The water really is crystal clear in Clearwater – it’s so beautiful! Clearwater is located about 2 hours west of Orlando, FL so it is certainly doable to do it as a day trip, although there is a strip along the beach of amazing hotels and motels you can stay the night in if you wanted to stay a little longer. For us, we thought one day in Clearwater was enough but I am sure there is much more to see!
Again, the trip is about two hours west of Orlando. The traffic gets really congested between Tampa and Clearwater and you need to take a fairly long bridge to get into Clearwater. Also, FUN FACT: Hooters Restaurant was founded right in Clearwater, FL in 1983. There is also limited parking close to the beach, so you’ll want to arrive early to ensure you can get a spot. Otherwise, you’ll need to park far or pay for parking at one of the hotels in the area (if there are some free spots available).
The beach is very long and there are lots of good spots, but ideally, you’ll want to be relatively close to the pier (Pier 60) or at least be up for the trek to get there. It is super cool and definitely a highlight of a trip to Clearwater Beach. You can pay a fee to get access to sun huts/umbrellas, or you can just lay in the sand and soak up the sun! The sand is also super white, fine and soft. The photos don’t do it justice, but in person, it is absolutely beautiful. The water is also super clear! (They don’t call it Clearwater for no reason!) Clearwater is also situated on the Gulf of Mexico (day trip to Cancun, anyone?).
Pier 60 is probably the main attraction to this beach, other than the beautiful sand and lovely waters. You can walk along the pier and even fish from it! There were these boards along the railings where people could cut their fish (yuck!) and there are a BUNCH of pelicans!!! By the way, pelicans are way larger in person than I had ever thought, they also look pretty mean. We didn’t have any bad luck with the pelicans, luckily. Aside from walking ON the pier, walking UNDER the pier is even cooler. You can get some pretty sweet shots under the bridge, some people even set up their picnic spots here for some shade!
Honestly, there is MUCH wildlife at the beach aside from birds and fish. We’ve never seen pelicans before and the fish in the Gulf of Mexico are very different from those in Lake Ontario – so we found them pretty interesting. Along the pier, you can also use binoculars to check out sights in the distance like boats and such. We also saw two dolphins swimming around the end of the pier for a brief moment! Seeing a wild dolphin, even for a moment, was a really cool experience.