I had heard of Pinellas County, Florida beaches receiving spots in the top ten list of beaches long before I found out why.
I looked at the satellite images of our coastal islands and decided to take on Honeymoon Island. Armed with a sun hat and a camera, I started off.
It was to my great fortune that I am a seasoned hiker because this was no mean feat. The terrain offers several choices. The waves wash the sand smooth and pack it hard but traveling here means wet feet. Just beyond this is the largest collection of shells anyone could wish for. Most are broken and on their way to becoming white grains of sand. The third choice is softer sand, uphill from the waves an shells. Beyond this stretch the island turns to bushes and grass-covered dunes.
Armed with flip-flops, I traveled all but the plant-covered areas. This was more than just fancy. The areas of the island with plant growth are reserved for nesting birds and other wildlife. Plentiful signs warn of active nesting areas. Area residents enjoy the large variety of regional birds and leave these wild places alone.
I traveled north under a blazing sun that warmed the coast to upwards of eighty degrees. The sea breeze offered some respite from the Gulf Coast humidity. Overall, it was on the warm side of pleasant.
Any thoughts of disagreement with the heat melted away as my eyes fell on the wonders the northern end of Honeymoon Island presented. Egrets, sand pipers and herons fed along the waterline while one shell-collectors treasure after another passed under my feet.
Fewer and fewer people passed me by the further I went. The walk passed beyond an hour and then two.
Around the two hour mark the sands became softer and only few people were left walking the shoreline on foot. I had entered the domain most often traveled only by boat. The dunes took on the look of powdery snow drifts. Some had crisp edges that only very tiny grains of sand can create.
At two and a half hours I finally reached the end. Hot and a little weary, I could still only smile. The northern tip of the island was a wonder to behold. The sand gleamed with a nearly white tone. It’s grains were so small that they took on shapes I had not seen in other sands. Each foot print of passing birds showed with clarity and remarkable detail. Sand dunes bore various forms of wind created shapes, from sharp-edged dunes to tiny ripples.
With my journey’s goal reached, I took off my flip-flops. I could only take in a breath of wonder as my feet sank into the sand. It had no rough aspects to it whatsoever and was distinctly reminiscent of baby powder. I stood a moment with my eyes closed in order to experience nothing more than the feeling coming to me through my feet.
I watched the birds flying and running along the shoreline, this time with a large flock of pelicans included. I chatted with the visitors who came by boat. I stayed roughly an hour but I knew I had over a two hour return walk ahead of me.
I was sorry to go but eventually I turned southward and began my return journey. The sunset arrived just as I reached the end of my walk. It has remained one of my top beach experiences to this day.
Originally posted February 2011