Whether you call them “madding” like Thomas Hardy did back in 1874 or “maddening” as we modern day people do, most crowds are those words and other terms I usually only use around my husband, my friends, and my kids. (My kids are in their 20’s; it’s okay. One of the best things about having grown children is no longer having to pretend to be horrified by swear words.)
Crowds on beaches are even worse than maddening, unless you’re a spring breaker, single and seeking, or drunk, or all of those things.
For the rest of us, there is Sunset Beach.
Sunset Beach is a residential beachfront community, a slight turn off the main drag as you travel from Treasure Island to St. Pete Beach. Residents would like for their little sort-of-secret neighborhood to remain that, but sadly for them there are people like us, guiding fellow travelers off the beaten path: take that right when the road bends to the left.
Officially Sunset Beach is Treasure Island, which was named in 1915 when hopeful developers buried wooden boxes in the sand and then “found” them: “Buried treasure! Come here and stay, and find your own booty!”
8000 West Gulf Blvd.
Treasure Island, FL
727-547-4575, ext. 237
- PARK/WALK: Though there are many beach access points in little Sunset Beach, parking is tricky. Check into your bungalow and utilize your parking space there. Metered parking is available at the beach pavilion, but will fill up quickly during peak times. (Weekends, holidays, snowbird season, spring break.)
- GO/RINSE: Outdoor showers and restrooms.
- CROWD FACTOR: Weekends see an influx of locals enjoying the beach but not so much that the beach feels crowded. Weekdays you may have the beach to yourself!
- GUARDS: No.
- IMBIBE: Yes, but no glass containers.
- BEST FRIEND: Dogs are not allowed on this beach
- WE LOVE: The fresh newly renovated look and feel of the pavilion, the small town feel of the whole area.
9000 West Gulf Blvd.
Treasure Island, FL 33706
- VIBE: Quintessential beach bar but also family friendly. This beachfront icon has had different owners and names, and the newish owners recognize that this local gem only needed a bit of sprucing up but preserved its unique “chill” island-time atmosphere. Wildly popular with locals and visitors alike, this may seem like the madding crowd to some, but Caddy’s is big enough for everyone to spread out without feeling like you’re going mad.
- ARRIVE: By foot or by car; parking is $5 which will be taken off your bill.
- SIT: Inside under cover which is also open-air, outside at picnic tables, upstairs on the sunset deck (no food and no kids upstairs.) Cabanas and beach chairs are complimentary but please tip the cabana boys; they work hard to keep everyone happily lounging. No coolers are allowed on Caddy’s beach.
- SIP: Caddy’s Sunset is made with Ketel One vodka, the Skinny Margarita is organic! Who knew that Tequila could be organic…. Happy Hour specials are offered at sunset.
- NOSH: Try the Pink Cadillac Seafood Chowder and the Fried Grouper Nuggets. Caddy’s claims to have the Gulf Coast’s Best Barbeque (we didn’t try it.) Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Caddy’s is open until 11 p.m.
- LISTEN: Live music twice a day, every day! Click on their name above to visit their site and view the events calendar.
- WE LOVE: The friendly staff, and of course the sunset views are indescribable. You just need to experience this place.
7925 West Gulf Blvd.
Treasure Island, FL 33706
Of course the “& Cottages” sparked our interest! This mid-century mom-and-pop was rescued from falling apart at its seams by some innovative women with great vision. Read their story, here, and click on the hotel name above for their full site.
- VIBE: Old Florida meets modern, fresh, whimsical, attention to detail, creative, great energy. The owners’ love and care of the place is evident everywhere, from our welcome as we arrived, to our little tour of our cottage and the “work in progress” updates they gave us on more to come (raising and enlarging “our” porch roof and that of the other cottages to provide more shade.) Even the graphics are appealing and cohesive, from the adorable hand lettered property map to the logo sticker on the folded point of the fresh roll of toilet paper! I almost took a photo of that…
- WALK: The perfect Triple B! Walkability is key: walk to the beach directly across the street, walk to the bar which is about a half mile away.
- DECOR: Contemporary, cute, a little quirky and very cozy.
- SLEEP: The beds were amazingly comfortable. Our cottage had two in the bedroom; one twin bed and one queen. Great for a family with a child.
- EXTRAS: Full kitchen in the cottages, kitchenettes in some of the hotel rooms; check the site to choose your ideal room type. Cookware and dishes are provided, microwave, coffee pot, and paper products. Bring your own coffee and filters. This Inn operates more like a vacation rental; clean towels will be provided as needed but we appreciate that they encourage the energy saving option to use our towel more than once. Wi-fi is free. Two cottages are pet friendly! There is a beautiful main courtyard (pictured above) with grills, a courtyard for the cottages, on-site laundry, and beach chairs and towels are available to rent for a small fee.
- RATES: Check the site for current rates. There is a 3 night minimum requirement.
- WE LOVE: The beauty! The visual pleasures everywhere we looked. How committed the owners, Laurie and Michele, are to the comfort and enjoyment of their guests and their no longer so secret little town.
Just a Stone’s Throw to the ocean. I think I photographed this little gem thirty-five times. Something about that color combo! Click here for Sunset Inn’s interior photos of Stone’s Throw cottage.
The Lookout was the former manager’s quarters, and now is a second story penthouse suite with breathtaking views of the Gulf. Click here for interior photos from Sunset Inn’s site.
Once sergeant’s quarters on MacDill airforce base, this cottage rode to Sunset Inn on a barge. Click here for Sunset Inn’s photos of the MacDill Cottage interiors.
Tandem One bedroom. Click here for Sunset Inn’s Tandem 2 interior photos; they are gorgeous!
When I finally forced myself away from the Sunset Inn to take photos around town, I was happily charmed by Sunset Beach’s tiny cottages, abandoned cottages (how could this happen, a block or two from the gorgeous beach and bay ??) and even the occasional big honker beach mansion.
This bright beauty, and the yellow with the red door, above, is part of a complex of cottages for sale! Click here to purchase.
We have about 300 more photos of this town (only a slight exaggeration) so if you’d like to see more, email us! I’m pretty sure we don’t have to convince you to visit Sunset Beach – if you’ve hung with us through all those photos, or even if you just glanced at the first two, I’d bet my rare 1st edition Thomas Hardy that you’ll be booking your trip soon.
Sunset Beach is a residential community in Treasure Island, 10 miles west of St. Petersburg, 28 miles south west of Tampa, and 17 miles south of Clearwater.