Clearwater is an excellent holiday destination in Florida, but part of what makes the city so special is that its coastline neighbours a series of beautiful islands. With many accessible only by boat, you can find many tour operators transporting you from one island to the next. You can even take your own boat and drop anchor wherever you like.

    Soak up the endless sandy shorelines as the crystalline sea provides the ideal spot to snorkel, swim and fish. Plus, you'll have access to first-rate hiking trails and an abundance of native wildlife. Don your sailing gear and enjoy a nice getaway on these pristine Clearwater islands.

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    Caladesi Island

    Pristine mangroves and lush nature trails

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    Caladesi Island might only be accessible by boat, but it's well worth the trip during your vacation to Clearwater. This relatively untouched island has a long stretch of sandy beach that's home to exotic shorebirds, including ospreys, gulls and terns.

    Caladesi Island is known for its vast interior mangroves, with over 1,800 acres of wetlands for you to explore by kayak. If you prefer keeping your feet dry, there's a 2.5-mile nature trail that snakes through a lush forest. With ferries leaving from nearby Honeymoon Island every hour, you won't regret taking the time to visit this serene spot.

    Location: Dunedin, FL 33767, USA

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    Egmont Key

    Experience unparalleled vistas and native wildlife

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    Egmont Key is only 1.6 miles long, but its position at the mouth of Tampa Bay makes it a particularly special island to explore. Spread across 440 acres of exceptional biodiversity, you can find immaculate natural scenery set alongside a series of fascinating historic military installations.

    Surrounded by turquoise waters, Egmont Key is especially popular with those who love snorkelling, fishing and shelling. Meanwhile, the spotless beachfront is as good as any other in Clearwater. You might come across a variety of wildlife, including sea birds, box turtles, and gopher tortoises.

    Location: St. Petersburg, FL 33711, USA

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    Fort De Soto

    Enjoy an array of outdoor activities at this family getaway

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    Fort De Soto's vast natural parkland is quite unique when it comes to the islands of Clearwater. Set across 5 islands, more than 1,100 acres of impressive parkland are interconnected by a convenient roadway stretching from the mainland out over the sea. With camping, kayaking and biking possible at Fort De Soto, it's become one of the most sought-after destinations for local outdoor enthusiasts.

    Part of this reputation also comes from the fact that Fort De Soto Park’s North Beach has been named among the best family beaches in America. Set aside an entire day to explore the seemingly endless stretches of white sand and crystal-clear tidal pools.

    Location: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, St. Petersburg, FL 33715, USA

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    4

    Honeymoon Island

    For alluring wildlife and tranquil nature hikes

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    Honeymoon Island is one of Florida's best-known coastal getaways and is as romantic as it sounds. With a white-sand shoreline spanning 4 miles, there's an array of native wildlife to discover. Alongside eagles, horned owls and skywards, there are raccoons, tortoises and armadillos hidden in the shrubbery.

    Away from the beachfront, there are plenty of remarkable natural landscapes to enjoy. A 3-mile hiking trail winds its way through a rare slash pine forest, while countless places for swimming, fishing and biking are found inland. Once you've finished exploring Honeymoon Island, head to the ferry terminal and set off to explore the wonders of nearby Caladesi Island.

    Location: 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698, USA

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    5

    Shell Key

    A wildlife sanctuary for outstanding boating and camping

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    Shell Key is where you can find a special nature preserve right at the mouth of Tampa Bay. With this barrier island spread across 195 acres, the preserve extends far beyond that as it provides a safe home for nesting, wintering and migrating birds.

    Although much of the island is dedicated to research and wildlife protection, there are still some great recreation spots to enjoy. Soak up the sun on the remote beachfront or areas dedicated to camping and boating. But be sure to plan your trip accordingly, as there are no restrooms available.

    Location: Shell Key, Florida, USA

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    6

    Clearwater Beach Island

    A host to water activities and diverse dining scene

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    Clearwater Beach Island is the region's namesake island and it's not surprising that it's overflowing with activity. The island has an extensive soft and sandy beachfront that's popular for parasailing, paddleboarding, and jet-skiing. Meanwhile, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is where you'll find fascinating exhibits on sea animals of all shapes and sizes.

    Clearwater Beach Island has a thriving promenade winding along the shoreline, where you can find a delightful array of restaurants and cafes. When the sun goes down, Pier 60 hosts outstanding street performers, nightlife venues and captivating craft stalls.

    Location: Clearwater, FL 33767, USA

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    Anclote Keys

    Discover a historic lighthouse and soak up the sun

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    Anclote Keys is a must-visit summertime destination for those who love to get off the beaten track. Surrounded by bright turquoise water, this tranquil location has over 400 acres of stunning nature spread across 4 distinct islands.

    If you decide to visit for the day, be sure to explore the southern end of the key. You'll come across the Anclote Key Lighthouse, which was constructed in 1887 and has since been faithfully restored to its former glory. As there are endless remote areas to enjoy the famous Floridian weather, it’s a great place to escape the crowds.

    Location: Florida 34691, USA

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    One Tree Island

    Take a dip in the shallows and relax on the beach

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    One Tree Island lives up to its name with a solitary pine tree as its centrepiece. Situated between Sand Key and the Clearwater Beach mainland, this tiny spec of pristine beach in the bay is an excellent summertime spot for vacationers looking to escape the mainland.

    Although One Tree Island doesn't have the activities like some of its neighbours, you can still bring the whole family and have a hunt through the shallows for some beautiful shells to keep as a souvenir.

    Location: Clearwater, FL 33767, USA

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    Sand Key

    A spirited island for the entire family

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    Sand Key is one of the most popular barrier islands in the Clearwater region, thanks to its namesake park and beachfront drawing crowds throughout the year. Unlike some of the other islands in the area, this lively holiday destination has a range of family-friendly facilities for your convenience.

    Alongside a sprawling dog park and playground, there are beach cabanas, bathhouses and seasonal lifeguards to ensure everyone has a safe time. You have a good chance of coming across sea turtles in the surrounding water and birdlife nesting in salt marshes.

    Location: Sand Key, Clearwater, FL 33767, USA

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    10

    Three Rooker Island

    An island escape offering endless fishing and snorkelling

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    Three Rooker Island is surrounded by the beautiful waters of St. Joseph Sound. Accessible only by boat, the striking sand bar has long been a choice secret spot for local boaters looking to escape the summertime crowds.  

    Forming part of Anclote Key, Three Rooker Island has quickly become covered in green vegetation, making it an idyllic place to spend a hot day. The island has also become a preferred destination for local shorebirds, with vibrant terns, egrets and blue herons known to inhabit its coastal landscape.

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    Hudson Brown | Contributing Writer

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