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The Beach at Caladesi Island

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000

Sit on this beach, look out to sea and it is easy to pretend you are alone on an island in the middle of the South Pacific. The isolation and lack of crowds are what help Caladesi Island make the top 10 beach list year after year.

Pinellas County has three beaches -- Fort De Soto, Caladesi Island and Clearwater Beach -- ranked in the world's top 20 by Florida International University coastal geologist Stephen Leatherman, known by the alias "Dr. Beach."

Leatherman uses 50 criteria to make his picks, including current, sand quality and water clarity. Caladesi scores high in all regards, but its lack of crowds makes it especially appealing.

For years, the island was accessible only by boat. Since Hurricane Elena filled Dunedin Pass with sand in 1985, hardy souls now can make the long walk from Clearwater Beach if so inclined. The easiest access still is by water. Private boats can use the 99-slip marina or anchor offshore. Landlubbers can take the ferry from nearby Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area. Call (727) 469-5918.

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