Honeymoon Island State Park
Bushnell, FL - Events of Thursday, April 2, 2015
When we got up last Thursday, we both found ourselves in the mood to do something other than hang around the rig all day. After a little online research, we decided to take a drive about an hour and a half to the south to check out Honeymoon Island State Park. Honeymoon Island is a small barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico located adjacent to Dunedin, FL, which is just north of Clearwater.
The island, which was previously called Hog Island, was renamed Honeymoon Island in the early 1940s when huts were built for newlyweds and vacationers. The huts fell into disuse when WWII started, and they were eventually torn down. The island was later turned into a state park.
Honeymoon Island State Park has beaches, hiking/biking trails, a nature center and a picnic area with a playground. Admission is $8 per car.
Honeymoon Island is only about 2½ or 3 miles long and about ¼ mile wide. We started off by driving to the far end of the loop road and stopping at the beach located there.
The northwestern corner of the island is subject to much erosion and is currently undergoing beach restoration. Normally, you can walk up the beach to the north from the parking lot at the end of the loop road, but that area was closed because of the restoration. However, the beach adjacent to the parking lot was open.
This part of the beach was pretty stoney. We don't know if that was due to the dredging for the restoration that was going on or if it is always that way. Nevertheless, there were only a few people there.
While we were hanging around just enjoying watching the small waves gently rippling on shore, Paul caught a photo of a cormorant sitting on one of the pilings near the restoration work area.
We then drove back toward the south and stopped at the main beach. Even though it wasn't the weekend, there were lots of cars in the parking lot. We headed across the boardwalk over the dune.
The main beach was a lot more crowded than the one to the north. The beach here is also a little wider, and it is fine sand with few stones.
Next, we drove the loop road back to the north and stopped at the nature trail, which is called Osprey Trail. Osprey Trail is a 2.5-mile loop that starts from the picnic area located near the northern end of the road. The trail goes up to the far northeastern tip of the island.
The trail gets its name from the fact it is lined with numerous osprey nests.
There was supposed to be a bald eagle nest at the far end of the trail; but because we only made the decision to go to Honeymoon Island that morning, we got a late start. Since it was already mid-afternoon by the time we started the trail and since we were also hungry, we decided to only walk the lower half of the trail.
Margery had found good online reviews for a seafood restaurant called Frenchy's Outpost located on the mainland at the opposite end of the causeway from the state park. We stopped there for lupper on the way back.
Frenchy's is known for their grouper sandwiches. They have several variations including original with beer-batter, Cajun, Buffalo and Caribbean with jerk spices. A regular sandwich is $11.50 and a super is $13.50.
In order to avoid some carbs, we decided to each have a half-pound grouper nugget appetizer ($12.95) instead of sandwiches. We shared an order of onion straws ($4.95) and a side of cole slaw ($1.95). Frenchy's also has burgers and other sandwiches for about $8 to $10. Dinner entrees range in price from about $14 to $18 and include two sides.
The grouper nuggets were excellent. However, the onion straws were a little greasy, which was especially noticeable later in the meal when they had cooled off somewhat. The cole slaw was okay, but the cabbage was cut a little more coarsely than we like. The restaurant was pretty crowded when we were there. Consequently, it was very noisy. The wood deck below and the low awning above seemed to trap and amplify the noise. The food was also a little on expensive side. Our bill including soft drinks, tax and tip was pushing $50.
With our bellies full and our wallets empty, we headed back to Blueberry Hill. Traffic in the area around Tampa/Clearwater/Dunedin can get pretty heavy later in the afternoon, plus there is construction along almost the entire length of I-75 we would be driving. The potential for traffic delays was another reason we decided not to stay any longer at the state park. Traffic was heavy on the way back, but not awful. When we got back to the rig, we relaxed for the rest of the evening.