Closest beach to Orlando

 

Sand Key Park - Clearwater Beach

 Sand Key Park beach, Clearwater Beach, Florida

 

GPS Coordinates: 27.955733, -82.827153

Directions: From Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60, drive south on S. Gulfview Blvd. and take the bridge over Clearwater Pass. Immediately after crossing the bridge, look for the entrance to Sand Key Park on the right.

Cost: $5 per car daily fee.

Hours: Park closes and gate locks at dark.

Sand Key Park is run by Pinellas County. It’s very close to Clearwater Beach—just across the pass (inlet). There is a lot less traffic congestion around this park and there is plenty of paid parking. The park has large grassy picnic areas, drink vending machines, restrooms, and a huge white sand beach.

The advantage to this beach is that it is within a 5 minute drive of Clearwater Beach but lacks the traffic congestion and busy atmosphere.

Unfortunately, like Clearwater Beach, the view is somewhat marred by the presence of huge, towering beachfront hotels and condominiums.

Sand Key Park beach with hotels and condos

Additionally, the playground and picnic area is quite a distance (several hundred yards) from the beach, so you’d need to drive between the two.

The beach here is not as soft and white as the Pier 60 beach. It is also steeper and tends to accumulate more seaweed and flotsam on the beach, especially near the jetty. So if you like beachcombing, you might prefer this beach.

Surfing is allowed near the jetty, which is one of the better surfing locations in the area.

There are two restroom buildings with changing areas. The showers are outdoor rinse-off type showers with no privacy. There are no food or drink concessions in the park, but there are drink vending machines.

Restroom facilities at Sand Key Park

Where to eat nearby: There are several restaurants (pizza and deli) nearby in a small shopping plaza. Across the bridge just 5 minutes away are all the restaurants along Clearwater beach including IHOP and Subway and many others, including plenty of seafood. A 10 minute drive south you’ll find restaurants in the island city of Indian Rocks Beach.

ADA access: “Handicap” parking is available and accessible dune walkovers lead onto the beach. The journey from the end of the walkover to the water’s edge is several hundred feet over sand that is fairly firm. It is a wide beach. Beach Wheelchairs (2) are available and can be requested from the lifeguard on duty during the season (March to September, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

In the off-season, you can call 727-582-2100 and schedule a beach wheelchair, however this service is not guaranteed.

Amenities:

  • Rentals of beach chairs, umbrellas & kayaks
  • Drink vending machines (water, soft drinks)
  • Restrooms with changing areas
  • Outdoor rinse-off showers
  • Lifeguards on duty 9am-5pm, March thru September
  • Beach wheelchairs
  • Paved parking (daily fee)
  • Picnic areas off-beach
  • Fenced dog park (off-beach)
  • Fishing along Clearwater Pass
  • Surfing near rock jetty

Beach Rules:

  • Alcoholic beverages are NOT allowed on the beach.
  • Pets are not allowed on the beach, however there is a very good fenced dog park within Sand Key Park with a large grassy area and some shade.
  • No fishing from the beach, no open fires or grills on the beach. Proper swim attire required, surfing and swimming areas are separate. Park closes at dark.

Parking

There are several large paved parking areas. 18 automated pay stations in various locations in the parking lot collect the $5 flat daily parking fee. The meters accept coins, cash and credit cards.

Surfing

The jetty at Sand Key Park is one of the best surfing spots around. For surfing photos at this location, visit Gulfster.com . Most of the photos labeled “Northern Pinellas” are taken at this jetty.

Beach vendors rent kayaks and beach equipment, Sand Key Park

Large paved parking at Sand Key Park, Clearwater Beach

Huge white sand beach at Sand Key Park

Gulf water at Sand Key Park

Snorkeling at Sand Key Park

Wide beach at Sand Key Park, Clearwater Beach

Above: Sand Key Park beach has a drainage problem. During a heavy downpour, rainwater collects between the dunes and the beach because the renourished beach is piled so high with sand. These pools of rainwater may hang around for a week or more, especially during summer daily rains. Usually you can find a dry spot to cross and get down to the water, but there are times when you may need to walk through a couple of inches of water.

Pathway to the beach, Sand Key Park

Outdoor rinse-off showers at Sand Key Park

The jetty at Sand Key Park

The crowd at Sand Key Park

Calm Gulf waters at Sand Key Park

Lifeguards at Sand Key Park

Picnic pavilion at Sand Key Park

Dog Park at Sand Key Park, Clearwater Beach

Above: Dog park at Sand Key Park.