There aren't all that many islands along Florida's Gulf Coast that remain relatively untouched by human civilization, but Caladesi Island is one of them. Accessible only by boat, this gorgeous state park offers a memorable experience for visitors that few other destinations around the country can match.
Caladesi Island State Park features a total of 650 upland acres and more than 1,800 acres of surrounding mangroves and grass flats. However, the highlight for most visitors is simply sitting back and relaxing on the island's pristine beaches. You can cool off in the water, cast a line from the shore, or just spread out on a towel and enjoy the sunshine. There's also a three-mile nature trail to explore if you're feeling a little more energetic.
The only way to get to the island is by ferry or private boat. While there's no campground to speak of, visitors are able to spend the night on their boat in the Caladesi Island Marina. This is quite a unique accommodation opportunity and one well worth experiencing if you have the chance -- once the last ferry leaves for the day, the island becomes a peaceful haven.
Of course, you'll need to take extra special care during your visit to ensure that Caladesi Island remains as untouched as possible. This means following all park rules about where you are and aren't allowed to take your dog -- notably, dogs aren't allowed on the beach.
You'll also need to keep your dog on a leash of six feet or shorter while exploring the island and clean up your dog's waste when nature calls.
Caladesi Island State Park may be a little harder to get to than many other state parks, but the trip is well worth the effort. Spend a night here and you'll surely want to return again and again.