Gorgeous views of the Honeymoon Island sunset - Dunedin, Florida

Honeymoon Island, a barrier island just west of Dunedin, Florida, is well regarded as one of the Gulf’s best beaches. 4 miles of beaches, including a pet beach attract visitors from all over the world. Honeymoon is famous for its’ spectacular sunsets. It’s easily one of the top beach sunset destinations in the Tampa Bay region. In addition to swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf, collecting seashells, bird watching, walking the nature trails, and picnicking are popular activities.

Swing on the beach - Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, Florida

Mike and I were expecting a lot from this beach after hearing rave reviews and seeing it listed in numerous publications as one of the best beaches. To be honest, we were a little disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, the sunset was stunning, however, the beach left a lot to be desired.

One of the Bay’s most popular beaches

The water was not as clear as I was expecting, the water was much too warm to swim in, the sand too rocky at most points, and in general it felt way too overcrowded for my taste. Maybe it was just the busy weekend crowds, but we were expecting a quieter setting. When the crowds finally dwindled down later in the day, we were able to appreciate the beauty of the area.

Smooth white sands at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, Florida

It was an extremely hot day in the 90’s and really crowded. Had it been less crowded with milder temperatures, maybe my opinion of the beach would have differed. We also had to wait over an hour in traffic to get into the beach! I will definitely remember to plan weekday trips to the beach from now on.

Great for beachcombing, not so great for beach walks

The sand was not as smooth as I imagined. While the sand is white and beautiful (what makes Gulf beaches so popular), there were too many rocks and broken shells to to enjoy walking around. Beachcombing is fun here though. In addition, the water was surprisingly too warm! I knew the waters of the Gulf were warm, but the water was too warm to be considered even slightly refreshing on a hot day. Also the narrow strip of sand led to a crowded, noisy environment with not enough area for everyone to spread out and enjoy the day. I prefer beaches with a wide strip of sand.

Take a look at a few pictures of the beach (about an hour or so prior to sunset). As you can see most of the crowds had died down by this time.

Cloudy skies on Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida
Sun beginning to set at Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida
Cool looking clouds on Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida
Sun breaking through the clouds - Dunedin, Florida

Nature trails

On the other hand, the nature trails are definitely a must-do when visiting the island. Strolling along beautiful natural Florida coastal forests allow you to take a much needed break from the beach crowds. We decided to take an hour break on the trails. By the time we came back the beach crowds had (thankfully) long disappeared.

Osprey Trail - Honeymoon Island State Park - Dunedin, Florida

Honeymoon features several miles of trails which venture through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests. We completed the Osprey Trail, a beautiful 2 mile journey through the Florida pine forests with ample opportunities for wildlife watching. We came across several sea turtles, an armadillo, and plenty of hermit crabs.

Views along the Honeymoon Island Osprey Trail
Natural Florida scenery along the Honeymoon Island Osprey Trail
A nice shaded escape from the beach - Honeymoon Island Osprey Trail
Beautiful tree coverage along the Honeymoon Island Osprey Trail
Beautiful trees along the Honeymoon Island Osprey Trail
A storm on the way - Honeymoon Island State Park Osprey Trail

An armadillo hiding in the trees

Armadillo hiding in the bushes at Honeymoon Island

One of the many hermit crabs we encountered on the way! They are very fast! Luckily, we were able to capture a quick picture.

Hermit crab on the Honeymoon Island Osprey Trail

In addition, we saw a sign stating that several bald eagles have decided to make the trail their home. Here is a picture of one of the eagle nests.

Bald eagle on Honeymoon Island's Osprey Trail

Scenic picnicking facilities

Near the nature trails, you will find plenty of shaded picnic tables. The picnic area is especially scenic with dozens of palm trees. It was not overly crowded and the lush landscaping made it feel like a tropical escape. I recommend bringing with your own lunch if heading out all day as the cafe offers a very limited menu.

Picnic area with palm trees - Honeymoon Island State Park
Palm trees around the picnic area - Honeymoon Island State Park

A beautiful sunset destination

After the trail, we headed back to the beach to wait for the sunset. A storm hit the area and the temperatures dramatically decreased. It’s crazy to think that just a few hours earlier I was extremely overheated, and now I felt the need for a sweater! We stuck it out until sunset, later happy that we waited for the stunning views. Check out a few of the amazing views below!

A gorgeous colorful sunset at Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida
Striking sunset on Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida
People swimming in the sunset - Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida
Sun peeking through the crowds - Honeymoon Island - Dunedin, Florida

Other amenities on Honeymoon Island include: Honeymoon Cafe (offering burgers, hot dogs, and light snacks), public restrooms and showers, a pet beach, playgrounds, and umbrella rentals.

Location/Admission Fees

Honeymoon Island State Park is located at 1 Causeway Blvd in Dunedin, Florida. Fees are as followed: $4 per vehicle with one occupant, $8 per vehicle with 2-8 occupants. Entrance by foot or bike is a bit cheaper ($2 per person).

Have you ever visited Honeymoon Island? What did you think of the beach and trails? How would you rate this beach in comparison to others in Florida?