By Theo Panagopoulos
Famous for its year-round warm climate, spectacular sunset views and tranquil cerulean waters, it comes as no surprise that Clearwater Beach has consistently been ranked by TripAdvisor as the number one beach in the US. Boasting a magnificent coastline of pristine sugar-white sand and crystal-clear waters just a few miles north of the famous resort city of St. Petersburg, it’s the ideal destination for those looking to flee northern winter and unwind on exotic, palm-tree-lined shores under the hot sun.
Apart from swimming, surfing, snorkeling and sunbathing on powdery sand, Clearwater Beach has something special on offer for every type of traveler. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, you’ll find that there’s always something extraordinary going on here.
On the Beach
Stroll down the umbrella-dotted sandy shore and discover Clearwater Beach’s hidden gems. Browse the boutique surf shops, go artisan souvenir-hunting, savor a luscious cocktail at one of the beach bars or luxuriate in some fresh seafood at a beachfront restaurant. Regardless of how you choose to spend your day, come nightfall, make sure to head for Pier 60 to attend the renowned sunset celebrations. Every evening, local musicians, artists and street performers gather on the pier to put on a spectacular show, while the sun paints the sky in shades of magenta and pink.
If you’re in an adventurous mood and eager to set sail, make sure to check out one of the several dolphin watch cruises that depart from the Clearwater Beach marina. The waters just off the coast are the natural habitat of one of the world’s largest pods of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, offering exceptional opportunities to see the whimsical creatures at play. Most cruises also include short breaks at Compass Island where you can cool off by swimming or snorkeling. If dolphin watching is not really your thing, you can choose among scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, dinner-party cruising, or even joining Captain Memo’s crew on a swashbuckling pirate cruise adventure.
Clearwater Beach is teeming with breathtaking events and dazzling festivals all year round. There are food and wine tastings, concerts, band battles, cheerleading competitions, sporting events and much more. It’s the backdrop of the National Superboat Championship, the Ironman triathlon and of course the internationally acclaimed Clearwater Jazz Festival that brings the finest jazz virtuosos on stage. Nonetheless, Clearwater Beach’s most remarkable festivity has to be the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. It’s a multi-day event packed with music, art, games and the legendary sand sculpture exhibition.
We highly doubt it, but if you ever grow tired of dipping your toes in warm sand, there are plenty of things to see and do beyond the beach. You can wave hello at the world’s most famous dolphin, Winter, at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or visit Caladesi Island State Park. If you’re looking for dry land activities, head to one of the opulent golf courses that surround the area or follow the Clearwater Craft Beer Trail that is punctuated with local micro-breweries serving fresh craft beers to weary wanderers.
What to Know Before You Go
The Clearwater area holds the world Guinness Record for the longest consecutive run of sunshine with 768 days, so there’s really no wrong time to visit. Clearwater Beach is just a stone’s throw away from St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport and it’s equipped with restrooms, showers, cabanas, umbrella rentals and spacious parking. There are beach wheelchairs available at the main lifeguard station.