We leave the Clearwater Marina with our captain carefully watching the channel. The bay is shallow and the blue and green waters are clear. We turn right, idling past a small island of mangroves and white seabirds. Passing under the Sand Key bridge, we see hotels on our right including the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites and Shephardâ€™s Beach Resort. Slipping into the Gulf of Mexico, we head south a safe distance from beautiful Sand Key, waving at the people sunning and swimming. We pass by the Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key, Sheraton Sand Key Resort and the SandPearl Resort. Picking up speed, we enjoy the open water and watch for dolphins.
The sky is clear, and the Gulf has turned a deep green. Leaving Sand Key behind, we pass Belleair Beach and soon Indian Rocks Beach is to our left. Legend has it that the island got its name from a story about a fresh water spring surrounded by rocks located in what is now Kolb Park. The native Indians believed the water could heal the sick. Indian Rocks Beach offers a quaint mix of old Florida cottages, condominiums and hotels. The beautiful stretch of beach is a favorite of many visitors.
Hungry? Indian Rocks Beach offers great places for casual Florida dining along Gulf Boulevard. A few highly recommended restaurants of many in the area include P.J.â€™s Oyster House, The Original Crabby Bills and Guppyâ€™s on the Beach. A small, unobtrusive eatery well worth discovering is Keeganâ€™s at Gulf Boulevard and 16th Avenue in Indian Rocks Beach. For a great breakfast in a casual beach restaurant, consider eggs benedict at Sandyâ€™s, next door to CafÃ© dâ€™ Paris, a French coffee shop featuring wonderful sandwiches and pastries. Both are excellent.
As we continue our cruise, we watch a formation of pelicans gliding low over the Gulf water on a layer of dense air. So regal in flight, pelicans are rather comical on land with their long bills and mouth sacks. The brown pelican, common to North America, finds its meals by plunge diving and catching fish in its beak sack. Careening from the air and plunging into the Gulf of Mexico, the pelicans are quite a show!