St Pete Beach Florida

St Pete Florida

After our delayed flight from Gatwick we arrived much later than planned. This wasn’t a problem since the shuttle runs from just outside the terminal building on demand to your hotel for $43 return

Our hotel, Dolphin Beach Resort was right on the beach and had a decent pool and restaurant. Conveniently right opposite our hotel was a shopping plaza with a Publix supermarket and a Dollar Tree. There is also a nice little pizza restaurant tucked away in the corner.

I had expected a few changes as it has been 24 years since we last visited this neck of the woods and yes, there are.a few more hotels along the strip but most of the old haunts are still there but the names and ownerships have changed.

The main attraction is the gorgeous and still fairly quiet white talcum powder sand beach which stretches for many miles along the gulf coast full of shells where there are few humans, hundreds of birds and a lovely warm sea where fish swim round you and you can often spot dolphins swimming quite close to the shore. You can also spot manattees as well as dolphins in the inland waterways, Many of the plants are protected and there are heavy fines for picking mangroves and sea oats so despite hotels all the way along the beach and the watersports, the lovely beach remains unspoilt

Getting around the Gulf Coast is now possible by public transport so car hire is no longer essential. It is only $4.50 for a day pass on the PSTA network of buses and trolleys and this stretches from Clearwater to downtown St. Petersburg, however this can be slow as services are not very frequent and connections are not that good

America is famous for shopping, seafood and steaks and money goes a long way in Florida on all three. Even a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving there are many bargains to be had so we stocked up with Christmas gifts for all the family. As for seafood there are plenty of fish in the sea and we got the chance to sample plenty of freshly caught fish and seafood in the local restaurants,

Florida is better known for theme parks than culture but a trolley ride to downtown St Petersburg gave us the opportunity to visit museums, the most famous of which is the Dali museum with original works by the Spanish artist Salvador Dali. I had already visited the other Dali museum in Figueres in Spain, Dali’s birthplace but in later years he spent a lot of time in Florida, hence the second museum. Each museum has different original works by the artist. There is a City Looper and the:driver tells you some interesting facts along the way, an absolute bargain at 50c

The gulf coast has many inland waterways and a good way to navigate these is by pleasure boat. We discovered a reasonably priced one from Clearwater called Calypso Queen operated by Starlite Cruises. This is 13 dollars with a coupon whIch you should be able to find in local publications or at your hotel. We were disappointed not to see dolphins but we did see a couple while walking along the beach.

We spent one morning simply strolling along the talcum powder sand beach watchIng many bird species fishing in the sea. They all have different ways if fishing. The pelican uses it’s huge beak to scoop up its prey. One skims the top of the water. Another dives in from a great height. One pokes its long beak into the sand and the gulls wait for rich pickings from tourists. One gull shrieks and all hIs mates come from miles around to attack the hungry tourist. I wouldn’t call myself a twitcher but it was fascinating to watch them all. We stopped at several beach bars along the way. Some of them have live music.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable time in St Pete. If you would like to find out more and think about a holiday on the Gulf Coast either stand alone or combined with Orlando or elsewhere in the USA please give me a call on my new number 020 3432 4740 or email cathie.odea@travelcounsellors.com

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