Hotel at a Glance: Best Western Plus Yacht Harbor Inn
In 2008, Dr. Beach named Caladesi Island State Park the best beach in America for its soft white sands and “sparkling clear water.” Located on one of a string of barrier islands off Florida’s west coast, it’s accessible only by boat or ferry, which helps maintain the beach’s pristine wildlife setting. You can see these islands from the Best Western Plus Yacht Harbor Inn, a boutique hotel overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Boat charters are available at the marina next door, putting the park and other award-winning beaches within reach.
- Waterfront dining: Bon Appetit Restaurant offers award-winning seafood and spectacular views, and Marina Cafe’s terrace is a great place for predinner cocktails.
- Take a dip in the hotel’s heated outdoor pool and jacuzzi, or head to Clearwater’s famous white-sand beaches 5 miles south.
- In-room amenities: Renovated in 2012, all guest rooms feature refrigerators, microwaves, and balconies or patios.
- Busch Gardens (about 25 miles east) is home to more than 2,000 exotic animals including bengal tigers, chimpanzees, giraffes, and white rhinos.
- Recommended biking trail: The 47-mile-long Pinellas Trail runs through downtown Dunedin, with beautiful coastal views along the way.
Dunedin, Florida: Barrier Islands with Sandy Beaches and Native Wildlife
Located 30 miles west of Tampa and just north of Clearwater Beach, the town of Dunedin overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. Running parallel to the coast is a string of lush barrier islands—drive across the Dunedin Causeway to reach the popular Honeymoon Island and its eponymous state park. Here, you can snorkel in the warm waters of the gulf and comb the beaches for seashells. Keep an eye out for osprey nests and other native shorebirds.
From Honeymoon Island, you can take the Caladesi Island Ferry to the more secluded Caladesi Island State Park, famous for its unspoiled white-sand beaches. Hop on a kayak and paddle a 3-mile waterway past mangroves or hike a 3-mile nature trail on the island’s interior.