I saw the grey fin pop up from the water. The fin popped up and I froze for what felt like an eternity but in reality was probably only half a second. I tried to scream but only a squeak came out. I was just about to try again when the creature the fin belonged emptied its blowhole into the air and I too exhaled, with more relief than I thought possible. It wasn’t a shark 10 feet away from my husband, it was a dolphin. Now I was envious!
This was my introduction to Clearwater Beach, Florida.
A little over 2 years later we’d be back with our then 20-month-old daughter. This visit was in the sweltering heat of August and at the time the water wasn’t quite so clear. We visited at the tail end of a delight known as “red tide“, so the water was murky in addition to being as warm as a bath.
However, the past two Novembers when we’ve gone down to Florida we’ve always organized at least one day at Clearwater Beach. The sand is like baby powder, and there are fewer shells than at nearby beaches we’ve visited. I’m not sure if that’s due to a higher population of shell collectors doing their rounds, but regardless it’s nice to worry a little less about stepping on a broken seashell.
We’ve always found Clearwater Beach to be a little windy, which is great for keeping cool but it does mask feeling the deceptively strong sun. I recommend renting an umbrella instead of one of the cabanas. Due to the wind, we couldn’t position the cabana properly for shade or else it would have launched like a parasail.
The playground at Clearwater Beach is extensive and shaded, so it’s a great diversion if you need a break from the water or you need to keep the little ones busy while you shake out the sand and pack up your stuff. The snack bar (yes, it has high chairs) offers your usual beach fare of hot dogs and french fries, but we did have a salad that wasn’t too bad. The public washrooms are plentiful and there’s a change table in the washroom of the snack bar. The showers are chilly and can remove the bulk of your sand but your fine sandy coating is pretty much yours to enjoy until you can attack it with a washcloth!
Clearwater Beach is definitely one of the busier beaches along the Gulf Coast, but it’s certainly fun and very baby/toddler/little kid-friendly. I really feel lucky that we can make a day or two of it every time we head to Florida to visit our extended family.
Clearwater is a great, underrated beach. Last time I was there, the water was a little murky and filled with grasses, but it is so warm and shallow. There is so much sand on the beach, and great eats right off of it.
You have discovered one of Florida’s treasures for sure. Clearwater beach is the perfect spot for families with tots. We enjoyed spending summer vacations there for many years. Sometime you might want to go a bit further south and check out Sanibel / Captiva Islands. Much better dining choices and more intimate beaches. No franchise businesses allowed last time we were there. There’s also a lighthouse and the Ding Darling park to explore. Night skies are not sullied by city lights. I saw the most stars of my life one night on the beach there. Enjoyed your trip vicariously!
Each time we go down I try to find a different place that’s still nearby for us to discover. Last year it was Treasure Island, and this year it was Madeira Beach. Sanibel Island sounds ideal for next year!