- It's a barrier island located between Clearwater and Honeymoon Island (aka Dunedin Beach), Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico;
- The State of Florida very wisely made it a protected state park 40 years ago and therefore development is not allowed on the island;
- The only access to the island is via ferry and it's not inexpensive ($9 per person);
- The ferry runs hourly, visitors are only allowed to stay on the island for 4 hours, and therefore the number of visitors is restricted;
- Because of the cost, many locals don't even know about Caladesi and tourists don't want to be bothered;
- The beach is practically empty all the time;
- From your seat on the beach (and without binoculars), you can easily see schools of dolphins swim by; and
- Sand dollars and starfish are abundant and you can't help but step on at least a few when you're in the warm waters of the Gulf.
How do I know about Caladesi Island? Nana introduced Dave and me to it when we were little. I assume Mom, having grown up less than 10 miles from Dunedin, had been to Caladesi many times. No trip to visit Nana is complete without a trip to Caladesi Island.
In fact, the picture below, is my favorite picture of Nana. It's grainy because it has sat on the kitchen counter for 10 years uncovered and got splattered too many times. It was taken on Thanksgiving 1992 on Caladesi Island. I love her beautiful smile and how genuinely happy she looks. I miss that smile.