Everyone likes a swim at the beach on a hot summer day - even our canine friends! While dog parks are becoming more and more common, dog beaches are not as easy to find. Be aware that some beaches require dogs to be on a leash at all times. And don't forget your doggie bags so you can pick up after your pooch. While most dog parks have bag dispensers, dog beaches often don't, so it's always a good idea to take some with you. You'll also want to pack some fresh water and a drinking bowl for your 4-legged pal.
Tampa Bay Dog Beaches
Animal feces should never be allowed to enter the water. Proper disposal of pet waste prevents harmful fecal coliform bacteria and excess nutrients from washing into Tampa Bay or the Gulf. For more info on the environmental and health impacts of doggy doo, check out Pooches for the Planet page.
Most public beaches in the Tampa Bay area do not allow dogs; however, these designated doggie beaches do:
Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde
At Fort De Soto Park, it's a dog day afternoon just about every day. The dog beach allows unleashed canines to run freely on 200 yards of open beach. The Paw Playground offers access to the beach and two fenced-in play areas for big and small dogs. Adjacent to the dog park is a large concession area complete with parking, restrooms and a snack bar, making this doggie beach perfect for people, too. Showers and water stations allow Fido to rinse off and enjoy some cool water after some hard play time.
Park entrance fee is $5.
Tampa Bay Dog Beaches
Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
Ranked as one of the nation's top beaches for humans, Honeymoon Island State Park offers pooches a primo beach, too. The white, sandy Dog Beach at the southern end of the island is hugged by the crystal blue waters of the Gulf and is a scenic delight for dog owners with its view of Caladesi Island nearby. Pets must be on a 6-foot handheld leash at all times. Added bonus: In addition to having their own beach, dogs are allowed on the nature trails (on leash, of course).
The entry fee for the park is $8 per car.
Davis Islands, Tampa
Davis Islands off downtown Tampa has two dog parks . The parks are two separate fenced-in areas located at the south end of the Island, past the Peter O. Knight Airport. The dry dog park is approximately 1 acre, while the dog beach is 1.5 acres with more than 200 feet of waterfront access. Dogs may run freely on this beach. There is no admission fee.
Palma Sola Causeway
Manatee County does not allow dogs on any public beach even with a leash. However, dogs can swim at the Palma Sola Causeway Park located on Manatee Avenue just 4 miles east of Anna Maria Island. This area is close to the busy causeway so make sure your dog is manageable off the leash and does not run into the traffic. There also are picnic shelters, tables, grills and restrooms for pet owners.
DeSoto Memorial Park
Dogs are allowed to swim as long as they are on a leash and manageable. It's also fun to walk the trails along the beach with Fido and see the historical information about Hernando Desoto along the way. Park hours are from dawn to dusk so make sure you remove your car from the parking lot so you don't get locked in for the night.