I want to say something about some really nice beaches in the Tampa area that are right off of the spectacular Sunshine Skyway Bridge that spans across Tampa Bay. Now, you wouldn’t necessarily see these beaches unless you somehow stopped right before the bridge at the rest area, or perhaps went fishing along this area. What is crazy is that the sand on these beaches is really clean and brilliant white. I am not sure if this area was built up for the road that leads to the bridge. Many, many overpasses in Florida are created with fill from borrow pits, or earth right out of the ocean. This could be the case, and if so, is why the sand is so beautiful here. The other reason might be because as in other areas of Florida, they bring sand in from about a mile out and pump it onto the beach areas. Since this is a place that is right in the Florida limelight, it may have been created this way.
But what I think happened here was this was originally an island in the bay that served as the anchorage for the bridge. Either way, I suggest that you stop on the south side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and park at the rest area and walk out on the beach area. There is also parking further south for the park area, which has some great white sandy beaches, too. The only disappointment here is that the water of Tampa Bay, and really, all of the coastal Gulf area is turbid. You won’t find clear water until you are well offshore, and unfortunately, there aren’t any beaches there. But we’re into beaches and not really the water quality, so for now, let’s stick to that. Further south there are a few more strips of sand, but you won’t be able to get to them without a boat.
[singlepic=57,400,,,left] On the north shore of the bay, running parallel to the road that eventually leads you to the airport, you will find more strip beaches perfect for spending a sunny afternoon. To get in a place where you won’t be ticketed, try driving down one of the many off-roads and get far enough off the highway so it appears you are either fishing or on the beach. You’ll probably run into locals here and if you stick close enough to the active highway, you’re going to be safe. Naturally, you don’t want to wander down roads you’re not familiar with, even if you have your trusty GPS. And take water with you. The sun is hot here and there are no facilities until you get back near the bridge.
[singlepic=58,400,,,right] When the Skyway was involved in an accident which took out several spans and caused fatalities, they didn’t knock down the whole bridge and start over. What they did was save part of the existing structure on both ends and created fishing piers. There are facilities on these piers and some chow as well. You can walk around out here but remember that the area is designed with fishing in mind. What I suggest is a trip out to Fort DeSoto where the beaches are again – brilliant. God didn’t make them much better than this and this is one of my recommended areas. Here you’ll find full facilities, not far from Tampa and surrounds, and just some great sand. There are fees for entering the park, but expect to pay under $5.