South Tampa’s Secret Beaches

There’s a strong perception among Tampa residents that to go to the beach, you have to haul yourself down the highway to St. Pete, or across the sprawl of Clearwater.  After all, the body of water closes to Tampa itself is the industrialized Port of Tampa, fit for nothing but deep-keeled shipping vessels and hungry pelicans.  Right?

Not quite.  There are a handful of amazing beaches much closer to Tampa proper, out past the metallic clang of the port, and right at the doorstep of South Tampa residents.

cypress point park

Caption: Cypress Point Park. Credit: Vic Wagner, Flickr.

Cypress Point is a small park with a mix of beaches and hiking trails.  The beaches don’t quite match Fort DeSoto, but combine them with beautiful, forested paths and you’ve got something pretty special.

davis islands

Davis Islands Seaplane Park. Credit: Path to Enlightenment, Flickr

Maybe the most unusual beach in South Tampa is at the Davis Islands Seaplane Basin Park.  It’s located next to the Yacht Club, so if you’re into watching the tall ships come in, this one’s for you.  It’s also one of the better off-leash dog parks in town, so if you love both seafaring and canines, you’re truly blessed.

picnic island

Picnic Island Beach. Credit: the_blue_lotus, Flickr

But the best treat in store for Tampa beach bums might be Picnic Island Beach, perched right at the lip of the Port of Tampa.  You might catch a glimpse of a freighter or two, but you’re likely to be more occupied by the white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters – pretty much what you’d get if you trekked all the way to Passe-a-Grille, and it’s right in your South Tampa backyard.


Cypress Point Park is located at 5620 W. Cypress St., Tampa, FL 33607.

Davis Islands Seaplane Basin Park is located at 864 Severn Ave
Tampa, FL 33606.

Picnic Island Beach is located at 7409 Picnic Island Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33616

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