Caladesi Island, a hot spot in Dunedin that you’ll need to take a boat visit, is the 2nd best beach in the country according to Dr. Beach. This is step up from its 7th place finish in 2021. “The inlet is closed so Caladesi is no longer a true island, but still a great getaway,” write Dr. Beach. “The white beach is composed of crystalline quartz sand which is soft and cushy at the water’s edge, inviting one to take a dip in the sparkling clear waters.” The writer celebrates Caladesi’s boardwalk trails, and its kayak and canoe trails. Dr. Beach notes spotting blue herons as they traveled through mangrove tunnels on their visit.
Want to visit Caladesi Island? Hop on the Caladesi Island Ferry. The island features stunning nature trails, and a 3-mile kayak trail. While at Caladesi Island, make sure to admire the mangroves. Red mangroves are the most abundant form of mangrove tree in the park. Red mangrove seeds drop off the tree already forming roots. If they land in soil, they’ll immediately begin to take root and form a new mangrove tree. If they land in water, they will float along the water’s surface, eventually finding a new area where they can grow. Various plant species, including beach elders and sea oats, grow on the dunes, their roots holding the sand in place and stabilizing the dunes.
Caladesi Island is the ultimate Florida beach escape
Cabbage palms and live oaks rise above smaller shrubs such as temperate wax myrtle in what is known as a maritime hammock habitat, according to Florida State Parks. The Parks organization continues, “This habitat is entwined with mesic flatwoods, in which slash pine trees tower high above saw palmettos, their pine needles covering the forest floor. Ospreys often nest in these woods, and below the trees gopher tortoises dig their long burrows.”
For over three decades, Dr. Stephen Leatherman (“Dr. Beach“) has reviewed, evaluated and rated beaches and coastal areas throughout the world.
Leatherman is an American geoscientist, coastal ecologist, and author. He was the first director of the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University, from 1997 to 2009.
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