Winning awards from top-rated national travel brands seems to be something that the area of Clearwater Beach does well. Take, for example, the fact that Sandpearl Resort and Opal Sands Resort, both Opal Collection hotels located right on the sands of Clearwater Beach, made the list of “Top 15 Resort Hotels in Florida” for Travel + Leisure’s 2020 World’s Best Awards. Oh, and did we mention that the beach itself is considered the best beach in the country? Yup, not just in Florida, but the nation, according to both the 2018 and 2019 TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Indeed, this idyllic paradise on the gulf averages 361 days of sunshine a year. But that isn’t the only reason it’s so lauded and a destination that travelers regularly daydream about – especially as of late.
Reason 1: The Beach Is Immaculate
Yes, Clearwater Beach has that signature super-fine, sugar-white sand, which is special, but you can actually find that (or something close to it) at various other spots on the gulf. What truly separates Clearwater Beach from others is how well the city maintains it. “It’s raked every single day, very early in the morning, and it’s pristine in terms of cleanliness, too. People really appreciate that – especially now,” says Nancy Cimney, director of sales & marketing for Opal Sands Resort and Sandpearl Resort. Its commitment to safety is notable as well, with lifeguards present year-round – the only beach in Pinellas County where that’s the case.
Reason 2: It’s Pedestrian Friendly
Lined by a boardwalk, Clearwater Beach was built around the idea of being accessible to pedestrians. “Pier 60, the long concrete pier that extends into the gulf, is the center of it all, and Sandpearl sits on the north side of it, while Opal Sands is on the south side,” says Cimney. “In general, though, wherever you’re coming from, the beach itself is so easy to access, whether by car, trolley, or water taxi,” Not to mention, the boardwalk is lined with restaurants, shops, and vendors.
Reason 3: Families Love It
While Pier 60 is currently closed on account of the need to social distance, it’s only a matter of time before the carnival-like atmosphere here – frequented by street performers, musicians, and local artists selling their pieces – can return. Same with the bungee trampoline, giant inflatable slides into the water, and a rock-climbing wall that are all based at the entrance of the pier on the beach. What you can expect to go on is the summer Sunset Cinema series, celebrating its tenth year showing free outdoor movies every weekend year-round, right beside the water.
Reason 4: The Gulf Coast Has Its Own Vibe
Cimney notes how Clearwater Beach has a laid-back ocean experience with consistently calm surf conditions. “The sand on the West Coast is softer and finer.” It works nicely for travelers, especially of the international variety, who fly into Orlando, visit the theme parks, then make the 1.5-hour, straight-shot drive over to Clearwater Beach and spend the rest of their vacation relaxing on the beach. So: If your experience in Florida is limited to Orlando and the Atlantic side of the state, remember that there’s reason to explore the other side.
Reason 5: The Sunsets
Sunsets in Key West’s Mallory Square are legendary, but they’re also a big deal in Clearwater Beach. While many enjoy them during the Pier 60 nightly sunset celebration, for guests of Sandpearl, there’s another primo place to take in the cotton-candy skies. “Sandpearl has this ritual, where the moment the sun touches the horizon, our turtle mascot, Ridley, rings our special sunset bell on the beach,” says Cimney. “But he also regularly selects other visitors or children to take on the sacred honor.”