Sand Key Park, just south of Clearwater, is a great place to find peaceful, family-friendly Tampa Bay beaches. This lovely park serves as both a park and a beach, with white sand, a boardwalk, and a nature trail. You can see sea turtles nesting on the beach if you visit at the right time of year. So, whether you want to see Florida wildlife or just swim and sunbathe, this is the ideal location. The park, which is located on a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida mainland, has plenty of parking, picnic shelters, shower and restroom facilities, and a playground for children.
Sand Key is a Pinellas County park on, well, Sand Key, just south of Clearwater Pass. The 95-acre park features undeveloped space to enjoy a picnic or go fishing, and there’s a sizable swath of beachfront to go with it.
Sand Key Park is conveniently close to the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. This lovely location is divided into two sections: a beach and a park. Two picnic shelters, grills, picnic tables, a playground, restrooms, and a dog park are among the basic amenities provided by the park. It is the longest barrier island in Pinellas County and is part of the Clearwater Barrier Islands chain. This trip was unusually windy, despite the fact that it was normally breezy.
The sizable parking lot does incur a $5 per day parking fee (annual passes are available), but it’s well worth it if you want some room to stretch out. Even on some busy days, Sand Key Park can seem like a deserted oasis compared to the area around Pier 60. Even so, more than 1 million people visit the park each year.
There is a playground, picnic shelters that can be reserved, restrooms, showers and rentals for umbrellas, cabanas, kayaks and bicycles. There’s a concessions stand that sells the usual bits and bites.
Lifeguards are on duty from March to Labor Day. They’re also the ones in charge of doling out beach wheelchairs (rangers handle it the rest of the time).
It’s interesting to note that the park serves as the base for an artificial reef program, and is home to a recurring sea turtle nesting ground.
Finally, while you can’t bring your dog on the beach, there is a dog run in the park.
Abu Seba Beach – Sand Key Bayside Park
Across from the entrance to Sand Key Park is a fairly hidden sliver of beach facing the mainland.
What’s it called? Good question. No one seems to know for sure.
Depending on the map you consult or the person you ask, it’s either Sand Key Bayside Park (as in the island, not the county park) or Abu Seba Beach. Even the people on duty at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center, just inside the entrance, weren’t 100 percent sure what the name was.
It still manages to draw crowds that prefer it over the bustling main beach, though.
Past the sailing center (more on that in the Watersports and Fitness section), the mangrove stand and the paid boat storage, there’s a small, metered parking area with a good amount of frontage. You’re supposed to pay to park here, but during our last visit the pay stations were both out of order.
Paddleboarders, kayakers and Jet Ski types enjoy the easy access to the intracoastal. The Kai Aniani Canoe Club, a serious outrigger canoe paddling club, is based out of this beach. You’ll even see business people catching a waterside lunch out here from time to time.