White-sand beaches and pristine waters make Clearwater an ideal beach camping destination.
Clearwater is a beach lover’s paradise, where campers can pass the days swimming, snorkeling, or fishing on family-family, white-sand beaches on Florida’s stretch of the Gulf of Mexico. Expect to share these waters with dolphins, manatees, pelicans, and all sorts of fish and seabirds, especially if you head out by kayak or boat to the undeveloped islands that sit just offshore. For in-land campsites with less crowds and a change of scenery, Clearwater Beach is also near forest and wetland preserves where you can birdwatch and spot gators. The best campgrounds and RV sites come with quick access to nature.
Just across the causeway lies Sand Key Beach, a laid-back beach park and sunset destination that’s home to terns, plovers, and nesting sea turtles. For a wilder beach experience, make the day trip to the undeveloped Caladesi Island State Park, accessible by kayak or a ferry from Honeymoon Island Docks. Caladesi has pristine beaches, as well as kayak and hiking trails through mangrove forests.
Accessible by car via the Dunedin Causeway near Palm Harbor, Honeymoon Island State Park is a top spot for swimming, collecting seashells, and laying out in the sun. Wander the four miles of beach, or follow the Osprey Trail through a pine forest and osprey rookery. Kayaks rentals are available on-site or from outfitters on the causeway.
Just south of Clearwater through Largo and Seminole, St. Petersburg’s Fort De Soto Park has waterfront campgrounds, fishing piers, and sprawling beaches. There’s also a ferry to Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge and State Park, an untouched island sanctuary for marine birds, sea turtles, and gopher tortoises. Its clear waters make Egmont Key a popular snorkeling site.
If you’re all beached out, head through Tarpon Springs to one of the region’s inland spots like the J B. Starkey Wilderness Park. Here you can hike or mountain bike through pine forests and scrub. The James E. Gray Preserve also has accessible boardwalks for an elevated hiking experience.
Clearwater is a year-round destination, with important differences between seasons. Winter is great for tent camping experiences thanks to cooler weather and less humidity, but this time of year is also more crowded, as snowbirds head to town from the Northeast and Canada to escape the cold. Meanwhile, summers in the Tampa Bay area can be hot, humid, rainy, and buggy—seek a campground with a swimming pool, a log cabin with air-conditioning, or an RV resort with cool communal clubhouses.Fortunately for RV campers, Clearwater has many RV parks with 50-amp full hookups, restrooms, wifi, and dump stations.