Top 5 Stand Up Paddle Spots in St. Pete BeachSt. Pete is surrounded by water, and although it makes for some incredible paddle boarding, it can also make it hard to choose where to go. We’re lucky to have so many beautiful spots! Where you go is up to you—when you rent from us, you can take your paddleboard anywhere you want. We recommend these 5 spots for the incredible views and abundant nature.
Don CeSar Boat RampFrom the boat ramp just east of the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, paddle south through the canals surrounding the neighborhoods of Vina Del Mar and Pass-a-Grille. At the large mangrove island just south of the boat ramp you’ll see pelicans, herons and other coastal birds. The shallow water surrounding the island is a great place to spot marine life—you’re almost guaranteed to spot sheepshead, and the mullet jump so high you feel like you are looking right into their faces! If you continue south, look for the the Busch family estate on your right. The three houses were built in the 1950’s, and started as the Busch’s family compound (the family behind the beer!). Decades of famous people have stayed here, including Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, and presidents Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton. In recent years it has become a corporate retreat center, event space and vacation rental. Continuing south still, you’ll paddle under the bridge to Vina and then past the Wharf restaurant and bar on your right. Once you pass the bird island, your other option is to take the first canal to your left and head northeast to the Bayway Bridge. It was built in 2015, and you’ll get a unique perspective of the 80 foot tall bridge when you paddle under it. On the north side of the bridge and the west side of the boat channel, there is a sandbar that is a great pace to spot horseshoe crabs, stingrays, and dolphins. Parking is at meters on the street near the boat ramp. Take caution when launching—the boat ramp is slippery! Shoes are recommended in this area, oyster beds can be found near by.
Tierra Verde Causeway-East Side
State Road 679 north of Tierra Verde is commonly referred to as the Tierra Verde Causeway. The best launch is through one of the first openings in the mangroves on the east side of the road just south of the condos. There is plenty of space to pull off the road and park. Once in the water, head east toward the houses on Bayway Isles. If you keep the houses to your right, you can continue all the way around a small island with a great view of the beautiful homes. Halfway around you will paddle under a bridge - you may need to duck! The entire loop is about 2 miles long and is an excellent place to spot dolphins all year and manatees in the summer. If you are looking for a longer paddle, you can add in a trip to Indian Key (just south of the homes of Bayway Isles) for some fantastic bird watching.
Hole in the Hedge (Tampa Bay Watch)On the way to Ft. Desoto Park and just before you get to Tampa Bay Watch is the spot known to locals as the “hole in the hedge.” There is ample room to pull off the road and park, and it’s a fantastic spot to paddle and feel like you are away from the city. Straight line distance to Shell Key is just a little over one mile, but you will want to take the scenic route! With a few mangrove islands scattered about and shallow sea grass flats, this is a great spot for wildlife watching or fishing from your paddleboard. The tip of Shell Key is a great spot to stop for a picnic, so bring a lunch!
Pass-a-GrilleLocated at the south end of St Pete Beach, the Pass-a-Grille area is a great spot to launch your paddle board into the Gulf of Mexico. Paddle north toward the Don CeSar Hotel and get a great view of the beautiful homes located on this stretch of beach. With fewer hotels here, it is a less crowded area of St. Pete Beach and that makes it perfect for anyone who wants some peace and quiet. When you return to the beach at Pass-a-Grille, don’t miss a stop at the Paradise Grill where you can fuel up on great food while still keeping your toes in the sand! Make sure you also plan a stop at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum on 10th Ave to see pictures of what this historic area used to look like.
Upham BeachAt the north end of St. Pete Beach, Upham Beach is another great spot to start from if you want to paddle in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a favorite spot for surfers, and if there is any swell you can try paddle surfing! On calmer days you can paddle south and check out the beach scene in front of the Postcard Inn and the Tradewinds hotels. If you are looking for a less crowded area, paddle north from Upham beach across Blind Pass (be mindful of boats going in and out of the pass) to the quieter Sunset Beach area. The mouth of Blind Pass is a great place to spot dolphins and other sea life, but beginner paddlers may want to steer clear. When the tide is going in or out, there is a strong current and rough water. Check out Woody’s Waterfront restaurant, overlooking Blind Pass, for post-paddle refreshments.
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