On our May 2015 Walt Disney World vacation, we spent the day at Clearwater Beach. We had a great time and can’t wait to go back.
If you listen to Episode 27 of the DIStracted Life Podcast, my guests spent the day in Clearwater primarily to see the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. One of the things they regretted on their vacation was not spending more time at the beach. Our boys love going to Lake Michigan, so we thought they would enjoy this day trip in our vacation away from the theme parks.
The drive to Clearwater is about 2.5 hours with traffic. When you read the distance on Mapquest, it says it will take about 1 hour 45 minutes, but you need to plan on traffic. We have friends who live in the area and they say Tampa is always backed up and takes extra time to get through. The drive itself, however, is nice and without a ton of turns to potentially get you lost. There are road signs that made getting to the beach very easy.
We decided to park near Pier 60, which is the main tourist area along Clearwater Beach. We chose this location for a couple of reasons. First, we wanted to make certain we were near amenities like restrooms and a place to grab a quick snack if we needed. Second, we didn’t want to have to worry about where to park. Third, we wanted to walk out on the pier.
The parking near the Pier is ample, right next to the beach, and costs $3 per hour. You can pay by cash or credit card. Across the street was the area where the boat tours were located and a couple of restaurants and shops that you could easily walk to.
The beach was the very fine powdery sand that was very nice to walk on. The beach is nice and wide and also has a gradual slope in the water which was nice for our boys who are not great swimmers.
We arrived at 10am and there was definitely people around but we didn’t feel crowded. In the morning there was a great deal of seaweed washing up on the shore, but it didn’t bother us. We spent about 2 hours swimming and then went up and walked out on the pier.
There are clamshell rentals right there already set up on the beach with 2 chairs. The rental is $30 if you arrive before 2pm and $20 if you arrive after 2pm. They clean up the clamshells at 5pm. You can pay by cash or credit card.
Ryan did all our beach safety before vacation and learned about the different flags that they use to communicate the beach conditions. Here is a reference. Green is normal conditions, red is avoid the water, double red is closed, and purple was out concern as it is the sea pests are present. We had seen some news reports on stingrays potentially being a problem our time of year because stingrays come up in the warmer shallow water. To keep yourself safe you can do the Stingray shuffle. Here is some information from ABC in Tampa. Link. We saw some videos with some adult men who were in pretty intense pain from stings.
We enjoyed our day at the beach. We learned that our boys do not like salt water. They much prefer our cold Lake Michigan beach water.